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H053360 GROßDEUTSCHLAND COMBAT ENGINEER OBERGEFREITER'S M43 FIELD BLOUSE. (Feldbluse M43)

BACKGROUND: The M43 field blouse was basically a continuation of the modifications of the M33 field blouse which had evolved into the M36, the M40 and the M42 field blouses. Modifications to the M42 field blouse included the elimination of the separate, internal, belt support hook suspenders with them being replaced by short, integral, straps in April 1943, and the replacement of the scalloped button flaps on the front pockets to straight flaps to simplify production in mid-1943. These alterations resulted in the M43 field blouse, which was to be the final variant of the original M33 field blouse. Of Note: The modifications were not always strictly adhered to. Officers and certain senior NCO ranks were responsible for purchasing their own uniforms and as a result were allotted a clothing allowance through the army’s Kleiderkasse, (Clothing Account), system. The Officers and certain senior NCO’s could choose to purchase their uniforms from the armed forces clothing depots or to privately purchase garments of higher quality. Although enlisted personnel were issued their uniforms from government supplies they were also permitted to purchase privately tailored uniforms although the price may have been restrictive. The German army originally adopted a slightly modified version of the NSDAP’s, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, (National Socialist German Worker’s Party), national eagle by order on February 17TH 1934, with instructions to have it applied to all steel helmets, visor caps, and tunics by May 1ST 1934. Generally officer’s ranks utilized hand or machine embroidered breast eagles while EM/NCO’s ranks utilized machine embroidered or machine woven breast eagles. The different branches of service within the army were allocated a specific, identifying, waffenfarbe, (Branch of Service Color), with black being chosen for Pionier, (Combat Engineer), personnel. On the field blouse and service tunic the waffenfarbe was generally displayed on the shoulder straps/boards and the collar tabs. Of Note: As the spearhead troops, personnel serving with a Combat Engineer unit, generally experienced higher casualties rates then standard units. The origins of the elite Panzer Division Großdeutschland may be traced back to the formation of the Wachregiment Berlin, (Guard Regiment Berlin), in 1921. The Wachregiment was tasked with guarding all the military installations within greater Berlin as well as providing security for State visit and formal functions but was soon disbanded after its formation as it was considered unpredictable and was reformed as Kommando der Wachtruppe, (Commanding Guard Troops). In the autumn of 1934 the Kommando der Wachtruppe was re-designated Wachtruppe Berlin and in June 1937 the Wachtruppe Berlin, (Guard Troops Berlin), was enlarged and re-designated, Wachregiment Berlin. On June 12TH 1939 the Wachregiment, was given Infantry regiment status and renamed Großdeutschland Infantry Regiment with its personnel eventually going on to form the cadre of the elite Panzer Division Großdeutschland in May 1942. On June 20TH 1939 special uniforms and insignia were introduced for all Großdeutschland personnel including the distinctive cufftitle and shoulder board/strap cyphers. Although the unique "GD" uniforms were placed in storage until altered and reissued in 1944, personnel of the regiment did utilize the shoulder board/strap cyphers and the distinctive cufftitle through-out the war.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Slightly mottled, coarse, field-grey, wool/rayon blend construction field blouse with a lay down collar features a vertical, six button front closure with a single metal hook and eye positioned at the forward neckline. The field blouse has four, non-pleated, front pockets with straight edged button down flaps. The breast pockets are the standard patch type while the hip pockets are the saddlebag type with expanding side panels. The right breast has a machine woven, M39 pattern, national eagle with outstretched wings, clutching a wreathed, canted, swastika in it’s talons in matte grey rayon threads on a cut-out, woven, field-grey rayon base. The eagle is machine stitched to the breast, but looks to be restored. The left breast has pocket has two, horizontal, thread loops for wear of an award. The field blouse has four sets of three, vertically aligned, stitched eyelets with one set situated at either side of the front closure and two to either side of the back panel, at the waistline. The eyelets were designed for the belt support hooks. The belt support hooks are absent. The reverse of the field blouse has two, short, vertical, tapering darts and a short, central, vertical tail skirt vent. The straight cut sleeve cuffs each have a small, vertical slash to the outside seam with dual fit adjustment buttons to each. The upper left sleeve has the rank insignia for an Obergefreiter, (Circa April 1940), with less than six years service. The insignia consists of a dual, machine woven, matte silvery/grey, rayon diamond patterned, tress chevrons mounted on an inverted triangular, field-grey wool base. The insignia is machine stitched to the sleeve. The lower right sleeves has a fourth and final pattern, "Großdeutschland" cufftitle as introduced in late 1944. The nice quality black doeskin wool construction cufftitle features machine embroidered, simulated handwritten, Copperplate style script, "Großdeutschland", in silver/grey rayon threads. The cufftitle is bordered at both the top and bottom edges in a silver/grey Russian braid. The cufftitle is neatly machine stitched to the sleeve. The field blouse has the later, second pattern, (Circa May 1940-May 1945), EM’s field-grey wool construction, slip on shoulder straps with black rayon waffenfarbe piping and machine embroidered, intertwined, stylized Latin letters, "GD", in black cotton threads. The bottoms of the strap and the slip on retaining tongues are in field-grey, wool and the bottoms of the retaining tongues have a ribbed, grey cotton, reinforcement panel machine stitched in place. The shoulder strap’s fabric retaining loops and buttons are intact. Of Note: Enlisted Combat Engineers personnel’s shoulder straps signify the ranks of, Pionier, Oberpionier, Gefreiter, Obergefreiter and Stabsgefreiter inclusively with the actual rank displayed as sleeve insignia. The reverse of the lay down collar is in reed green cotton/rayon material and has the typical zig-zag reinforcement stitching. The collar has the second pattern, general issue, EM/NCO’s collar tabs as introduced on May 9TH 1940 for wear by all branches of service. The machine woven, rayon collar tabs feature light, grey/green, ribbed litzen with mouse grey branch of service and center stripes. The collar tabs are machine stitched directly to the collar with no backing material. The interior of the field blouse is partially lined in grey rayon, with the lining running down the front closure panel edges and to the upper breast and back panels. The right, front, tail skirt lining has a grey rayon, field dressing pocket with a single button closure. The lining also has four, vertical, grey, canvas web straps with six or seven stitched eyelets to each, positioned to the reverse of the exterior belt support hook eyelets. All five of the original collar liner buttons are intact. The right breast lining is well marked with faint, mostly illegible, purple, size inkstamps. The field blouse is in overall fairly good condition with light age and usage toning, light to moderate chafe wear to the cuffs and collar edges, a couple of small tears to the upper right sleeve and small areas of light nap wear. The front closure, exterior pocket and the shoulder strap buttons are all the field-grey painted, pebbled, magnetic sheet metal types while the cuff and field dressing pocket buttons are the molded black bakelite type and the collar liner buttons are the ersatz, pressed, tan cardboard type. The front closure, exterior pocket and the shoulder strap buttons retain various amounts of their field-grey paint and all of the buttons appear to have their original stitching. The breast eagle has been restored to the tunic and most probably the cufftitle as well. Collar tabs are original stitching and the GD slip on straps are 100% original and very hard to find examples. The field blouse is roughly size 36" chest. 

GRADE ***1/2                             PRICE $4,760.00

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