Rank_insignia1.gif (7632 bytes)

KM_poster.jpg (24459 bytes)


Petty Officers and Ordinary Seamen

The Kriegsmarine had a wide variety of departments and trades, each responsible for a specific area of a ship, and each with its own badge. To the uninitiated, the variety of badges and their meaning can be bewildering. A sailor would progress within both his specific department and within his trade. Each department developed independently from each other; this resulted in each sailor having a different title (and set of badges) depending on the department he was in. (For example, a Stoker Petty Officer, Sick Berth Petty Officer, and Petty Officer/Telegraphist were equivalent ranks, but would have different badges and different titles, because of their specific trades.) The situation was further complicated by a wide variety of grades within each trade, which did not necessarily relate to the individual rank. Different specialties advanced at different rates, so it is difficult to draw any parallels.

Recruits who had not decided which specialty to train for or, having decided but not completed training, wore no badges. After completing training, when the recruit was posted to his duty station, the assignment (or department) badge was worn on the left upper arm. A few of the more common badges were: Line or deck–five point star; Signals–crossed signal flags; Medical–Ascepulus staff; Radio Telegraph–lightning bolt; naval artillery–winged grenade; Aircraft Spotter–four lightning bolts over a pair of stylized wings; Ordinance Engineer–crossed cannon on a cogwheel; Motor Transport Ashore–steering wheel.

Below the assignment badge, men wore rank chevrons similar to those worn in the rest of the military. However, unlike those in the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe, these chevrons also indicated length of service. They were in metallic gold braid on dark blue cloth on the Pea Jacket, and in yellow cloth or embroidery on dark blue cloth for the dark blue jumper, light blue on white cloth for the white jumper. The ordinary seaman (Matrosen) wore only the department badge; a Seaman 2nd Class (Matrosen-Gefreiter) wore a single chevron If a seaman was undergoing Petty Officer training, a strip of gold or yellow braid was worn under the chevrons; if he was awaiting promotion, a small chevron was worn in addition to his other chevrons. A Seaman 1st Class (Matrosen-Obergefreiter) wore two chevrons; a Seaman 1st class with 4 1/2 years service (Matrosen-Hauptgefreiter) wore three chevrons; the Seaman 1st class with six years service (Matrosen-Stabsgefreiter) wore a braided chevron and gold or yellow pip; the Seaman 1st Class (Matrosen-Stabsobergefreiter) with eight years service wore two braided chevrons with a single pip. Later in the war, a combined department and chevron badge was issued as an economy measure. Note: these rank titles are more of a generic title–ordinary seamen were identified by their trade as often as they were by their rank and department

KM_matrosen_blue.jpg (29964 bytes)
KM_matrosen_blue_CU.jpg (30641 bytes)
Matrosenobergefreiter with blue jumper, wool klapphosen and white mannschaftstellermütze. He has the knot with kielerkragen for parade and is presenting a Kar98K rifle.
(war-time picture)
KM_matrosen_white.jpg (32026 bytes)
KM_matrosen_white_CU.jpg (28987 bytes)
Matrosenobergefreiter with white jumper (diensthemd), wool klapphosen and white mannschaftstellermütze. He has the knot with kielerkragen for parade and has shouldered a Kar98K rifle.
(war-time picture)

Petty Officers (Maat) used the same symbols as the lower ranks for their respective departments, but these symbols were either superimposed on an anchor, or worn crossed with the anchor. (Petty Officers with a deck assignment wore a "fouled" anchor, with a consisting of a rope wrapped around the anchor.) Generally, the suffix -maat was combined with the Petty Officer's department to create his title. A few examples are: Boatswain Petty Officers (Steuermannsmaat)–crossed anchors; Sick Berth Petty Officer (Sanitatsmaat)–Ascepulus staff crossed with anchor; Signals Petty Officer (Signalmaat)–crossed flags superimposed on an anchor; Aircraft Spotter Petty Officer (Flugmeldemaat)–four lightning bolts and stylized wings superimposed on an anchor; Ordinance Engineer Petty Officer (Artillerie Mechanikermaat)–cogwheel and crossed cannon superimposed on an anchor; Gunnery Petty Officer (Artilleristmaat)–winged grenade superimposed on an anchor. Chief Petty Officers (Obermaat) wore the same insigina, but with a chevron added below the base of the anchor. All insignia was worn on the right sleeve, half way between the shoulder and elbow.

