TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



1. Field Equipment

a. BELT. The German soldier habitually wears his belt, with or without field equipment. Normally the enlisted man wears a black leather belt, but a web belt goes with the tropical uniform. The belt always is worn with a steel buckle bearing the branch of service emblem. All ground forces of the Army (Heer) have a buckle embossed with a circular crest in the center of which appears an eagle. The circle is formed by the words "Gott mit uns" above the eagle and a wreath below. The Air Force (Luftwaffe) buckle carries an eagle in flight with a swastika in its claws. The figure is encircled by a wreath. The Armed Elite Guard (Waffen SS) buckle bears an eagle whose outstretched wings extend across the top of the buckle. The words "Meine Ehre heisst Treue" make a nearly complete circle below the eagle's wings. The bird rests on another smaller circle which bears a swastika. Officers wear brown leather belts with a simple tongue-and-bar type buckle. In the field the soldier carries his cartridge pouches, bayonet, entrenching tool, and "bread bag" suspended from this belt. When not wearing field equipment he wears the belt and buckle alone. Metal hooks in the field blouse help hold the belt in place.

b. CARTRIDGE POUCHES. The usual German cartridge pouch is made of leather. It has three separate pockets, each holding 10 rounds of rifle ammunition in two clips. The uniform belt slips through loops on the back of the ammunition pouch, which also has a ring into which the cartridge belt suspenders may be hooked to help support the equipment worn on the belt. Normally two pouches are worn, one on each side of the belt buckle, allowing the rifleman to carry 60 rounds of ammunition. However, soldiers who are not expected to use a great deal of ammunition receive only one pouch, and a leather loop with a ring is substituted for the second pouch to hold the cartridge belt suspenders. Other types of cartridge carriers include submachine-gun ammunition pouches, engineer assault pack pouches, and bandoleers. The submachine-gun pouches, now usually made of webbing, hold six clips. They are about 9 inches long and are carried in a manner similar to the ordinary pouch. The 120-round bandoliers, usually of camouflage pattern, are worn by paratroops slung across the chest. They are held in place by loops slipped over the belt. Medical soldiers receive single-pocket, leather, first-aid pouches which are somewhat deeper and about two-thirds as wide as the ordinary cartridge pouch.

c. ENTRENCHING SHOVEL. Although some of the old-style German entrenching shovels, which are like the old U.S. army shovel, still exist, most German troops are equipped with the standard folding shovel, similar to the standard U.S. entrenching tool. The German shovel consists of a 6 by 8 1/2-inch pointed steel blade hinged to an 18-inch wooden handle. The hinge is provided with a threaded plastic nut which locks the blade in any one of three positions: in line with the handle for use as a shovel, at right angles to the handle for use as a pick, or folded back against the handle for carrying. A leather case for carrying the shovel is suspended from the cartridge belt on the left hip. Since the shovel serves as an adequate pick, few entrenching pick-mattocks are used.

d. BAYONET FROG. The bayonet hangs from the cartridge belt in a leather frog just ahead of the folding entrenching shovel or directly over the old-style entrenching shovel. A loop on the shovel case holds the scabbard in place.

e. BREAD BAG. The German soldier carries the bread bag (Brotbeutel) on his right hip, suspended from the belt. This duck bag holds toilet articles, the field cap when not worn, a towel, and other necessities of the combat soldier. Dismounted personnel carry the canteen snapped into the left hook on the flap of the bread bag. It is held securely in place by slipping the strap which runs around the canteen through the loop on the lower part of the bread-bag flap. Mounted personnel carry the canteen on the right side of the bread bag. Formerly a special strap was used more frequently to allow the bread bag to be slung over the shoulder.

f. CANTEEN. The canteen, which holds nearly one quart, has a felt cover. The canteen cup, either round or oval, is strapped upside down over the mouth of the canteen. The first of these German canteens were made of aluminum, but about 1942 a few were made of a plastic impregnated wood and recent ones have been made of enameled steel. Mountain troops receive a slightly larger canteen. Special medical canteens are issued to medical troops.

g. GAS MASK. The only other item which commonly is suspended in part from the belt is the gas mask in its metal carrier. The top of the carrier is held by a strap which runs around the right shoulder. The bottom is hooked to the back of the belt. Paratroops receive a special fabric gas-mask carrier to reduce the danger of injuries in landing.

