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Ss infantry Uniforms

Ss infantry Uniforms

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Published by: oblivionboyj on Aug 11, 2009
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02/14/2013

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 Waffen-SS Infantry 1939-45
SS
– two letters which are forever seared onto the history of the twentieth century. From a small cadre of 200 men charged with guarding Hitler at early Nazi rallies, the SS grew to a membership of millions.The SS (short for
Schutzstaffel
or Defense Squad) was actually comprised of a number of organizations,with various responsibilities:
the
 Allgemeine
or General SS, composed of full- and part-time, inactive and honourary members;
the
Sicherheitsdienst 
or Security Division (SD), initially the Nazi party's intelligence-gatheringwing, was later absorbed into the
Geheime Staatspolitzei
or State Security Police (Gestapo), whichbecame responsible for internal state security. The SS was also put in charge of Germany's police.
the
Totenkopfverbande
or Death's Head units, initially responsible for prisons, then theconcentration and extermination camps;
the Waffen-SS.The Waffen-SS grew to a nominal strength of over 800,000 men in some 38 divisions by 1945. Moresignificantly, it made up a quarter of Germany's tank troops and almost a third of its mechanized forces.Initially looked down upon by the professionals of the Heer, they rose to become the German Army's"fire-brigade", committed as the spearhead of attack or the last line of defense. Romanticized by a few,vilified by most, the Waffen-SS is probably
the
most-studied military formation in the history of thetwentieth century.
Service Dress
The symbols chosen by the SS were both intentional and unintentional. The SS collar runes weresupposed to symbolize Germany's Nordic roots. The Death's Head, besides its obvious graveyardmenace, was the badge of four vanished regiments of the Kaiser's army. The cuff titles symbolize battlehonours won by England's German Legion during the Napoleonic wars (though this claim is spurious atbest). The service dress of the Waffen-SS divisions was broadly similar to that of the Wehrmacht, butwith a wholly different range of insignia and with certain detail differences of cut and design.At the beginning of the war, the so-called "peacetime" tunic was widely worn. It wasPage 1of 195-ssinf 11/9/2003http://www.angelfire.com/sk3/uniformss/ssinfantry.html
 
similar to the Wehrmacht's M1935 thigh-length tunic, but with two patch pocketswith box pleats and three-point flaps on the chest and two internal pockets with three-point flaps on theskirt. There was a stand-and-fall collar, five large metal buttons on the front, and two buttons on theshoulders beside the neck for the attachment of shoulder straps. There was a 5 7/8 inch (150 mm) rearcentral vent in the skirt of the jacket, and the arms were split up the rear seam for about 3 inches (75mm). But, unlike the Wehrmacht tunic, it had a field-grey collar and black shoulder straps instead of dark green.Early in the war a new tunic, identical to the Wehrmacht M1935 tunic but withblack collar, was issued to replace the "peacetime" tunic; both tunics were wornside by side. Both tunics were worn with straight stone-grey trousers with slashside pockets closed by buttons and a right hip pocket, and black leather hobnailedmarching boots. As well, during the mid-war years, Wehrmacht tunics were issuedwhen there was a local shortage of SS tunics.A broad black leather belt was worn at all times, with a rectangular belt platebearing the SS motto. Like the dimple-finish buttons, this was made in dull whitemetal but usually overpainted field-grey.Members of the cavalry branch wore flared riding breeches and knee-length black leather riding boots with spurs.Alone among the fighting services, the SS did not wear the national eagle-and-swastika badge on theright breast. Instead, all ranks wore it high on the left sleeve (above any rank chevrons). It was also of aspecial shape, which appeared on the cap insignia as well; the ends of the eagle's wings were pointed,rather than clipped (perhaps a veiled insult to their Wehrmacht brethren). The enlisted men's was inwhite thread on a black background, with officers' in silver thread.The shoulder straps, worn by all ranks, had the sides and rounded ends piped in
Waffenfarbe
or thebranch-of-service colour. They were:infantry – white; armor – pink; cavalry – golden yellow; artillery – bright red; mountaintroops and jagers– light green; armoured infantry – grass green; engineers – black; signals –lemon yellow; motorised reconnaissance – copper brownThe normal headgear in the field was thesidecap(
Feldmutze
). Similar to the Wehrmacht version, it wasof field-grey with a turn-up all round, the upper edge of the turn-up being "scooped" at the front.However, the SS version had the central gusset offset to the right. In 1940 it wasreplaced by the Luftwaffe version, in field-grey; it differed from the Wehrmachtsidecap in that there was no "scoop" at the front. On both versions, a grey metaldeath's-head button was sewn to the front of the turn-up, and the SS eagle in whitethread on a black patch was sewn to the front of the crown. Usually an inverted-V(^) of piping in the appropriate Waffenfarbe was sewn to the turn-up, enclosing thedeath's-head; the lower "legs" of the (^) extended down to the bottom edge of thecap. From 1942 the (^) of Waffenfarbe was not worn.The combat headgear for all ranks was the M1935 steel helmet (Stahlhelm)of the familiar "coal-scuttle"shape, with dark leather fittings and strap. The shape originates from the German sallets of the fifteenthcentury and was revived during theFirst World War. Initially painted grey-green, in 1939-40 it was wornwith two decals on the sides: on the left side was a silver shield with the double-
 
