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Three signals troops soldiers outside their rather substantial log cabin on the Eastern Front, the time probably the winter of 1942-43. Telephone wires and at least one antenna tells us that this is likely a command post for a company, perhaps for an artillery battalion. The fact that the log cabin isn’t dug in could indicate that it’s a way back from the frontline, or built after the ground froze. With some more snow, it will be camouflaged for the rest of the winter.

The soldiers show a variety of uniforms. The guy on the left wears the reversible snow jacket, which arrived during the autumn of 1942. Together with the reversible pants, it was a warm and practical snow suit to be worn over the regular uniform. It had a mouse-grey side (later changed to a greyish green) and a white side (obviously). The Unteroffizier in the center wears a 1936 pattern uniform, the silver-white edging on the collar and shoulderboards indicating his rank. By this time, silver-grey trim had been introduced, as it made the NCOs stand out less – an advantage in environments with snipers and other dangers. The Obergefreiter on the right wears a 1940 pattern uniform with subdued collar patches and rank chevrons. The lightning sleeve patch confirms that he belongs to the signals troops, the lightning itself probably the red of soldiers in artillery units. His cap appears to be non-regulation.

“Reading” a photo like this provides some information, even if there are no notes on the back of it. It would’ve been nice to know the identity of the unit and the location, but this is a common problem with many photos. Unless there are notes or they are mounted in an annotated album, the photo collector can’t get much further than this.

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