The Infantry Assault Badge / Das Infantrie-Sturmabzeichen

Yuri D.

The Infantry Assault Badge can be called the quintessential symbol of the German Army during the Third Reich period. Being one of the very first German military awards of World War II, the IAB is an example of the new design style of that time. The confident-looking new national emblem, the K-98 rifle extending beyond the border of the oak-leaf wreath and the material-sparing cut-through design communicate a level of modernism that is very different than the style of its Imperial Era predecessors. This article will explore both the silver and bronze classes of the IAB based on the badge manufacturer, and will attempt to show the similarities and differences between badges, thereby helping to educate the collector about the IAB, and different manufacturing styles of the Third Reich period.

The following paragraphs represent a translation from a well-known book titled “Medals & Decorations of The Third Reich” by SS Obersturmbannführer Heinrich Doehle, Under State Secretary of the Chancellery of the Head of State and State Chancellor.

THE INFANTRY COMBAT BADGE

The Infantry Combat Badge was established on December 20, 1939 as a recognition of combat action as an infantryman. Awarded by the Army commander-in-chief upon the recommendation of the infantry company commander.
The Infantry Combat Badge in silver will be awarded to officers, NCOs and enlisted men of rifle companies not in Motorized Infantry Divisions, and to Mountain Troop companies who from January 1, 1940 completed the following:

1. Combat in three (3) assaults,
2. in the front lines,
3. armed with hand weapons during the assault,
4. on three different combat days.

The badge is awarded for counter-assaults, assaults of particular importance, patrols and patrolling activities resulting in combat, and hand-to-hand combat. Criteria also includes the soldier or individual personally and single-handedly destroying an enemy tank.
All of the above can be placed into the Classification as number 5 and the Infantry Combat Badge can be given as a special award under the qualification as in number 1 above. Through Army General Order of June 1, 1940, the awarding of the Infantry Combat Badge is to include the motorized infantry regiments. The color of the badge is bronze.
The badge will be authorized through the regiment commander. The recipient will receive an award document and the badge will be worn on the left breast.

On June 1, 1940 a bronze version of the badge was issued and this was given to all members of Motorized Infantry units under the same qualifications as above.
The first issurance of the badge took place in April of 1940, a Lieutenant and a Corporal being the first recipients of the badge.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of variations of the IAB, both bronze and silver, both marked and unmarked. New types are being constantly discovered. This article will focus on some of the marked ones, since they are more easily referenced. Several unmarked badges will be displayed as examples to show manufacturing techniques or other aspects of the IAB.

STANDARD SPECIFICATIONS

Several manufacturers initially produced the IAB, among them the firms of Rudolf Souval, Vienna and Steinhauer u. Luck, Ludenscheid, not to mention CE Juncker. Because of this there are variations in the size of the badge but for most collectors and historians, the following dimensions are considered ‘official’—

Height 61-63mm
Width 46-49mm
Eagle on top of wreath 19mm wide, 27mm tall.

DISCUSSION OF VARIATIONS

No other badge made during the Third Reich period demonstrates the same veriety of manufacturing techiques as the Infantry Assault Badge. Materials range from the early: solid-backed tombak or stamped nickel-silver; to the later: kriegsmetal and zinc. Manufacturing techniques range from solid-backed heavy badges, to ligter stamped out variations. The IAB also sports the widest variety of pin-back badge attachment mechanisms.

The average dimensions of a badge featured in this article are:

Height: 62.72 mm
Width: 47.56 mm
Rifle length: 62.33 mm
Eagle width: 20.68 mm
Weight: 25.77 g

 

Infantry Assault Badges with "the most"

The heaviest badge is the "L/56" -marked Funcke & Bruninghaus zinc badge that weighs 37.8 grams and feels like it's made out of stone. The tallest badge is the Franke & Co. (FCL) specimen with a height of 64.2 mm. The widest badge is the "L/56" -marked Funcke & Bruninghaus badge measuring 48.77 mm.

Infantry Assault Badges with "the least"


The lightest badge is a 7.65 gram unmarked stamped specimen that has the look and feel of a tinnie. The IAB that is shortest in height is the badge marked "S.H. u. Co. 41" that measures 60.1 mm tall. The smallest in width is the "Wernstein"- marked badge in silver that measures 45.7 mm.

