Foreign Legion & Waffen-SS cloth shields
    Introduction

    Because of the increasing numbers of foreign volunteers coming from all over Europe, the Germans authorized and issued national insignia to be worn on Werhmacht uniforms.

    The German Army and Waffen-SS had by far the strongest foreign volunteer contingent and therefore a greater number of national insignia. During the early stages of Operation Barbarossa many of these foreign contingents wore their own home made insignia to distinguish their nationality. Eventually German regulations prohibited their used but it was never enforced.

    Foreign Volunteer Legion Cloth Insignia

    In 1941, many of the volunteers from Denmark, Flanders, Holland and Norway formed their own foreign legions under the auspices of the Waffen-SS.

    These SS legionnaires wore their own national arm shields that were made in their respective countries. The shields range in size, material and shape.

    Foreign volunteers from France, Walloon and Spain were placed under the jurisdiction of the German Army and wore German made machine woven shields commonly referred as "BeVo" stylebecause they were made by the "Bevo- Wuppertal" firm, which used to manufacture many foreign legion insignia.

    Legion-shields
    Foreign Volunteer Legion Shields

    The illustrations above show legion shields worn by foreign volunteers.

    The Flemish Legion shown on your left was the official German issued arm shield (50mm x 60mm). The shield shows an embroidered black lion and yellow shield on a black wool base background.

    The small Norwegian flag patch was locally produced and issued to the Norwegian Volunteer Legion. The Flag is machine woven on a white cotton material and measures 48mm x 65mm.

    The 1st pattern Dutch shield was locally produced and issued to the Dutch Volunteer Legion. The Dutch shield is embroidered on a black wool base material and measures 50mm x 38mm.

    The 1st pattern Latvian shield was locally produced and issued to the Latvian Volunteer Legion. The shield (50mm x 64mm) is made of red cloth with a white diagonal cotton cloth sewn on a thin white canvas material.

    The 1st pattern Walloon shield, German made was issued to the Walloon Volunteer Legion. This army pattern shield remained with the legion even when it was transfered to the Waffen-SS. The shield measures 70mm x 66mm and is machine woven with the national colors, which is commonly referred as BeVo style.

    The Estonian shield was locally produced and issued to Estonian Border Guard and Police troops. This shield (48mm x 62mm) is made of wool base cloth material sewn on a white thin canvas material.
    "L'écusson de nationalité de la Légion des Voluntaires Français"

    Baltic-shields

    French Volunteer Legion BeVo Shields

    The 1st pattern French Volunteer Legion shield, German made was issued to the French Volunteer Legion. This army pattern shield remained with the legion even when it was transfered to the Waffen-SS. The shield measures 70mm x 66mm and is machine woven with the national colors, which is commonly referred as BeVo style.

    Baltic Legion Shields

    A very rare early pattern locally produced Latvian shield. It shows the Latvian National colors with a separate black field sewn at the top, and with the inscription "LATVIJA" in white.

    Baltic-shields

    Baltic Legion Shields

    Next is another rare German made RZM pattern Estonian shield. This embroidered heraldic style shield shows three golden lions with black eyes and red tongues. The background shows the Estonian National colors. This shield was intended only for Police and Border Guard units. This shield was worn by many volunteers in the "SS-Freiwilligen Bataillon Narwa," which was assigned to the German SS Panzer-Greandier Division Wiking. It was also intended for used by members of the Reserve Regiment of the 20th SS Division.
    Photographic evidence shows that both of these rare shields were worn by SS-volunteers.

    Finnish Volunteer Shields

    The first mentioned discussing the Finnish volunteer insignia was found in a Government Document dated in early August 1941. The first shields were made in Finland. On top center is a locally made shield (44mm x 50mm) with the correct heraldic colors. The yellow lion and white roses are embroidered on red silken cloth background. The blades of both the lions sword and the scimitar below are white color as well as the lions right arm. The outer edge is yellow and on the reverse it shows a fine white paper backing to strengthen the insignia.

    SS Finnish Shields

    SS Finnish Arm Shields

    There is also another much rare locally made shield that is exactly the same but in a light gray thread on a black background. These shields were granted official German authorization and were delivered to Berlin military training barracks in autumn of 1941. There is picture evidence showing these shields were worn in early 1942. Below left is a very rare German made RZM approved shield (58mm x 58mm). The heraldic symbol is embroidered with a light gray thread on a black wool background. The reverse shows a very fine net cloth. There is a possibility that this shield was probably issued in May 1943 as seen in photographic evidence, just two months later the Finnish Battalion was disbandment.

    The printed shield was probably issued and worn by volunteers that had enlisted in other German para-military organizations such as the OT, NSKK etc. In addition there is another German made shield similar to the RZM type that was made but probably issued too late. If you would like to find out more about the uniforms worn by the Finnish Volunteers I highly recommend the book "Mein Ehre Heist Treue" written by Mr. Olli Wikberg.
    Waffen-SS Shields

    Waffen-SS Arm Shields

    The Flemish shield was probably issued and worn during the re-formation of the "6.SS-Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade Langemarck" around May 1944.
    The 400 or so survivors were sent to the SS Troop Training Grounds in Bohemia "Knoviz camp" to be reformed into two battalions.
    The shield shows a beautifully embroidered black Lion with yellow shield on a wool background.

    The Norwegian and Danish National Shields were issued and worn by volunteers in the "23. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Norge" and "24. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Danmark." Both shields are embroidered with their respective national emblem on a black wool background.

    Waffen-SS Shields

    The Dutch National Shield was issued and worn by volunteers in the "SS-Freiwilligen Panzer-Grenadier Brigade Nederland."

    The shield in the center is quite different then the standard SS pattern shields. This shield was issued to Ukrainian volunteers in the "14. SS-Freiwilligen Division Galizien." The shield has a weave (BeVo style) golden lion with three crowns on a light blue field with golden outer edges on a black material background and it measures 50mm x 65mm. The shield was worn on either side of the sleeve below the SS eagle.

    The Italian SS shield was certainly made but never issued instead the Italian SS sleeve eagle was worn by volunteers in the "Waffen-Grenadier Brigade der SS Italienische." The shield consisted of yellow embroidered fasces in red bindings on a black wool base material with a yellow border. there is no evidence indicating that these shields were ever worn.
    As indicated Italians in the SS wore instead a SS style eagle with the head facing right and clutching a fasces instead of the swastika. Originally on a red wool base background and later on a black wool base background.

    Waffen-SS Shields

    The Latvian SS late pattern shield was issued and worn by volunteers in "15. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Lettische." It is likely that this shield was also worn by Latvians in the "2. Waffen-Grenadier SS Lettische Brigade" and "19. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Lettische Nr 2."

    The Estonian SS late pattern shield was issued and worn by volunteers in the "20. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Estnische."

    The Albanian shield was issued and worn by volunteers in the "21.Waffen-Gerbirgs Division der SS Skanderberg." The shield is nicely embroidered with the national coat-of-arms.

    Waffen-SS Shields

    Both Croatian shields were issued and worn by volunteers in the "13th SS Mountain Division Handschar."

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