Sunday, 11 November 2012

Young Cossacks Badge

Young Cossacks Badge.

XV.Kosaken - Kavallerie - Korps Jung - Kosaken-Traditions-Abzeichen

Rarity – Very Rare.
Known Makers – Unmarked

Young Cossacks Badge - Obverse.
Young Cossacks Badge - Reverse.
This badge measures 52 mm high x 42.5 mm wide and comprises of a design that is produced in stamped sheet ferrous metal.  It is oval and formed of a partial wreath of single broad oak leaves, which have a raised fine outer edge line and a raised central field that has a raised vein.  Each leaf is slightly superimposed over the base of the next, obscuring the stalk and there are four leaves in each side.  The bottom portion of the wreath is formed from a flat fielded scroll.  Superimposed on to the scroll, with its wings outstretched, and superimposed over the lowest leaf on either side is the national eagle clutching a wreath of oak leaves with a swastika within it, in its talons.  The wreath just protrudes beneath the line of the scroll, splitting it in two.  From the top of the eagle's wings are crossed shashkas, Cossack sabres, with their blades superimposed across the wreath with their tips breaking the outer edge.  Between the blades and running up to the apex of the wreath is an Ataman's staff.  On the scroll, in raised cyrillic script, is the abbreviated inscription, 'W K. r O H.' on the left panel, and 'K O 3 A K O B' on the right, which translates to, Shkola Yunykh Kozakov and in English, School for Young Cossacks. 

The reverse shows the negative impression of the obverse.  At the top, directly over the top of the staff, is a semi-circular piece of metal with a punch mark on either side soldered to the body of the badge.  These punch marks produce two nipples which act as the pivotal axis for the pin.  This is of drawn metal in the form of wire curled round with an extension, which forms the spring tension.  The curl is positioned so that its centre accommodates the nipples.  Soldered at the base is a piece of metal that has two scollops at the tip.  The other ends are then reduced and bent at 90ø and similar slightly reducing lines in the form of elipses return to the top, which is turned over to form a 'C'.  The returned tip is formed by a semi-circle and this produces the catch for the pin.  The badge is silver-plated.  There is, however, an example of the badge having a gilt wreath and scroll.  This may indicate that the badge exists in more than one grade.  However, under certain conditions silver can take on the appearance of gilt, due to the oxidising process.

This badge was to recognise graduates of the Young Cossack School who had successfully completed their course.  This form of visible expression of graduation is common to many continental countries and could give rise to the issue of two grades, gold and silver.  It has been stated that the Young Cossack School badge is believed 'not to have been issued'.  The actual example illustrated was obtained from a POW camp in Yorkshire, England where the recipient had been a prisoner and had made an attempt to conceal it.  It was subsequently retrieved when the camp was inspected.  The occupants of the camp were returned to the Soviet Union where they were savagely dealt with.  The repatriation became the inspiration of the book, 'Rabbit Pie'.  This award needs much more research as this is a particularly rare badge with very few original pieces being available to study.  Incidentally, the solid versions that are currently available on the collectors' market, often marked with a Leipzig manufacturer, are reliably considered to be copies produced in newly liberated Czechoslovakia.

The school also had a cuff title which is green with silver lettering.  It is not known whether this was worn as a tradition badge after graduation.

An interesting photograph shows Dr. Josef Goebbels greeting a member of the Young Cossacks who served with the XV Cossack Corps at the front, wearing one in the company of four other Russian volunteers and three German officers.  The Young Cossack School was finally removed from the east to France.  The certificate that accompanied the badge is unknown to the author as is whether or not it was presented in a packet or presentation case. 

Members of Jungschultz Cossacks.

