WW2 Italian uniforms
Italian uniforms general information
Prior to the invasion of Sicily by alleid troopes in 1943, sartoral elegance was low on the list of priorities for the Italian army. Having lost most of their modern equipment in the North African and Russian campaigns, the Italians were poorly armed, demoralised and wearing an assortment of uniforms, these included -
The M40 tropical - Very similar to the German Africa Korps M40 - tan in colour with two pleated breast pockets and two lower skirt pockets. Collar can be buttoned up to the throat but was often left open to expose a shirt, this tunic is often refered to as a Sahariana. The trousers were hip flared breeches which tapered and tucked into boots. The uniform was completed by a tan bustina cap.
M40 - grigio verde wool - Same as the M40 tropical but made from wool and dark grey green in colour
M37 - grigio verde wool - The m37 had been obsolete for a number of years but was still very much in evidence in 1943, It had two pleated scalloped breast pockets and two lower skirt pockets. It most distinctive feature being its black collar. The tunic was worn with hip flared pantaloons, wool puttees and low boots.
Italian Paratrooper uniform
Although small in number, the WW2 Italian paratroopers had their own distinctive uniform
M41 - This was an unusual jacket, as it had no collar or lapels, it had two scalloped pleated breast pockets and two lower bellowed skirt pockets, the uniform was finished with a pair of baggy full length wool paratrooper trousers.
Italian SS - The Germans began recruiting for the Italian SS immediatley after the re-instatement of Mussolini, almost 3000 Italians were recruited and were led by 66 German SS officers
Most of the troops were kitted out with German M40 tunics, those Italian SS insignia consisted of the SS lightening bolts on a red back ground, same with the eagle, However, in June 1944 this was changed to the standard white on black
A brief history of WW2 British army uniforms
Guide and information on WW2 British army uniforms and equipment
British WW2 uniforms and equipment
below is a very brief guide to WW2 British Army uniforms and equipment
This was still being issued to troops at the start of WW2 due to the unavailability of the p37 and despite it being the mainstay webbing set of WW1 troops. The webbing was designed by Mills Burrowes, an American company, it replaced the more expensive leather webbing kits of earlier campaigns.
The p08 was made of tightly woven meshed cotton which was lighter than its leather counterpart. This same technology was applied to the pattern 37 webbing .
The Enfield mag pouches on the left hand side of the webbing kit were replaced with "strapped" fastenings, this was to avoid the pouches being worn away by the soldier continually leaning on the trench parapet to fire his weapon (why was right side also not replaced?)
Initially issued with press stud fastenings these replaced with a stud and slit mechanism to reduce manufacturing costs,
The unusual belt buckle is called a "twigg" after its inventor - WM Twigg
P37 WEBBING SET - WWII British
4 versions of this were issued
MK1 - Lower hanging pouches - found not to be suitable
MKII - Higher hanging pouches so not to chafe on legs
MKIII - Longer pouches issued to accommodate the Sten mag
MKIIII - pouches worn on waist belt to each side issued to despatch riders and transport drivers so can be moved around easier.
Home Guard webbing
The home guard were issued with the older leather webbing sets as well as leather anklets/gaiters
Uniforms - WWII British
Khaki service dress introduced in 1902 at start of 2nd Boer war, this was a dramatic break with tradition as the British had worn red since the New Model Army's inception in 1642. However, practicalities dictated that a less obvious colour be introduced, hence the khaki (means dust in Hindi) tunic was introduced.
The 02 pattern had no epaulettes, a stand (mandarin) collar 2 breast and 2 skirt pockets.
The 02 was replaced with the 05 pattern which had epaulettes and stand and fall collar, this was the tunic worn during WW1.
