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Possible medal in photo

Article about: Hi I've got a very old photo of my grandfather from WWII and I've been trying to work out what the various things attached to his uniform are. All I know is that it is a german army uniform

  1. #11

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    I'm not sure what year the double TK tabs were worn until or if any units continued using them throughout the war. My very basic understanding was they used a single TK on the right hand tab and the rank on the left but the photo above may pre-date this system.

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  3. #12

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    I may be wrong but could they be Panzer collar tabs?


    * Edit * Forget my last, I have just looked them up and they are nothing like the Panzer totenkopf

    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  4. #13

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    Adrian's identification of him being a member of the SS-Totenkopfdivision is correct. As for the timeframe:

    The double "Death's Head" collar patches were worn by the Totenkopf-Division from the autumn of 1939 onwards. They were officially discontinued with an order of May 1940, but continued to be worn for years afterwards nonetheless.

    The collar patches and especially the combat decorations mean that it is a wartime photograph, but apart from that, there is nothing in the photo to date it more precisely.

    However, if we knew for sure that he was still with the Totenkopf-Division when he was captured by British forces in France, we could date it no later than 1940, as the Totenkopf-Division participated in the Western campaign, but spent the rest of its combat history on the Eastern Front.

    As for his rank, he is a low-ranked enlisted man, a Private. (At most a Rottenführer; but we would have to see his left upper sleeve to tell the exact rank.)

    One final observation: The Soutache (i.e. the inverted chevron) on the cap is of a very dark Waffenfarbe [branch color]; it appears to be black which would make him a Pionier.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 10-16-2011 at 10:05 PM.

  5. #14

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    Thats brilliant HPL, thank you.

    Forgive my ignorance but I am unable to find out much at all about a 'Pionier'. Do you have any further information as to what this means?

    I've found that the black Waffenfarbe would suggest that he was some sort of engineer, is this the same as a Pionier?

  6. #15

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    Yes, a Pionier is a pioneer or combat engineer. (Tasked with overcoming obstacles, bridgebuilding, demolition work, flamethrower operation, the construction of fortifications and shelters, planting and clearing mines, maintaining supply roads etc. etc.)

  7. #16

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    Having been a TK Division member captured in 1940, your grandfather was certainly one of the lucky ones. If he had been sent to Russia his chances of survival would have dropped significantly.

  8. #17

    Default Re: Possible medal in photo

    From what I've been able to find out based on the incredibly knowledgable people on this site your right he was very lucky. It appears he was maybe captured in Belgium, and having been a POW in Normanhurst camp it's quite mind blowing to think of how my family history may never have existed had he made it to the East.

    A BIG thank you to everyone for your comments and welcomes, it's been a weekend well spent for me!

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