Young Cossacks Badge - Fake.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Sniper’s Badge

The Sniper’s Badge - 3rd class, 2nd class, 1st class.
Instituted on 20th August 1944.
Rarity – Extremely rare, Extremely rare, Extremely rare.
Known Makers – Un-marked

The Sniper’s Badge was instituted on 20th August 1944. Initially it was intended for members of the Army only, to distinguish marksmen who were designated as snipers. But was later extended to all eligible snipers regardless of service. The basic badge was identical in each of the three classes. It was oval and the base material was army green cloth.  Onto this was embroidered a black eagles head rising out of two green oak leaves formed in a V with a smaller leaf beneath to the right and a single brown acorn to the left. The body of the eagle is crossed with white cotton to resemble fletching while the eye and beak were executed in yellow cotton. The lowest 3rd class was plain on the outer edge. The 2nd class had a silver twist cord and an oval gold twist cord distinguished the 1st class.
In Daily order No. 11, 4th November 1944, it was stated, “In order to stress the importance of snipers, to appreciate their achievements and to stimulate the efforts of beginners to fulfil the conditions for the award of the Sniper’s insignia, the following decorations and privileges are established”.

After 10 kills: 7 days special leave, Iron Cross 2nd class and mention in the divisional Daily Orders.

After 20 kills: Snipers Insignia 3rd class.

After 30 kills: 14 days special leave and mention in corps Daily Orders.

After 40 kills: snipers Insignia 2nd class.

After 50 kills: 20 days special leave, Iron Cross 1st class and mention in army Daily Orders.

After 60 kills: snipers Insignia 1st class.

After 70 kills: German Cross in Gold.

The badge was only awarded when no other award distinguished the skill. It was presented with a document and the details wee entered in the soldbuck. The badge was worn on the right sleeve positioned on the cuff above all other insignia. It was not authorised for wear on the great coat.

SS Sniper in action.

Dutch Waffen-SS Sniper.
The Sniper’s Badge - 3rd class, 2nd class, 1st class. 1957 Type.

The Sniper’s Badge - 1st class. 1957 Type.

This form is that which was authorised by regulation of 1957. It takes the design of the original, the Swastika was not a part of the design, with subtle differences. This has been offered as original by some Dealers. The statement is not untrue, but dose not take into account the Birthday of the pieces. Having said this, these are very rare items in their own right.

Possible 1957

The Sniper’s Badge - Fakes 3rd class, 1st class.

The Sniper’s Badge - Fake 1st class.

This is a convincing fake. The obverse is close, but the gold cord is of modern synthetic construction. The reverse clearly shows the imperfection, the netting is quite uncharacteristic of the reverse of an original.

The Sniper’s Badge - Fake 1st class. 
The Sniper’s Badge - Fake 1st class.
The Sniper’s Badge - Fake 2nd class.


Snipers Badge 1st class - Obverse - Fake - Bevo

Snipers Badge 1st class - Reverse - Fake - Bevo

Snipers Badge 2nd class - Obverse - Fantasy Piece.

SS Marksmen Badge.

SS Marksmen Badge.

2nd class, 1st class, Sharpshooter, Master Shooter Class.

Instituted – 1937
Rarity – Rare, Rare, Extremely Rare.
Known Makers – unmarked.

 Master Shooter Class.

Master Shooter Class - Reverse.

This award comprises of a round badge that measures 34 mm in diameter. It is formed as an open circle of oak leaves that are formed in a wreath. At the base and apex are identical ribbons that measure respectively 9 mm and 7 mm. these have raised edges that measure 1 mm. the ribbon at the base has the SS Sigrunen which are incused. From this on either side are six over lapping oak leaves. This circle is 6 mm wide. Into the centre of the wreath is placed a square on its point. Incused into this at its centre is a 5 ringed target.

In the case 2nd class, a square on its point with target and no oak leaves.

In the case of the1st class, Sharpshooter, from the base ribbon is a pair of oak leaves one on either side of the ribbon.

In the case of the Class Master Shooter from the base ribbon is a pair of oak leaves one on either side of the ribbon with a third positioned vertically at the centre of the two other oak leaves and protruding upwards to the targets bull eye

The reverse is flat with a pin hinge and hook construction. Onto the target in raised letters is Ges. Gesh. At the centre is the raised square box with cut corners and the SS Sigrunen.

