BACKGROUND: Military belts and their corresponding buckles date back centuries and were initially designed for attaching swords and daggers. In 1847 Prussian Hauptmann Virschow introduced a new, innovative, box buckle with a quick release catch and corresponding belt for EM/NCO’s ranks and initiated a new method of carrying personal equipment with the belt and shoulder straps supporting the majority of the weight. This system, with modifications, remains in use in most of the armies in the world to this day. During the Third Reich there was a prescribed form of wear of the belt and buckle with the buckle being positioned on the right side and the corresponding buckle catch on the left side. On January 24TH 1936 a new pattern EM/NCO’s belt buckle was officially introduced to replace the previously worn Weimar Reichswehr era, (National Defence Force, Circa 1919-1933), belt buckle. The basic design of the Reichswehr buckle was retained with the addition of the new Wehrmacht, (Armed Forces), style national eagle. This pattern buckle was worn throughout the Third Reich period with minor manufacturing variations and different colored finishes. The colored finish was determined by regulations depending on what form of uniform it was to be worn with, with silver for dress wear and field-grey for field wear. Of Note: Originally military buckles produced under government contract had the addition of a leather, (canvas web for tropical buckles), tabs which were designed to help support the ammunition pouches and prevent slippage but regulations in 1942 discontinued the tabs to preserve leather although the directive was not completely adhered to. Originally all EM/NCO’s belts were produced in a blackened leather until late 1940, with the impending German entrance into the North African campaign, tropical uniforms and equipment were quickly developed and issued in time for DAK, Deutsches Afrika Korps, (German Africa Corps), personnel’s arrival in Tripoli in February 1941 and included a canvas web construction waist belt. Due to the extreme climate in North Africa the OKW, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (High Command of the Armed Forces), decided to replace the standard continental leather equipment items with canvas web construction equipment items in the belief that they would be better able to withstand the climate. Of Note: Eventually, due to leather shortages, many of the tropical uniform and equipment items would be issued to personnel serving in southern areas of continental Europe and other theatres of battle. Another later war expedient was the production of preßstoff, (Pressed Cardboard), and other ersatz material belts. The ersatz construction belts were only issued in limited quantities Of Note: The standard issue belt buckles were roughly, 4.5 cm-4.7 cm, (roughly 1 3/4"-1 7/8"), tall, while private purchase belt buckles were generally a little smaller ranging from 3.5 cm-4 cm, (1 3/8"-1 5/8"), tall.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Standard issue , 1940 pattern, olive drab painted, die stamped steel construction, combat box buckle features a smooth outer field with a high relief, embossed Wehrmacht, (Armed-Forces), style eagle with down swept wings, clutching a canted swastika in it’s talons, to the slightly domed center, encompassed by an oak-leaf cluster to the bottom and script, "Gott Mit Uns", (God With Us), to the top. The oak-leaf cluster and script are on a ribbed background and are encircled by both an inner and outer simulated, twisted, rope border. The buckle retains about most of it’s original olive drab paint. The reverse of the buckle is a mirror image of the obverse. The buckle comes complete with a roughly, 45mm wide, 95cm, long, woven, khaki/olive canvas web construction waist belt with an olive drab painted, steel buckle catch and a web retaining tongue both intact. The buckle catch end of the belt is folded over and machine stitched to the reverse to secure the catch in place. The canvas tongue has it’s original stitching and seven pair of parallel, length adjustment buckling eyelets.
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