Pattern 22 tunic - Im unsure of the differences between it and 05, the 22 was worn upto the outbreak and during the initial stages of WW2
Pattern 37 - the archetypal British uniform - based on a Norwegian ski suit and the fashions of the time, the P37 was the most modern, well thought out uniform of the period. Whilst most countries (Germany, Holland, Czechozlovakia) still wore a version of theWW1 SD tunic (4 pocket tunic), the British went for functionality over style (German uniform were designed to be deliberately striking in order to instil pride), the tunic, or blouson, was short cut and baggy in order to allow plenty of movement, the trousers were high waisted and baggy, each pocket of the uniform had a specific purpose. It consisted of two tunic breast pockets, one large trousers thigh pocket and one large field dressing pocket to the rear of the trouser.
Pattern 40/42 - known as the austerity pattern - with Britain facing massive cuts a 2 nd pattern tunic was introduced, whilst being similar in design to the p37 there were a number of changes made in order to save on cloth. The pleats on the breast pockets were deleted as was the covering for the buttons, thus leaving them exposed. The buttons down the front were also exposed, saving on the material which covered them. These austerity measures not only saved material but it also saved time in manufacture process at a time when Britains troops were still recovering from Dunkirk and shortages of uniforms was a problem
P40 trousers - as with the tunic the trousers also saw austerity measures, belt loops were omitted as were the flaps for the pockets, again leaving the buttons exposed
1943 war aid tunic
A little known tunic and one I was not aware of for some time, this was produced in 1943 by the Americans under the lend lease programme. It was greener in colour to the brown/khaki British produced tunics (Canadian tunics also had a greener hue to them). It had exposed breast pockets buttons and no pleat as had the p40 but it had fly fronted (covered) body buttons as had the p37, in this respect it truly was a hybrid of the two.
Leather Jerkin - WWII British
Worn by troops in WW1 and WW2 this was a sleevless leather garment which buttoned down the front, mainly brown in colour it was initially prodiced by a company called Rivers MacPherson
Shirts - WWII British
Officers were issued with collared shirts with EM and NCO's having non collared shirts, however, with the entrance of the US into the war in 1941 and their appearance in Europe from 1942, British troops, envious of their allies smarter appearance were finally issued with a collared shirt (1944)
Insignia - WWII British
WW1 saw most troops wearing brass shoulder titles displaying (with pride) which unit they belonged to, however at the start of WW2 no such insignia officially existed, however, unofficially troops did wear shoulder titles which were manufactured, I assume, privately. The early war (Dunkirk) uniform was as a result a rather drab affair with only the Household Cavalry and Army Physical Training corps officially allowed to wear shoulder titles. It wasn't until 1943 that shoulder titles were officially authorised across all regiments.
Formation and regimental badges (rat = desert rats, iron fist = Royal Armoured corps) were authorised in 1941
Caps and helmets - WWII British
Field service caps - side cap worn to the right of the head at a jaunty angle, Tommy usually liked to have the cap one size larger than his standard issue.
Brodie Helmet - helmet and liner invented by Major John Brodie. The helmet offered protection from falling debris and shrapnel, troops often wore the helmet with the chinstrap unfastened reasoning that if they were caught in an upwards explosion the helmet would leave the head without causing damage to the neck as it would have done had the chinstrap been applied.
In modern times this helmet is much maligned and ridiculed but it was issued to British, US (initially) and all Commonwealth troops. It provided good protection from above for the head and a proportion of the shoulders, which no other helmet did, The later M1 US helmet provided better neck protection but lacked the diameter of the Brodie and was thus inferior in that respect.
General Service (GS) cap - universally despised, voluminous piece of headwear, this was the forerunner to the beret and was a cross between a Tam-o-Shanter and said beret, if the FS cap was considered stylish (the same as its US counterpart the Garrison cap and German overseas cap or "little ship") the GS cap was considered unsightly and was disliked by the troops.
Weapons - WWII British
No3 rifle - Lee Enfield - standard rifle in WW2 with pig sticker bayonette
No4 rifle introduced in 1941
Fairburn sykes - rubber handled double edged knife issued to Commandos
Shephard + Turpin + Enfield (STEN) a copy of the German MP28 but with side loading magazine. Initially issued with a wooden handle and known in the Navy as the Lanchester. The MP28 also had a wooden stock but had a vertical loading magazine.