The question of an award for marksmen in the SS first arose prior to the end of 1936. Members of various branches of the SS had no insignia to show marksmanship qualifications. Several members of the SS-Verfügungstruppen returned from their periods of conscript army service with a marksmanship lanyard gain during their time in the forces. Were they to be allowed to wear this on their SS uniform? On 13th October 1936 the Chief-of-Staff of the SS-Oberschnitt Elbe asked the SS-Hauptamt if it would be permitted for personnel returning from service in the armed forces to wear their marksmanship lanyard (Schützenschnur) on their SS uniform.  Himmler ruled this out, and the decision was made not to allow the wear of the lanyard, but rather to allow the wear of the older shooting awards utilising a series of bars and chevrons worn prior to June 1935 by the army. These were to be worn on the lower left cuff of the SS service dress tunic. Himmler then ordered that a metal badge to be known as the Schützenabzeichen der SS-Verfügungstruppen be created. This would be worn on the right breast pocket of the tunic with parade, re-porting, guard and walking-out dress, but not with field and training dress. The order instituting this award is rather vaguely worded, but it states that, “The lowest grade shall be without a lower oak leaf.” The middle grade will have “two lower oak leaves.” The highest, or sharpshooter, grade 2 will have three oak leaves.” The grouping within each grade will be indicated by a numeral I to 10 at the top of the wreath. Himmler appears to have dropped the idea. He writes, “The SS will receive as its marksmanship award the marksmanship award of the NS Reichskriegerbund. This concept was even shorter lived. In November 1937 an order instituted a totally new series of marksmanship insignia in four classes to be worn on the lower right sleeve. The insignia was aluminium on a black wool diamond. The metal badges were manufactured in the work-shops of the München silversmith Otto Gahr at an individual cost, including engraving of 0.74 RM per thousand.


SS Marksmen Badge 2nd class.

SS Marksmen Badge - FAKES.


In November 1937, an order instituted a totally new series of marksmanship insignia in four classes to be worn on the lower right sleeve. the insignia was produced in aluminum wir on a black wool diamond.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Golden Leaders Sports Badge

Golden Leaders Sports Badge.
Instituted  - 15th May 1938
Rarity – Scarce.
Known Makers M1/101.

Golden Leaders Sports Badge.

Golden Leaders Sports Badge - reverse.

The badge consists of a circle that measures 40 mm and has a wreath of laurel leaves that goes round the outer edge.  It has nine bunches of three leaves on either side which measure 3 mm across.  Inside these is a raised 1 mm line.  The central field is in filled dark blue opaque enamel and over this is superimposed the Hitler Youth Proficiency Badge.  The badge is produced in tomback that is gilded.

The reverse is semi dished with a hinge and 'C' type hook, with a tapering flat pin.  Raised on to the back plate is found the RZM logo and the manufacturer's mark. There is only one known maker M1/101 Gustav Brehmer. Three types of clasp can be encountered, that which has the issue number of the badge impressed or a large impressed capital 'A' or 'B'.

On 18th January 1937 Reichsjugendführer Balder von Schirach, decreed that all HJ and DJ leaders from the rank of Fähnleinführer and higher to Gefolgschaftsführer and higher, including those on the RJF staff, Gebiet staff, Bann staff and Jungbann staff, would be required to pass a ten part test to be known as the leaders test exercises.

Reichsjugendführer Balder von Schirach, to be awarded annually to the high scorers in the leaders test exercises, instituted this award on 15th May 1938.  There was no limitation placed upon the number of recipients provided that they met the necessary qualifications.

In order to qualify, the Competitor must have received the Hitler Youth Proficiency Badge Silver Class. Since there could be some discrepancy in the ages of the contestants, two different levels of achievement were permitted; those who achieved a minimum points score of 7500 points, in the case of contestants in the age group 18 to 32 years old or 6500 in the case of those aged 33 and over in the 'Führer-Zehnkampf' or Leaders' decathlon. The competition was the same as in the first part of the HJ Leistungsabzeichen test, athletics, marching and small calibre rifle shooting but requiring a much higher standard and was held over the course of two days and was divided into two age-groups

A Grade: 18-32 years, requiring 7500 points to qualify.
B Grade: 33 years and older, requiring 6500 points to qualify.

