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Specialist patches of German Imperial Railways (1935-1941)

Sleeve specialist patches (Spartenabzeichen) of German State Railways Society (Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft, DRG), as German Railways were known from September 01, 1924 until February 01, 1937, were initially described in the 30th Volume of the Herald of the German Imperial Railways Society and the Imperial Motorway Society (Amtliches Nachrichtenblatt der Deutschen Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft und der Gesellschaft “Reichsautobahnen”) issued in 1935. Paragraph 3 Section 64 “Service Uniform” (“Dienstkleidung”) described distinctive insignia relying on the Direction of July 18, 1935. Thereby it was announced that “current wearing of specialist patches by certain categories of officials should be continued in future. However, winged wheel emblem used by train crew (Zugbegleitbeamten), motor coach conductors (Triebwagenschaffner) and luggage guards (Fahrladeschaffner) is replaced with a double-winged wheel emblem. Specialist patches on a black cloth base are to be worn on the upper part of a left sleeve of a cloth jacket (Tuchjoppe) by officials, applicants and all employees carrying out specific duties on a constant basis. Steam locomotive firemen (Lokomotivheizer) aren’t supposed to wear specialist patches anymore, though. If an employee carries out several duties simultaneously, he is entitled to wear the badge corresponding to his primary job”.

Final design of Spartenabzeichen was instituted in 1937 when they were described in full in the German Imperial Railways Service Uniform Regulations (Dienstkleidungsordnung der Deutschen Reichsbahn) issued on July 01, 1937. Incidentally, that shortened name, i.e. “Deutsche Reichsbahn” was officially used from February 02, 1937 until the end of the WWII. Thus sleeve specialist patches are referred to in Part A “Railways” (“Eisenbahn”), Section II “Special regulations” (“Besondere Vorschriften”). As provided for in subparagraph “a”, paragraph 1 of the Article 2 “Service uniform and equipment” (“Form und Ausstattung der Dienstkleidung”), “specialist patch embroidered on a black cloth underlay is worn on the left upper arm of a cuffless stitched sleeve”. It’s worth mentioning here that specialists’ insignia described below wasn’t an innovation and  naturally moved to the uniform of Third Reich-era railway personnel from collars of Reichsbahn predecessors, pre-WWI Royal Prussian Railways Administration (Königlich Preußische Eisenbahnverwaltung) and Weimar-era German State Railways (Deutsche Reichsbahn).

Thus the following ten specialist patches for service uniform (Spartenabzeichen nach der Dienstkleidungsordnung) were instituted on July 01, 1937.

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Information stated below was taken from a Summary table of specialist patches for railway officials (“Übersicht über die Spartenabzeichen und ihre Träger – Eisenbahn”) that accompanied above-mentioned Regulations of July 01, 1937. Official description of an emblem is given first, followed by a list its holders and finally a correspondence of their positions to a schedule of charges of German Imperial Railways. Please note that service names in brackets are provided by an author for general understanding only as they were not mentioned in the Regulations. The same relates to English equivalents of Reichsbahn positions.

1. “Double-winged wheel” (Carriage service). Conductor (Zugschaffner – 15), senior conductor (Oberzugschaffner – 15), trainmaster (Zugführer – 10), senior trainmaster (Oberzugführer – 9а), luggage guard (Fahrladeschaffner – 15), senior luggage guard (Fahrladeoberschaffner – 15), motor coach conductor (Triebwagenschaffner – 15), motor coach senior conductor (Triebwagenoberschaffner – 15).

2. “Winged wheel with three lightning bolts” (Motor coach service). Motor coach supervisor (Triebwagenführer – 13), motor coach senior supervisor (Obertriebwagenführer – 13).

3. “Track gage with support” (Track maintenance service). Headman (Rottenführer – 15), senior headman (Oberrottenführer – 15), section gang foreman (Rottenmeister – 12), section gang senior foreman (Oberrottenmeister – 9a).

4. “Wheel with superimposed letter R” (Shunting service). Shunting supervisor (Rangieraufseher – 15), shunting controller (Rangiermeister – 12), senior shunting controller (Oberrangiermeister – 9а).

5. “Two crossed lightning bolts” (Power supply service). Railway communication network warden (Leitungsaufseher – 15), railway communication network senior warden (Leitungsoberaufseher – 15), railway communication network controller (Leitungsmeister – 12), railway communication network senior controller (Oberleitungsmeister – 9а), railway signalling operator (Signalwerkführer – 11), signal tower station senior operator (Oberwerkführer für Stellwerke – 9а), railway signalling foreman (Signalwerkmeister – 9), railway telegraphist (Telegrafenwerkführer – 11), railway telegraph operator (Telegrafenwerkmeister – 9), railway maintenance inspector of Telegraph service (technischer Reichsbahninspektor im Telegrafenwerkstättendienst – 7), railway maintenance senior inspector of Telegraph service (technischer Reichsbahnoberinspektor im Telegrafenwerkstättendienst – 6), railway administrator of Telegraph service (Reichsbahnamtmann im Telegrafenwerkstättendienst – 5).

