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Sword / Dagger / Bayonet Knots


SARGE
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Gentlemen,

I collect sword accouterments in addition to the swords themselves and I thought I might start a thread on sword knots. While long time sword collectors have knowledge of various sword knots, some visitors who read these pages may not.

The sword knot began existence as a simple cord which was attached to the hilt of the sword of mounted soldiers. It was securely fastened to the guard of the saber and then tied to the wrist of the mounted trooper. The purpose of this sword knot was to secure the saber to the wrist, so that if it were knocked from the hand of the mounted soldier, he would not lose it in the heat of battle. The sword would be at the end of the cord, which was tied to the wrist. The design evolved into a double strap which was attached to the sword guard and wrapped around the hilt when not attached to the wrist. The double strap had at least one sliding loop, referred to as a slide, which was at the end of the strap to make a loop to go around the wrist. At the end of the strap was either a stem or a crown, or both, which secured the end of the strap. The knot itself generally consisted of a crown and an open tassel or closed ball which could securely close the end of the double strap to give the slide something solid to press the wrist against when it was inserted into the loop made by the strap. This sword knot evolved into both dagger knots and bayonet knots in the German service and all three distinctive styles of German knots retain these design features. More on these later.

First, let's look at the manner in which sword knots were used in the military. Plain leather knots were, generally speaking, first used in military service but differences soon emerged between enlisted and officer knots. Early officer knots were often colored leather and then evolved into bullion or lace knots while enlisted knots tended to remain plain utilitarian leather. As time went on, and saber charges became less frequent, these knots lost their practical purpose and they began to be more of a symbol of rank or status. Sidearm knots showed up on other military edged weapons such as daggers and bayonets. The Germans were quite adept at transforming utilitarian sword knots into highly stylized accouterments for various edged weapons.

 

First, let us look at the German Officer knot called a Portepee. Variations of the Portepee could be worn on any edged weapon sidearm such as: swords, daggers, or bayonets.

Portepee Prussian.JPG

Portepee SS Off.JPG

Portepee Saxon bullion.JPG

Portepee for Miner's sword.JPG

Polizei Portepee for Off.JPG

Portepee for Beamte silver.JPG

Portepee Heer & KM daggers.JPG

Portepee unk dagger.JPG

Polizei NCO Portepee in wrap.JPG

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German sword knots evolved into a complex system of knots that included knots that could be worn on bayonets and daggers as well as swords. The construction was much the same as those of other countries and included the same parts. The design was a double strap (das Band), a slide (der Scheiber), a stem where the strap entered the knot (der Stengel) and/or a crown (der Kranz), and an open tassel or a closed ball (die Quaste). Knots in the German service could indicate rank and organization and a complex series of colored enlisted knots could indicate the wearer's unit down to the company level.

There were three distinct styles of German knots:

First, was the Portepee generally worn by officers and officials (Beamte). This knot could indicate the individual state and/or the organization. A Prussian Portepee is shown in the top photo above and an SS Portepee is shown next. Other examples in order are: Saxon knot in silver & green, Miner Assoc knot in gold with black & white highlights, Police Off knot with alum ball and stem and black, aluminum, red strap, Official knot in all silver wire (also in all gold), Navy and Army Off knots in gold cello and silver aluminum, unidentified short knot in silver w/ gold highlights on stem, and unissued Police NCO in original cellophane wrap.

Second, was the Faustriemen generally worn by NCOs and enlisted men who were mounted or truckborn. The plain leather strap in green indicated an Army knot while the plain leather strap in grey indicated an Air Force knot. Brown leather straps were from the Imperial or Weimar Republic time periods while Customs Officials straps were black. These Faustriemen were also worn by Air Force (Luftwaffe) personnel and Beamte such as Customs Officials (Zollschutz). Examples are shown below.

Third, was the Troddel generally worn by enlisted men on bayonets. These colorful knots were made of cotton and/or wool and indicated the battalion and company of German Army (Heer) enlisted men. Navy (Kriegsmarine) men who were land based, such as coastal artillery, could also wear the Troddel. Green often indicated military enlisted men assigned to staff positions and all NCOs had green & aluminum in thier knots indicating their status as staff members. A Troddel with a white strap indicated a peace time knot while one with a grey strap indicated a wartime knot. Examples are shown in the next post.