Weight Variance

Although there are definite variances in the size dimensions of an IAB, the most variance exists in the weight of a badge. This variance in weight results from the following:

1. Material (type and thickness)
2. Die form
3. Attachment mechanism
4. Plating
5. Finishing work (filing edges, etc.,)

The weght of an IAB should at the most be used as a secondary indicator of authenticity. For example, badge #55 and badge #56 were made by the same manufacturer with the same dies and with an identical attachment mechanism. Yet badge #55 weighs 32.8 grams and badge #56 weighs 21.8 grams. Their size dimensions are almost identical yet the weight varies by over 10 grams! Both badges are made from zinc of a similar composition. The reason for their weigh difference comes from the thickness of the material from which they were cut. Another, less significant factor in the weight difference is the plating of both badges. There are multiple weight variances that exist just within groups of badges that come from one manufacturer. The "Fritz Zimmermann" badges are a great example of this weight variance.

Finding the Manufacturer of an Unmarked Badge<

It is always a small victory when a collector matches an unmarked badge to a particular manufacturer. The criteria for this match can be:

1. Die characteristics
2. Attachment mechanism construction

The best criteria for matching unmarked badges to makers is the die characteristics. In this article, one prominent match has come to light. Unmarked Bronze IAB #11 was made by the same manufacturer that created Silver IAB #4 that is marked "L/10" the Lieferanten number of the Deschler firm. The details that ensure a match are:

1. Details of the eagle's feet
2. Beard under the eagle's beak
3. Shape of the acorns on the wreath
4. Almost identical size dimensions
5. Filled-in material to the right of the wreath retention band at the bottom of the badge

Numbers

A special type of zinc IABs have raised numbers on their reverse. These badges are struck from a single piece of zinc (including hinge and catch) and have very distinctive die marks on the reverse (ejection circles and rectangular form lines). There is speculation that these numbers were actually die numbers. This would make a lot of sense because if a die started to wear down or break, it would be easy to identify which one was damaged. The first article featured the numbers 3 and 4. Since then, the numbers 1 and 2 have been found.

Also, there is possibility that these badges were manufactured by the Assmann firm. The ejection marks, straight lines around the hinge and catch, and the style of numbers used, very strongly resemble the reverses of wreaths encountered on late-war Assmann Paratrooper and Observer badges.

"MK"

This manufacturer is still shrouded in a bit of mystery. Their earlier badges are marked with the stylized initials "MK" in a triangle. Their later badges are marked with "M. K. #" where the numbers documented in these articles so far are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7. What's interesting is that all of the dies for these badges are similar on the obverse, but subtly different on the reverse. This means that a master die was used to create all of these numbered dies.

Anomalies

Frank & Reif made the Infantry Assault Badge, at least in silver. The one featured in this article, has the company's name misspelled. It's spelled "Fank & Reif, Stuttgart". Since F&R would have immediately stopped production upon seeing this defect, the badge displayed here is extremely rare.

Crests (or other symbols)

These are by far the strangest marks encountered on any badges. Up to this point, no information has surfaced about these marks. The badges are executed with very high quality.

 

THE BADGES

INFANTRY ASSAULT BADGES - SILVER

 

No.
Manufacturer
Location
Mark
Notes
1
Adolf Scholze   AS in triangle  
2
BSW   "BSW" in clover  
3
Carl Wild   "C" over a "W"  
4
Deschler & Sohn Munchen L /10  
5
Dr. Franke & Co. Ludenscheid "LFC" in a circle  
6
Dr. Franke & Co. Ludenscheid "LFC" in a circle  
7
Eduard Goriach & Sohne Gablonz L / 51  
8
Ernst Müller Pforzheim

Ernst Müller / Pforzheim

 
9
Foerster & Barth Pforzheim L / 21  
10
Friedrich Linden Ludenscheid "FLL" in 3 circles  
11
Friedrich Linden Ludenscheid "FLL" in 3 circles  
12
Friedrich Linden Ludenscheid L / 61 raised logo
13
Friedrich Linden Ludenscheid L / 61 incuse logo
14
Frank & Reif Stuttgart "FANK & REIF STUTTGART" no, that's not a spelling error
15
Friedrich Orth   F.O.  
16
Friedrich Orth   L / 14  
17
Fritz Zimmermann   "FZS" in a circle  
18
Fritz Zimmermann   "FZS" in a circle  
19
Fritz Zimmermann   "FZS" in a circle  
20
Fritz Zimmermann   "FZS" in a circle  
21
Funcke & Bruninghaus   L / 56  
22
Hermann Aurich Dresden "HA" logo  
23
Glaser & Sohne Dresden L / 53  
24
G. R. & Co.   G.R. & C. in oval  
25
GWL Ludenscheid "GWL" in a circle early - buntmetal
26
GWL Ludenscheid "GWL" in a circle zinc
27
J. B. & Co      
28
John Feix & Sohne   "JFS" in square  
29
John Feix & Sohne   "JFS" in square  
30
John Feix & Sohne   "J F S."

