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Chandlia

So what can we tell about the Hauptmann from his uniform? Perhaps the biggest thing that stands out for me is that the costume department at least has his rank right (which is more than 'Major' Hochstetter or 'Colonel' Crittendon can say over in the Hogan's Heroes fandom). He does indeed have two gold pips on his shoulderboards indicating he is a captain. His litzen on his uniform jacket (the bars on his collar) are occasionally shiny silver which is correct for being an officer. When the aren't, it's at least somewhat forgivable as the Afrikakorps and the Desert Armees were constantly strapped for supplies; and I imagine the Hauptmann went through quite a few uniform jackets since he was constantly in the rat patrol's line of fire. It's also worth noting that anything that makes you look like less an officer in WWII is conducive to living a longer and healthier life....

Boots, as far as I can tell, are not at all German standard (regular German jackboots really are hobnailed; and the leather tooling and leather is a bit different). They also aren't Afrika issue (in fact, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've seen any attempt made to outfit proper footwear on DAK forces). The standard tropical boots that you usually see in pictures of DAK personnel were actually made of denim! One is left to assume that they are his own, and he's had them for quite some time. I looked through photos of different uniform boots online and the closest I've come to seeing a match is the cavalry officers of several nations: Polish, Russian, German. So perhaps our Hauptmann was a cavalryman originally, or he at least likes to ride? This leads to probably the biggest Dietrich Uniform Mystery: his red waffenfarbe.

Dietrich's waffenfarben (troop function/service color) on his shoulder straps is a bright red. Most likely, hochrot, scarlet. This means that Dietrich, before he was transferred to N. Africa, was in artillery (as he's certainly not a general)! There are a couple of other possibilities but, if you look at the linked sites having to do with shoulder straps and waffenfarben, artillery is by far the most associated with red. In "The Blind Man's Bluff Raid" Troy's mention of a 'jerry recon patrol' had Dietrich snapping his head up. We're left to assume that it's Dietrich's recon patrol that Troy is referring to. If that's the case Dietrich is in armored cavalry - a common enough occupation in N. Africa. The proper waffenfarben would be a golden yellow (or, more rare, a copperish light brown). Colonel (Oberst) Seidner in the "Two for One Raid" has a very good example of the yellow waffenfarbe - along with the faded olive drab uniform that most ranks would have had rather than the relatively rare tropical uniform (that virtually all of RP's DAK forces wear). There might be several reasons that the producers might not have Dietrich wearing the requisite yellow waffenfarben.

1. Red's a far more attractive and well...colorful...color.

2. If waffenfarben was yellow and Dietrich was cavalry, his rank would not be der Hauptmann! The correct/traditional term for a cavalry captain would be Rittmeister. Let's face it people: rittmeister (riding master) does not have the same ring as hauptmann (main man). ^_~

Pants and belt are, as far as I can see, correct. An easy way to make RP's German forces look more authentic would have been to put them in 'borrowed' Allied articles of clothing, boots, belts, etc. Or have them wearing less clothing (no really -- it's hot!). Probably the biggest thing would have been to ditch the helmets and go with...anything else but. They were, by all accounts, absolutely horrible to wear in the desert and were among one of the first things discarded by arriving troops. Dietrich's hat is correct and I really like that he 'kept' his continental cap rather than switching over to the more traditional Akrikamutze (which he wears briefly in "The Hide-and-Go-Seek Raid").

I'm not touching the goggles subject with a ten foot pole. I'll assume they're supposed to be like Rommel's (captured from the British). If you've seen Valkyrie and Tom Cruise in DAK garb you'll see what original German goggles looked like...sort of a fashioned piece of plastic.

And finally...the Iron Cross. In the "Trial by Fire Raid" we'll take Troy's word for it that the Iron Cross left on Tobar's grave (for Safti to find) was Dietrich's. If that's the case Dietrich is the holder of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes: the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Rather deliberately, I thought, both Troy and Safti held it so that it was impossible to tell if it held further decoration. Probably not, but it's possible that he may have Oak Leaves. I'll leave it to others to debate over!