They would be required to pass a decathlon test consisting of:
a)      100 meter sprint
b)      1,000-meter swim.
c)      High jump.
d)      Long jump.
e)      Throwing club accuracy test.
f)        Putting the weight.
g)      300-meter swim; breaststroke.
h)      Marksman qualification, both supported and unsupported.
i)        Cross-country navigation test together with road march in full pack.

The badge was awarded for a period of five years and to continue wearing the badge after this point the leader had to achieve the required points total twice more before the 5 years were up. This never actually happened because it was decided to suspend re-qualification in 1943 until after the war. If a leader had failed to achieve re-qualification the badge would have to be forfeited. A further part of the qualification criteria stated that any leader older than 35 who was able to satisfy the requirements of A Grade would never again be required to requalify for the badge.

The first awards were presented at the 1938 Nürnberg Party Rally. The numbers of badges awarded varies depending on the source but it's likely to be somewhere between 11000 and 15000 that would have been won by 1943 when the award was suspended. Early regulations were unclear as to how the badge was to be worn, with the result that most were worn on the right breast pocket.  Regulations in 1942 specified that the badge was to be worn on the left breast pocket of the uniform.  A miniature could be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothes and it is said that a cloth version of the badge exists for the sports kit.  However, this is unconfirmed. It was awarded with a citation in printed text with a drawing of the badge at the centre. The recipient’s details, the year when it had been awarded, the badge number and when it expired were hand written. It was signed by the Reichsjugendführer. The case is burgundy coloured cardboard with burgundy velvet base and white satin lid interior. There is no lid designation.

Golden Leaders Sports Badge in wear.

Golden Leaders Sports Badge - Fakes.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Prussian Fire Brigade Decoration

Prussian Fire Brigade Decoration.      
Instituted on. 21 December 1933
Rarity – Rare.

This award consists of an oval medal which has a raised edge line with, inset by 4 mm, a further similar one producing a tramline effect.  On to the flat field produced is positioned the inscription which is started and stopped by a single stylised swastika that is placed at 6 o'clock.  The inscription, running clockwise in rustic capitals is, FÜR VERDIENSTE UM DAS FEUERLÖSCHWESEN, which translates to, For Service in the Fire Brigade.  The central field is broken just below the centre by a ground line, twice as thick as the tramlines.  On to the ground line is positioned the torso of an old fashioned fireman.  On his head he wears a fire helmet with neck cloth and is clad in a jerkin with a waist belt.  On to his chest is placed the eagle of Prussia.  To his lips is held a fire horn, while is right hand is employed in holding a fire hose that folds behind his body, to re-emerge in a curl.  In the field beneath the ground line, positioned on to another finer ground line, is placed a high roofed house.  This has six windows on the long side arranged in two rows, while the gable has a door at ground floor level and flanked at second by two windows, with a smaller one positioned at the apex of the roof.  The tiles are represented by lines.  From the right-hand side of the roof darts two tongues of flames while, from the other, billows three columns of smoke.  On the inner tramline, just above the swastika, is a stylised capital R.  The badge measures 42 mm high and 29 mm wide and was struck in silver which has a smoked effect and is artificially patinated.

The reverse is slightly convexed and smooth, with a needle pin similar to that employed to hold the ribbons on to a uniform.  On the edge of the medal, slightly inset on either side is, in raised capital letters, the maker's name, PREUSS.STAATSMÜNZE, on the viewer's left and the silver content, SILBER 900 FEIN, on the right.

The medal was instituted on 21 December 1933 by the Prussian Minister of the Interior who awarded it on the recommendation of the Prussian Chief of Police.  It was awarded for;
a) Any special act of bravery or merit.
b) 25 years continuous service in the fire brigade.

