Main | About Us | Membership | Articles | Events | Photos | Links | Books | Contact Us

Mess Utensils
By Eric Tobey

The following was taken from the Der Meldeweg 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 landser was both issued and offered for purchase a wide variety of flatware, and these appear to fall into four general categories:

Barracks flatware - Although this type was certainly rarely if ever seen in the field, it was probably the first utensil that the new recruits would have been acquainted with during their service in the Wehrmacht.  These items looked much like any ordinary silverware except that they bore the Nazi eagle (or Hoheitsabzeichen in German) on the handles.  A spoon from one of these sets is illustrated in Diagram A.  It was commonly made of stainless steel.

Custom and Private-Purchase types: Like armies everywhere, the Heer was a vast pool of customers for dealers in military trinkets, some of these wares good, others bad.  Camp gadgets were a favorite product of these vendors, and among the camp gadgets bought and used by the Feldgrau were mess utensils.  One type examined consisted of an aluminum fork and spoon held together by a revolving clip.  This particular specimen is marked D.R.G.M. and "GERMANY", and has documented soldier usage as it was taken from a surrendering German during the Siegfried line battles in late 1944.

Another example resembles the famous Swiss Army style in that it has a spoon, fork, knife and can opener all attached to one handle and all of which fold into it.  The grips of this device are of simulated horn and the knife blade is marked "ROSTFREI" and "SOLINGEN".  I believe this utensil actually predates WWII by quite a few years, but was nevertheless captured from a German soldier as in the previous example.

Folding Fork - Spoon Combinations:  This style was a carry-over from WWI and some of the WWI types undoubtedly saw field usage in the Second World War.  This type is also the most appropriate model for usage by reenactors as it was the most commonly used type in the field by the original Landser.

The WWI version resembles the style shown in Diagram B except for the one major difference which was common to the earlier version; this was the small hook bent into the end of the bottom of the handle to facilitate the carrying of the utensil in the top of the WWI mess-kit.  The WWII versions were meant to be carried in the breadbag or pockets and did not have the hook.

The variation shown in the Diagram is made of Aluminum and has a flared handle and the Hoheitsabzeichen cast in.  It is marked "ESM" on the bottom of the spoon handle.  Another commonly seen variation of the folder has a narrower handle and lacks the eagle.  Whereas the previous type is always aluminum, this variation can be aluminum, stainless, tinned steel, or even zinc-plated.

Four-Piece Combos:  This is probably the most interesting type and it is unfortunate for the reenactor that more of them were not used in the field.

Shown in Diagram C, the set consisted of a stainless holder/can opener into which slid and locked a stainless knife, and aluminum or stainless fork and an aluminum or stainless spoon.  One specimen examined which was obviously used in the field was carried in a custom made zippered leather case.



Copyright 2005 der Erste Zug All rights reserved

Web Design by Jon Bocek