Visual unit affiliation of Reichswehr military personnel wearing sports dress was indicated by three cloth patches, viz. Sports Badge of 1922 pattern (Sportabzeichen), and since 1932 Military Sports Badge (Truppensportabzeichen) and Military Shield (Truppenschild).
Special 1 cm-wide colour stripes sewn on round the neck of the sports shirt were worn by officers and NCOs to distinguish them from lower ranks. Thus, officers wore cornflower blue stripes, while NCOs those of light green colour.
Sports Badge, or Sportabzeichen was introduced by the Order dated March 15, 1922 for wearing on sports dress as distinctive element of uniform allowing unit identification. It was sewn on to the left side of the sports shirt's chest or in the middle of the chest 12 cm from the neck.
Sportabzeichen had a shape of the circular patch measuring 11-11,5 cm in diameter made of white cloth. It showed two embroidered colour rings, external and internal, with 5 mm space between them.
8 mm wide external ring was made of eight rows of chain stitches and was situated 8 mm away from the edge of the patch.
Colour of the outer circle stood for military district (Wehrkreis), Infantry division or Cavalry division.
Wehrkreis I (headquarters in Königsberg) and 1 Cavalry division – black;
Wehrkreis II (headquarters in Stettin) and 2 Cavalry division – rose;
Wehrkreis III (headquarters in Berlin) and 3 Cavalry division – golden yellow;
Wehrkreis IV (headquarters in Dresden) – light green;
Wehrkreis V (headquarters in Stuttgart) – bright red;
Wehrkreis VI (headquarters in Münster) – light brown;
Wehrkreis VII (headquarters in Munich) – light blue.
5 mm wide internal ring was made of four rows of chain stitches and represented branch of service.
Infantry – white, bordered with two black quilting seams in order not to blend into the white background of the patch;
Cavalry – golden yellow;
Engineer units – black;
Jäger units – light green;
Artillery – bright red;
Signals units – light brown;
Medical detachments – cornflower blue;
Motorized transportation units – rose;
Transportation units – light blue.
Number of the regiment was embroidered in 3,5 cm-high black Arabic numerals in the middle of the badge, while number of the battalion or Abteilung was embroidered in 1,7 cm-high Roman numerals 0,5 cm below regimental number. Those serving in independent battalion or Abteilung wore its number only embroidered in 3,5 cm-high black Roman numerals.
According to the Order dated May 07, 1929, commanding divisional staff (Kommandobehörden) and military schools (Waffenschulen) personnel who were entitled to wear special distinctive insignia, were to have the latter embroidered on Sports Badges. Although no illustrations of such badges are known to the author, they probably looked as follows: in the first case – letters and numbers of army district staffs, cavalry divisions staffs, infantry and artillery staffs; in the second case – ornate abbreviations of military schools.
Order dated October 22, 1932 replaced Sports Badges with Military Sports Badges (Truppensportabzeichen) and Military Shields (Truppenschild). However, obsolete Sports Badges were continued to be worn on sports shirts for several more years.
As mentioned above, Military Sports Badge was introduced on October 22, 1932. It had the shape of the black shield with a vertical broad sword, similar to the Roman gladius, superimposed on it and pointing downwards. Grip, guard and pommel of the sword extended above the upper edge of the shield. Blade of the sword was white, while its fuller, grip, pommel and guard were black. 2-mm wide white inner stripe ran along the perimeter at the distance of 6 mm from the edge. The shield measured 11 cm in width and 20,5 cm in height, including that of grip and pommel.
Reduced version of the Truppensportabzeichen measuring 7x13 cm was worn on the right front side of swimming trunks 2 cm below the waistband. 1,5-mm wide white inner stripe ran along the perimeter at the distance of 4 mm from the edge.
Order dated May 14, 1935 replaced Truppensportabzeichen with semicircular black-and-white patch showing national emblem, i.e. eagle clutching swastika (Wehrmachtsportabzeichen).
It should be noted that instead of Sportabzeichen and Truppensportabzeichen Reichswehr military personnel sometimes wore other patches, e.g. showing Weimar era-style eagle, on the left side or in the middle of football and handball jerseys. Such patches were presumably worn during sports competitions with civilian clubs.
This patch, introduced by the Order dated October 22, 1932, had the shape of the traditional Iberian escutcheon, i.e. heraldic rectangular shield with a slightly convex bottom, measuring 7,8-8 cm in height and 5 cm in width. 3 mm-wide perimeter of the shield was embroidered in black colour, and field of the shield showed branch colour.
Letters standing for abbreviations of military schools; regimental numbers, and independent battalion or Abteilung numbers were embroidered in 4 cm-high black Arabic or Roman (in case of service with independent battalion or Abteilung) numerals in the middle of the shield. Numbers of battalions within regiments or companies were embroidered in 1,2 cm-high black Roman numerals in the upper left corner of the shield.
Engineers, whose branch colour was black, were issued with totally black Truppenschild with numerals and letters ( "PS" standing for the Pionierschule, i.e. Engineer School) in white colour. Cavalry division staff personnel wore golden yellow Military Shield with letter "K" and corresponding Arabic numeral in the upper left corner.
Feuerwerker, artillery munition and logistics personnel wore bright red Military Shields without numbers.
Military Shields were sewn on the right front side of sports shorts at an angle of 45° to the inside, 3 cm below the waistband and 10 cm from the center line. When worn on swimming trunks, Truppenschild was attached 2 cm below the waistband.
To paint the full picture it should be mentioned that cloth version (Tuchabzeichen) of the German Gymnastic and Sports Badge, a.k.a. DRA Badge (Deutsches Turn- und Sportabzeichen) that was introduced in 1924, was permitted to be worn on the left side of the sports shirt and track suit of Reichswehr military personnel.