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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Iron Cross 1st class to NCO's


Khaki

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Just looking at a German GW photograph in my collection, nice little CDV image, wearing a blouse with covered buttons and two breast pockets, collar with the long front and lower litzen. Standard unnumbered shoulder strap with edge piping. This soldier is wearing a EK2 ribbon in the left breast button hole and a EK1 lower left side below pocket. It made me think of the oft repeated opinion that the award of the first class medal was rare to NCO's (Adolf Hitler an example often mentioned), but how rare was this award to NCO's ?

comments anyone?

khaki

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Just looking at a German GW photograph in my collection, nice little CDV image, wearing a blouse with covered buttons and two breast pockets, collar with the long front and lower litzen. Standard unnumbered shoulder strap with edge piping. This soldier is wearing a EK2 ribbon in the left breast button hole and a EK1 lower left side below pocket. It made me think of the oft repeated opinion that the award of the first class medal was rare to NCO's (Adolf Hitler an example often mentioned), but how rare was this award to NCO's ?

comments anyone?

khaki

Hitler was not an NCO in GW - see Thomas Weber's 'Hitler's First War'. His rank 'Gefreiter' was, according to Weber, "within the rank of Private in the US or British armed forces."

Weber: " ...the award of an Iron Cross 1st Class to troops below the rank of NCO was extremely rare. According to a newspaper report, by the summer of 1918 more than 51,000 Iron Crosses 1st Class had been awarded to officers and another 17,000 or so to NCOs, compared with a mere 472 Iron Crosses 1st Class to troops."

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Thanks Uncle George,

I don't know about comparisons ie US or British, but followed on with the appellation of 'Corporal Hitler ' used during WW2 period. Interesting figures never the less.

khaki

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Thanks Uncle George,

I don't know about comparisons ie US or British, but followed on with the appellation of 'Corporal Hitler ' used during WW2 period. Interesting figures never the less.

khaki

Here's Kershaw on this: "On 3 November 1914...Hitler was promoted to corporal. It was his last promotion of the war, though he could certainly have been expected to advance further, at least as far as non-commissioned officer (Unteroffizier)."

So that's sorted that one out.

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He was not a corporal, he was only a Gefreiter (something like soldier 1st class).

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I got married in Germany while in the army with the rank of L/Cpl. and the German authorities wouldn't accept that a Brit. junior NCO is equivalent to a German NCO (Unteroffizier) so my rank was entered as Gefreiter on the marriage certificate.

For me a Gefreiter is a senior Pte. but I think the translation of that rank will be debated forever.

Back to the question - the wife's grandad was an Unteroffizier in the infantry, it took him 3 years of fighting on the western front before he was awarded his 1st class cross. He was taken prisoner in the action where his MG section held up a French advance while the rest of the company/battalion retreated. I wonder if any of the men in his section received a cross too.

Tony

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Khaki,

Just wondering if he is sporting any kind of wound badge ?

I am getting the idea that the men often ended up with the Iron Cross 2nd class

for wounds too.

I have just had a look at some Hitler images and he sports a wound badge under his Iron Cross 1st Class

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Khaki,

Just wondering if he is sporting any kind of wound badge ?

I am getting the idea that the men often ended up with the Iron Cross 2nd class

for wounds too.

I have just had a look at some Hitler images and he sports a wound badge under his Iron Cross 1st Class

Good point -but remember always that the Wound Badge was only instituted in early 1918, so that may explain why the EK II was on ocassion awarded to wounded men - if that was indeed the case.

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Thanks guys,

I had another look at the photo, he is seated and the image ends just below the EK1, unknown whether or not he had a wound badge or not.

khaki

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Wikipedia states that the number of EK I awards in World War I eventually totaled 218,000, and IIRC awards were more common late in the war. So I'd suspect the answer depends when during the war you're interested in. Given the German unwillingness to promote to NCOs to officer ranks, I think you'll find that an increasing percentage of NCO had the EK I once you get into 1918.

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I am just going add this link,

He appear to wear his EK2 medal as a ribbon alongside his frontline fighter medal ribbon ( Your Avtar Khaki )

He displays his Gold Wound badge -( Good point Trajan ) awarded in 1918 - below his EK1 ( I believe he dropped this on the battle field, but his aide found it and re-fitted it )

I hope that is a true story - it is in his book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ernst_Juenger_inSG.jpg

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Thanks Martin

the image I have is the same uniform blouse with the exception of the shoulder straps.

khaki

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Khaki,

Your thread interested me because your description fits my Grandfathers picture. Apart from the EK1

If you need to look it is on POST 6 the blue Johann's thread link below.

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Hello Martin,

Nice photo post # 6, your right, it is similar in uniform details, but nothing else

khaki

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Wikipedia states that the number of EK I awards in World War I eventually totaled 218,000, and IIRC awards were more common late in the war. So I'd suspect the answer depends when during the war you're interested in. Given the German unwillingness to promote to NCOs to officer ranks, I think you'll find that an increasing percentage of NCO had the EK I once you get into 1918.

According to 'Ribbons and Medals' by Taprell Dorling, (New Edition 1974, first published 1916) "Some 219,300 awards were made of the First Class [of the Iron Cross] ... from 1813 up till the end of the First World War..."

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I am not sure how to date the photo but it is cardboard mounted 4" x 2.5" photographer P.Clasen, hopfphotograph, Dessau, uniform as described earlier, handwritten dedication to reverse, no date.

khaki

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I am not sure how to date the photo but it is cardboard mounted 4" x 2.5" photographer P.Clasen, hopfphotograph, Dessau, uniform as described earlier, handwritten dedication to reverse, no date.

khaki

It sounds like the uniform pictured below although this one has numbers on the straps. I don't know when this kind of tunic was worn but I do know the photo was taken in 1921.

Tony

post-6680-0-54558400-1400223310_thumb.jp

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Thanks Tony,

Yes the photo is pretty close to mine, even the collar rank is the same, the only difference's are that the pockets on mine are square with pleated centers and the pocket flaps are scalloped, and of course as you noted the shoulder strap on mine has no regimental number.

khaki

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Thanks Tony,

The lower wound badge on post 17 looks like it is of the cut out variety.

First time I have noticed one in a photo.

Martin

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Martin,

The photo was taken after returning to Germany from a French POW camp, the badge and cross were probably borrowed until he received his own one (not a cut out version) through the post.

Tony

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