Enfield pistol - smaller, lighter version of the WW1 Webley
Bren Gun - based on a Czech design - name take from amalgamation of "Bryno" the Czech city where its forerunner was produced and "Enfield" - BR-EN. The Bren took the same ammo (303) as the mk3 Lee Enfield rifle.
A brief history of Soviet Red army uniforms
Guide and infrmation on WW2 Soviet tunics
WW2 Soviet Uniforms and Equipment
List of WW2 Soviet clothing terms
Gimnastiorka - tunic
Charovari - Trousers
Shinel - Overcoat
Telogrieka - Padded Winter jacket/trousers - uniform
Myshok - Boots
Pilotka - side cap
Furajka - service cap - 1924 pattern had higher top - 1935 pattern lower and flatter
Budyonovka - M29 pointed winter cap with star depicting arm of service (colour of)
Panama Hat - issued in hot climates - Mongolia, Manchuria etc
Shapa Ushanka - classic Russian fur hat, replaced the Budyonovka in 1940
Finka - Flat fur cap, no ear flaps (as had the Ushanka) reserved for officers
Papasha - High fronted fur hat, no ear flaps, reserved for Generals and above
Helmets - WWII Russian
Soviet M40 HELMET - 2 versions one had 3 rivets the other had 6
Soviet M36 HELMET - comb on top - resembeled the French Hadrian helmet
TUNICS - WWII Russian
M35 tunic, stand and fall collar, brass buttons pre 1941. M35 was issued very long and had to be altered by the troops. The sleeves were left deliberately long to protect the hands
M35 officers tunic same as EM but had piped collar
Shoulder boards - introduced in 1943, a throwback to Tsarist Russia
Whilst waiting for the m43 to filter through - m35 tunics were modified to take shoulder boards, hence m35/43 hybrid tunic
M43 tunic - NCO/EM - no breast pockets, stand collar, 3 buttons on chest, 2 on collar
M43 tunic - officers - two internal breast pockets (not patch) and piping on upper edge of cuffs.
American made lend lease tunics had wider breast pockets and plastic buttons
Because of many different manufacturers, washing, delousing etc, a variety of colours exist from green, light green brown and even grey.
NKVD shoulder boards - not angular but cut at angles - this makes no sense!!!
OFFICERS DRESS UNIFORMS - WWII Russian
"The French" - named after British General Sir John French, introduced in 1935 it had upper piping on cuff, 4 pockets and had open neck - similar to German m37 tunic
"The Kittel" - Stand collar, 5 buttons, closed neck (similar to British 02 pattern tunic) - piped upper cuffs,
"The Mundir" parade tunic - collar tabs in colour of service, piped cuffs, stand collar, also available in double breasted
BUTTONS - WWII Russian
All buttons after 1941 had to be painted green
Telogrieka - padded winter jacket - this had brass buttons, unsure if these were changed after 1941.
TROUSERS - WWII Russian
Charovari - rounded shape to sides.
Blue breeches - had arm of service piping running down side for officers, NCO's were plain blue.
Soviet branch of service colouring system
Raspberry - Infantry
Purple - Cavalry
Blue - NKVD - Border guards etc but also dark green??
Red - Artillery
Black - Engineers
Green - Medical
COLLAR TABS - WWII Russian
Two versions, pattern 35 - tab was all one colour depending on branch of service, pattern 40 - was coloured in BOS with stripe running through middle (longest)
After 1943 ALL collar tabs were dark green, I assume the reason behind this was the fact that shoulder boards were introduced in 1943 that displayed the soldiers BOS.
General Soviet Information
Soviet press always showed the Soviet troops in side caps and not helmets, this was to display his "invincibility", whilst propaganda shots of the Germans always (or tried to) show them in their helmets.
