Balloon Observer Badge, in Silver
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The Balloon Observer Badge was instituted by the Germany Army High Command on July 8, 1944, to reward military personnel who served as balloon observers. From heights of 500 to 1500 feet, balloon observers monitored enemy troop movements and relayed tactical information to German artillery or intelligence units. During the Second World War, the Germans primarily used balloons to observe enemy artillery on the Eastern Front, as air opposition in the area was not as effective as in the west. Balloon observers were at great risk, as they were easy targets and the balloons easily caught fire.
The Badge was issued in three grades, and a point system was used to determine eligibility; the gold badge was awarded for 75 points, the silver for 45 points, and the bronze for 20 points. Points could be accumulated in a variety of ways, including: one point for each tactical target a balloon observer spotted and provided the precise location of; one point for providing the precise location of a target, which ultimately led to its destruction; one point for every four hours of observation; ten points for a balloon observer's first parachute jump from a basket following enemy gunfire; and five points were for each subsequent jump following enemy gunfire.
The Badge is controversial as there are no factory records indicating if and when it was produced, and there are no existing photos of the badge being worn. However, many collectors and Historians believe the badge existed.
The Silver Badge was awarded for 45 points.
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