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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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Someone has now suggested to me that the black skull might be unofficial Austro-Hungarian...............for Austrian FW troops trained by the Germans ???? :unsure:

Interesting. Many Austrian assault units adopted the death's head after seeing it on the flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr), which began training Austrians in 1916.

The Austrian flamethrower battalion, Sappeur-Spezial-Bataillon Nr. 61, had a death's head cap badge.

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Interesting. Many Austrian assault units adopted the death's head after seeing it on the flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr), which began training Austrians in 1916.

The Austrian flamethrower battalion, Sappeur-Spezial-Bataillon Nr. 61, had a death's head cap badge.

:cheers:

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C'Mon Robin... soon you wont need that one anymore... ;-)

Au contraire!

I think the black one is just as 'desirable' ............ maybe even more so when it is finally 'identified'............. as I am sure it will be.

Everything comes to he who waits! :cheers:

So far as I know, there are only two of each type in 'circulation'.

I'll post a pic of both side-by-side in due course.

Watch this space. :beer:

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Interesting. Many Austrian assault units adopted the death's head after seeing it on the flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion No. 5 (Rohr), which began training Austrians in 1916.

The Austrian flamethrower battalion, Sappeur-Spezial-Bataillon Nr. 61, had a death's head cap badge.

Many Austrian Sturmtruppen used a death's head badge, or included a death's head as part of a unit Kappabzeichen, or unit breast badge. Not all of them were flamethrower units so, caution is advised on assuming an Austrian badge with a death's head indicates a flamethrower unit. Austrian units tolerated far more leeway in the use of unit insignia than the Imperial Germany army ever did.

For more information, Glenn Jewison's site has a good discussion on Austrian Sturmtruppen badges.

http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/badges/sturmtruppen.html

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Bought a postcard on eBay for $1.75. Nobody else bid on it. Tiny scan with very little detail.

Turned out to be a flamethrower pioneer of Stumbataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr). It's one of the clearest period photos of a skull sleeve badge I've ever seen...

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Instead of two crossed bones....two crossed Austrian grenades.

I forgot I had this until I found it this afternoon while looking for something else. The badge was meant to be worn on the cap, and was sewn over/onto the cloth instead of the usual methods. The finish on the front is mostly dark with very slight traces of a silver color or silver wash to the base metal used to stamp the badge from. The silver finish/wash on the reverse still has bright spots and is present over most of the surface. Small size, about one inch across or the length of the last digital of the first finger.

Edited by Les
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  • 2 weeks later...

I received my Flammenwerfer TK today (thanks again, Don!), so can now post a proper comparison between it and the black skull.

I would offer the following observations.

1. The Flammenwerfer TK comes from an impeccable source and is definitely original.

2. The black TK was obviously made by someone who had access to an original FW TK, as the methods of construction are identical. The finer details of construction are not obvious from photographs alone. In other words, the black TK could not have been made solely on the basis of the Niemann photos.

3. Both are padded.

4. Both have very fine (almost 'invisible') stitching on the obverse. A sign of professional tailoring.

5. Both have very rough stitching on the (normally hidden) reverse. Again, professional tailoring.

6. This bit is pretty interesting. Under strong (10x) magnification, both skulls have very fine silver threads woven into them. These silver threads are particularly evident on the black skull, but are also there on the FW TK. This has never been seen in the earlier photos.

On this basis, I am even more convinced now that the black TK is a period original item, although its purpose is still unknown.

Here's a comparative photo.

You can see the padded '3-D' effect of both badges.

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I think the bones are the most interesting detail.

Korrekt !!

And ............ there are very many other similarities, not seen in photos.

Rest easy ........... your black skull is a rare original, in my opinion. :cheers:

Now we just have to find out which unit it related to !! :banger:

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The personal, individual collecting bug is interesting. I prefer period photos to actual insignia. I can't explain why. I think it's because I like seeing the context of the insignia.

Here's a question for those of you with large insignia collections: Let's say a crazy dealer offered you one of two items for the same price. One item is an original white Flammenwerfer regiment death's-head sleeve badge, the official second variation that appears in photos but has yet to appear on eBay. The other item is a pristine carte-de-visite of a flamethrower pioneer of Sturmbataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr) wearing the Garde-Pionier Pickelhaube with the Brunswick Totenkopf on the front, and he's also wearing a Prussian Totenkopf sleeve badge. I've never seen a period photo of the Flammenwerfer Pickelhaube. Some say it doesn't exist, but for the sake of this argument let's say it does.

Which would you choose, if they were selling for the same price and if you could choose only one?

For me, it's no contest. I'd choose the photo, with no regrets.

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I still think I'd take the insignia. I love the photos too, but I have been collecting cloth since 1961. Once a photo is published, everyone can have a copy, but a photo of a rare piece of cloth is the same, a copy that anyone can have. I'll take the patch. To each his own. :rolleyes:

Chip

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I still think I'd take the insignia. I love the photos too, but I have been collecting cloth since 1961. Once a photo is published, everyone can have a copy, but a photo of a rare piece of cloth is the same, a copy that anyone can have. I'll take the patch. To each his own. :rolleyes:

Chip

Interesting. I just finished my book about German assault troops; in the process of writing it I found lots of original photos of previously undocumented insignia, as well as photos of new equipment and weapons I've heard of but never seen.

When I found what will be the first published photo of a fire tube squad (Brandröhrentrupp), it gave me the same thrill that I'm sure you, Robin, Chris, and Sergeant08 feel when you open the package that contains the insignia you bought. For me, it's the excitement of documenting new information, such as shoulder-strap insignia for hand-grenade squads and patrol squads, or the German use of steel helmets with the rim cut off, or a device that allowed a grenadier to use only one hand to pull the pins of egg grenades and throw them.

I found a photo of an assault infantryman with "St." on the front of his Pickelhaube cover, an abbreviation for Stosstrupp, Sturmtrupp, or Sturmabteilung. That was one of my most satisfying discoveries. That, and my photo of a machine-gun squad of the Howitzer Battery of Sturmbataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr); one of the men wears the Rohr sleeve badge, but on his upper right arm instead of lower left. Did the battalion artillerymen wear it there to differentiate themselves from the assault pioneers? Who knows? But nobody's ever documented this before.

If I ever get a hold of rare insignia, I'll know who to contact. Let's do some trading!

Addendum: I just figured out why I prefer photos: They prove the authenticity of the insignia. In the past, if I saw an Überzug with "St." on the front, I wouldn't think it was genuine. But now that I have a period photo of a guy wearing such an item, I know it's real.

Edited by Thomas W
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