“Heia Safari!”

Gefreiter wearing the tropical uniform used in North Africa and some parts of the Mediterranian Theater of Operations. While I cannot say for sure that he belongs to Rommel’s Afrika Korps, it is likely that the photo was shot either in southern Italy while waiting to be shipped over, or shortly after the arrival to Africa. Troops who had served in Africa for two months got the right to wear the “Afrikakorps” cuff title on the left sleeve.

Still, the young soldier in the photo has some experience. He has the ribbons for the Iron Cross, 2nd class (button hole) and the Kriegsverdienstkreuz (War Merit Cross, over left breast pocket). The War Merit Cross, which was often awarded to non-combatants and rear-area troops, was called das Feldküchensturmabzeichen (the Field Kitchen Assault Badge) by cynical frontline troops… The Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen in silver shows that he has participated in three separate assaults while serving in an infantry unit (as opposed to a motorized Panzer unit), and the Verwundeteabzeichen (Wound Badge), probably in black (paint rubbed off to reveal the brass underneath), for one or two combat wounds.

He’s wearing the tropical uniform, with the early high-laced canvas-and-leather boots, and the peaked cap. The tunic sleeves are too short, which is odd, as the Germans were pretty intent on having well-fitted uniforms (at least in the early years of the war). At least he hasn’t been issued the pith helmet (tropical helmet, which would make him look like an explorer), as the early versions of the tropical uniform was inspired by British styles.




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