The award was discontinued on 22 December 1936 with the introduction of the Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class, and the Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class, medal.

The presentation case is a two-piece hinged, rigid box with simulated black leather covering.  The interior of the upper portion is padded white satin, while the base is covered by light blue velvet.  Round the edge of the base and the lid is a ring of silver pellets and the two halves are fastened by a push button stud.  It was accompanied by a citation, the design of which is unknown.

Prussian Fire Brigade Decoration in wear.      

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hanover Fire Brigade Medal of Merit

Hanover Fire Brigade Medal of Merit   
Instituted on. 26 April 1934
Rarity – Rare.
Known Makers – Lehmann and Wunnenberg

The Medal of Merit of the Fire Brigade for the Province of Hanover is 28 mm in diameter with a raised edge line.  At the base of the medal is a pair of crossed oak leaves that serve to start and stop the inscription that runs round the edge of the medal and is inset by 1 mm.  The inscription is produced in raised rustic capitals and reads, FÜR VERDIENSTE UM DAS FEUERLÖSWESEN, which translates to, For Merit in the Fire Brigade.  On to the flat central field of the medal is superimposed a fireman's helmet which is similar in style to that of the standard German M35 steel helmet, with the addition of a metal crest and rubber neck shield.  The chinstrap showing the buckle hangs vertically.  The helmet has two rivets to hold the inner liner, and midway between them is a 3 mm by 2 mm decal with raised edge line that has a small inner circle surrounding a mobile swastika.  The reverse has a similar raised edge line with an inscription in raised capital letters, which is punctuated at the base by a small five pointed star.  The inscription reads, FEUERWEHR - VERBAND FÜR DIE PROVINZ HANNOVER.GERG.26.7.1868, which translates to, Fire Brigade Association for the Province of Hanover Founded 26.7.1868.  On to the flat central field is superimposed the well known prancing white horse of Hanover.  At the top of the medal is positioned a round eyelet, through which runs the ribbon ring.  The medal is produced in zinc, has a silver wash and is 3.5 mm thick.  This, with age, can turn the medal an unattractive matt black.  The ribbon is 20 mm wide and made up of yellow and white stripes in equal proportion, yellow being on the left.  The ribbon is shaped in a V over a metal plate that measures 36 mm at its broadest part.  The reverse of the plate has a pin for attachment to the uniform and a piece of copper wire that runs from the bottom of the V upwards until it passes under the suspension pin.  The medal ribbon ring is put over the pin to allow for its suspension.  This construction also enables the medal to be removed to allow for the ribbon to be worn alone.  The medal was manufactured by the firm of Lehmann and Wunnenberg of Hanover.

The medal was introduced on 26 April 1934 to reward the members of the fire brigade for meritorious service in the organisation.  It was also awarded for 25 years continuous service.  The award was discontinued on 22 December 1936 with the introduction of the Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class, and Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class,  which replaced the medal.

The medal was accompanied by an elaborate citation that had a border comprising of dots in fours in a tramline, with a row of pellets on the inner one.  At the head of the citation was a torch in black with red tongues of flame and, on either side in Gothic letters, BESITZ - ZEUGNIS.  Beneath this in smaller, similar letters, was the recipient's name and his town followed by, in four lines, IST FÜR TREUE 25 JÄHRIGE FEUERWEHR - DIENSTZEIT, DAS VOM FEUERWEHRVERBAND DER, PROVINZ HANNOVER GESTIFTETE.  Beneath this is a facsimile of the medal without the ribbon or ring, in silver with, on either side, in red outlined in black, EHREN ZEICHEN.  Beneath this in corresponding letters in two lines, FšR VERDIENSTE UM DAS FEUERLÖSCHWESEN, VERLIEHEN WORDEN.  Beneath this, in two lines, is the city of award and the date with, FEUERWEHRVERBAND DER PROVINZ HANNOVER and the signature and title,
Provinzial – Feuerwehrführer.  The overall colour of the citation is off-yellow.  The medal presentation box is unknown.