World War II German Battle Insignia
By Gordon Williamson
(Illustrated by Darko Pavlovic)
Osprey Publishing (www.ospreypublishing.com)
RRP GBP £9.99
Nazi German badges, medals and insignia are highly sought after and command premium prices. They were awarded by a notorious regime and post war many of them were destroyed or had Nazi emblems removed. This excellent book describes Nazi era battle insignia and it clearly defines its scope at the outset. The term battle insignia is taken from the German Kampfabzeichen and used to denote those badges issued for participation in a specific battle, campaign or those for specific actions or was awarded for a particular type of battle (such as the infantry combat, armoured combat etc).
The book does not include those badges which could be considered qualification badges such as the Pilot’s Badge or the Paratrooper’s Badge. These qualification badges, although they are highly collectable, did not in themselves denote that the recipient had been involved in actual combat. The war badges of Navy also fall outside the scope of the work. Although these badges required the recipient to have participated in operational war cruises, qualification for them did not demand an element of personal combat experience which was required for those “land” warfare. As a result of these parameters this volume concentrates on those combat badges awarded to the Army, Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe ground troops.
However given these parameters the book is still interesting and a useful reference work on battle insignia. The Germans used a wide variety of insignia unlike that seen in Allied armies. Personnel of the Wehrmacht displayed fewer unit insignia than those of the Allies but more “combat experience” awards. These “combat” awards came in a variety of designs and shapes.
This reference work starts with definition of its scope, the documentation of awards and their manufacture. It progress to Army insignia such as the infantry & general assault, close combat, tank battle, anti-aircraft, tank destroyer and the anti-partisan badges. It also notes the sniper badge and discusses its issue. One point to note is that this badge was not popular with the recipients and its display was not popular either – they believed that snipers if caught by the enemy would receive harsh and brutal treatment.
Then the four campaign cuff bands are considered. These are followed by the five main campaign shields and the “unconfirmed” shields are also described. The three “popular” campaign medals (namely the Eastern Front, Spanish Medal and the Italo-German Africa) are presented. The personnel of the Luftwaffe serving in a ground warfare capacity were also eligible for combat badges and they had their own series. Luftwaffe personnel were not generally issued Army / Waffen-SS badges so they had five badges of their own (Anti-aircraft, ground combat, tank battle, sea battle and close combat). Wound badges and unit level insignia conclude this admirable volume.
In summary, this volume is highly commended and it is useful to both experienced collectors and those with less experience. It also serves well for historians and those generally interested in the subject.