SEE BELOW FOR DESCRIPTION
H042578 ARTILLERY OBSERVATION LEUTNANT'S SHOULDER BOARD.(Schulterstück)
BACKGROUND: Although military ranks and rank designations can be traced back to the mercenary armies of the 17TH century it wasn’t until the creation of standing armies in the early 18TH century that distinguishing insignia of rank began to be developed. Originally the shoulder straps were functional items designed to secure the saber and ammunition shoulder cross straps and the larger, metal trimmed epaulettes were a throw back to the protective shoulder pieces worn on medieval armor. By 1800 the epaulettes had lost their protective function and were retained as a badge of rank. In 1866 a new system of rank distinguishing Officer’s shoulder boards were introduced to replace the previously worn epaulettes although the epaulettes were retained for the parade and dress uniforms. Although the officer’s shoulder boards underwent numerous minor modifications they remained basically the same right up until the end of WWII. The different branches of service within the German army were allocated a particular identifying waffenfarbe, (Branch of Service Color), which was displayed as the base on the shoulder boards with bright red being chosen for Artillery personnel.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Slip on shoulder board of matte aluminum braid with unit numeral, "8", and unit designation cypher of a Gothic "B", indicating Beobachtung, (Observation), on a red wool waffenfarbe base.
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