6. “Coach” (Passenger car service). Coach warden (Wagenaufseher – 14), coach mechanical engineer (Wagenmeister – 11), coach senior mechanical engineer (Oberwagenmeister – 9а), coach foreman (Wagenwerkmeister – 9).

7. “Steam locomotive” (Locomotive operational service). Steam locomotive fireman (Lokomotivheizer – 13), Senior steam locomotive fireman (Oberlokomotivheizer – 13), reserve locomotive driver (Reservelokomotivführer – 11), locomotive driver (Lokomotivführer – 9), senior locomotive driver (Oberlokomotivführer – 7а).

8. “Gear with three lightning bolts” (Electrotechnical service). Senior machinist (Obermaschinist – 14а), mechanical engineer (Werkführer – 11), depot mechanical engineer (Betriebswerkführer – 11), foreman (Werkmeister – 9), depot foreman (Betriebswerkmeister – 9), depot senior foreman (Betriebsoberwerkmeister – 7а), railway power-stations and power supply maintenance inspector (technischer Reichsbahninspektor für Kraftwerke (Elektrizitätswerke) und Unterhaltung elektrischer Leitungsnetze – 7), railway power-stations and power supply maintenance senior inspector (technischer Reichsbahnoberinspektor für Kraftwerke (Elektrizitätswerke) und Unterhaltung elektrischer Leitungsnetze – 6), railway power-stations and power supply maintenance administrator (Reichsbahnamtmann für Kraftwerke (Elektrizitätswerke) und Unterhaltung elektrischer Leitungsnetze – 5).

9. “Wheel with compass” (Construction service). Railway maintenance inspector of Construction service (technischer Reichsbahninspektor im bautechnischen Außendienst – 7), railway maintenance senior inspector of Construction service (technischer Reichsbahnoberinspektor im bautechnischen Außendienst – 6), railway administrator of Construction service (Reichsbahnamtmann im bautechnischen Außendienst – 5).

10. “Motor car” (Cargo and passenger traffic service). High-speed omnibus driver (Fahrer der Schnellreisewagen), public cargo truck driver (Fahrer des Lastkraftwagen für den öffentlichen Güterverkehr), public cargo truck driver assistant (Begleiter des Lastkraftwagen für den öffentlichen Güterverkehr). Correspondence of positions to a schedule of charges of German Imperial Railways for those employees was flexible.

To make the picture complete it’s worth mentioning here that German Imperial Railways Service Uniform Regulations (Dienstkleidungsordnung der Deutschen Reichsbahn) of July 01, 1937 made navigation personnel eligible for wearing of specialist patches as they were considered as a part of Reichsbahn. Their uniform was described in Part B “Navigation. Maritime traffic and Lake Constance traffic” (“Schiffahrt. Hochsee- und Bodenseedchiffahrt”) of the Section II “Special regulations” (“Besondere Vorschriften”). Casual mention of their rank insignia and sleeve patches was made in paragraph 2 of the Article 7 “Service uniform and equipment” (“Form und Ausstattung der Dienstkleidung”). Annex to above-mentioned Regulations contained

a Summary table of rank insignia and specialist patches for navigation officials (“Übersicht über die Rang- und Spartenabzeichen und ihre Träger – Schiffahrt”). Part B stipulated that “specialist patch are to be worn on the upper part of a left sleeve of a double-breasted jacket (Jackett) or a cloth jacket (Tuchjoppe) by officials, applicants and all employees carrying out specific duties on a constant basis”.

According to Amendments and Supplements to Imperial Railways Service Uniform (Änderung und Ergänzung der Reichsbahndienstkleidung) issued by the Imperial Transport/Traffic Ministry (Reichsverkehrsministerium) on February 13, 1941, Spartenabzeichen were abolished (subsection B “In Reich territory” (“Im Reich”), Section I “Service uniform” (“Dienstanzug”)). Instead cuff titles (Ärmelstreifen) and sleeve eagles (Ärmelhoheitszeichen) were introduced. However that insignia turned out to be short-lived as is it was revoked within less than five months and replaced with National emblems of German Imperial Railways Directorates (Hoheitszeichen mit Direktionsbezeichnung) instituted by the Oder of the Imperial Transport Minister (Reichsverkehrsminister) Dr.-Ing. Julius Heinrich Dorpmüller (24.07.1869-05.07.1945).

Distinctive Spartenabzeichen would appear on jackets of West German railway (Deutsche Bundesbahn) personnel only after the WWII according to a Specialist patches restitution Decree (Wiedereinführung von Spartenabzeichen) of November 09, 1951. Most post-war emblems would be different from the Third Reich era, though.

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