Faustriemen  with green stem.JPG

Faust Luft NCO.JPG

Faust Luft NCO insert.JPG

Faustriemen for Zoll.JPG

Faustriemen Luft Flak.JPG

Faustriemen with stem & brown strap.JPG

Faustriemen with stem.JPG

Faustriemen miniature.JPG

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Probably the most complex system of knots were the Troddel. These mostly enlisted knots were primarily worn on the bayonet sidearm (Seitengewehr). These brightly colored knots were unit specific to include various military units, organizations such as the Railway Police (Bahnschutz) or Postal Police (Postschutz), or other organization structures that changed over time. A selection of the various kinds of Troddel are shown below to show the variety of these knots. Bear in mind that organizational structures changed over time, particularly with the Wehrmacht, so at different points in time the same color combination could mean different things.

 

 

 

 

Trod Bn Staff.JPG

Trod Co Staff.JPG

Troddel green.JPG

Troddel Heer Training Unit.JPG

Trod Heer NCO.JPG

Troddel 1st Co Imperial.JPG

Troddel with tag.JPG

Troddel Imperial EM.JPG

Troddel red white black.JPG

Troddel SS EM.JPG

Troddel SS NCO.JPG

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Here are couple of illustrations from my book, "Seitengewehr; History of the German Bayonet 1919-1945". These plates are used with permission of the author.

 

One color plate indicates the meaning of the military (Wehrmacht) Troddel. This chart is a snapshot in time and with the periodic reorganization of Regiments, Battalions, and Companies these color combinations could take on different meanings. Another black & white plate is from a soldier manual that not only teaches you how to march and organize your pack but how to tie these various knots onto your edged weapons.

 

 

Bayonet Knots.jpg

Troddel ties.jpg

Seitengewehr book cover.jpg

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Thank you soooooooo much for posting this! This is amazing and should be pinned for reference! this would actually be nice to broaden with examples from other countries as well. I would love to see something like this for British sword knots! Thanks for the history! We were just talking about sword knots this morning and trying to decide what the original purpose was for!

 

About when, would you say, did sword knots really stop being practical and more just decoration? For instance, by the Crimean War let's say, would British officer's have been using their sword knots for purpose or just decoration?

 

Thanks for all the work that went into this post! Really top-notch!

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Thank you both for the kudos on this illustrated piece on knots. You know, a person could collect nothing but these various edged weapon knots and have a really challenging collection of accouterments. The problem with these things is that when you know how intricate and complex this subject is it becomes a collecting challenge. I think I will pin it as a reference thread after I add a few more things and perhaps get some more feedback.

 

Elizabeth, I would say that by the time of WWI sword knots had become more of a badge of rank. The Germans ordered their Officers to send their swords home and they adopted KS98 bayonet variations for wear in the trenches. The Germans had worked out their colored Troddel system by then and these bayonet knots had no real practical usage. Of course one of best known British Cavalry charges against Russian Artillery was in the Crimea and one of the last known charges by the British Cavalry was in WWI. This last charge was by Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) at Moreull Wood ( 30 March 1918) against entrenched German machine guns and did not work out well for the Cavalry Squadron or its commander, Lt. Gordon Flowerdew, who died of wounds received.

 

Below are a few photos explaining how a Troddel is put together. The strap is secured with a wire that penetrates the whole assembly. The stem and ball are formed by an interior wooden center and then covered with thread and cord. Now you don't have to take one apart to see how it is made.

 

 

Troddel parts.JPG

Troddel NCO parts.JPG

Troddel NCO parts close.JPG

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One of the best and well presented topics I have seen. I don't have your book George, so now I will have to see about finding a copy for my bookshelf. Although not my direct area of collecting, it is also good to be informed in other aspects and areas of TR collecting.

 

Leigh

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Thank you Leigh. Good luck finding a copy of my book. Unfortunately, it has been out of print from Bender Publishing for several years and seems to be a collector item itself these days.

 

I did want to follow up on the suggestion by Elizabeth to perhaps include some other knots from elsewhere. In that vein I will show some Austrian knots below. Since Austria was annexed and became a part of "Greater Germany" (as the Ostmark) these knots fit right in. During the 1938 Anschluss Austrian soldiers, sailors, airmen, and policemen became Germans and were given new uniforms. They largely continued to wear their previous edged weapons and carry their Austrian firearms that they were previously issued. Similarly, they often continued to wear their old sword and bayonet knots with their Austrian knots being worn in the service of Germany.

 

Below are some examples of Austrian edged weapon knots to round out the discussion:

 

First, an Austrian Republic knot with red/white/red roundel and strap. Second, this inter-wars closed knot properly tied on a Model 1895 Austrian NCO dress bayonet. Third, Military Police Corps / Justice purple knot. Next, Emperor Karl closed metal Officer Portepee with black/red/gold stem cover for post WWI use. Sixth, post Anschluss Gendarm NCO (and wife) wearing Austrian Infantry Officer sword and fringed Republican knot. Note the Austrian uniform with new German Police insignia. Seventh, Customs (Financial) knot with dual headed eagle and green highlights. Eighth, a variation of the first closed Republican knot without central white stripe on the strap. These knots also come with a closed ball or a fringed ball. Ninth, Emperor Franz Joseph gold color fringed Officer Portepee. Tenth, a yellow highlighted wool Cavalry NCO knot with slide. These are a few of the variations of Osterreich or Ostmark knots to be found.

