Content - Richard Lundström
Layout - Sebastian Bianchi 



Major Wilhelm Biehl (1880-after 1927), staff of Reichsheer Infantry Division 4, dated this photo 1927.  Note the strange miniature Iron Cross 2nd Class which seems to have been a Saxon favorite, being worn here in army uniform.  Note that as a Saxon, he is wearing his home state's awards before Prussia's, as well as the Saxon cockade on his cap. RN



A close-up of Major Biehl's ribbon bar reveals how difficult it can be to identify ribbons from old black and white photographs.  These are: Saxon St. Henry Order-Knight, Saxon Civil Merit Order with Swords (Knight 1st), Saxon Albert Order with Swords (Knight 1st), Prussian Iron Cross 2nd Class (note miniature), Reuss Honor Cross 3rd Class with Crown (and Swords-which he is not wearing here), Saxon XXV Years Service Cross, Reuss Honor Cross (3rd Class), and Saxe-Ernestine House Order (Knight 2nd).  It is only possible to identify all of these, and by grade, from army Rank Lists showing Biehl's awards. RN


Korvettenkapitän (Ing) Otto Thedsen (1886-1949) and Korvettenkapitän (V) August Böning (1891-1964) look rather cranky from salt and sun in this circa 1937-38 photo, when they were Chief Engineer and Chief Administrative Officer, respectively, of Commander of U-Boats.  Thedsen is wearing his full awards on his ribbon bar: WW1 Iron Cross 2nd Class, Hamburg Hanseatic Cross, Honor Cross for Combatants, 1919 Silesian Eagle 2nd Class, and the Wehrmacht 25 and 12 Years Service awards that replaced his old Imperial XV Years Service Cross in October 1936.  Böning, on the other hand, always a fashionable dresser, has gone for the "understated" navy look, wearing nothing but his WW1 Iron Cross 1st Class, even though his ribbon bar would have revealed him to be the most highly decorated Imperial navy paymaster of WW1.  There was what seems sometimes almost an aversion in the navy to wearing ribbon bars.




This commercial postcard of the ill-fated War Minister, Generalfeldmarschall Werner von Blomberg (1878-1946) was the only photo I could find for another form of understatement-the half width 12.5 mm size ribbon bars.  Note that the 16 awards on von Blomberg's bar here take up the space of an eight ribbon bar.  Wear of more than one row of ribbon bars was highly unusual before WW2.


This well decorated Luftwaffe Major is actually wearing his WW1 Turkish awards correctly, even though his Austrian one is wrong! The Turkish War Medal star, worn correctly here on the lower right breast, was peculiar in having a ribbon bar or buttonhole ribbon that was only supposed to be worn when the star itself was not.  In practice, both were usually worn simultaneously.  This unfortunately nameless Major is NOT wearing the ribbon bar TWM ribbon, so he is following regulations-at least partially.  The ribbon bar is: WW1 Iron Cross 2nd Class, Hindenburg Cross for Combatants, Austro-Hungarian Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with War Decoration (which belongs either in front of the HCX or after the Sudeten Medal on this bar), two Luftwaffe Long Service awards (so 18 & 4 or 12 & 4), 1938 Sudeten Medal, Turkish WW1 Imtiaz Medal in Silver with Sabers Bar, and Turkish WW1 Liakat Medal in Silver with sabers Bar. CH