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Thanks, Thomas.

I just wondered ........... badge and straps found together.

I've had these WW2 pennants for many years, and never thought about any (albeit very tentative) connection, until now.

Pioneer trench-mortar formations fired poison-gas shells until November of 1916, when the practice was discontinued due to ineffectiveness.

If it's real, your badge is likely an unofficial trench-mortar insignia, gas insignia, or shock-troop insignia. Just to show you how lucky you are to have it, here's a photo that was lost in the mail, even though I used a courier service. The package also contained a death card from k.u.k. Sappeur-Spezial-Bataillon, the Austrian flamethrower battalion.

I'll never see another such death card in my lifetime. I can't think too often about losing those photos, because it makes me insane with rage. The dealer refused to send the cards by regular airmail, and since I refused to use registered airmail because so many packages from Germany get stolen now, we settled on a courier service.

And now the cards are gone. Oh, well.

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Edited by Thomas W
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And here's Bernhard Reddemann in the background, the big guy with a notebook and pencil, his overcoat on his shoulder. The flamethrower is the Kleif M.1914. Notice that he doesn't have a Totenkopf sle

IR92 tankard lid............

Brunswick HR17 flask...............(with Prussian skull !!)

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Thank you Thomas for sharing!

Thanks for the compliments. My assault-troops book will be different from all the other English-language books on German assault troops in that it will concentrate exclusively on uniforms, equipment, weapons, tactics, orders of battle, and insignia instead of the history. There will be a general time line, but most of the text will be about the soldiers, what they wore, the items they used in combat, and how they fought.

Also, I wrote a lot about assault units that haven't been covered very much, such as assault artillerymen (Infantry Accompanying Batteries, Close Combat Batteries, Infantry Gun Batteries), machine-gun formations, regimental assault companies, informal shock troops, infantry attack divisions, and expeditionary corps.

I have some very rare photos that haven't been published before. I want this book to be a one-stop reference that will answer most factual questions about assault troops. There won't be very many opinions in the book, except for my opinion on who really invented shock-troop tactics.

Hint: It wasn't Willy Rohr...

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Heres a question....

within SB Rohr and the FW with their respective badges... where the sleeve badges standard issue... or did they need to be earned?

i.e. Was it issued like a Helmet and regulation underwear... or did the soldier have to spend time in the unit and earn the right to wear it?

Best

Chris

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Heres a question....

within SB Rohr and the FW with their respective badges... where the sleeve badges standard issue... or did they need to be earned?

i.e. Was it issued like a Helmet and regulation underwear... or did the soldier have to spend time in the unit and earn the right to wear it?

Best

Chris

The badge was issued to the pioneer upon his transfer into the unit. A pioneer was first trained how to use flamethrowers, then he was transferred into the 2nd Guard Pioneer Ersatz Battalion as a fully qualified flamethrower operator. From there he went into either the Guard Reserve Pioneer Regiment or Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr).

The Crown Prince's letter to the regiment awarded the badge only to the regiment, which is why Rohr's men wore it in a different position. Technically Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr) wasn't authorized to wear it, just as the rest of the battalion wasn't authorized to wear the sleeve badge they adopted in February of 1918.

Either Rohr had a lot of pull with higher command, or he did whatever the heck he wanted and nobody told him to knock it off.

Edited by Thomas W
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Heres a question....

within SB Rohr and the FW with their respective badges... where the sleeve badges standard issue... or did they need to be earned?

i.e. Was it issued like a Helmet and regulation underwear... or did the soldier have to spend time in the unit and earn the right to wear it?

Best

Chris

I know the answer to a certainty for Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment (Flammenwerfer) , and I think 99% sure that the same answer applies to Sturm=Bataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr). If you were a member of the unit (after the distinction was conferred, 1916 for GRPR, 1918 I think for Rohr) you could wear the patch. My father was very, very naughty, in the eyes of the "brass", and he was extended no distinctions that he reasonably should have been given (except for his wound badge, they could hardly deny him that; he got his Iron Cross in 1921, and although he led a Trupp, they never promoted him past Pionier, he should have been at least a Gefreiter to lead a Trupp.), he wore the patch. I have a great patch story and I will post it soon.

My father was posted to Rohr several times at Verdun and he found it a pleasure to work with those professionals. On the contrary, probably unfairly, he had something bordering on contempt for most line infantry. Frequently they would take a position, leave, and the infantry would lose it, and they would be asked to take it again. Once, after this happened twice, they burned off their remaining flame oil so that they could not be asked to do it a third time, of course risking their lives every time.

Bob Lembke

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I think we are talking about different patches. Is Tom saying that that S=B Rohr was not officially authorized to wear the Crown Prince's monogram on their sleeve, they just started doing it? Or is he talking about men from Rohr wearing the flame pioneer's death's head patch?

