BACKGROUND: During WWII the German army fielded nine Mountain Divisions with an additional six Waffen-SS Mountain Divisions. Generally speaking the Mountain Divisions were specially trained and equipped Infantry Divisions. Due to the nature of the terrain and the commonly colder climate that the Mountain Divisions were expected to serve in, special clothing, footwear and equipment was developed specifically for their use. All Army Mountain troopers, were issued with the specially designed, distinctive mountain trousers, ankle boots and ankle puttees as part of their regular clothing and equipment issue although it appears that originally the Waffen-SS Mountain troopers didn’t utilize the puttees until sometime in 1942. In early 1943 Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler directed Brigadeführer Georg Lörner and Obersturmbannführer Dr. Brandt of the SS-WVHA, SS-Wirtschafts und Verwaltungs Hauptamt, (SS-Economic and Administration Department), to develop gaiters specifically for SS mountain personnel that were based on the WWI Austrian "Styrian" style gaiters and in June 1943 Lörner and Brandt supplied the 6TH SS Mountain Division Nord with four slightly different patterns of gaiters for field testing and evaluation. The exact results of the field testing and evaluation are unknown but it appears the gaiters must have been deemed inadequate as they are very seldom encountered although photographic evidence appears to indicate the were worn in limited quantities by 6TH SS Mountain Division Nord and 13TH SS Mountain Division Handschar personnel and even by army mountain troops on occasion. Of Note: The SS-WVHA, was responsible for issue of all clothing and personal equipment items as well as rations including horse and pack animal fodder and personal fuel items. Also Of Note: Steiermark, (Styria), is a fairly mountainous state in South East Austria with a long history of mountaineering.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Woven, olive drab canvas construction gaiters with steel and canvas web fittings. The gaiters are roughly, 8" tall and 6" wide near the top edge flaring out to roughly, 10" wide at the bottom edge. The flared bottom edge was designed to cover the top section of the boots. The inner side of each gaiter has a vertical opening with five pair of staggered, steel, lace up hook eyelets and an additional steel grommet positioned on both the top and bottom edges. All four grommets still secure the original short leather laces. The bottom edges of the gaiters have a narrow reinforcement strip of khaki/tan canvas webbing machine stitched in place and the bottom inner edges each have a horizontal khaki/tan canvas web. Metal tipped closure strap with a corresponding, canvas web reinforced, toothed, steel gripper buckle. Both the lower heel section and the forward flared section of each gaiter have a small, half-moon shaped, dual-ply reinforcement panel machine stitched in place. The gaiters have a unique foot stirrup that consists of a vertically extended khaki/tan canvas web strap to the bottom edge of each side of the gaiters with a toothed, steel gripper buckle to the inner strap and a metal tip to the outer strap. The shorter inner strap has a small steel rod secured in place by a circular steel ring with an additional circular ring to the other end. The steel rod was designed to run under the insole of the boot with the outer edge strap running through the secondary steel ring and up over the flared forward section of the gaiter with the inner strap with buckle also being folded up over the flared forward section with a corresponding, small, vertical khaki/tan canvas web loop to secure the stirrup straps in position. The design insures the web straps would not be damaged by the bottom of the boots on rough terrain. The gaiters have vertical machine stitched seams to both the center of the obverse and reverse with narrow, canvas web reinforcement strips to the interiors. The top edge and the reverse of the lace up hook eyelets also have narrow, canvas web reinforcement strips machine stitched in place. The interior of each gaiter is well marked with the black inkstamped size, "Größe II", (Medium), and an RB number. Of Note: The RB numbers, Reichsbetriebnummer, (National factory code numbers), were introduced in late 1942 and were intended to replace the manufacturers marks on garments and equipment to conceal the manufactures name and location from the allies, to prevent bombing raids on German industrial factories. The gaiters are in overall very good condition with a few small picks and pulls, light age toning and some minor surface spotting to the steel fittings. Scarce Waffen-SS gaiters.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $640.00

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