Awards and Decorations

Below are some combat and other awards that an early war infantryman in the 27th may have received. The only awards listed are those that our men wear are likely to wear. This means that higher awards such as the Ritterkreuz are not listed as we are trying to remain as authentic as possible. A separate page covers the Ritterkreuz and winners of the award in the 12th Infantry Division.

 

Infanterie Sturmabzeichen (Infantry Assault Badge)

This award was instituted on 20th December 1939 and the first awards were made in April of 1940.

To qualify for the badge a soldier would have to take part in at least three separate infantry assaults with hand-held weapons on three different occasions. The award of the Infanterie Sturmabzeichen would normally be authorised by a soldier’s Regimental Commander.

 

Eisernes Kreuz  (Iron Cross)

Second Class

WW2 Iron Cross 2nd Class

The Iron Cross was re-instituted by Hitler on the outbreak of hostilities in 1939.

The Second Class was awarded for courage or exemplary conduct. On the day of presentation the cross on the ribbon was attached to the second tunic buttonhole. Thereafter only the ribbon was worn, sewn diagonally into the second buttonhole. The Iron Cross ribbon could also be worn on a medal bar above the left breast pocket.

By the end of the war more than 2 million EK2s had been awarded.

    

WW1 Iron Cross 1st Class             Spange to the Iron Cross

Men who had fought in World War 1 and been awarded the Iron Cross were entitled to wear the black and white WW1 ribbon in the same buttonhole. If they were subsequently awarded the same grade in WW2 they wore a ‘bar’ to the Iron Cross. This ‘bar’ was in fact a silver nazi eagle above a frame with 1939 on it. For the EK2 the bar was worn on the ribbon and for the EK1 a larger bar was worn above the 1914 Cross on the left breast pocket. In fact it soon became practice to automatically award the bar to holders of the 1914 Iron Cross who were on active service after 1939.

First Class

WW2 Iron Cross 1st Class

Unlike the Second Class this was a pin or screwback medal that was worn on the left breast pocket. The EK1 was awarded for bravery or repeated meritorious service and was approved by the Divisional Commander. Approximately 300,000 EK1s were awarded during WW2.

 

Verwundetenabzeichen (The 1939 Pattern Wound Badge)

 

WW2 Black Wound Badge       

This was instituted in September 1939 by Hitler and was a continuation of the tradition of awarding servicemen a badge to signify being wounded as a result of enemy action. The only illness that qualified for the Verwundetenabzeichen  was in fact frostbite.  The award had three grades – black, silver and gold.

Black was awarded for 1 or 2 wounds. Silver for 3 – 4 wounds, brain damage, facial disfigurement, or loss of a hand or foot, an eye or hearing. Gold was for 5 or more wounds, total disability, blindness or loss of manhood.

From June 1940 all recipients of the silver and gold grades automatically received the EK2 as well.

WW1 Silver Wound Badge

WW1 and Spanish Civil War wound badges were also eligible for wear.

 

Kriegsverdienstkreuz (The War Merit Cross)

War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords    

This was instituted in October 1939 and was the most widespread of all German decorations during World War 2.

The Kriegsverdienstkreuz could be awarded to anyone who contributed to the war effort, not just members of the armed forces.

Initially there were two grades of the award – first and second class (bronze and silver) and each grade could be awarded with or without swords. An award with swords was given in recognition of all types of general military merit where the recipient could expect to be exposed to enemy fire (including bombing). An award without swords signified war service of a non-military nature.

Prior to September 1941 the Kriegsverdienstkreuz could not be worn with a corresponding grade of Iron Cross.

Over 7.5 million of these awards were made during the war and it was held in low regard by front line soldiers.

 

Long Service Awards

         

4 Year Long Service Medal      Ribbon on Bar

On 16th March 1935 national service was reintroduced in Germany. A year later all professional members of the armed forces became eligible for a new series of long service awards that were instituted by Adolf Hitler. On institution these were awarded retrospectively.

For four years service there was a silver medal and for twelve years service there was a gold medal. There was a silver cross for 18 years service and a gold cross for 25 years service.

The ribbons for these medals were cornflower blue. Each ribbon had a small appropriately coloured metal eagle attached. The medal itself was only to be worn on the dress tunic (Waffenrock) whilst the ribbons would be worn on a medal bar. Not more than two long service awards could be worn at the same time.

 

Cross of Honour 1914-18

This was instituted by Hitler to replace the huge number of unofficial WW1 veterans’ medals and awards that were being worn. The ribbon for the Cross was worn on the medal bar above the left breast pocket.

The Cross was based on the War Commemorative Medal of 1870-71 and used the same ribbon. There were three types of medal – bronze with swords for combatants, bronze without swords for non-combatants and black for widows or parents of men killed in action.

 

Militaerverdienstkreuz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

There is a possibility that some older members of the 27th may have worn the ribbon for the Mecklenburg-Schwerin Military Service Cross on their ribbon bar.

 

Marksmanship Lanyard

                    

   1939 Pattern                              Lanyards worn on parade

The marksmanship lanyard was instituted in 1936 to recognise an individual's skill with the K98 rifle. The lanyard was worn on the right hand side, suspended from a button beneath the shoulderboard with the other end being worn in  the second buttonhole on the tunic.

There were twelve levels of marksmanship that could be achieved. 

The first award was an aluminium shield featuring the wehrmacht eagle atop a lanyard of plaited matt aluminium. In 1939 this was replaced by a shield within a wreath as shown above.

The second to fourth levels were as above plus one to three aluminium acorns suspended from the lower end of the lanyard.

For the fifth to eighth levels a silver badge with a larger wreath was worn on the lanyard and acorns were worn as above.

For the ninth to twelfth level the badge was guilded and gold threads were woven into the lanyard.

Artillery and panzer troops could also earn the award but instead of acorns miniature shells were used.

The marksmanship lanyard was not worn in the field but for parade and walking out purposes.

 

 

Sources:

Medals and Decorations of Hitler’s Germany, Lumsden R: Airlife 2001

Infantry Aces of the Reich, Williamson G: BCA 1991

Wehrmacht-awards.com