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Remembered Today:

german numbered epellete buttons


bluevanman

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they indicate the company, worn on the shoulder with the shoulderstrap. So, a '4', indicates the 1st batt, 4th company ('1.B, 4.K'), a '10', 3 batt, 10th company ('3.B, 10.K'). So by just looking at the shoulderstrap, one could identify the regiment, battalion and company. The company (number) could also be identified by the 'Troddel' (bayonet knot), in different colors. Company buttons were (till 1915) either brass or whitemetal, most infantry wore the brass ones, some the white metal (as pioneers etc)

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i have a number 4 and number 10 button can anyone explain the significance please.

Thanks for that :D

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Just to expand on Eparges excellent answer, a German infantry regiment had 12 rifle companies grouped into three battalions each of four companies. In addition you can find buttons numbered "13" for the regimental Machine Gun Company, and "14" for the Fortress Machine Gun Company, although not all regiments had one of these. These buttons could also be for cavalry or artillery units, in which case the numbers would indicate suadrons or batteries rather than rifle companies.

I've included a scan of the shoulder board of a 1914 dated M1910/13 tunic in my collection, worn by a soldier in the 11th company, third battalion of Infantry Regiment Nr 138. The button is made of zapon coated Seimens steel, painted copper brown rather than of actual brass, which is matches the early 1915 simplified shoulder strap.

All the best

Paul.

post-2041-1175459085.jpg

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"they indicate the company, worn on the shoulder with the shoulderstrap. So, a '4', indicates the 1st batt, 4th company ('1.B, 4.K'), a '10', 3 batt, 10th company ('3.B, 10.K'). So by just looking at the shoulderstrap, one could identify the regiment, battalion and company. The company (number) could also be identified by the 'Troddel' (bayonet knot), in different colors. Company buttons were (till 1915) either brass or whitemetal, most infantry wore the brass ones, some the white metal (as pioneers etc)"

Keep in mind that during the war the finer points of uniform etiquette were ignored. We have discovered one Württemberg soldier wearing a Bavarian belt buckle and another Bavarian soldier with different company numbered buttons on his uniform than the company he fought with.

You also have the issue of transferred soldiers and officers from one unit to another, from replacement depots, etc. If this was a pre-war uniform find I would say there was no question it represented the proper company but not after the early 1914 period.

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Just to expand on Eparges excellent answer, a German infantry regiment had 12 rifle companies grouped into three battalions each of four companies. In addition you can find buttons numbered "13" for the regimental Machine Gun Company, and "14" for the Fortress Machine Gun Company, although not all regiments had one of these. These buttons could also be for cavalry or artillery units, in which case the numbers would indicate suadrons or batteries rather than rifle companies.

I've included a scan of the shoulder board of a 1914 dated M1910/13 tunic in my collection, worn by a soldier in the 11th company, third battalion of Infantry Regiment Nr 138. The button is made of zapon coated Seimens steel, painted copper brown rather than of actual brass, which is matches the early 1915 simplified shoulder strap.

All the best

Paul.

Thanks for that excellent pic.

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Just to expand on Eparges excellent answer, a German infantry regiment had 12 rifle companies grouped into three battalions each of four companies. In addition you can find buttons numbered "13" for the regimental Machine Gun Company, and "14" for the Fortress Machine Gun Company, although not all regiments had one of these. These buttons could also be for cavalry or artillery units, in which case the numbers would indicate suadrons or batteries rather than rifle companies.

I've included a scan of the shoulder board of a 1914 dated M1910/13 tunic in my collection, worn by a soldier in the 11th company, third battalion of Infantry Regiment Nr 138. The button is made of zapon coated Seimens steel, painted copper brown rather than of actual brass, which is matches the early 1915 simplified shoulder strap.

All the best

Paul.

Thanks for that great pic.

Just to expand on Eparges excellent answer, a German infantry regiment had 12 rifle companies grouped into three battalions each of four companies. In addition you can find buttons numbered "13" for the regimental Machine Gun Company, and "14" for the Fortress Machine Gun Company, although not all regiments had one of these. These buttons could also be for cavalry or artillery units, in which case the numbers would indicate suadrons or batteries rather than rifle companies.

I've included a scan of the shoulder board of a 1914 dated M1910/13 tunic in my collection, worn by a soldier in the 11th company, third battalion of Infantry Regiment Nr 138. The button is made of zapon coated Seimens steel, painted copper brown rather than of actual brass, which is matches the early 1915 simplified shoulder strap.

All the best

Paul.