Both Major Dr. Reddemann and Rohr had a good and probably personal relationship with the Crown Prince, certainly Reddemann.

Bob

If this goes on I cannot respond as I am running out to dinner.

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I think we are talking about different patches. Is Tom saying that that S=B Rohr was not officially authorized to wear the Crown Prince's monogram on their sleeve, they just started doing it? Or is he talking about men from Rohr wearing the flame pioneer's death's head patch?

I misunderstood Chris's original question. I thought he was asking only about the death's-head badge.

Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr) was never authorized to wear any sleeve badge but adopted both the "W" badge for the assault companies and the death's-head badge for the flamethrower platoon.

The official death's-head badge worn by the flamethrower regiment was issued to all members of the regiment after July 28, 1916. The regiment itself had earned it. Individual pioneers did not have to fulfill any requirements to wear it.

I'm sure Rohr's unit treated sleeve badges the same way: If you got into the unit, you could wear the badge. According to Anleitung für Kompagnieführer (K.F.U.), unofficial company shock-troop badges were awarded to the men simply for joining the unit.

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Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr) was never authorized to wear any sleeve badge but adopted both the "W" badge for the assault companies and the death's-head badge for the flamethrower platoon.

According to Gruss, SB5 was authorized by the Kronprinz to wear the "W".

post-1062-034402100 1295224661_thumb.jpg

Edited by Naxos
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According to Gruss SB5 was authorized by the Kronprinz to wear the "W".

Right, but the Crown Prince had no authority over uniform regulations. The Rohr sleeve badge was unofficial, unlike the flamethrower sleeve badge. The Kaiser awarded the flamethrower sleeve badge but never granted the authority for Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr) to wear the "W" badge.

The Crown Prince asked the Kaiser to award both the flamethrower badge and the "W" badge, but the Kaiser did not agree to make the "W" badge official. Rohr's men went ahead and wore it anyway, because the Crown Prince supported them.

However, it was technically an unofficial badge.

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The Crown Prince asked the Kaiser to award both the flamethrower badge and the "W" badge, but the Kaiser did not agree to make the "W" badge official.

What is your source for the above comment

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What is your source for the above comment

The Crown Prince's letter to the Guard Reserve Pioneer Regiment, dated July 28, 1916, states that the death's-head sleeve badge was his idea, and the Kaiser agreed.

As for Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr), see page 35 of Larcade's Deutsche Sturmtruppen, where he quotes von Schwerin as saying that the officers of the assault battalion asked the Crown Prince for permission to use his monogram in a badge. The Crown Prince passed on the request to his father, but to the great sorrow of the officers of the assault battalion, the Kaiser never granted the battalion permission to wear the badge.

Von Schwerin seems to say that the Kaiser thought it was inappropriate for the battalion to adopt an imperial monogram for their own use.

Edited by Thomas W
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As for Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr), see page 35 of Larcade's Deutsche Sturmtruppen, where he quotes von Schwerin as saying that the officers of the assault battalion asked the Crown Prince for permission to use his monogram in a badge. The Crown Prince passed on the request to his father, but to the great sorrow of the officers of the assault battalion, the Kaiser never granted the battalion permission to wear the badge.

Thomas, I consider the Schwerin quote hear-say - not evidence.

The Gruss Dissertation from 1938 is far more accurate and original than Jean-Louis Larcade's thin book.

post-1062-090970100 1295228414_thumb.jpg

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Thomas, I consider the Schwerin quote hear-say - not evidence.

The problem is that the Crown Prince lacked the authority to make any badges official.

Larcade is quoting von Schwerin, who wrote the history of Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr). Even if Larcade and von Schwerin are both wrong, the fact remains that the Crown Prince could not make a badge official. He could bestow a badge, but it would not become part of the uniform regulations, the way the flamethrower sleeve badge was.

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The problem is that the Crown Prince lacked the authority to make any badges official. ... the fact remains that the Crown Prince could not make a badge official.

I understand, no argument here.

... but it would not become part of the uniform regulations, the way the flamethrower sleeve badge was.

... but it did, exactly like the flamethrower sleeve badge (with or without the Old Man's blessing).

post-1062-078380500 1295230373_thumb.jpg

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Thomas, I consider the Schwerin quote hear-say - not evidence.

The Gruss Dissertation from 1938 is far more accurate and original than Jean-Louis Larcade's thin book.

I would have to lean toward Gruss in contrast to Larcade, despite the latter being a nice book. A lot of the materials Gruss relied on in writing his thesis were soon destroyed in WW II.

