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Landsturm collar insignia

Collar insignia consisting of metallic numerals and letters was nearly the only detail of Landsturm uniform that can give a hint in identification of a unit. Nevertheless vague implementation of army orders and various non-regulatory changes sometimes make this task nearly impossible without respective stamps on the reverse of a photo.

1. As the war broke out and mobilization was declared second ban of Landsturm, i.e. those with military training between the ages of 39 and 45 were formed into battalions. 334 battalions including 142 mobile ones were raised and named after cities they were established in. Most of these units were sent to relatively quiet sectors of the Western and Eastern fronts replacing Landwehr soldiers there.

No collar insignia was worn on the initial stage of the Great War. Landsturm personnel were identified by their uniforms (or the absence of such), especially by distinctive headgear and armbands. Those armbands made of white cloth of different width were worn on the upper left sleeve of a tunic or even a civil suit and had a name of the battalion painted in black.

In some cases a metallic Arabic numeral standing for the Army Corps number was attached to shoulder straps.

2. Landsturm battalions that were placed under Army Corps District command (Bezirkskommando) were administratively grouped into brigades that followed the peacetime brigade boundaries of the Army Corps District. 

Brigade personnel wore 25 mm metallic Arabic numerals corresponding with the number of a brigade. It’s worth mentioning here that the cipher indicated only the brigade to which Landsturm battalion was attached initially. Being attached to other units, e.g. mixed Landwehr brigade Landsturm soldiers kept their previous collar insignia thus making identification of a unit without any information on a reverse of a photo absolutely impossible.

As a rule metallic devices were fixed perpendicularly to upper and lower collar edges but sometimes they were attached in a non-regulatory way – vertically in the very corner.

According to an order of April 14, 1915 brigade numerals were eliminated and changed by a new insignia but it seems they continued to be worn for quite some time.

3. Some Landsturm personnel wore guards Litzen without any metallic devices. The only reasonable explanation to that obscure practice is that some units were issued with obsolete guards uniform with Litzen still attached.

4. New collar insignia was introduced on April 14, 1915 and was used until the end of the Great War.

I was in the spring of 1915 that the Army Corps number and battalion number within that Corps became the standard way of designating battalions, e.g. XIX.12 stood for 3.Landsturm-Infanterie-Bataillon Chemnitz, etc. (please consult a list below).

According to new regulations metallic devices had to show a Roman numeral standing for Army Corps number in the upper row and an Arabic numeral for a battalion number below. As far as there was no indication of a size of such numerals they varied greatly depending on metallic devices that were in stock.

Metallic numerals were fixed perpendicularly to upper and lower collar edges.

Like all other regulations concerning uniform an order that introduced new collar insignia wasn’t followed strictly enough and depended largely on soldiers preferences. As a result following variants are known to exist.

- Army Corps number above, battalion number below (official variant).

- Army Corps number above, battalion number below but attached in a non-regulatory way – vertically in the very corner.

- Army Corps number only.

- Army Corps number and battalion number side by side.

- Battalion number and Army Corps number side by side.

- Absence of any devices.

- Guard Litzen without any metallic devices.

Collar insignia introduced for Landsturm battalions within the Guard Corps differed from the described above and consisted of a battalion number in Arabic numerals accompanied by a small letter “g” that in fact looked like a capital letter “S”.

Unlike Prussian system that was followed by all the states of the German Empire, Kingdom of Bavaria issued unique regulations for collar insignia M1915 based on its own Corps structure. Thus Bavarian Landsturm personnel wore Corps number in Roman numerals accompanied by a capital letter “B” in the upper row and battalion number in Arabic numerals below. Once again two ways of fixing devices existed: perpendicularly to upper and lower collar edges as well as vertically in the very corner.

Сomplete list of collar insignia worn by Landsturm personnel and corresponding units (battalions and companies) can be found here

GE_landsturm_1 GE_landsturm_6 GE_landsturm_15 GE_landsturm_32