Ta mate :)

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Keep in mind that during the war the finer points of uniform etiquette were ignored. We have discovered one Württemberg soldier wearing a Bavarian belt buckle and another Bavarian soldier with different company numbered buttons on his uniform than the company he fought with.

Ralph's point is important. Many people especially interested in uniforms seem to think that the principal activity during WW I was refining every possible uniform detail. Re-enactors agonize over the smallest possible detail. The reality was that even elite units wore more and more haphazard uniforms as the war went on.

My father's unit had rather distinctive units and decorations of honor (the lace of the Prussian Guard, the black shoulder-straps of the Pioneers, and the skull and cross-bones on the left sleeve, the personal insignia of the unit's patron, Crown Prince William, in particular), but most photos of men of the unit show that only a minority of the men actually had these honors displayed on their uniform at any given time. (However, if the occasion was a formal studio photo, the soldier usually managed to wear a uniform blouse displaying these.)

My father's unit's uniform also had other distinctive features, especially later in the war, such as Alpine breeches and puttees and half-boots, and he told me that, having time on their hands (not being stationed in line, but say 25 miles behind the line), and being storm troopers, men picked for intelligence and displayed initiative as well as physical condition, and trained to operate independently, they engaged in a number of "private initiatives" mostly carried out to pinch additional food to suppliment the miserable rations. As their distinctive uniforms would be a dead giveaway, they amassed regular infantry uniforms to wear on their foraging expeditions, which sometimes involved forming up a small unit and formally marching about under the command of a real or "pretend" NCO. He told me a number of amusing anecdotes related to these expeditions. This is a down-side of having such elite units that I have not seen others mention.

Bob Lembke

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Just a small note and pic on Bob L. remark: a pic of a group of RGPB, nearly all visible are wearing guard litzen on collar and cuffs and..scull insiginia on the sleaves. This pic was taken in 1916 (probably after juli/august at Stenay?, as this pic of the guy standing next to the pipe is undated) in billets just behind the lines. I suppose at this time, uniforms still bore most of the insignia.

post-9233-1176221977.jpg

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Just a small note and pic on Bob L. remark: a pic of a group of RGPB, nearly all visible are wearing guard litzen on collar and cuffs and..scull insiginia on the sleaves. This pic was taken in 1916 (probably after juli/august at Stenay?, as this pic of the guy standing next to the pipe is undated) in billets just behind the lines. I suppose at this time, uniforms still bore most of the insignia.

I had not gotten the automatic notification of a post on a thread that I have posted on before; that feature of the Forum seems to fail about 50% of the time, at least for me. Rene very kindly sent me an e-mail mentioning the post.

A wonderful photo! I studied it, and will do so again, as my father joined the 2nd Company G=R=P=R at Stenay-sur-Meuse at about that time. (I didn't notice him.) By the way, if the estimated date is correct, the flame unit had been a regiment for about half a year.

As to the uniforms: The men had just been awarded the honor of wearing the skull and cross-bones, Kronprinz Wilhelm's personal insignia, a little while before, so we can assume that each man was given one or two of them at that time. I also know that my father was wearing the insignia when he was wounded on Mort Homme on 28. 12. 16.

Despite the seeming informal type of picture, the photo is of very high quality, note the interior illumination, almost certainly a professional photo, and the men in front are mostly wearing a high quality of uniform, brobably their best. Also note that most of the men in the front are probably NCOs, because privates had the billed caps, but were not allowed to wear them near the front; I don't know exactly how close. I would think that in general the average NCO would have a better-quality "best" uniform than the average private.

Can I ask what info you have to roughly date the photo, and place it at Stenay-sur-Meuse? If you are correct, the photo is certainly of 2. Kompagnie. If there is writing on the reverse of the photo, I would be happy to translate the writing, which will probably be in a mix of Suetterlin, Kurrent, and Modern script. I have done such translations in the German, Czech (with my wife's help), and Slovene in Suetterlin script for a leading German military postcard dealer. I learned to read those scripts to read the PCs and letters from the front of my father and grand-father, many written from Stenay-sur-Meuse (probably in the same building in the picture, if your information is correct.). I also have a good knowledge of German military post stamps and unit stamps used on military mail. These often provide a great deal of information. There also is, if it is a post card, something called the Absender Block, that has a lot of information in highly abbreviated form.

I have only one photo of the barracks, an exterior shot, not good quality, which he told me was an old French wooden barracks.