Additionally, when my father was stationed in Stenay-sur-Meuse, the Crown Prince visited the barracks of the 2. Kompagnie, G=R=P=R repeatedly. Besides telling me that in the 1950's, I have letters from my father to his father written from Stenay in 1916 mentioning the visits, and also mentioning his caging packs of 10 cigarettes that the Crown Prince gave to the men when interacting with them. On one occasion "little Wilhelm" brought his father, and of course there had to be an impromptu inspection, and in the course of it there was a very amusing incident and exchange between the Kaiser and one of the flame pioneers.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine in Philadelphia called me and told me that he was having Prinz Fritz von Preussen and another German reserve officer over for beer and pizza, and asked me if I wanted to come over. Astonishingly, I accepted the invitation (truth be told, Prinz Fritz seemed to prefer his host's French brandy, not his beer), and had a very pleasant evening. I told Prinz Fritz the anecdote about the flame private's interaction with his great-grand-father, and he was quite amused.

Where I am going with this, if the Kaiser expressed the opinion that the men of S=B Rohr should not wear "little Willi"'s monogram, I would think that they would not do it. I know of occasions when a formation of S=B Rohr was rolled out to serve as a Royal guard of honor. Disobedience to the expressed wishes of the Kaiser on matters of protocol and royal perogative seems to me unlikely, despite Rohr's good aroma.

It should be mentioned that, at the very end of the war, when the Kaiser's very safety was in question, Rohr and his stormtroopers were summoned to protect the person of the Kaiser, not those cute Life Guards with their Royal pendant and big black boots.

Bob

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... but it did, exactly like the flamethrower sleeve badge (with or without the Old Man's blessing).

Actually, the Gruss quote says nothing about the official or unofficial status of either badge. It simply says that both units wore "decorations" (Ehrenzeichen). That's true. Both units wore badges.

The difference is that one badge was approved by the Kaiser, and the other wasn't. You agreed with me that the Crown Prince had no authority to make any badge official. Since the Kaiser never approved the Rohr badge, it remains an unofficial badge, like all other shock-troop badges.

Edited by Thomas W
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Gruss isn't infallible; he says in that quote that the flamethrower regiment wore a "silver" death's head. The death's head was silver only for officers. The men wore a gray death's head. There's also a white death's head of a different pattern.

But to say that all flamethrower pioneers wore a silver death's head is inaccurate.

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Saxon infantryman wearing the white flamethrower death's head in the position adopted by the flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr). This guy would have to have been a pioneer first, and then transferred into the infantry.

I have five different photos that show this precise pattern of death's head, so it must have been official. The Rohr "W" badge appears in several different configurations, including metal and cloth. That may indicate that there was no official pattern for it.

post-3717-059045900 1295232239_thumb.jpg

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Actually, the Gruss quote says nothing about the official or unofficial status of either badge. It simply says that both units wore "decorations" (Ehrenzeichen).

No, it says more than that - the correct translation is that the "Ehrenzeichen (Totenkopf and Krone) were awarded to the units. Not just simply worn.

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Gruss isn't infallible;

Nobody is.

he says in that quote that the flamethrower regiment wore a "silver" death's head. The death's head was silver only for officers. The men wore a gray death's head.

In Heraldry silver and grey are interchangeable i.e. the same - as is gold and yellow. One can say that the German flag is Schwarz-Rot-Gelb or Schwarz-Rot-Gold. Both is correct.

.

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No, it says more than that - the correct translation is that the "Ehrenzeichen (Totenkopf and Krone) were awarded to the units. Not just simply worn.

But the quote still says nothing about official versus unofficial. If the Crown Prince told Rohr's men they could wear his monogram, the argument could be made that the badge was "awarded."

However, one badge was approved by the Kaiser, and one wasn't. The Rohr badge has no official approval from any authority, does it?

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In Heraldry silver and grey are interchangeable

Actually, in heraldry silver (argent) and WHITE are interchangeable.

http://www.digiserve.com/heraldry/symbols.htm

http://www.obcgs.com/heraldry.htm

Gray isn't traditionally a heraldic color.

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Actually, in heraldry silver (argent) and WHITE are interchangeable.

Well, that would qualify the white version of the Totenkopf as silver too.

http://www.digiserve.com/heraldry/symbols.htm

http://www.obcgs.com/heraldry.htm

Gray isn't traditionally a heraldic color.

You read up on it, good for you. :cheers: Regardless, silver and gray - all the same, shiny or not.

Back to the SB5 sleeve patch:

So, the Crown Prince authorized it and the Kaiser tolerated the Crown Prince's decision.

I wouldn’t want to be that clerk in the Ordenskanzlei that says: "Wait a minute, that's not official!"

.

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I wouldn't want to be that clerk in the Ordenskanzlei that says: "Wait a minute, that's not official!"

Which may be why Gruss didn't write that it was an unofficial badge. He may not have known that the Kaiser never approved it, or he may have decided to do a little selective editing.

As you said, nobody is infallible.

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