BACKGROUND: Although military ranks and rank designations can be traced back to the mercenary armies of the 17TH century it wasnít 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. Generally military shoulder straps would indicate the rank, branch of service and the unit of the wearer. The first pattern shoulder straps utilized by EM/NCOís during the Third Reich period, (Circa 1933-1945), were a carry over from the Weimar Reichswehr, (National Defence Force, Circa 1919-1933), era. On November 26TH 1938 the first pattern, pointed tip, shoulder straps without waffenfarben, (Branch of Service Color), piping, utilized by EM/NCOís were replaced with a rounded tip shoulder strap that included the branch of service waffenfarben. Originally these second pattern straps were manufactured in blue/green badge cloth until regulations in May 1940 altered their construction to field-grey wool. These second pattern shoulder straps were worn for the duration of the war although a slightly modified, third and final pattern was introduced in September 1944. The different branches of service within the German army were allocated a specific, identifying, waffenfarbe, (Branch of Service Color), with black being chosen for Pionier, ({Combat} Engineer), personnel which was generally displayed as piping on the shoulder straps. Of Note: Some Panzer-Pionier, (Armored-Combat Engineer), personnel began to be issued with the black Panzer wrap tunics as per regulations of May 10TH 1940, and shortly afterwards their branch of service color was modified to alternating black and white piping, as the black piping was not very visible against the black background of the tunics. The alternating black and white piping was only utilized by those personnel issued with the black Panzer Wrap tunic, while in service with the Armored-Combat Engineers. Of Note: Enlisted Combat Engineers personnelís shoulder straps signify the ranks of, Pionier, Oberpionier, Gefreiter, Obergefreiter and Stabsgefreiter inclusively with the ranks of Oberpionier and above utilizing specific sleeve rank insignia. Also Of Note: As the spearhead troops, personnel serving with Combat Engineer units, generally experienced higher casualties rates then standard units.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Early, second pattern, (November 1938-May 1940), blue/green badge cloth construction, slip on shoulder straps with bright, silver/aluminum, diamond patterned, NCOís tress to all the outside edges, two, silver washed, stamped alloy, rank pips (miss matched) and black rayon waffenfarbe piping to each. Nice worn and used pair.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $179.00

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