Austrian Gend transitional uniform.jpg

Austrian Imperial Sword Knot.JPG

Austrian Cavalry knot.JPG

Austrian customs knot.JPG

Austrian Pol knot.JPG

Austrian Republic knot.JPG

Austrian NCO bayonet.JPG

Aust Pol brass Portepee.JPG

Aust K knot.JPG

Aust K knot stem.JPG

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Oh . . . this is fabulous! I really appreciate the info and the pictures! Love the one in pieces to see how they are made! The Austrian ones with the seal/insignia and flag colours are cool!

 

While German swords and knots aren't my forte, my Sister is the archivist for a titled family in the South of England, and we have been ID-ing family swords. Well, one of the sons was in the Coldstream Guards in Crimea (where he was killed in battle), and they have both his swords, and both have knots. One knot is very frayed and used, the other very unused. We've been wondering about sword knots for months now, and your post pushed us into doing some more digging into the topic. As far as the CG soldier was concerned, and I suppose German officer's would have the same thing . . . the used knot means that would be the sword he actually used (and was the one that was brought back home upon his death) and that the unused knot was the sword he wore for dress occasions. The used knot has a full Coldstream Guards emblem on it, even.

 

These sword knots are really works of art! Anyone ever make repros by hand? this is something that would be super fun to try! Make a custom one. I know the basics of tassle making. I suppose the old ones were totally made by hand, really.

 

OK . . . so that leads me to another question. Were they issued these swords knots (German or Austrian or any Country)? Or were they something the soldier just bought? If bought, where would you buy something like this? From the company/maker you bought your sword from?

 

Thanks for all the work on this thread! The Austrian knots are amazing! I am really enjoying learning about these!

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Elizabeth,

 

I am glad you are enjoying this venture into the obscure. No, really... I like them too. That is why I have tons of them.

 

As to British dress swords there is a logic to dress and service swords & knots that you have stumbled upon. Generally speaking, British Officer swords take on two forms. If a sword has a leather scabbard it is typically for service while one with a metal scabbard is for dress. Same applies to sword knots in that a rather plain leather knot is typically worn for service (goes on the sword with a leather scabbard) while the bullion knot goes on the dress sword. Some Officers had two swords while some simply had two scabbards. It depended upon the size of their purse and their Mess requirements.

 

And yes, these knots have been remade. US dealer Tom Johnson had quite a few German sword and dagger knots remade in the 1970s and these now show some age so one has to be careful when buying German knots to know what you are getting. British knots are still worn and made in England and can be purchased at the military tailor shops.

 

German Officers had to purchase their own swords and sword knots so almost all of the Officer Portepee one finds today were private purchase and thus show a lot of variation. On sword knots one will find flat leather, cloth, or plastic straps on similar Portepee. Enlisted men were issued the knot they needed along with their edged weapon and uniform. The first Troddel I showed with a cardboard tag attached is a sealed (OKH) pattern for this particular Troddel so all the examples purchased for issue would be identical. Soldiers could purchase better than issue knots for parade or walking out dress. Therefore, one will see quality variations in both the Troddel and the Faustriemen.

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  • 3 months later...

Just saw this thread!

 

Some very nice items and great info!

 

As stated before! When more members continue to join

threads like this will be very interesting!

 

These are for sure a collection to collect by them self!

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

PVON

 

police knot

 

ss knot

post-185193-0-36197800-1552830796.jpg

post-185193-0-94388800-1552830843_thumb.jpg

post-185193-0-26037100-1552830866.jpg

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Sarge

 

After some thought!

 

Your display was so nice I kinda figure maybe you should move my post to keep from messing up your thread!

 

PVON

post-185193-0-99613100-1553037982.jpg

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  • 2 years later...

Fascinating thread. I wonder if any further charts were published during wartime to show the colours worn by newly created units which didn't exist at the time of the charts shown.

I'm specifically interested in finding out which colour of knots would have been worn by members of the Feldgendarmerie. The most common unit was the Trupp which was basically only a Platoon, some larger units had a Kompanie of MPs but these were independent units not a part of  larger formation so I can't see how the info in the charts could be applied to these.

The larger units were Abteilung or Battalion size so a Company within the Battalion could conceivably have a Knot to identify the Company.

 

I wonder if Sarge has any info on what colours they may have used.

