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German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945

WW2 German U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds

by Christopher Ailsby, Christopher Ailsby Historical Archive

U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds
U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds

U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds Types A & B

Known Makers - Schwerin
Rarity - Extremely Rare

A special U-boat badge was produced to be awarded to particularly successful commanders. This badge followed the design of the standard award but had a separate swastika set with nine brilliants which was placed on to the swastika incorporated into the design of the badge. The size of this swastika varied with manufacture and has been alluded to as the 'A' and 'B' types. The 'A' type represents the badge as first awarded and the 'B' type was issued sometime in late 1942. The precise date of the change and the reasons for it are at present unclear. The firm that produced both types was Schwerin of Berlin.

The 'A' type badge was produced in tomback which was either gold plated or fire gilded and on to the swastika of the badge was placed a swastika whose top point rests on the lower chest of the eagle and the bottom point is positioned on top of the conning tower of a type VII U-boat. This massive swastika is finely hand crafted from solid silver with burnished edges and raised beaded border to the arms of the swastika. The field produced has nine individual grounds, each being bordered by a raised line in the form of a square, into which is set a rose cut simulated stone or white saphire set by four claws, one in each corner. The swastika is 13 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick. The badge measures 48 mm wide and 38.5 mm high from the base of the wreath to the top of the eagle's head and is 3 mm thick.

The reverse shows clearly the swastika applied over the cut out swastika of the badge. The holes that are drilled to allow the light to pass through, thus enhancing the fire of the brilliants, are reamed out to maximise the effect and its reverse is matt finished. The badge itself is flat with a large pin and hinge construction and a 'C' form hook soldered directly to the bottom of the badge. The maker's name, in indented capital letters, is on the reverse of the U-boat in two lines, 'SCHWERIN, BERLIN 68'. On the two examples of this type I have examined, there is visible a claw line on either side.

The 'B' type badge is, to all intents and purposes, the same as the 'A' type badge but is struck in unmarked solid silver that is fire gilded. The swastika that is applied to the badge in the same manner, is formed in the same way but has a diameter of 8.5 mm and is inset with nine small rose cut diamonds. The badge has similar measurements and reverse to that encountered on the 'A' type badge.

The known recipient of the 'A' type badge was;

Kapitän Viktor Schutze, commander of U103 and commander of the U-boat School, who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 11 December 1940 for actions in the North Sea. He received the Oak Leaves on 14 July 1941. He had a total of 209,000 shipping tons to his credit.

The known recipients of the 'B' type badge were;

Kapitän Klaus Scholtz, commander of U108, who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 26 December 1941 and received the Oak Leaves on 10 September 1942 for operations in the Atlantic. His coolness during the attack or while being attacked permitted him to emerge victorious in his engagements. At the war's end he commanded a battalion of Marine Regiment. He had a total of 168,000 shipping tons to his credit.

Kapitän Carl Emmermann, commander of U172 and commander of the 31st Submarine Flotilla, who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 November 1942. He received the Oak Leaves on 4 July 1943 for continued successful sorties in the Atlantic. He had a total of 191,000 shipping tons to his credit.

Kapitänleutnant Georg Lassen, commander of U160, who was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross on 10 August 1942 and received the Oak Leaves on 7 March 1943. The award was personally handed to him by Grossadmiral Raeder in 1943 and there was no case or document accompanying it. He had a total of 205,000 shipping tons to his credit.

From these known awards and the dates of the bestowal of the Oak Leaves, it is fairly safe to deduce the theory of the 'A' and 'B' types as well as the period of change. However, Klaus Scholtz had a second piece and that had a large swastika similar to the 'A' type but with the noticeable differences that the swastika did not have the beaded edge or the square settings for the stones which, in this case, were white saphires. The settings were not drilled through to the reverse and the badge itself is believed to have been struck from tomback.

U-Boat War Badge with Diamonds (Variation)

Known Makers - L/21
Rarity - Extremely Rare

There is another version of this award badge which so far is quite unique. The wreath is a finer type. The eagle has a heart-shaped chest with broad fletching and its legs are separated to hold the swastika. This is set with nine rose-cut diamonds which are set directly into the arms of the swastika. The reverse is semi hollow with a thin square pin which has the silver content .800 stamped into it and the maker's mark L/21. In the example that has been examined, this is in a square which has been double-struck. This badge is of particularly high quality and was produced by the firm of Foerster & Barth. Few of these badges are known to exist and whether or not they were awarded or produced by that firm as prototypes for consideration for acceptance by the naval high command, is unknown.

To have qualified for the badge the recipient had to be a holder of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The twenty-eight commanders who qualified and received this award are listed below.

BRANDI Albrecht Fregattenkapitän Commander U617, U967
LUTH Wolfgang Kapitän zur See Commander U138, U181
KRETSCHMER Otto Fregattenkapitän Commander U99
SUHREN Reinhard Fregattenkapitän Commander U564
TOPP Erich Fregattenkapitän Commander U552
BLEICHRODT Heinrich Korvettenkapitän Commander U48, U109
von BULOW Otto Korvettenkapitän Commander U404
EMMERMANN Carl Korvettenkapitän Commander U172
ENDRASS Engelbert Kapitänleutnant Commander U46, U567
GUGGENBERGER Freidrich Kapitänleutnant Commander U81
GYSAE Robert Korvettenkapitän Commander U98, U177
HARDEGEN Reinhard Korvettenkapitän Commander U123
HARTMANN Werner Kapitän zur See Commander U37, U198
HENKE Werner Korvettenkapitän Commander U515
LANGE Hans-Gunther Kapitänleutnant Commander U711
LASSEN Georg Korvettenkapitän Commander U160
LEHMAN-WILLENBROCK Heinrich Fregattenkapitän Commander U96
LIEBE Heinrich Fregattenkapitän Commander U38
MOHR Johann Korvettenkapitän Commander U124
MUTZELBURG Rolf Kapitänleutnant Commander U203
MERTEN Karl Freidrich Kapitän zur See Commander U68
SCHEPKE Joachim Kapitänleutnant Commander U100
SCHNEE Adalbert Korvettenkapitän Commander U201
SCHOLTZ Klaus Kapitän zur See Commander U108
SCHUTZE Victor Kapitän zur See Commander U103
SCHULTZE Herbert Korvettenkapitän Commander U48
THOMSEN Rolf Kapitänleutnant Commander U1202
PRIEN Gunther Korvettenkapitän Commander U47

This prestigious award was not a government or Reich award but one which was purely from the commander of the navy.

It has been reported that Reichsmarschall Göring received a badge in acknowledgement for his award to Grandadmiral Dönitz of the Combined Pilots Badge with Diamonds and this event is described in the section on the Combined Pilots Badge with Diamonds. Whether or not a formal bestowal of the U-Boat Badge with Diamonds followed this occurrence is unknown. The award would have been made begrudgingly by Dönitz, as it contravened his intended award criteria for this badge. In correspondence with me, Dönitz stated he had no recollection of receiving the Combined Pilots Badge with Diamonds or the German Order which he had also supposedly been awarded by Hitler.

The badge was rendered in a protective black or exceptionally dark blue box, which is hinged with a press-stud holder. The base of the box has a raised plinth on which the badge sits. Through this plinth is a slit to take the pin. In the case of the Schwerin badge that I examined, the lining was of a very dark blue but it was black velvet in the case of the Foerster & Barth badge. The lid liner in both was of white satin but neither had the maker's name or logo stencilled on to them.