Wehrmacht Rank Insignia: Non-Commissioned Officers - Construction and Wear


NCOs insignia was displayed in two places; on the collar of the uniform (also cuffs of the Waffenrock), and on the shoulder straps.  The collars of field blouses were edged in tress (lace) by NCOs, running along the bottom and front of the collar.  On the Waffenrock and the prewar Dienstrock, the tress was sewn to the top and front of the collar instead.

COLLARS AND CUFFS

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At left, a Waffenrock showing the collar tress on top and front of the collar.  At centre a Reichswehr period Dienstrock showing the tress on the top of the collar, worn as a dress uniform, and at right, the standard feldbluse showing tress worn on the bottom of the collar.

Tress was also worn on the cuffs of the Waffenrock by NCOs.  Patches similar to the collar litzen were worn on the cuffs, simulating the button holes found on 18th century military uniforms.

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SHOULDER STRAPS

Standard enlisted men's shoulder straps were worn by NCOs, with two major differences.  NCO tress was worn on the shoulder strap, and for those NCOs ranked Feldwebel or higher, metal unit devices were used rather than embroidered.

 

Different styles of tress were manufactured during the war; the most common was the style shown at right, and came in two styles; subdued (as in the upper illustration) and also shiny aluminium (as shown below right.) 

Dark green cloth for shoulder straps (as shown below right also) was phased out in favour of field grey (as above left). Shoulder straps were usually not matched to the field blouse, and veteran soldiers preferred to keep the dark green ones in their possession as long as possible.  There was no regulation requiring only field grey shoulder boards be worn, and consequently, little uniformity within units after the dark green should straps began to be phased out in 1940.

Shoulder straps were also, of course, made of black cloth for the black AFV uniform.

In addition to the tress, shoulder boards also displayed ranks above Unterfeldwebel through the use of rank stars; these were in metal with prongs on the back which were poked through the material and bent over to secure them to the boards.

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Copper-coloured tress was used on tropical uniforms and shoulder boards.
The tress on this shoulder strap seems to have a dark green line through it, in the manner of rank chevron tress.  This sample is from a herringbone-twill tunic. hbtstrap.jpg (12064 bytes)
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Additionally, some prewar shoulder straps were retained throughout the Second World War; they were similar in construction to the standard shoulder straps, but the end was pointed rather than rounded and they lacked waffenfarbe piping.

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