The Close Combat Clasp (German: Nahkampfspange) is a German military award instituted on 25 November 1942 for achievement in hand-to-hand fighting in close quarters. The Close Combat Clasp was worn above the upper left uniform pocket. The clasp was die-cast and made of either tombac or later zinc, with a slightly curved centerpiece consisting of the national emblem surmounting a crossed bayonet and hand grenade.
The award was bestowed in three classes: Bronze for 15 close combat battles; Silver for 25 battles; and Gold for 50+ battles. The Gold Close Combat Clasp was often regarded in higher esteem than the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross by the German infantry. Of the roughly 18–20 million soldiers of the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, 36,400 received the Bronze Class, 9,500 the Silver Class and 631 the Gold Class.
|Eligibility||Heer, Kriegsmarine and Waffen-SS personnel|
|Awarded for||hand-to-hand fighting|
|Campaign(s)||World War II|
|Established||25 November 1942|
|Total awarded||36,400 Bronze Class
9,500 Silver Class
631 Gold Class.
In popular culture
- In Where Eagles Dare, Maj. Von Hapen (Derren Nesbitt) is portrayed wearing the decoration in gold (how a Gestapo officer would have qualified for such a rare combat decoration is left unexplained).
- In Sam Peckinpah’s film Cross of Iron, Sgt. Rolf Steiner (James Coburn), is portrayed wearing the decoration in gold (it is highly unlikely, however, that a soldier would wear such a conspicuous decoration in a combat zone).
- In Breakthrough, a sequel to Cross of Iron, Richard Burton plays Steiner and is also portrayed wearing the decoration.
The Naval Front Clasp (German: Marine-Frontspange) was a World War II German military decoration awarded to officers and men of the Kriegsmarine in recognition of long, front line service for all naval units. The award was instituted on 19 November 1944 by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz.
The U-boat Front Clasp (German: U-Boot-Frontspange) or U-boat Combat Clasp, was a World War II German Kriegsmarine military decoration awarded to holders of the U-boat War Badge to recognize continued combat service and valor.
The award was instituted on 15 May 1944 to bring the U-boat force in line with other branches of the German armed forces, all of which had a similar medal to recognize valor. There were no specified merits for earning the award; decoration was based on the recommendations of the U-boat commander and subject to approval by Karl Dönitz. Awards were often due to the number of patrols completed or demonstrations of valor in combat.
The clasp was worn directly above the ribbon bar on the left breast.
Wilhelm Ernst Peekhaus of Berlin submitted the design of the badge, which consisted of a central laurel wreath with a stylized submarine and wings of oak leaves. The wings on either side consisted of six staggered oak leaves (for a total of twelve). Two crossed swords decorated the bottom of the central wreath; the submarine in the middle mimicked the design of the U-Boat War Badge. The wreath on the original design from 1944 integrated an eagle holding a swastika. However soldiers in Germany may only wear the medal if it does not include National Socialist emblems – in keeping with the German Ordensgesetz. An alternative design with a complete laurel wreath (without eagle and swastika) with a centered submarine emblem exist for this purpose.
The award was bestowed in three classes. All classes of the badge were manufactured in zinc, then either bronzed, silvered or – hypothetically – gilded.
- Bronze – the lowest grade and awarded based on the number of war patrols, the degree of risks involved in the mission and for personal bravery
- Silver – on November 24, 1944, the silver class was introduced to further recognize bronze holders with continued merits and acts of valor
- Gold – there were some reports of a gold class, though it remains uncertain if it was ever awarded.
Nahkampfspange der Luftwaffe
The Close Combat Clasp of the Luftwaffe was donated on 3 November 1944 by the commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Goering and could be awarded to all members of this generation of troops who repeatedly engaged in a man against man combat with the weapon in the hand of their task. Proven accordingly.
The award was presented in three stages:
I. Stage in bronze for 15 combat days
II. Stage in silver for 30 combat days
III. Stage in gold for 50 combat days
It consists of an elongated brace and shows in the middle in a round wreath crossed a side rifle and a stalk hand grenade. Above it, the Air Force’s sovereign badge can be seen. At the bottom of the wreath is a swastika. To the left and right of the wreath are nine oak leaves, which are slightly shifted on top of each other. On the back, the brace is smooth.
The conditions of distribution state: “The combat days include all days of fighting on which the fighters to be awarded found the opportunity to see the ‘ whiteness in the enemy’s eye ‘, i.e. with combat weapons with the enemy, man versus man in battle.
In-fights of this kind can occur in the big attack, at the gap group, in a single reporting process, when meeting with an enemy spy squad, etc. The location, in the battle outposts, in the run-up to the main battle line, in the artillery drip, in the backward area of operations (also gang area) or in the case of hostile raid on a supply columns, etc., is irrelevant. Every soldier who had come to one of the above layers unprotected and on foot and proved himself in the process fulfilled the claim on the brace. ”
Only combat days from 1 January 1944 could be credited. Combat days were previously counted at air force soldiers such as soldiers Army and Waffen-SS from 1 December 1942. In addition, soldiers who had fought continuously on the Eastern Front were evaluated combat days from 22 June 1941.
The number of awards is unknown. Who designed the order is unknown.
According to the law on titles, orders and badges of honour of 26 July 1957, the wearing of the award in the Federal Republic of Germany is only permitted without a National Socialist emblem. In the so-called 57-piece version of the Air Force’s melee brace, the swastika was therefore removed.
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