Kriegsmarine Leather Jacket (Double-Breasted version)
Image courtesy of Hermann Historica Auctioneers, Munich
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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 Jacket is a special clothing garment that was worn by specific groups of Kriegsmarine and Reichsmarine personnel, including engine personnel and U-boat deck and bridge personnel. Engine personnel wore a single-breasted leather jacket, while U-boat personnel wore a double-breasted leather jacket.
These ¾ length jackets are composed of several main elements, including the leather panels, the buttons, the collar, the lining, the pockets, and the shoulder boards.
The single-breasted leather jackets are composed of multiple leather panels that may be grey, black, or dark brown. They are fastened closed by five anchor buttons located parallel to the seam on the front left panel; the colour of the buttons depends on the colour of the leather and they may be gold-coloured or matte-silver. The button holes are featured on the front right panel.
The double-breast leather jackets are also composed of multiple leather panels, but they are general grey, or blue-grey or evening greenish in colour. These jackets feature a vertical row of buttons on both front panels.
The collar of the single-breasted jackets reflects the old style, with a stand-up collar design, and the lining of the leather jackets is generally composed of dark/grey-coloured wool/wool-like cloth, while the collar of the double-breasted jackets have a “fall-down” collar, and features a dark-coloured wool lining.
Both models of the leather jackets coats also have two hip height pockets with horizontal flap covers. While the single-breasted jackets only have a single additional breast level pocket on the left front panel with a horizontal flap cover, the double-breasted jackets may feature two additional breast level pockets, one on each breast, and they have vertical flaps.
The leather jackets that were worn by Kriegsmarine personnel only feature shoulder boards for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and higher. See the section for Shoulder Boards in the Uniform Insignia section for more information.
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