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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 Raincoat (Regenmantel) was originally established in 1936, for wear by Kriegsmarine personnel with the rank of Officer, and Officials with the rank of Officer. Yet it was often worn, against regulations, by lower ranking Kriegsmarine personnel, such as Officer Candidates. In September 1938, the Non-Commissioned Officer ranks were furnished with their own form of the raincoat.
The raincoats were worn with the blue and field-grey uniforms. The coats worn with the blue uniform are composed of both navy blue coloured gabardine, and a rubberized cloth known as “Klepperstoff.”, while the coats worn with the field-grey uniforms are generally made from a field-grey rubberized cloth known as “Wetterbatist.”. The blue uniform raincoats worn by Officers tend to be made from Klepperstoff, while those worn by Non-Commissioned Officers tend to be made from gabardine.
The design of the raincoat is almost identical to that of the greatcoat, and it is composed of several main elements, including the lapels, the lining, the fastening lapel buttons and the back buttons, the collar, and the rank insignia.
The raincoat has two front panels each featuring a row of five buttons. The entire coat extends to halfway down the wearer’s calves. The back of the coat body is made from a single panel, and it features buttons as well. It also has two scalloped, decorative pocket flaps.
When the lining was produced by the Navy Clothing Depot it only extended to the waistline, and was generally composed of cotton; dark-coloured cotton for the trunk of the coats and lighter/off-white cotton for the sleeves.
The raincoat lapels also imitate the greatcoat, wherein the rank of the wearer corresponded with the way in which the lapels were worn. The coats worn by personnel with the rank of Admiral and Commodore have open lapels. It was also worn with an open lapel by Officials with the rank of Admiral and Commodore, and other Officer ranks while off-duty. The lapels were worn completely closed by senior Non-Commissioned Officers.
Another way through which the rank of the wearer was demonstrated on the raincoat and greatcoat was via shoulder boards. They were attached to the sleeve seam of the coat via an anchor button. See the section for Shoulder Boards in the Uniform Insignia section for more information.
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