Soviets referred to the Germans as "fascists" and not "Nazis", due to the fact that "Nazi" contained the word Socialist and as the Soviets were Communist this was a link they were eager to play down.
Dogs were used a lot in Red Army - mine clearing, border guards etc
Wound stripes were displayed on the right hand breast.
Tank troops wore grey uniforms
A brief history of German army tunics
Guide and information on WW2 German army tunics and equipment
WW2 German uniforms and equipment
Soutache - coloured waffenfarbe around the cockade - discontinued after 1942
Silver thread made from aluminium
Einhienfeldmutze - m43 ski cap - issued to all SS and Panzer troops in 1942. Initally only issued to ski troops, the Gebirgsjager version had a longer peak.
Peter Kupper - manufacturer - shortened to Pekuro
Robert Lubstien - manufacturer - shortened to ErEl
TUNICS - WWII German
Pattern M33 tunic - The Imperial German Army tunics of WW1 (Pattern 07 and pattern 15) had stand collars with no external pockets. The pattern 33 was the forerunner to all the subsequent (and infamous) tunics worn by the German army from 1933 to 1945. The pattern 33 had a stand and fall collar in the field grey material as the tunic, it had no eyelets for belt hooks and had re-enforced stitching above the breast pockets. The lining was very sparse and only placed in points of stress, a similar arrangement was found in later tropical tunics. The shoulder boards were pointed and not rounded as in later models, this shape was similar to WW1 Tunics and were also made from the same material and colour as the tunic. This gave the M33 a very bland appearance which was not dissimilar to the later M40 and M43 models. Breast pockets were pleated with scalloped flaps, skirt pockets were external bellows.
PATTERN M34 TUNIC - Dark green collar introduced in order to smarten up the appearance and make the tunic more appropriate for walking out. The M34 also market the appearance of eyelets for belt hook holders (3 eyelets each side for Heer but only 2 for SS). Everything else remained the same as the M33
PATTERN M35 TUNIC - same as the M34 but with the addition of an internal lining patch sewn into the small of the back to prevent wear on the wool, also saw the introduction of internal suspension straps
PATTERN M36 TUNIC - now fully lined across the back, rounded shoulder boards introduced and worn with the M36, also the reinforcement stitching above the two breast pockets (as seen in three previous designs) vanishes.
PATTERN M40 TUNIC - retains all the features of the M36 but the collar reverts back to being the same colour as the tunic which was the case with the M33 tunic. In fact both tunics when placed side by side are differentiated only byt the fact that the M33 has no belt loops and has the reinforcement stitching above the breast pockets.
PATTERN M41 TUNIC - same as the M40 but had six buttons and a sateen lining. The introduction of six buttons is a mystery amongst collectors, one theory is that because of the poorer quality of material now being used the use of six buttons was now adapted to give the tunic the fitted shape achieved by using the superior wool of earlier models which as a result, only required 5 buttons, this is backed up by the fact that HBT, tropical and summer wear tunics all had 6 buttons and were , by their nature, made from lighter material than wool. However, to add further confusion, SS tunics had always used six, this could have been a purely a sartorial flourish though.
PATTERN M42 tunic - material is now becoming a problem for the Germans and this tunic truly see's the announcement of the austerity pattern. The tunic is made from what collectors term, Nettle Cloth, i.e material made from pulped up plant fibres mixed with re-worked wool. Compared to the M36 this is a poor relation. This model also sees the deletion of pleats on the breast pockets in order to save material but the pockets still retain the scalloped flats.
PATTERN M43 tunic - By 1943 the tide was turning against the Germans and this year see's the final 4 pocket tunic introduced by the German army in World War 2. From the introduction of the first pattern tunic in 1933 through to the peak of the classic M36, the M43 truly represents the nadir of WW2 German tunics. Made from the inferior nettle cloth, economic conditions and need to issue tunics to the army as fast as possible due to increasing military losses, saw the M43 lose its scalloped pocket flaps, whether this was an official directive or a decision made by manufacturers in order to speed up production, is not known. The M43 now appears in the following form - square cut, unscalloped breast pocket flaps, no pleats on the pockets, 6 buttons down the front, matching collar and tunic cloth.