2. Combat Equipment

a. CARTRIDGE-BELT SUSPENDERS. There are a number of different types of leather cartridge-belt suspenders issued to German troops and webbing counterparts for use with the tropical uniform. The commonest of these are the infantry suspenders. These are issued to combat troops of infantry divisions who also receive the combat pack and the Model 39 haversack. The infantry suspenders consist of straps with hooks on the front to attach to the cartridge pouches and a single broad hook in back, which is slipped under the cartridge belt. D-rings on the back of the shoulder straps may be used to hold the top of the combat pack, the haversack, or other equipment. The bottom of these suspenders are held by auxiliary straps riveted to the suspenders in front just below the shoulders. Other common types include officers' cartridge-belt suspenders and cavalry suspenders.

b. COMBAT PACK. The normal infantryman's combat pack is a webbing trapezoid with a removable bag buttoned to the bottom. A single strap on the top half of the web frame is used to attach the mess kit and two straps at the bottom hold the shelter quarter, tightly rolled, over the small bag. There are hooks at all four corners so that the combat pack may be attached to the infantry cartridge-belt suspenders. A small pocket on the inside of the bag flap holds the rifle-cleaning kit. Normally the tent rope, one day's iron rations, and a sweater are carried in the bag. However, many times the rope, tent pole, and pins are carried rolled inside the shelter quarter. If necessary a horseshoe roll of overcoat or possibly a blanket may be attached to the combat pack by three straps, which run through the rectangular eyelets on the top and on each side of the pack.

c. MESS KIT. The mess kit, formerly aluminum but now made of enameled steel, is usually carried on the combat pack, although it is sometimes attached to the bread bag in the same way as the canteen. Similar to the Russian and Japanese mess kit, it consists of a kind of deep pot with a cover which may be inverted for use as a plate.

d. SHELTER QUARTER. The German shelter quarter serves both as a tent and as a poncho. It is highly water-repellent duck cut in the form of an isosceles triangle about 6 feet 3 inches along the base and 8 feet 3 inches along the other two sides. There are buttons and buttonholes on all three edges. The shelter quarter is covered with a camouflage mottle, either the characteristic army camouflage pattern or the usual Waffen SS pattern. Some have different patterns on each side, greens predominating on one side and browns on the other. Each soldier also is issued two tent pins and one tent-pole section for use when the shelter quarter is made into a tent. Ordinarily four men pitch their sections together to make a small pyramidal tent, but other combinations are possible, the most common of which are eight- and 16-man tents. The eight-man tent is constructed by erecting two three-sided pyramids and buttoning an inverted shelter half in the space between them. The 16-man tent is made by joining four of the long sides of the eight-man tent. A regular, four-section, pyramidal tent is erected on this base. This tent stands over 9 feet high. Worn as a poncho, the shelter quarter provides good protection from rain because of its excellent water-repellent property. The soldier's head can be thrust through a slit with the narrow point of the triangle in front The two rear points are brought forward and buttoned together. Slits are left open for the arms, around which the poncho drapes almost as if it has sleeves. Motorcyclists can fasten the shelter quarter around the thighs.

3. Other Packs

a. MODEL 39 HAVERSACK. Troops to whom the combat pack is issued also receive the Model 39 haversack. This square-shaped canvas pack, reinforced with leather, has no attached shoulder straps. It is attached to the infantry cartridge-belt suspenders by four hooks like those on the combat pack. Service shoes, twill trousers, a set of brushes, and other necessary items are carried in the main section of the pack. Towel, socks, sewing kit, and shirt are carried in the flap pouch. The tent-pole section and two tent pegs are carried at the top of the pack between the main pouch and the flap pouch. The overcoat or a blanket may be carried on the pack in a horseshoe roll. If for some reason both the haversack and the conbat pack have to be carried at the same time, the combat pack is hooked into the rings on the upper edge of the haversack flap and secured by the button slap on the flap.

b. MODEL 34 HAVERSACK. An older type of haversack still being issued to some German soldiers is the Model 34. This is similar to the Model 39, but is intended to carry all the soldier's equipment.

c. MOUNTAIN RUCKSACK. The duties and equipment of mountain troops require a more versatile pack than the haversack. The mountain rucksack is a large olive-drab sack with attached shoulder straps. There is a large pocket on the outside below the cover flap. Leather loops facilitate attaching articles to the outside. The ruck-sack rests lower on the hack than the haversack.

d. Luftwaffe RUCKSACK. The design of the Luftwaffe rucksack is similar, though not identical, to that of the mountain rucksack. The chief difference is in color: the Air Force rucksack is blue-gray.

e. TROPICAL RUCKSACK. The tropical rucksack is simpler than the mountain and Luftwaffe rucksack. Hooks at the corners snap into rings on the cartridge belt suspenders.

f. ARTILLERY RUCKSACK. Artillerymen receive the artillery rucksack, consisting of a full marching pack and a combat pack.

g. SADDLEBAGS. Until July 1914 a pair of saddlebags was issued to each mounted soldier, but since then saddlebags are considered organizational equipment. It is probable that the supplies of the old Model 34 now are nearly exhausted. It is being replaced by large and small saddlebags. The large saddlebag is the "horse" pack. Its contents include mess kit, horseshoe, eight nails, four calks, calk fastener and hoof cleaner, surcingle, curry comb, horse brush, and pail. The small saddlebag, carried on the right just behind the rider, carries the soldier's personal equipment. Sweater, iron rations, rifle-cleaning kit, toilet articles, tent rope, shoe-cleaning gear. and towel are carried inside the bag, while the shelter quarter is strapped to the outside. Fifteen rounds of ammunition are carried on the cover flap. This small saddlebag may be used as a combat pack if the rider must dismount. The hooks on the four corners snap into the rings of the cavalry cartridge-belt suspenders. The mess kit is removed from the large saddlebag and strapped to the outside of the small saddlebag when it is used as a combat pack.

