Soldiers Personal Equipment / Soldaten Persönliche Ausrüstung

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Personal Documents

Three personal of individual documents were retained, carried, or worn by the soldat at different stages of his service, depending upon his military status at any given time.

Wehrpass

At the time of his first medical and physical examination, a service record book was created and issued to every man on his acceptance for military service. This was a passport-sized booklet in which was recorded his pre-military service in the  Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD (National Labor Service), his liability for military service, any military activities carried out, and his official military status. While not engaged for active military service, the Wehrpass was retained by the individual, but once he reported for active duty then it was handed into the unit for retention by his company headquarters. Then he was issued his next documentation being the Soldbuch.

Soldbuch

The soldbuch (paybook) was issued once the individual entered official military service. This was also an official means of identification and a comprehensive record of his active duty of military service until released from that service or medically discharged.

The soldbuch contained the soldaten’s name, rank, service number, photograph, service number, photograph, and signature. It also recorded details on the units in which he served, clothing and equipment issued, inoculations, medical treatment and hospitalizations, promotions, pay grades and rates, incidental payments made to him by other units while for on detached service, leave taken, awards and decorations received, and any other pertinent personal or military service information. The soldat carried the documentation with him at all times. In addition to the military service number issued to him at the time the Wehrpass was created, the soldbuch also detailed the inscription and number shown on the soldaten’s identity disc.

Erkennungsmarke

The identity disc was made in two parts, with a horizontal dividing perforated break line across the center. The lower half was punched with a single hole and the upper half with two holes, through which the neck cord passed. Identical information was shown on both halves. The text did vary, but at a minimum it normally included the soldaten’s personal number, his blood group and unit designation, and it might have also shown his pay book number and the roll number of the Ersatzheer replacement unit. Although the disc bore the designation of his original unit, any replacement disc would bear the number of the unit issuing the disc at that time. The soldat was required to wear the disc at all times when on active service. If he was killed in action, the disc would be broken into two pieces. The lower half of the disc was given to military administrative authorities in Germany and the upper half with the cord was buried with the individual.

Subsequently, his Wehrpass would be given to his next of kin, while his soldbuch with all other military records were filed at his unit’s home station (Wehrersatzdienstselle). Eventually, a report on his death and burial, together with the lower part of the Erkennungsmarke and the description of the location of his grave, were to be sent to the Wehrmacht information office for war casualties and prisoners of war.

Pith Helmet – Tropenhelm

The pith helmet (German- Tropenhelm), also known as the safari helmet, sun helmet, topee, sola topee or topi, is a lightweight cloth-covered helmet made of shola pith. Pith helmets were often worn by European travelers and explorers, in the varying climates found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the tropics, but have also been used in many other contexts. They were routinely issued to European military personnel serving overseas “in hot climates” from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.

Zeltbahn – Waterproof Shelter

The Zeltbahn 31 was developed and issued first in 1931 and found its origin in the square Reichswehr tent. The Zeltbahn was patented by Walter Reichert (Warei) in 1929.

It is made of a water repellent material called Makostoff and is imprinted with a camouflage pattern (developed in 1929) which is also known as Army Splinter Pattern (Heeres Splitter Muster 31).
Another phrase used was: Buntfarbenmuster (“Splittertarn”).

The triangular Zeltbahn‘muster31’-( patented as the ‘warei’ zeltbahn) was a multi-purpose piece of equipment, -simple but ingenious, it could be used as a waterproof poncho, a stretcher, flotation device, camouflage covering for equipment and tracks and when joined to other zeltbahns,- configured into three different size tents for 4, 8 or 16 men as a ‘hauszelt’. The variety of purposes could be explained in the official manual H.Dv. 205/1. It was issued to every German soldier at the start of basic training and was in 1932 the first mass-distributed printed camouflage clothing. the Italians, however, had produced a printed camouflage for elite troops in the late 1920’s and other countries had shelter sections). Camouflage prints were designed around the dimensions of the zeltbahn and by the end of the Second World War German artists and technicians had developed over 20 patterns.

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