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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

German Shovel/Entrenching tool: guidance sought


4thGordons

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I have been looking for a German shove/entrenching tool and carrier to add to a set I am slowly putting together and there seems to be a bewildering array of variations. There are several Bulgarian sellers on eBay who have lots of carriers but there appear to be a number of different designs/variations some of which seem to have been modified. I am aware several nations used essentially the same design from WWI through WWII and presumably beyond. Some are squared carriers, others look like they are designed for a pointed shovel (Austrian?), some have belt loops on the "top" others on the "bottom" (which look as though they would hold the tool handle up rather than down unless they fold over?) My (relatively limited) reference works also show several different types so I am in a bit of a quandry.

Could someone post  a TYPICAL mid-war entrenching tool/carrier for reference please?

TIA

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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4thGordons,

I fully understand why you find this subject confusing.  I have the same problem as many nations used an identical, or almost identical, entrenching tool.

Anyway and, as always, subject to correction,  I attach below what I take to be a typical example of the Model 1909 entrenching tool or spade in my collection and I believe this was the standard model in use during the Great War.  

However, many German variations exist including ersatz carriers manufactured using paper cloth etc. and all steel examples of the spade.  It must also be remembered that the earlier 1898 pattern, which had a single belt loop, was still in use as was the short spade for machine gun troops.

I think this subject becomes much more complex the more one looks into it so good luck with finding a good maker marked and dated example.

Regards,

Michael.  

  

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Thank you very much.

Chris

 

Edit

Having gone back and looked at some of those being sold -- many have riveted construction on the belt hangers etc in addition to stitching. Is it safe to discount any with riveted construction?

Edited by 4thGordons
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Chris,

I can't really say save, from the  illustrations I have seen, the German 1898 and 1909 patterns do not have riveted carriers but there may, of course, be exceptions made by one or more of the many manufacturers involved.  If you can find one it is probably best to look for an example without rivets and marked with the manufacturer's name and the year of manufacture. 

Regards,

Michael.

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Hello, Chris - 

 

Note that the top corners (or "ears") of Michael's entrenching tool are folded back and riveted.  [I presume that this was done in order to enable the digger to use his foot to press down harder on the blade than otherwise would be possible.]  

 

It is my belief that (1) virtually all entrenching tools with such folded-back "ears" are German WWI, but (2) some German WWI entrenching tools do NOT have this feature.  I have seen examples of both variations in German trenches in the woods.

 

Consequently, I believe that if you cannot find one that is maker-marked and dated, you would be pretty safe with an unmarked one with the pinned-back "ears." 

 

If I am wrong, I'm sure that some forum member will correct me.

 

In regard to carriers, look for one like Michael's.  The one in my collection is like his, maker-marked and dated, but unfortunately stamped with the postwar "SA" Finnish mark.

 

Regards, Torrey

 

 

 

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Thanks Torrey,

I had noticed that. I was less concerned about the actual tool (marked ones seem reasonably available) it was the carriers that were/are particularly confusing!

There appear to be both squared and pointed blades as a rule of thumb I am assuming the pointed ones (and similarly shaped carriers) are Austro-Hungarian ones?  although some appear to be squared ones that have been ground to shape (presumably to make digging easier?)

Thanks for the assistance both - much appreciated. If I get one I'll post it for inspection.

Chris

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Hello, Chris - I have never seen an actual photograph of a pointed carrier used by a German or found a pointed entrenching tool in a Western Front site.  I consider them to be Austrian, and as such, they are pretty common.  It might take a while, but if I needed one I would wait for one exactly like Michael's.  Good luck!  Torrey

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  • 2 months later...

Well I had a bit of a red letter day. Not as nice as the one posted by Michael Hasgrove (above) but I think they will do for my purposes. Faint makings (illegible) on spade head - none that I can see on the carriers and all show repairs/modifications two with added reinforcing rivets, one seems to have had the belt loops lowered (to make the spade ride higher). I was also able to acquire a nice condition Ledermask (with a ratty but largely complete tin) and a very nice bread-bag (only mark is Munchen III stamped on the right side) It is missing a zinc button but I have one to replace it. Observations appreciated, I am a bit out of my comfort zone here but working on putting together a mid/late war German display.

 

Chris

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