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lightning SS rune in black; a red shield on the right bore a black swastika in awhite circle. From 21 March 1940 the helmet was finished in matt dark grey and the tricolor shieldremoved with the SS rune decal disappearing in 1942-43 – they made convenient aiming points forsnipers! (The SS decal can still be seen in late-war photos. This may be because they had been coveredby a camouflaged helmet cover, so there was no need to remove them.) Shades of paint, and presence orabsence of decals, varied widely throughout the war. Helmets were camouflaged with paint, mud,hessian camouflage netting and with foliage tucked into a cruciform strap harness hooked over thehelmet.At the beginning of the war, the black marching boots measured 35-39cm from heel to top, and wereheavily hobnailed on the sole. However, on 9 november 1939 they were ordered shortened to 32-34cmas an economy measure (though both versions were seenthroughout the war). In mid-1940, these began to be replaced byankle-length laced boots, worn in conjunction with either shortanklets in field-grey or khaki, or captured British canvas anklets ina buff colour. (The anklets were given the rather sardonic nickname of "retreatputtees" or "Timoshenko socks", after a Russian general.) The short boot wasinitially issued to second-line troops; the front-line soldier retainedthe high boot. From 1943, however, the ankle boot was issuedwhenever the high boot needed replacing. (It appears from photosthat the short boot was hobnailed in the same pattern as themarching boot.) By late in the war the latter was generally seen only on officers andrear-echelon troops. Photos show that the anklets/puttees were rarely worn in the front lines; mostsoldiers either wore the trousers loose over the boots, or tucked into socksIn 1943 a new economy version of the service uniform was issued, designatedM1943. It differed from the M1935 in both materials and design. It had adistinctly "utility"appearance, and was greyer than the earlier uniform. Usually,but not invariably, the pockets had no box pleats, and straight flaps. The collarwas now field-grey instead of black. It appears from photos that the black shoulder straps and collar patches continued to be issued with the M1943 tunic.It is likely that green shoulder straps were issued when black ones were notavailable. The silver
Tresse
on NCO's collars was progressively replaced bydull grey silk. As well, the trousers were now made of field-grey material.In 1943 the sidecap began to be replaced by the M1943field cap
 (Einheitsfeldmutze)
, identical in cut to the Wehrmacht version. The
 Einheitsfeldmutze
– variously translated as either "actionfield cap" or "replacement field cap"– was based on the cap worn by mountaintroops, the
 Bergmutze
. It was of "ski-cap" shape, with a slightly longer peak thanthe mountain cap, and was in field-grey cloth overall. The turn-up had two smallbuttons at the front (though versions with a single button have been seen). Insigniavaried on this cap: some wore the skull on the front of the crown and the eaglesewn high on the left side of the turn-up; some wore the badges one above theother on the front of the crown (as on the sidecap). A combined badge with both eagle and skull oneabove the other on a triangular grey patch was also observed. Officers wore silver-thread badges, andhad silver piping round the crown seam. However, the sidecap continued to be seen until the end of thewar.The final major development came in autumn 1944 with the introduction of the M1944
Feldbluse
(seeWehrmacht 1943-45for picture). It appears that it was sseldom worn by members of the SS.
 
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