h. ENGINEER ASSAULT PACK. One engineer assault pack is authorized for every five combat engineers. It is used with the infantry cartridge-belt suspenders and consists of a canvas pack worn on the back and two canvas pouches used in place of the regular cartridge pouches. Two smoke pots are carried in the top of the pack and a 3-kilogram boxed demolition charge in the bottom. In addition, the mess kit, which fits in a special pocket, and shelter quarter are carried in the pack. The pouches hold egg-shaped grenades with rifle ammunition in side pockets. There is a special pocket on the right pouch for a gas mask without carrier. The men to whom this assault pack is issued also receive Model 39 haversack.

4. Special Mountain Equipment

Special equipment issued to German mountain troops is very similar to civilian mountaineering equipment. Manila rope about 1/2 inch in diameter is issued in 100-foot lengths for mountain climbing, but it, of course, serves many other purposes. The equipment of German mountain troops also includes ice axes, 10-point crampons which are strapped to boots for better traction on ice, pitons, snaplinks, steel-edged mountain skis with Kandahar type bindings, and small oval snowshoes. Small, light-weight, A-shaped tents are issued to mountain troops. Red avalanche cords, avalanche shovels, and avalanche probes are provided for rescue work.

5. Special Winter Equipment

Ski troops in flat country are issued lighter skis than those given mountain troops. Their skis are not steel-edged and have a special binding designed for cross-country travel. This binding clamps securely to a metal plate screwed to the bottom of a special wooden-soled canvas overboot. Since all the plates are the same size, the binding fits all men, making the skis interchangeable. Small sleds, known as akajas and looking like small 7-foot, flat-bottomed canoes, are used to transport supplies and heavy weapons and evacuate wounded across snow. There are three types: the double-end boat akaja, the weapons akaja, and the plywood akaja. Also, other types of sleds are improvised.

6. Miscellaneous Equipment

a. DISPATCH CASE. Platoon and squad leaders, master sergeants, messenger carriers, and similar personnel wear a black leather dispatch case on their belts. Previously this case was issued to a greater number, but in 1943 the issue was restricted to conserve leather. A leather map case with a plastic window fits inside the dispatch case. Several pockets are sewn on the front of the case to accommodate seven pencils, rules, map-reading instruments, and other equipment.

b. PACK FRAMES. Pack frames, which are used by German troops to carry heavy weapons and other heavy or clumsy loads, particularly in difficult terrain, are somewhat similar in appearance to the metal tube frames sometimes used with frame rucksacks. There is no universal type but rather special ones for each type of load with special tubes and shelves to accommodate the particular type of equipment carried.

c. GOGGLES. The commonest German goggles are the plastic-lens folding type, made with both clear and amber lenses, one of each type frequently being issued to each man. These are the "sun and dust goggles" which are issued to all members of motorized or mechanized units except vehicle drivers and motorcyclists, who receive a heavier model with smoke-colored lenses and leather, synthetic rubber, or felt frames. The heavier goggles are also issued to some anti-aircraft gunners and sometimes to mountain troops, although mountain troops frequently get the plastic goggles.

d. FORK-SPOON. A combination aluminum fork-spoon is issued to each German soldier. The handles of the fork and spoon are riveted together so that when extended the fork is on one end and the spoon on the other, but when folded the handles lie together and the tines of the fork rest in the bowl of the spoon. Since the over-all length folded is only 5 1/2 inches, this combination utensil is easily carried. It is much simpler and lighter than a combination strainless steel knife, fork, spoon, and sometimes can-opener issued to German troops during the African campaign.

e. RATION HEATERS. A small gasoline stove, weighing a little over a pound, is issued to special units such as mountain troops who must operate under difficult conditions but keep a high degree of mobility. This stove works by burning vaporized gasoline, but it has no pressure pump. Pressure is built up by heating the burner with gasoline or fuel tablets burnt in a small cup below the tank and maintained by the heat generated by the stove itself. More widely issued are fuel tablets, the commonest of which is Esbit: tablets of hexamethylene tetramine. The fuel is packed in a paper carton which is carried in the fuel-tablet stove (Esbit Kocher). In the carton there are four cakes of five tablets each, one or more of which may be broken from the cake and and burned at a time. This fuel is extremely efficient. The fuel-tablet stove is made of three sections of zinc-coated steel. Two identical sections, which form the cover in the closed position, and the sides and mess kit support in the two open positions, are attached to a third section, by a grommet hinge. This third section is a shallow pan on which the tablets are burned. Dimples in the metal at appropriate positions hold the stove in either the closed. half-open, or open positions.


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