Below their rank and assignment badges, men wore their specialist badges (often referred to as their rate or rating). These were in red embroidery on a background matching the color of the uniform (either dark blue or white). They were worn on all uniforms, including the work jumper and the Pea Jacket. Chevrons in red embroidery were often incorporated into the badge, denoting higher grades or length of service. A few examples are pictured here. Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers wore the same trade badges as other ranks.

In addition to the department and trade badges, two collar patches were worn with the Pea Jacket. They were in cornflower blue (which in reality varied from a royal blue to a dark blue only a few shades lighter than the jacket itself). Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers had 5mm strips of gold braid sewn round the blue collar patches of the Pea Jacket: one strip for Petty Officers, two for Chief Petty Officers. In addition, the collar was to have featured gold braid edging for both grades, though this was sometimes missing. Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers were also allowed to wear privately-purchased gilt metal department badges on the Pea Jacket.

Officers, Midshipmen and Warrant Officers

Kriegsmarine officers wore insignia on either the cuffs of the reefer jacket or frock coat (when worn), or on shoulder straps on the greatcoat, frock coat and summer tunic.

Sleeve ranking appeared only on the reefer jacket and the frock coat (when worn). The stripes were of gilt metallic braid. Ranks were as follows: for a Leutnant zur See, a single broad ring; for Oberleutnant zur See, two broad rings; for Kapitanleutnant, one narrow ring sandwiched between two broad rings; for Korvettenkapitan, three broad rings; for both the Fregattenkapitan and Kapitan zur See, four broad rings.

Above the sleeve rings was a gilt wire emblem indicating the officer's department. For line officers, this was a five-pointed star; for engineering officers, a cogwheel; for medical, an Ascepulus staff; for ordinance, crossed cannon; for administration, a winged staff with serpent. This same emblem was worn in gold on the shoulder straps (Line or deck officers did not wear any branch insignia on the shoulder straps.

Shoulder strap ranking was worn only on the greatcoat and frock coat (when worn), and on the summer jacket. The straps of junior commissioned officers of were of ribbed "Russia braid"; two double strips were led along the backing, round the button-hole and back along the strap, giving the effect of eight widths of cord, on a dark blue backing (white on the summer uniform) which showed at the long and rounded edges; the straight outer edge of the strap was sewn down into the shoulder seam of the tunic

The junior commissioned rank, Leutnant zur See, worn no additional insignia. The Oberleutnant zur See wore a single gold pip near the outer end; the Kapitanleutnant, two pips equally spaced. Senior commissioned officers wore more elaborate shoulder-straps of interlaced cord, giving a plaited effect. The Korvettenkapitan wore them without additional insignia; the Fregattenkapitan was marked by a single gold pip, the Kapitan zur See by two.

Midshipmen (Fahnrich zur See) wore "half" shoulder cords on the greatcoat or frock coat (when worn). They consised of only one double strand of silver ribbed Russia braid; the strand was led along the backing, round the button-hole and back along the strap. Midshipmen wore no other rank; Senior Midshipman (Oberfahrnrich zur See) wore two silver pips. Department badges in gilt metal were worn on the cords.

Only the department badge was worn on the sleeve of the reefer jacket, in gold embroidery. Warrant Officers wore their rank and department badges on shoulder straps of dark blue material, with gilt metallic braid round the outer edge. Unlike the shoulder straps worn by NCOs in the Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine shoulder straps were pointed, rather than rounded. As well, unlike the Wehrmacht, no waffenfarbe or arm-of service piping was worn around the outer edge of the shoulder strap; instead, the Kriegsmarine used a variety of small brass badges to denote their department. These were pinned to the center of the shoulder strap. Shoulder straps were worn by warrant officers on the reefer jacket, greatcoat and frock coat (when worn).




KM_insignia_a.jpg (15413 bytes)
Matrosengefreiter Matrosen-
gefreiter (>6years)

Unteroffiziere ohne portepee





KM_insignia_b.jpg (16032 bytes)


Bootsmannsmaat Oberbootsmannsmaat Steuermannsmaat Obersteuermannsmaat Fähnrich Oberfähnrich

Unteroffiziere mit portepee


KM_insignia_c.jpg (16798 bytes)


Feldwebel Stabsfeldwebel Oberfeldwebel Stabsoberfeldwebel








KM_insignia_d.jpg (23607 bytes)
Leutnant z.See Obereutnant z.See Kapitänleutnant Korvettenkapitän Fregattenkapitän Kapitän z.See








KM_insignia_e.jpg (23912 bytes)
Konteradmiral Vizeadmiral Admiral Generaladmiral Grossadmiral


Back_wh.gif (8132 bytes)

Menu2.gif (11160 bytes)

Next_wh.gif (13076 bytes)