hollow reverse -

31
M K in Triangle   M K in Triangle  
32
M. K. 2.   "M. K. 2." same maker as badge #30
33
M. K. 3.   "M. K. 3." same maker as badge #30
34
M. K. 4.   "M. K. 4." same maker as badge #30
35
M. K. 6.   "M. K. 6." same maker as badge #30
36
M. K. 7.   "M. K. 7." same maker as badge #30
37
OM   "OM"  
38
Sohni Heublach & Co.   "S. H. u. Co." zinc
39
Sohni Heublach & Co.   "S. H. u. Co." zinc
40
Sohni Heublach & Co.   "S. H. u. Co." early
41
  "W" on reverse of eagle's right wing.  
42
Wernstein Jena "W" with crown  
43
Wernstein Jena "W" with crown thin, coke-bottle pin.
44
Walter & Hentein Gablonz "W. H. "  
45
W. R. 42.   "W. R. 42."  
46
1 - Deschler & Sohne   "1" incuse  
47
number 1   "1" raised possible Assmann manufacture
48
number 2   "2" raised possible Assmann manufacture
49
number 3   "3" raised possible Assmann manufacture
50
number 3   "3" raised possible Assmann manufacture
51
number 4   "4" raised possible Assmann manufacture
52
number 4   "4" raised possible Assmann manufacture
53
number 8   "8" incuse  
54
UNMARKED     zinc, "Juncker" style
55
UNMARKED     zinc, "GWL" hinge
56
UNMARKED     semi-hollow reverse
57
UNMARKED     semi-hollow reverse
58
UNMARKED     ultra light weight
59
UNMARKED     JFS style attachment

 

 

INFANTRY ASSAULT BADGES - BRONZE

 

No. Manufacturer Location Mark Notes
1
GWL Ludenscheid GWL in circle  
2
GWL Ludenscheid GWL in circle  
3
Wernstein Jena "W" with a crown  
4
MK in triangle   "MK" in soft triangle  
5
M. K. 1.   "M. K. 1."  
6
OM   "OM" in rectangle  
7
Richard Simm & Sohne   "R. S. & S."  
8
S. H. u. Co.   "S. H. u. Co. O." rare - hollow reverse
9
number 4   "4" raised possible Assmann manufacture
10
Godet   "21" in rectangle  
11
UNMARKED     Deschler die
12
UNMARKED     "GWL" hinge
13
UNMARKED     semi-hollow reverse

CONCLUSION

As this article was written, I began to see that measurements and weights varied significantly of original badges that were made by the same manufacturer and with the same material. Measurements and weights can only be used as one of sevaral authenticity indicators. War-time materials changed on a monthly basis, new dies were cut periodically, and new stock of attachment mechanisms were utilized at random intervals. The plating on badges also adds a gram or two of weight that could spell the difference between one person's mint badge and another person's gray zinc example. As the price of Infantry Assault Badges contunually rises (I have seen some sell for $200), certain examples will be worth a premium over others. There has also been a recent trend for collectors to acquire different variations and makers of a particular badge. I hope that this article will help the collector and researcher alike.
From the beginning, I knew that this article would be open-ended endeavor. I chose to cover the most complicated subject of the Infantry Assault Badge first, because it is the most difficult. There are examples and makers that are not covered by this article, and I have pictures of badges that I cannot credit to anyone. I am very thankful to everyone who helped and also ask of those who read this article, to be on the lookout for Infantry Assault Badges that are not shown here and to contact me at ydesyatnik@sbcglobal.net with the information. Future issues of the Military Advisor Magazine will feature addendums to this article and others like it.

All sections compiled and written by Yuri D. Editing and layout by Yuri D.
This article is copyrighted, any total or partial reproduction without written permission is prohibited 
Please see the Credits and Bibliography for resource information.

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