Breast Eagles - (Wehrmacht-Heer)

The German national emblem, an eagle clutching a wreathed swastika, was worn over the right breast of all Army troops.  This insignia varied widely in construction, especially after wartime changes to the uniform were made.   The basic pattern design of the insignia, as shown in the graphics below, did not change.

National insignia breast eagles were usually mounted on uniforms in the factory; they were affixed with a zig zag stitch that did not go through the lining of the jacket itself.

breastw.gif (3621 bytes)
White on dark green breast eagle

PREWAR

The first National Emblem for wear on the uniform (known by collectors as a "breast eagle" was introduced on 1 May 1934; it was produced in off white on field grey.

In September 1935, when dark green collars and shoulder straps were introduced to the Field Blouse, the breast eagle began to be produced in off white on a dark green background.

WARTIME CHANGES

In late 1939, the colour of the eagle changed from white to mouse grey.

In probably the middle of 1940, the backing colour changed once again  to field grey.

When the 1944 Field Uniform was introduced, a new style of breast eagle was introduced specifically for the field blouse, consisting of the traditional pattern eagle in mouse grey, embroidered onto a field grey triangular shaped background.

CONSTRUCTION

Enlisted Men wore either a BEVO breast eagle in imitation silk, or else a version machine stitched in cotton thread onto a wool background.  Before the war, eagles were mounted (especially on the Waffenrock) onto badge cloth backings; this became more rare as the war went on.

breast2.gif (3621 bytes)
Grey on dark green breast eagle
breast3.gif (3615 bytes)
Mouse grey on field grey breast eagle
m44breast.gif (3899 bytes)
Breast eagle as worn on the 1944 Field Uniform

SAMPLES

greyeag.jpg (51010 bytes) Prewar white on field grey eagle, this one being worn on a Waffenrock. Note the field grey badge cloth to which the eagle has been mounted.
woolbreast.jpg (21384 bytes) Machine embroidered breast eagle in grey cotton thread on a dark green wool background (this example is stitched to a Waffenrock.)
bevoeagle.jpg (12897 bytes) BEVO quality breast eagle in grey on dark green.
warbre.jpg (9649 bytes) Later example of BEVO quality breast eagle, in mouse grey on field grey.
m44eag.jpg (1041666 bytes) The BEVO national insignia designed for wear with the Model 1944 Field Uniform, showing the triangular background.

SPECIAL UNIFORM INSIGNIA

breast.gif (3527 bytes)
White on black breast eagle as worn on Panzer uniform
pansub.gif (2383 bytes)

Later issue subdued colour version.

 

A special white on black badge was also designed for the black AFV uniform.  It was not actually worn on the AFV uniform until May 1936, however.  During the war, this insignia began to be produced in grey on black.

 

 

 

The tropical uniforms introduced for German forces in Africa had tropical pattern insignia, in light blue on tan. 

tropical.gif (3610 bytes)
Tropical breast eagle

SAMPLES

panzerbreast.jpg (13198 bytes) BEVO quality "panzer" breast eagle as worn on the black AFV uniform.  This is the early version, in white.
panm44.jpg (15631 bytes) A white on black version of the M44 breast insignia, for panzer uniforms.  Note the mouse-grey colour.
embpaneag.jpg (17097 bytes) Silver wire "officer's quality" eagle, this example from an NCO's panzer uniform.  NCO's were permitted to wear Officer's quality badges on tunics for walking out.
dakeagle.jpg (12670 bytes) Machine woven BEVO tropical eagle.
tropeagle.jpg (12245 bytes) Cotton embroidered tropical eagle.

OFFICER'S QUALITY

Officers normally wore a hand embroidered silver wire badge, either on dark green, or in the case of the armoured vehicle uniform, on black.  Some officers did make do with the machine embroidered version worn by Enlisted Men, as it was cheaper to purchase.

Generals wore a hand embroidered badge in gold wire or bullion, on the appropriate coloured background.

On the white summer Officer's tunic, a metal breast eagle was worn pinned to the tunic in place of a cloth badge; this aided in stripping the jacket of insignia in order that it could be laundered.

metaleag.jpg (11456 bytes)

Enlisted Men were entitled to privately purchase officer's quality badges for wear on private purchase Walking Out uniforms.

genbreast.jpg (65510 bytes) Hand embroidered General's insignia on dark green.  Some examples on black (for the AFV uniform) can also be found (as below).  These insignia were private purchase pieces and there are many variations.

panzereag.jpg (26986 bytes)

silverem.jpg (18778 bytes) Silver wire embroidered eagle on dark green background.
brestgrey.jpg (54492 bytes) Silver wire embroidered eagle on field grey background.
bulbreast.jpg (27381 bytes) Prewar silver wire BEVO quality breast eagle, on a field grey rather than dark green backing. 

Return to Articles page

 

tacticalwargamer.com 2008-present    email: The Tactical Wargamer