PATTERN M44 tunic - With cuts and shortages now truly biting a completely new, economy focused design was needed, thus the M44 was born. The M44 does seem to have striking similarities to the British Pattern 40 austerity pattern tunic. The M44 was waist length jacket with two square cut, unpleated breast pockets and even though the jacket was shorter in style it still retained 6 buttons (adding further credence to the theory that poor quality wool needed the extra support of six buttons to give the tunic its shape, after all had only 5 or even 4 buttons been required then surely this would have been implementend). One of the most striking and surprising features of the M44 was its colour, by 1944 the Germans had abandoned the field grey colour and adopted olive brown, this choice of uniform colour may seem a strange choice and a departure from the traditional field/stone grey. However, one needs to consider that by 1944 sartorial elegance was the last thing on German military minds plus the fact that cloth of any quality and description was in short supply, but what the Reich did have was a huge supply of captured Soviet uniforms from its earlier successes in the East, these were pulped with plant fibre and other wool which in turn produced a brown/green cloth, hence the olive brown
Panzer tunics - WWII German
1st pattern - the stylish waist length panzer wrap caused some envy amongst troops of other wings due to its smart appearance. The 1st pattern was produced in black only (to avoid oil staines showing) and had a pink piped (for tank regiment) lapel and collar, it had no lapel button and no hook and eye fastening at the neck
2nd pattern - this saw the introduction of the lapel button hole and the hook and eye neck fastening, giving the tunic and even smarter appearance.
3rd pattern - this saw the disappearance of the pink waffenfarbe piping due to its banning by a high command edit in 1941.
Assualt Artillery tunics - WWII German
Same style and cut as its black Panzer cousin but in field grey - worn with red rimmed (for artillery) silver skulled collar tabs)
2nd pattern tunic - same as 1st but with large breast/midriff pocket - also available in HBT
Camouflage - WWII German
From the French to cover or disguise, the SS were first modern military force to make use of such a pattern of colour, though it has been said that Scottish Clans Tartan could also be an early form of camo. The first pattern of SS camouflage is known to collectors as plane tree, followed by palm print, then oak leaf and finally the infamous pea dot camo. Army camouflage consisted of the water and tan edition, whilst the Luftwaffe had splinter A and B.
Much discussion has arisen regarding the appearance of the numbers 1,2,3,4 on certain pieces of camouflage clothing, one theory is that the numbers represent the different sheets of camouflage"screen prints" used in the printing process or that, as the camo material was originally a derivative of the zeltbahn, it represents different zeltbahn sheets.
The last SS version, the pea dot, came in the 1943 duck drill pattern, which was superior to the later 1944 pattern made from HBT (Herring Bone Twill)
Other tunics - The Germans made great use of captured uniforms, these were either pulped to produce new cloth (Soviet) or because they resembled current issue German tunics, just rebadged and issued. Captured Dutch tunics were widely issued, these resembled the M43 tunic, however, they had 7 frontal buttons and no skirt pockets, but had stand and fall collars and unpleated breast pockets, which were inset instead of external, also had a seamed cuff (similar to a French cuff) Captured Czech tunics were also used, these can be identified by their heavily scalloped breast pocket flaps, plus all frontal buttons were concealed by a cloth fly. Fine quality material was also liberated from the Italians upon their defection to the Allies, this was used to make high quality tunics (the term used for this material was Grigio Verde - Green/Grey)
General Tunic Info - WWII German
Tunic shade and colour differed greatly from 1933 to 1945, this was due to manufacturers using different quality materials and dyes.