Bob Lembke

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I see a good deal more in the photo. Note the several men wearing a light-colored blouse. That was a fatigue uniform, an informal uniform for work details, ertc. Note the guy standing to the extreme left; note the oil stains. My father's letters mentioned the problems with oil stains on all sorts of things due to the flame oil, made worse by the limited availability of very poor soap. Several of the men seem to have large oil stains.

Note that some men have the ribbon of the Eiserne Kreuz II. Klasse in a button-hole, and some men wear the black shoulderstraps of the Pioniere. The pile of firewood next to the stove suggest that the photo was taken during the colder months, perhaps the Winter of 1916/17.

Note how big and strong that some of the men seem to be, like the NCO front left (seemingly wearing a wrist-watch) and the private sitting third from the left in front. Both wear the ribbon of the EK II. My father was very tall, an athlete. Major Dr. Reddemann, after the war, was very proud of a photo of one of his flame troopers carrying not one, but two of the Wex Model Flammenwerfer.

Bob Lembke

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Bob,

as i wrote in my mail, only 2 of the pc's (same guy) have a date and place written on the back: Stenay/Dun, july and august 16. I agree with you this one was probaby taken later, with the firewood etc. i don't share for 100% your opinion on them wearing their 'best': as far as i know, at this date, it wasn't very common for or's to have a 'best' tunic, certainly not at or near the front. secondly, nearly all 'best' uniform have some distinct 'tailor' features, such as half or whole raised collars, tighter fit etc. all appear to be wearing an issue M10 or 13 felddrock, 2 are wearing the drillichanzug, the one on the right the fieldgrey version, which began to appear in 1916. Most ors are wearing the tarnbändchen on their Krätzschen and M15 black pionier-klappen without nr as for garde.

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Bob,

as i wrote in my mail, only 2 of the pc's (same guy) have a date and place written on the back: Stenay/Dun, july and august 16. I agree with you this one was probaby taken later, with the firewood etc. i don't share for 100% your opinion on them wearing their 'best': as far as i know, at this date, it wasn't very common for or's to have a 'best' tunic, certainly not at or near the front. secondly, nearly all 'best' uniform have some distinct 'tailor' features, such as half or whole raised collars, tighter fit etc. all appear to be wearing an issue M10 or 13 felddrock, 2 are wearing the drillichanzug, the one on the right the fieldgrey version, which began to appear in 1916. Most ors are wearing the tarnbändchen on their Krätzschen and M15 black pionier-klappen without nr as for garde.

"eparges";

Yes, I agree that most ORs were lucky to have a single regular uniform and a Drillichanzug, the fatigue uniform you can see on a couple of men. As I said, my father mentioned the persistant problem of getting flame oil on your uniform. Many of us WW I "nuts" seem to feel that the men spent 70% of their time working on the perfection of their uniforms. In reality they were more concerned with scrounging some food and trying to stay alive.

My father had many stories of how the men of this company had many adventures with schemes to "obtain" (as in steal) more food. They spent 90% of their time in Stenay-sur-Meuse, and were picked for initiative and intelligence, so they were very ingenious in these adventures. As their distinctive uniforms and insignia "stood out like a sore thumb", he said that they gradually accumulated ordinary infantry uniform articles, so they could go out and not be recognized. He said that they sometimes formed up a little unit, like a Gruppe, under the command of a real or make-believe NCO, and sharply march out on their little mission. If an officer came along on the street, the "NCO" would bark out an order, and 12 paces before reaching the officer the little "unit" would snap to a stiff "goose-step", halting it after having passed the officer(s) by three paces. The officer(s) would be impressed by the good discipline in the army, and the men would march off to steal from the same army.

When wounded my father wrote his father and minimized the severity of the wound. When wounded on Mort Homme he wrote my grand-father and said that he was going to get a new uniform, which he liked, but he said that the previous one was "perfectly good". But in another report (he had laid in a French dugout in no-man's-land with a bad arm wound for three days before being found; an exploding shell had wounded every man of his Trupp, and they could not evacuate him, as the worst wounded.) he said how a buddy had brought him his uniform blouse to the nearby hospital, stuffed in a sandsack, and it was so soaked in blood that it could not be pulled out of the sandsack, but had to be cut out with a knife. "Perfectly good" indeed!

So the quality of the uniforms left much to be desired. Many of the men closest to the camera seem to be junior NCOs, and probably had a bit better uniform, and more likely the decorations like the black shoulder straps, the Garde=Litzen, and the skull-and-crossbone patch, but these "best" uniforms also seem to be oil-stained. You are right that even the junior NCOs probably did not have a second uniform, unless a Drillichanzug, which you often see in photos of Pioniere, as they often had hard work details.

Bob Lembke

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