following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter
& was done so with permission of the publisher.
We would like to thank him for his generosity as well
as thank all those who have contributed to this
article. It is with their efforts, we are able
to share this valuable research with the rest of you.
overall reputation which these items gained for
themselves is perhaps best illustrated by the
statements of Karl-Heinz Zimmerman, who was a teenage
draftee in the Fall of 1943:
my brother came home on leave he clomped
around the house in those nice boots.
I would polish them for him. Those
boots were one of those things which
separated a soldier from a civilian; they
were the trademark of a Deutscher Soldat.
When I went into the Army, they gave me a
pair of lace-up boots like workman's shoes
and a pair of Gamaschen. We all sat
around with these things, looking at them
like they were some sort of ladies' wear.
We were disappointed. They made us
look like a bunch of Tommies."
sentiment was probably echoed by more than a few new
The Gamaschen were originally introduced by an
order dated August 8th, 1940 as part of an effort to
conserve the leather which was so widely used in the
manufacture of German military gear. This order
specified that they be issued to rear area units and
all units of the Ersatz Armee (replacement Army), and
although they were supposed to eventually replace the
jackboot altogether, jackboots were worn by some units
right up to the end.
the Schnurschue / Gamaschen combination was becoming
commonplace for most units of the Army. In some
units, a mix of jackboots and Gamaschen could be seen,
since much of what the soldier initially took to the
field depended on which training unit supplied him.
There were, however, some important
"unit-sized" exceptions, which are supported
by both photographic and written documentation:
Certain élite units were totally resupplied with
jackboots even in the final year of the war as an
emblem of their élite status. A comment to this
effect can be found in Guy Sajer's "The Forgotten
last we were issued new clothes. Some
of the uniforms were quite different from
the ones we'd always known, with blouses
like those worn in the French Army today,
and trousers tucked into short, thick spats,
looking like a grotesque parody of a golfing
costume. This new design was for the
most part distributed to new troops.
The GrossDeutschland, as an élite division,
kept the old design. We were even
given new boots - a further sign of
privilege." (page 354)
Garrison, training, base area, and other
"Hinterland" troops who had been issued
jackboots earlier in the war and who never had a cause
to wear them out. This case is best illustrated
by the comparison of two Soldbuchs of men who were
inducted only days apart from one another:
Ammann was inducted on June 17th,
1941 and was issued marching boots. By
the end of the year he was fighting in
Russia. His clothing and equipment
record is full of changes as he went from
campaign to refit, from hospital to combat.
By 1943, jackboots were no longer found in
his possession. By 1944, any jackboot
he ever wore would have existed in mere
fragments, perhaps as faucet seals in some
field kitchen or brake pads on some Russian
Krzowski (?) was inducted on June
25th, and likewise issued boots. After
training, however, Melchior was posted to La
Rochelle in France as part of the Army
garrison there. His clothing and
equipment list hardly changed at all over
the years, and the last entry made before
the Invasion indicates him as the owner of a
pair of Jackboots. Other than kicking
some stubborn French cows from the road or
booting some drunken U-Boaters, these boots
probably saw little hard use and therefore
survived with only an occasional re-soling.
one should be careful about drawing broad conclusions
from all this; although Gamaschen may have been the
most common thing on Landsers' ankles, jackboots were
still worn as we have said before.
soldiers preferred jackboots over the Gamaschen, some
of them would acquire them on their own. Karl
Anderssen, a Navy transferee to the Army in
late 1944, lost his Kriegsmarine-issued jackboots to
an Army PAK gunner in a wager.
Gamaschen themselves were obviously not liked by the
Landser, who had a number of unflattering nicknames
for them: Timoschenko-Socken (Timoshenko
Socks), Rückzugsgamaschen (retreat gaiters, so
called because they started to appear during the great
mid-war reverses), Hunddecke (dog blankets).
Manufactured in lefts and rights and made of brownish
or greenish canvas for the Army and blue for the
Luftwaffe, there appears to have been two major
variations in design (see illustrations).
"A" are of greenish canvas with black
leather fittings. The buckles are black-painted
steel with rollers and the strap-end loop is of
leather. The bottom reinforcement is composed of
3/8" wide leather binding sewn along the bottom
edge. There is a 1" wide stiffening strip
sewn across the middle of the Gamaschen.
"B" are also of greenish canvas, but have
brown leather fittings. The buckles on this
example are of gray-painted steel without rollers and
the strap-end loop is of leather. A few
Gamaschen of this style were examined, however, with
black leather fittings, and one pair had metal
strap-end loops like the Bundeswehr model. The
major difference from style "A" is in the
bottom reinforcement: this model has crescent-shaped
pieces of leather sewn to the inside front and back.
Gamaschen are unmarked, although one pair of type
"B" Gamaschen examined had an illegible
maker's mark and the date "44".
Bundeswehr model is basically the same as the WWII
model, with the following exceptions: aluminum
hardware, leather fittings are always black, and the
color is more gray than the Wehrmacht issue. In
addition, every one of the 8 pair of WWII
Gamaschen examined for this study had only three
holes in the fastening straps. The typical BW
model has five holes and a longer strap.
Gamaschen were able to be worn with any type
of long trousers, but the M43 trousers were designed
for wear with them. Gamaschen were always to be
worn with the scallops and reinforcements on the
bottom, and the strap-ends pointing towards the rear.
the blousing of trouser bottoms will lead to wear near
the trouser inseam, there was a method prescribed
which folded rather than bloused the trouser bottoms
when worn with gaiters (see illustration). In
this method, the cuffs were folded from the inside
a practice among combat troops to throw away their
gaiters and roll the tops of their wool socks down
over the top of the low-quarter boots, as was
customary with European hikers. Although this
was against regulations and therefore forbidden, there
is both photographic evidence and veteran
corraboration that this was done.
- The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer
- Uniforms and Traditions
of the German Army, Vol. I by John Angolia
- Interview with Karl-Heinz
Zimmermann, dated August 8, 1989
with Karl Anderssen, dated March 22, 1990