The German soldier was particularly striking in the way he wore the sleeves of his uniform rolled up, this was a feature that was particularly associated with German uniforms
Feb 1934 - German Army adopted the Eagle emblem
American army intelligence edit (date unknown) stated that Feldgrau should be translated as light green and NOT field grey (as it was not grey)
Buttons were pebbled to avoid reflection
Headwear - WWII German
One of the most distinctive pieces of German uniform kit was the officers cap, known to collectors as the m38. The cap came in two basic styles, the "Tellerform", or plate style and the "Sattleform" or saddle style. The former was worn prior and in the early parts of WW2 and is distinctive due to its rounded shape, this is achieved by placing a wire rim on the inside of the cap, this was done at the manufacturing stage. However, with the advent of war, the sattleform soon became the predominant style, the internal wire rim was removed and the cap "crushed" to appear in the shape of a saddle (sattle), this style was much favoured amongst combat veterens as a sign of their length of time in the field.
The enlisted man had two kinds of (soft) headwear, he initially started off with the Schiffen (little ship) or overseas cap, this was very similar in appearance and makeup as the British forage cap, it had a flap with when pulled down over the face and buttoned protected the ears and lower face from the elements. The Sciffchen was replaced in 1943 by the m43 ski cap, this was initially only issued to Gebirgsjager troops, the GJ troops cap had a longer peak to decrease the possibility of snow falling in the eyes, however in 1943 it was issued as a general item across all branches of the army and SS and proved very popular
General German Info
Belt buckle with national eagle introcued in 1936
Waffenrock dress tunic introduced in 1935
Conscription introduced in German in 1935
Collar lining on inside of dress uniforms called a "KragenBinde"
Open collar on tunics was only allowed to be worn between 1st april and 30th September and then only in hot climates, Greece, Crete, Russia
Markings on inside of tunic - centre number is chest measurement those on the right are neck measurement and sleeve length
Sewing of shoulder boards into the seam of the uniform was strictly forbidden for enlisted men as the carrying of equipment would put pressure on the board and cause the seam to tear, resulting in at least an unnesseccary repair and at the worst a new tunic. This order was reiterated in 1940 due to general ignorance.
The Allgemeine SS
A very brief summary of the Allgemeine SS, for information purposes
THE ALLGEMEINE SS
The Allgemeine SS remained very much separate from the Waffen SS, indeed in its simplest terms the Allgemeine SS can be seen as nothing more than the "Evil Admin" wing with sinister intentions. The Allgemeine SS had huge influence over the industrial output and lives of the people of Germany and by 1942 was split into 8 main departments
Hauptamt Personlicher Stab RfSS
This was the personal staff of Himmler, and was made up of the heads of all the other sections, advisors, technicians and honorary officers such as Dr Hans Lammer, an honorary member of the SS due to his legal work (he was a lawyer) on behalf of the Nazi Party.
The SS central officer responsible for recruitment and records of SS non commissioned personnel
Responsible for the training, payroll, equipment supply, arms, ammunition, vehicles, mail censorship, geology, dental and medical records
Responsible for internal affairs and security, perhaps the most famous of all the Allgemeine sections and the one most people associate with the infamous black uniform. The RSHA covered the Gestapo, the SD and the Kripo which were responsible for discovering enemies of the Nazi Party both home and abroad, counter intelligence and espionage.
SS Wirtschafs und Verwaltungshauptampt
Controlled a large number of the SS industrial operations with by late war totalled over 500 factories and other business interests including farming, stock breeding, forestry, mining, fishing, quarries, brickworks, cement factories, bakeries and tanning. At one point operations controlled by the SS produced 75% of Germanys soft drinks and 95% of her furniture.
Rasse und Siedlungshauptampt
The control of the racial purity of the SS was the responsibility of the RuSHA and the settlement of ex SS men in the conquered areas of eastern Europe.
Hauptampt SS- Gericht
The SS legal department, this department controlled disciplinary issues undertaken against members of the SS and the SS courts.
