Soldier's Sewing Kits
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.
Of all the
soldier's equipment, nothing is as inconspicuous and
unwarlike as his sewing kit. Nonetheless, it is
still a vital piece of equipment. With it, the
soldier can repair the holes that let the cold and wet
seep in through his clothes, he can replace a button
and not get into trouble at inspection and he can sew
on his new rank or ribbon if he is so lucky. In
emergencies, it can be used to sew up wounds or pin
the torn pieces of flesh together. In many
situations, it can be invaluable to the ingenious
German military inventories, there were several
different types of kits, with the main variations
arising from the type of container it came in.
The contents -- needles, thread, buttons, and the like
were basically the same. The type in possession
of this author is one of black leather that has one
end folded back into a pocket containing spare buttons
of all types: tunic, shirt, Zeltbahn, and so on.
Even commercial "Hammer-on" buttons for
quick repairs. On the inside of the flap are two
loops of cloth that are the same length. One
loop is used to hold a cardboard tube containing
needles, and the other loop holds small spools and
loops of thread (See illustration "A").
When folded, it is tied by two ties stitched into the
middle of the end opposite the pocket end.
Another kit of this exact design in the collection of
this author is made of leatherette (imitation leather)
edged in black cloth (See illustration "B").
Both of these kits were carried by members of the
916th Grenadier Regiment during World War II.
type, (See illustration "C") is made of
artificial silk like the material found in M43 tunics
as lining and is 5-3/4" long by 4" wide when
opened up. The pocket is 3-3/4" long.
The contents of this kit included: a card of gray
darning wool for repairing knitted goods like socks, a
cardboard "star" spool of field-gray thread
with a needle tucked into it, a small cap eagle that
was actually wound up into a card of darning wool, and
a single plastic button.
style, this one sadly plundered from the pockets of a
dead army truck driver, consists of a sheet-metal tube
with a slip-fit cap. See illustration
"D". Unfortunately, all of the
contents of this kit have been lost. The vet who
brought this example home had used this German one as
a replacement for the one he had brought from the
States. In his words, "...the American
one was a fold-up cloth gizmo...I carried it in my
pocket and when I moved just right, the pins and
needles would stick out of it and jab me in the
types in metal, cloth, and wood have been observed.
All cloth types appear to be of the
"pocket-fold" design while the metal and
wood types were produced in various models, including
both hinged and two piece, top/bottom version.
German soldier lost or had his kit
"borrowed," many things were improvised to
use as a carry-all for his sewing items. For
example, Unterscharführur P. Mailand (SS.Pz.Gren.Rgt.
Westland) used a spare goggle pouch for his sewing
kit, which I still own and which retains its original
contents. Grenadier A. Meier (Gren.Regt.
916) used an odd sock for his. A soldier in the
Italian campaign named Adolf Bertl
(Stab./132.Gren.Regt.) carried his kit in an empty
metal container for Bouncing Betty fuses. It was
common practice to sew spare buttons to the underside
of the tornister or breadbag flaps. Leutnant Heinze
(Gren.Regt.916) advised all of his men to keep spare
buttons, a threaded needle, and extra thread wrapped
in a handkerchief and tucked into the wound-dressing
pocket of the tunic. This was incase they lost a
button while out on the town, they could stitch
another one on quickly to avoid problems with the
Feldgendarmerie or others with generally bad
dispositions. And others, like Obergefreiter J.
Brass, always had a needle tucked away in the fold
of his cap. Why, you may ask? You would
know why, if you ever had to march for kilometers on
end with a blister on your foot.
kit, regardless of what it came in, was a very
important thing to a field soldier. It should be
noted that several foreign versions were used,
especially French, Belgian, and Dutch. Egon
Roth, formerly of Artillery Regt. 260, used a
captured Soviet kit. See illustration
"E" for diagrams of the French and Russian
- Interviews with P. Mailand
(1977) and H. Heinze (1989)
- Letters by J. Brass
(June 16, 1988), A. Meier (May 28, 1988), and E. Roth
(March 2, 1992)
- The Collections of
E. Toby and the author