SOURCES: all accessed December '09:

Afrikakorps . org. "Waffenfarben." www(dot)afrikakorps.org/waffenfarben(dot)htm

German King Tiger Tank. "German Iron Cross: History and Meaning of the Iron Cross." www(dot)worldwar2aces.com/iron-cross(dot)htm

Marshman, Hal, Sr. "Deutsches Akrika Korps Uniforms Heer Shoulder Straps and Boards." www(dot)aircraftresourcecenter.com/tnt1/101-200/tnt162-Dak-uniform-Marshman/00(dot)shtm

Military Photos . Net. "Military Photos General Strictly Photos & Videos World War II Uniforms, Equipment, and Gear." Original Post by Brzeczyszcykiewicz. www(dot)militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=81050

Suter, David A. "Uniforms of the Wehrmacht." www(dot)wehrmacht-awards.com/uniforms_firearms/uniforms/shoulder_boards/Rank(dot)htm

World War II Zone. "World War II Zone Forums Miscellaneous World War II Topics Olive Drab to Field Gray Those Blasted Ranks - Wehrmacht Heer." worldwartwozone(dot)com/forums/olive-drab-to-field-grey/10184-those-blasted-ranks-wehrmacht-heer-2(dot)html

3/15/2011 . Edited 3/15/2011 #1
Chandlia

"The Iron Cross"

In WWII Germany there were actually three categories of das Eiserne Kreuz: the regular Iron Cross, the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross, and the Grand Cross to the Iron Cross. The last one (basically an oversized Knight's Cross) is usually not considered part of the group since it wasn't awarded on account of bravery but by overall strategic contribution. Only one Großkreuz was given out -- and that was to Hermann Göring. -_-

I guess the first thing one should know about Iron Crosses in WWII is that they are a strictly military decoration awarded on a progressive scale: no distinctions were made in the awarding of the Iron Cross between enlisted and commissioned men (and two women). To hold the First Class one must already hold the Second Class -- to hold the Knight's Cross then, one must first hold both the First and Second Classes. The Second Class, in everyday wear, was usually worn as a ribbon through the second button hole from the top (this is the version you usually see Dietrich wear), although it could be worn as a medal or by itself on the left uniform pocket. The Iron Cross First Class is worn pinned to the center of the uniform pocket and the Second Class is then usually represented only via the buttonhole method.

The Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross (the type General Von Helmreich was wearing in RP #3 and the type Troy was given in RP#19) is worn at the throat. The ribbons were notoriously easy to wear out, and I've read in two different primary sources that resourceful soldiers often wore them via shoestring and other materials at hand. Statistics on Iron Crosses greatly vary but at least 2 million+ were given out in the course of WWII. Knight's Crosses, on the other hand, were significantly more rare and around 7,300 of them were awarded. There were also notable in that they could be given for successful group leadership - not just bravery on the field of battle.

In 1940 Oak Leaves were introduced to the Ritterkreuz as further award. They, like all of the other Knight's Cross decorations, were worn at the clip between Cross and ribbon. I mentioned the Knight's Cross Dietrich gave to Tobar may have had Oak Leaves because it's really the only further decoration I could reasonably see him handling: around 890 RK's with Oak Leaves were awarded. In 1941 Oak Leaves and Swords were introduced (around 160 awarded) along with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (which, if you look closely, is what General Von Helmreich is represented as wearing): only 27 of the last were awarded - one of which was to Field Marshal Rommel in March '43. Diamond Iron Cross recipients were household names in WWII Germany, courtesy the active Propaganda Ministry.

There was one other award to the Ritterkreuz (not including the never-awarded Star addition to the Großkreuz) and that was the Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds in Gold. It was only awarded to one individual...and was invented specifically for this person. Read Below:

"The only Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds holder was Hans Ulrich Rudel of the Luftwaffe. A Stuka dive bomber pilot, Rudel destroyed 518 Russian tanks (that's five Russian tank corps), 150 flak and artillery positions, 700 trucks, sunk the Russian battleship Marat, a Russian cruiser, a Russian Destroyer, 70 Russian landing craft, and hundreds of other targets (bridges, railways, bunkers). He also heavily damaged another Russian battleship, the October Revolution. Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions, of which 400 were in a Focke-Wulf 190, claimed 11 air victories and was shot down 32 times."

Knight's Crosses' holders were universally respected and the award itself was never given away lightly (unlike plenty of other Nazi awards). I have a hard time imagining Dietrich giving someone else's RK away. If the recipient had died, the award most likely would have been mailed to their family (if it wasn't there already - most Iron Cross recipients bought extra medal(s) so their original wouldn't be in danger of being lost). Lower Knight's Crosses (those with Oaks & Swords downward), like all Iron Crosses, were usually presented to their recipient by the commanding officer. So what was Dietrich doing with it? Was he presenting it to someone, or was it his? I tend to err on the "it was his" side, albeit mostly because Troy seems to think so. Whatever the case, you can bet on on thing: there is a darned good Dietrich story behind it.

3/15/2011 . Edited 3/15/2011 #2
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