SS personnel department dealing with commissioned officers only.
Of all the SS insignia and emblems the one that has become most closely associated with the organisation is the Deaths Head of Totenkopf. General assumption is that this insignia was adopted for nothing more than shock value but in fact the Deaths Head was of great historical resonance in Germany prior to its WW2 interpretation.
In 1740, a jawless deaths head with its bones lying beneath the skull adorned the funeral trappings of Prussian King, Friederich Wilhelm 1st. In 1741 the Leig Husaren Regiments 1 and 2 were formed and adopted black uniforms and took the Totenkopf as their headwear insignia., in 1809 the Brunswicks Hussar Regiment no 17 and Infantry regiment no 92 also adopted the Deaths Head insignia, although in a slightly different design. Forward to 1914 and the trenches of Western Europe and we see the elite German Stormtroopers (Sturmtrup), flamethrower units and tank battalions also adopting the Totenkopf.
In 1923 the Stosstrup Adolf Hitler took the Totenkopf as their symbol, initially using army surplus badges until their own supplies could be sourced. In 1934 the natural successors to the Hussars, the Panzer regiments began to use the jawless Deaths Head as their insignia, therefore the SS devised a new skull, with lower jaw and thus the infamous badge was born.
Along with the Deaths Head the SS runes were the other potent Nazi symbol, the most famous of these being the Hakenkreuz or Swastika. The word Rune derives from the Nordic "Run" meaning "secret script" with Hakenkruez being the symbol of Thor, the God of thunder In the late 19th century this form of written communication began to be examined more closely in Northern Europe, particularly by the Thule Society, of which Heinrich Himmler was loosely associated. The subject of ancient symbols and their meanings fascinated Himmler and thus many runic symbols were incorporated into SS uniform insignia and dress.
In 1924, Leutnant Gerhard Rossbach came into possession of a great number of German army tropical brown shirts so when the NSDAP and SA were officially formed in 1925, the members were kitted out in these readily available shirts and therefore the brown shirt became the instantly recognisable outfit of the NSDAP, all down to an over zealous German army quartermaster.
THE BLACK M32 UNIFORM
In an attempt to smarten the appearance of Allegemeine SS men the black M32 uniform was introduced (1932), the uniform became standard issue to all Allgemeine SS men by 1934. Designed by SS Oberfuhrer Professor Karl Diebitsch (NOT Hugo Boss!!) the tunic comprised of an open neck with 2 pleated breast pockets and initially two skirt pockets of the slash variety, this was later changed to pleated box.
As the Allgemeine SS were in effect an administrative force by 1944 a large proposrtion of the German public began to resent their presence and they were seen as shirking their fighting duty, so the most infamous and particularly terrifying uniform produced by the Nazis had in fact become a symbol of cowardice in the eyes of the German people.
Partisans and Anti Partisans
Partisans and the Anti Partisans
During 1941 Germany occupied first Greece then Yugoslavia, then enormous tracts of Russia. The front line troops were soon moved on but this left large pockets of resistance behind their lines, civilians, army stragglers etc, these people formed resistance groups and waged war against the occupiers.
The Germans left just enough troops behind the lines to guard main communications lines but never enough to completely combat the Partisan threat, even with the help of auxiliaries drawn from occupied police forces and those sympathetic to the German cause or at least vehemently opposed to the Communists.
The Partisan situation in some of the German occupied countries was a particularly strange one and not just as simple as an oppressed people fighting against and invader. The Partisans formed themselves into two factions, those of nationalist and mainly pro monarchy persuation and those who followed Communist ideals. These two stand points often saw them fighting each other as well as the Germans. Indeed citizens or soldiers of occupied countries who were amalgamated into the German SS or Army were often treated with sympathy by Nationalist Partisans and in turn the conscripts provided the Nationalists with German weapons and equipment.
This relationship also saw the Nationalists and Germans, on occasion, join forces against the Communist Partisans.
