MG-Scharfschützen Ärmelabzeichen

Machine gun sniper sleeve badge

Machine gun sniper sleeve badge being not a decoration but a specialists’ insignia was instituted in the kingdom of Prussia on February 08, 1916. Its wear was authorized by separate orders of three other kingdoms, Württemberg (on February 16, 1916), Saxony (on February 17, 1916) and Bavaria (on February 19, 1916).

Initially it was issued to NCOs and other ranks but later on extended to officers – on August 21, 1917 in Prussia, followed by Württemberg (September 07, 1917) and Bavaria (September 24, 1917). None of machine gunners of infantry units wore that badge.

Formation of machine gun sniper units (MG-Scharfschützen-Truppen) in addition to already existent machine gun companies started in January 1916 from the cadre of experienced front fighters who were to be deployed in army reserve units at significant sectors of fronts. They were equipped with standard German machine guns MG-08 (Maschinengewehr 08), no sniper rifles were provided.

 Totally 200 units in four kingdoms of the German Empire were raised, viz.: Nos. 41-46, 87-90, 135-138 and 187-193 (Bavaria); Nos. 91, 92, 139, 140 and 194-197 (Saxony); Nos. 93, 94, 141, 142 and 198-200 (Württemberg). Units bearing all the other numbers not listed above within 1-200 range were raised in Prussia.

Military personnel of those units wore ordinary infantry field uniform with a number of the Trupp on their shoulder straps and sword-knots (Troddel) of the 1st company.

MG-Scharfschützen-Trupps were combined into machine gun sniper detachments (MG-Scharfschützen-Abteilungen) in September 1916, each Abteilung comprising of three Trupps renamed companies (Kompagnien). Prussian detachments were numbered 1-49; Saxon – 50, 51, 52 and 76; Württemberg – 53, 54 and 77. Bavaria had its own numbers for such detachments (1-4) thus being an exception from above described prevailing numeration. 

Supreme Army Command (Oberste Heeresleitung, OHL) reserved a right to detach and use those Abteilungen at its own discretion. Some of those detachments spent months being attached to a certain division providing protection of artillery positions. Shortly after field artillery batteries started receiving “their own” machine guns for close protection importance of MG-Scharfschützen-Abteilungen was decreased. Therefore on certain occasions machine gun detachments fought as last ditch units destroying enemy lines with intense aimed fire.

Military personnel of those detachments wore ordinary infantry field uniform with a number of the Abteilung on their shoulder straps and sword-knots (Troddel) of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd companies.

Machine gun sniper sleeve badge was worn on the upper left sleeve of a tunic slightly higher bend of elbow. It had a horizontal oval shape and represented an image of a standard German machine gun MG-08 (Maschinengewehr 08) mounted on a sled mount with its barrel facing left. Distinctive ammunition belt encircled the composition and connected to a sled mount at its bottom in three points. The badge was attached to an oval cloth by four long hooks soldered to reverse of an ammunition belt an two to the body of a gun. Cloth base was  reinforced by a copper oval plate at its backside.

The badge was 54x78 mm in size and was made of brass.

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Scharfschutzen