Kriegsmarine Leather Greatcoat
Image courtesy of Angolia, Schlicht, "Die Kriegsmarine - Uniforms & Traditions, Volume 1"
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The headgear, uniforms, and insignia worn by members of the Kriegsmarine were based upon the designs utilized by the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) and the Reichsmarine (Navy of the Weimar Republic). The official regulations governing the uniforms of the Reichsmarine were issued on April 5, 1921, and they were embraced, with a few alterations, as the Kriegsmarine uniforms in 1935.
From 1933 to 1945, the uniforms worn by personnel in the German Navy were produced and disseminated by the Navy Clothing Depot and private manufacturers. The cloth was of a high quality prior to the Second World War, but during the war, it became increasingly synthetic and of lower quality. Similarly, the cloth used in the uniforms of Officers and Admirals was of a higher quality than the cloth used in the uniforms of lower ranking personnel, such as Non-Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Men. The cloth utilized in garments of the blue uniform is of an overall better quality than the cloth utilized in the field-grey uniform. For the field-grey uniform specifically, the cloth is more grey-coloured in pre-war uniforms, while the cloth is more green/olive-coloured in wartime uniforms.
The main colour of Kriegsmarine uniform pieces is a dark navy blue. However, during the summer months, and initially also in regions with warmer climate, a white summer uniform was used. Eventually, a brown tropical uniform was introduced for units stationed in tropical and subtropical regions. Land-based Kriegsmarine units, most of which were part of the Coastal Artillery, wore Army-like field-grey uniforms in the style of the Kriegsmarine.
The garments may have proof stamps, serial and unit stamps, and manufacturer marks denoting the legitimacy and origin of the item. They also tend to feature sewn name tabs (Namensläppchen) on all clothing items associated with the blue and field-grey uniforms. The blue uniform garments all have a serial number stamp (Stammrollennummernstempel), while the field-grey uniform garments have a unit stamp.
The proof stamp is present on all garments produced by the Navy Clothing Depot, and it includes the size of the item, if needed, with the year of manufacture above the size, and a surmounting script that reads “B.A.K.” or “B.A.W.”. This stamp information is framed, and written in white ink on blue or black garments and in black ink on all other colour garments.
The serial stamp is composed of letters and numbers, and it is present on blue uniform garments from the Depot. The stamp is either printed in red ink or sewn in red thread. The numbers are preceded by a letter that denotes the area in which the wearer served, with an “N” for Navy Station or an “O” for Navy Station Baltic. The stamp ends in a letter associated with the wearer’s career group, with an “S” for deck personnel and a “T” for technical professionals. Below the serial number is the year in which the wearer entered the navy, surmounted by a horizontal line.
The unit stamp is present on field-grey uniforms. It includes the framed, shortened unit name of the wearer in red ink.
The marks of private manufacturers vary widely, ranging from codes to full names, and even abbreviated letters, as well as the year of manufacture. After 1942, Reich numbers (Reichsbetriebsnummern) were also used as manufacturer marks (RB-).
The buttons worn on Kriegsmarine garments are generally gold-coloured, except for the uniforms of Officials which used silver-coloured buttons. The buttons feature the image of a fouled anchor on the obverse. The buttons are composed of brass, or of light metal. The gold-coloured buttons were gilded, while the silver-coloured buttons were silvered. As well, in the case of special uniform garments the buttons may be composed of plastic.
The Leather Greatcoat (Ledermantel) was worn with the blue and field-grey uniforms, and it was identical in design and style to the Cloth Greatcoat. This coat was permitted for wear by Officer ranks, including Officer Candidates and Warrant Officers, as well as high-ranking Senior Non-Commissioned Officers.
The coats are composed of several main elements, including the leather panels, the lapels, the lining, the fastening lapel buttons and the back buttons, the collar, and the rank insignia. These coats may also feature an accompanying belt, which was worn between the 2nd and 3rd row of buttons from the bottom when present.
The body is composed of dark greyish blue leather for wear with the blue uniform, while the leather for the coat was more blue-coloured when worn with the field-grey uniform.
The coats are composed of two front panel, two back panels, and two skirt panels. The back of the coat usually has a half-belt with two additional buttons, and each front panel has a row of six gold-coloured (gilt) anchor buttons. The buttons on the leather greatcoats were generally removable. These greatcoats also have two pockets with flap covers featured at hip level, and the entire coat extends to halfway down the wearer’s calves.
The rank of the wearer corresponded with the way in which the front lapels were worn. Admirals and Commodores, and Officials with equivalent rank, wore the lapels open. The greatcoat was also worn with open lapels by Officer ranks while off-duty. The lapels were worn completely closed by both Senior and Junior Officer Candidates and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers.
The lining of greatcoats produced by the Navy Clothing Depot only extends to the waistline, while those manufactured privately may feature lining that extends to the bottom of the skirt. The lining of leather greatcoats is generally composed of darker coloured fabrics, and rarely, there may be a removable wool lining for inclement weather. The lining of the front panels may feature two interior breast pockets.
Shoulder boards were also worn on the leather greatcoat to denote rank, and they were generally removable. See the section for Shoulder Boards in the Uniform Insignia section for more information.
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