EASTERN EUROPE AND THE BALKANS
Polish Left wing partisans - were initially known as the Gwarda Ludowa and later changed to the Armia Ludowa, however, although this group were communist, they did not adopt the red star as other communist partisans did.
Russian Defence corps - Yugoslavia. Made up of "White Russians", Tsarist Russians exhiled from Russia. They had seen service in the Imperialist Russian army and kept their rank pertaining to this on their shoulder straps but also wore their Russian Defence Corps rank on their collars, leading in some cases to two differing ranks appearing on the same uniform.
The traditional Russian partisans, made up of civilians and straggler soldiers were far too distant from the Russian lines to receive supplies, especially uniforms, so they made do with captured German clothing and equipment, the ubiquitous flat cap, suit jacket and shirt.
The Ukrainian partisans had access to captured Italian uniforms and equipment captured in Russia
Tito's Yugoslav Communist Partisans - Led by the flamboyant Josep Broz better known by his nickname "Tito" they rose up in 1941 against the then Italian occupiers, the revolt was quickly quelled with German aid.
However, Titos treatment of all Yugoslavs as equals despite religious or ethnic differences saw recruitment to his cause swell and by late 1942 he was able to call on in excess of 150,000 men who were designated the Yugoslav National Liberation Army. Numbers steadily increased despite massive efforts by the German 7TH Division SS "Prinz Eugen" and attacks on his HQ by crack German Brandenburg commandos and SS Fallschirmjager troops. By May 1944 his troops number 390,000 and by September 1944 sections of his army had linked up with the advancing Soviets
Serbian Chetniks - Took the example of their leader Draza Mihailovice and left their beards to grow as sign of Serbias lost freedoM. The Chetniks were Yugoslav Nationalist Partisans and vehemently opposed to the Communist Partisans led by Tito, this sometimes led to collaboration between the Germans and Chetniks, a state of affairs which would ultimately damage their reputation with the Allies and see British war aid being sent to the Communist partisans instead of the Chetniks.
ANTI PARTISAN UNITS
The Germans, as well as using their own troops also formed bands of auxiliary police units in the captured eastern countries, these were called "Schuma" regiments and were made up of former police and people sympathetic to the Nazi cause. One of the most famous was the Russian "Kominsky", named after its leader Bronislav Komminsky, although under SS control (even wearing special SS collar tabs) they were autonomous and acted freely.
The Croatian "Ustasha", were famed and feared for their utter ruthlessness towards the Partisans. The 1st Ustasha regiment was known as "The Black Legion" and became so infamous with regards the atrocities it commited that the Germans ordered it to be disbanded, an order that was ignored.
The Ustasha wore black uniforms modelled on the Italian cut and topped off with a black Italian style Bustina hat.
The Ukrainian "Schuma" were auxiliary police regiments drafted in by the Germans to combat the Partisan threat. They were issued with second hand, black SS Allgemeine uniforms collected by German police. All SS insignia was stripped and the collar, cuffs and lower skirt pocket flaps were replaced with police green material
The Italians invaded Greece in 1940 but soon needed German backing to hold onto their prize. The Germans initially put Greece under German army control and not Civil (SS) control, they released Greek prisoners of war in an effort to cajole the Greeks into working with them. However, German forces were thinly spread, they could only spare troops to garrison the main cities, the rest of the country was controlled by Bulgarian and the hated Italian troops. So occupation and food shortages saw the rise of partisan movements of both nationalist and communist persuation.
ELAS - Greek Leftwing partisans
ELDAS - Greek Nationalist partisans
Both groups hated each other and would often attack one another as well as the Germans, however, ELDAS, being anti-communist often received support from the Germans, as was seen in the war in the Balkans.
1944 saw the Germans leave Greece and the British land, ELDAS immediately joined forces with the advancing British. This development saw ELAS attack both the British and ELDAS, a partisan war broke out in the mountains with ELAS eventually claiming victory due to superior numbers.