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Author Topic: Das Hemd (an Ed Walton article!!)  (Read 3070 times)

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Das Hemd (an Ed Walton article!!)
« on: June 24, 2008, 11:50:25 PM »
Das Hemd
by Ed Walton
The majority of the various shirts issued to the German military during WWII were knit shirts, starting with the white collarless shirt, which dates to at least the 1870's and had transitioned from woven linen to knit cotton/rayon during the '20s, and advancing on to the "M43" style, which was made in both an incredibly coarse knit and an incredibly coarse dish-towel like rayon/linen. With the exception of the Luftwaffe tropical shirt, which came in both the standard (pull-over) and the new-fangled American "coat-style" (button up) all German shirts were pullover type with a four or five button front.
German Military Shirt Development 1932-1945

At the beginning of the 1933 Nazi ascension to power, the Army had two shirts: the white knit collarless shirt with white buttons for use inside Germany; and a brown woven collared shirt for use in Germany's no-longer-existent colonies. Apparently, most of the latter had been sold off as surplus to a certain German political movement in the late 1920s, but it's possible that some remained in service on some level. A new mouse gray (a green-tinged medium gray) knit shirt identical to the white collarless shirt, but with the addition of a collar and gray buttons, was introduced in 1934 for wear with the Army's new panzer uniform. Non-panzer troops continued to wear the white shirt.

The French Campaign
During the French Campaign, the Army captured vast quantities of olive green woven cotton French shirts. These were widely issued to Army soldiers as tropical and hot weather shirts and featured a button-down collar and chest pockets. In late 1940, the Army introduced its own tropical shirt. A woven, olive colored, collared shirt with two-pleated chest pockets with scalloped flaps, and loops and buttons for shoulder straps and boards.

The Army introduced a new collared shirt in greenish-gray knit that was identical to the panzer shirt brought out in 1934, but with the addition of two chest pockets. The pockets were unpleated and had a straight-cut flap. However, the earlier shirts continued to be manufactured and/or issued. The M.1941 is probably the shirt made in the greatest numbers. Although the target color was greenish gray, the range is from light/medium gray on one extreme to the "correct" green-gray and on to dark pea green on the other extreme. The material is nasty, with "woody fibers" (a.k.a. splinters) embedded in the machine-knitted fabric.

The Army introduced a new version of its green-gray M.41 shirt. Changes were the addition of shoulder rank buttons and loops, pleats added to the pockets, and the pocket flap became pointed instead of straight. This was the first German Army shirt with provision for shoulder rank. The usual material was rayon knit, but many are also encountered in a truly wretched woven fabric that several British writers have referred to as "Aertex." Aertex is a trademark for a type of cellular cotton fabric introduced in 1888 by the Aertex Company, a maker of lingerie and later, it was used by makers of British school sports jerseys. The German fabric is most definitely not Aertex, because it is not a cellular knit, although it does have a superficial resemblance because of its extremely coarse texture. Colors on these range from the usual greenish gray all the way to a dark reed green.
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Das Hemd (an Ed Walton article!!)
« on: June 24, 2008, 11:50:25 PM »
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