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.
the researcher or collector is fortunate to find a
small grouping of personal effects which can be
attributed to a single individual; a sort of
"time capsule" if you will, in which the
significance of the individual items is supplemented
by the relationships of the contents as a whole.
Groupings like the one examined in this article also
identify items as WWII German personal effects which
would otherwise be classified at best as
"of the period".
grouping in question was souvenired by a GI and now
resides in the collection of Barry Smith. It is
contained in a typical German "Feldpost" box
which measures 5¼" x 3¾" x 1" (see
illustration "A"). The label on the
box bears the soldier's name and fieldpost-number in
pencil: "Sold. Julius Milla" and
"02014D". There are no
cancellations or receipt stamps and the return
address, if there ever was one, has been obliterated.
There is evidence, however, that there was nothing in
the return address space except some geometric
doodles; some of which remains in the obliterated
are many items still in this box. When
opened, the first noticeable item is a very
small wound dressing which is shown in
illus. "B". The packet
(manufactured in Troisdorf) is made of a
very dark green rubberized cloth and is
sealed along three edges. The overall
dimensions of this bandage are 2¼" x
3" x ½". The label which is
printed in black describes the contents as a
compress which is 50mm x 80mm in size.
Instructions are printed on the other side
of the packet.
box is littered with the flakes of a large
cigar; this cigar looks a lot like one of
the common "Kantinezigarren"
(PX cigars), which were sold individually.
The largest part of the cigar still remains
a gold and reddish-orange band.
Although the original dimensions of this
item are impossible to determine with
certainty, especially the original length,
the thickness was about 5/8" x
1/2". See illustration
item shown in illustration "D" is
a small orange-painted, hinged tin box with
the black lettering which identifies its
contents as "Earplugs for those with
injured ear drums". The material
for the plugs is in the form of small flat
tiles of some disgusting waxy substance.
The tiles are about 3/4" square and
1/8" thick, and are separated by
squares of waxed paper. The
instructions printed inside the lid say to
throw away the paper and roll the material
into a "bullet" and stick them in
your ears, no later than when the gas mask
is put on in an emergency. The box
itself measures 1-1/8" x 2-5/8" x
"E" and "F" are both soft-metal
tubes of different creams, covered with plastic screw
caps. The tube shown in illus. "E"
measures about 1" in diameter and 4" overall
length. It is silver in color with the
inscription "skin protection salve" printed
in light orange.
smaller tube measures about 1/2" in diameter and
about 3" in overall length. It is also a
silvery color with the label "boric acid
salve" in black. The note near the end of
the tube instructs the owner to save the empty tube.
water decontamination tablet tube
illustrated in "G" is quite small:
about 3/8" in diameter and 1-1/2"
long including the metal screw-top.
The tube itself is aluminum with a
black-white-green printed label. The
tube contains 10 tablets, and still contains
its packing material under the lid.
Unlike American cotton drug packing (like
that found under the lid of aspirin
bottles), this container uses wool waste.
The manufacturer was the Heyden chemical
works in Dresden.
of the most interesting items in the box is
shown in illustration "H".
It is a World War II German can opener,
appropriately enough called "der
Kamerad"!! It is noticeably
larger than the American version and has its
lanyard hole in the opposite end of the
handle. Other than these two
differences, it is the same old GI
"P-38" can opener. We
already know that the American military
copied many other articles from the
Wehrmacht: folding shovels, and eventually
even helmets. I wonder...
comes the interesting part. What is
the story of this box? Here are the
clues: first, that it was brought home by a
GI. That at least puts it in the
1944-1945 time frame. Now the box
itself: it doesn't have a return address and
no post-office cancellations or military
unit receipt stamp. Therefore it was
never mailed. The soldier probably put
his own name on the box and whimsically
doodled in the return address space.
The feldpost number identifies the soldier
as a member of the 4th Company of Reserve
Grenadier Battalion 209, which was
stationed in Denmark and was used as a
training unit for Wehrkreis 10 recruits
(northwest Germany, including Hamburg) as
well as for occupation duty.
situation of this soldier must have been similar to
that of Wolfgang
Klünner , or the veteran August
Weber who was also trained in Denmark. The
4th Company of these units was a heavy machine-gun
training company, so perhaps this explains the
earplugs! None of the items appears to be
standard issue for enlisted men, although on the other
hand, some items (like the boric acid salve from
Wehrkreis Medical Depot XX) were probably not
available in stores back home. Therefore, the
soldier probably bought these items himself from the
unit's Kantine (PX). As for the items
themselves, we can sum them up best in a fictitious
Our training here
is almost over so I went down to the Kantine
to buy a few things. I can't tell you
where I am, but I will tell you that it is
pretty easy to save money here because
everything outside the Kaserne is much
cheaper that in the Fatherland!
Anyway, I picked up a little can opener
because much of the food we get comes in
cans and I think it is very inefficient to
mangle the cans with one's bayonet. I
don't know where they will send me next, but
the water might be bad so I bought some
water purification tablets too. I've
already got a million small cuts and
scrapes, and will undoubtedly get more in
the field, so I found some boric acid salve
for antiseptic. You know how tender my
delicate Aryan skin is too, Mutti, so I
couldn't resist buying some skin cream.
We are issued these wound dressings if we
get hurt, but the wound better be a good one
because we are accountable for the bandages.
It's such a hassle, so I bought a small one
of my own which I can use at my own
discretion. I wanted to buy a pair of
earplugs but most of them were sort of
expensive so I settled for a box of
"roll your own". They were
definitely cheap, but mein Gott, they
look like they are made out of real ear wax!
I hope you are not eating right now, sorry.
But thunderation, are the machine guns we
use load! You can't believe the
hammering of these "saws": the
sound in the movie theaters cannot compare!!
I'll be as deaf as Grosspapa by the time the
war is won.
thing, I had a few Pfennig left over, so I
bought a big Kantinezigarre. I don't
even smoke cigars, I don't know what got
into me. I also bought a little box to
put it all in.
enough for now. See you when I get
1. Verbände und Truppen
der deutschen Wehrmacht u. Waffen SS by G. Tessin
2. The collection of: Barry Smith