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Field Blouses

 
In 1936, a new uniform garment was introduced into the Wehrmacht for wear in the field.  This tunic (properly called a Feldbluse, or "field blouse", or also the Heeres Dienstanzug Modell 1936 (Army Service Uniform Model 1936) is usually referred to by collectors simply as the "M36."  The garment evolved from earlier garments developed in the early 1930s, and was actually in use by 1935; earlier field blouses (actually introduced in April 1933) had a field grey collar.  The final prewar changes were made to the field blouse in 1936.   This final prewar tunic was made from high quality wool with a small mix of rayon, with a full interior lining to reduce wear to the wool body.

The blouse had the following features:

Front Closure: 5 button front

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Collar:
Dark green (NCO tress on bottom and front).  Closed by a metal hook and eye.

Pockets:  Two breast pockets and two hip pockets; all with scalloped pocket flaps and box pleats.   Lower pockets bellowed.

Cuffs: Slash cuffs with button fasteners.


Rear Vent:
Simple slash at the back

Buttons: Pebbled field grey metal buttons (except field dressing pocket and cuff vents, which had horn buttons; marksmanship lanyards were also attached by a horn or pressed-paper button hidden under the wearer's right shoulder strap).

Piping: None

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Interior: Lining has breast pockets, as well as a pocket on the left lower skirt, in which a field dressing was carried.  Additionally, 12 holes in the tunic were provided, in sets of three; these were for the additional of metal belt hooks, which were themselves attached to cloth suspenders fitted inside the jacket.  This system was designed to support the weight of the field equipment, which was intended to be worn completely on the belt with no external suspenders.

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The field dressing was a medicated cotton pad supplied with guaze to secure to a wound; used primarily to cover gunshot and small shrapnel wounds, each soldier was supposed to carry one in the inside pocket of his field blouse.

Other:  Shoulder straps were designed to be removable, fitted to the uniform by the button and a cloth loop near the shoulder.

 
Wartime Changes 

While many changes to the field blouse were made during the war, the basic designation of "Feldbluse" did not; the Germans did not draw a distinction between the different types, and never referred to the different tunics by the terms that collectors have now adopted - M40, M41, M42, and M43.

1940

The first changes to the design of the Feldbluse came in 1940, when the dark green collar was abandoned in favour of a field grey collar matching the rest of the uniform.  Minor variations in wool quality and colour can be seen in this period as well.

At some point before 1942, an additional button was added to the tunic front, making a six-button front closure.

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1942

In 1942, as an economy measure, the box pleats on the pockets were removed.  The pocket flaps retained the scallop, however.

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Photos of girlfriends and wives wearing their men's uniforms seem to have been common; this woman wears a tunic with breast pockets lacking the box pleats - consistent with the 1942 changes, yet note that a dark green collar has nonetheless been added.

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1943

In 1943, new production field blouses had the pocket flaps altered so as to be cut straight across.  The interior tunic lining and internal cartridge suspenders were also deleted; by this time external equipment suspenders had long been in use.  This late war style of tunic, often referred to as an "M43", was often seen worn open at the collar, with well defined lapels.   By this point, the tunic had also been lengthened slightly in comparison to earlier models of the Field Blouse. 

All the while, material used in the construction of uniforms in Germany had downgraded; by the time the changes collectors refer to as "M43" were made, uniform cloth was made up of hybrids containing less than 50% wool.  Uniform colours varied widely, from the original green-grey known as "field grey" to slate grey and even shades of brown.  Buttons came to be painted grey rather than field grey as well.

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Felduniform 44

In September, 1944, the new Field Uniform 44 was introduced.  The Field Blouse for this new uniform was remarkably similar to the US "Ike" jacket, itself inspired by British Battle Dress.  The new uniform, made from shoddy recycled wool, had two patch pockets on the breast, and a broad 10 cm waistband in place of a tunic skirt.  The pockets, lapels and sleeve cuffs remained styled after the latest patterns of Field Blouse.

 

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As can be seen on the other pages regarding insignia, the quality of such additions as shoulder straps, breast eagles, and collar patches all degraded during the war.  Above, is an early war "M36" style tunic with dark green collar, dark green shoulder boards, BEVO breast eagle and green backed "second pattern" collar patches.  This is in stark contrast to the "M44" field blouse shown below, made of a gabardine-like twill rather than wool, with third pattern collar patches, field grey shoulder boards, and the final pattern mouse-grey coloured breast eagle.  Note the uniform buttons, also, are in field grey above, and the dark grey used on late-war uniforms below.

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It should be noted that while garments released from the factory were usually fitted with whatever insignia was on hand, there was no "correct" pattern or type of insignia for any German field blouse (including the 1944 Field Uniform).  Soldiers were permitted, on an individual basis, to apply older patterns of insignia to their newly issued uniform garments.  Some soldiers even changed the collars on so called "M42" and "M43" field blouses to dark green, months and even years after all newly made blouses from the factory ceased having dark green collars.  There were no standards for "uniformity' with regards to these details in the German Army, and most late-war photos show a motley array of dark-green and field grey shoulder straps, mixtures of national insignia breast eagles, and varieties of the three types of collar patches, both backed and unbacked.


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