 

I have thought of whether, becasue so many of them were transferred in from the civilian police, they may have used a Polizei knot ?

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Redcap,

 

Yes, new charts showing knots were published as unit configuration changed with time.  So, for instance when four companies to a battalion were changed to three companies the charts changed.  The basic color system remained much the same as did NCO and Officer knots.  

 

As to Feldgendarmerie (FG) units specifically there are some things to bear in mind.  Most fully qualified Polizei were NCOs and most FG were these NCOs with some enlisted men serving as support such as drivers, cooks, clerks, etc.  Rank was equivalent with Pol. NCOs wearing Wehrmacht rank shoulder straps.  If a FG came from the Schutzpolizei, Gendarmerie, or Luftschutzpolizei they continued to wear their permanent rank level of their home station.  Polizei and SS ranks were concurrent and generally equivalent but not always as you will find a Police Captain shown as a SS Major.  This would apply to W-SS Feldgendarmerie of course and they would wear the proper SS knots with their W-SS Feldgendarmerie uniform.  

 

This applies to Heer edged weapon knots as well.  Generally speaking a Pol./FG NCO serving in the Heer would wear a Heer NCO Troddel.  The green cloth Troddel with aluminum highlights worn by all WH NCOs.  FG Officers would wear the standard Heer Officer Portepee having a green strap and all aluminum ball.  The green color indicates a Staff position so this shows their independence to other Military and Police structures whatever Staff they were structurally a part of as Feldgendarms.  KM would wear this same NCO Troddle and Luftwaffe FG would wear the NCO Faustriemen with a grey leather strap.  There are some other odd ball exceptions such as SS members could wear SS knots and Police units, along with the Sicherheitspolizei, might also wear SS knots depending on the circumstances.  And, yes they might also wear their Police knots and would do so if serving in a Police Regiment or Battalion although for obvious reasons these Reg. & Bn. did not have Feldgendarmerie units since they were police units themselves.  So, the short answer is they generally wore the proper, but equivalent, military knots depending upon which uniform they were wearing on their FG assignment.  

 

I hope this is helpful.  

Faust Luft NCO.JPG

Faust Luft NCO insert.JPG

Trod Heer NCO 3.JPG

Trod Heer NCO with stem 2.JPG

Portepee Prussian.JPG

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Redcap

Many thanks for that Sarge !

 

Here is the photo that got me wondering. I have a few hundred Feldgendarmerie photos but this is the only one where a knot is worn with the bayonet. The entire ball/stem seems to be silver coloured.

 

I do have one shot where a former police NCO serving in the Feldgendarmerie has altered his Polizei Waffenrock for use as a dress uniform, adding army/Feldgendarmerie insignia and carrying a Polizei Degen. This isn't in the transitional period at the start of the war but well into wartime so someone who clearly considered himself first and foremost a policeman. Another shot I have shows a Feldgendarmerie NCO wearing full army Feldgendarmerie uniform but with a regular Polizei visor cap.

 

I knew the C.O. of the Feldgendarmerie Kompanie of the Götz von Berlichingen DIvision. He was quite clear that he considered himself a police officer and the transfer to the SS-Feldgendarmerie was not at his request. Even his SS Soldbuch had his rank as Hauptman der Schutzpolizei.

 

I believe that from the mid-war period, around 1943, the vast majority of personnel were coming to the Feldgendarmerie internally from other army branches. Certainly most of the Soldbücher and Wehrpässe I have from guys who served right from the beginning of the war showed their former civilian profession as being with the police. I suspect the former policemen considered the,selves a "cut above" those from a pure military background.

HFg136 Spiess.jpg

HFg136 Spiess2.jpg

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An excellent photograph of a top rank NCO serving as a "der Spiess" (1st Sergeant) according to his "piston rings" on his cuffs.  One of the exceptions I suspect since if his Police rank was as a Meister he would be entitled to wear Officer edged weapons and an Officer knot.  So, this is what he seems to be wearing in the form of an Offizier Portepee.  Frankly, no one was going to be bold enough to tell a Meister what is regulation and what is not.  

 

Here is another slightly odd variation of the Heer NCO Troddel with an aluminum crown and ball.  I suspect this was worn by a Senior NCO.  Also, a police uniform card from the set by Knotel that shows Verwaltungspolizei personnel wearing SS swords and knots along with their SS membership runes worn below the left breast pocket of their Polizei uniforms.  Perfectly within regulations for all branches of the Police.  

 

 

Troddel Heer Sr NCO.JPG

Knötel Verwaltungspolizei.jpg

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Redcap

Here's the Feldgendarmerie Senior NCO wearing his old police tunic badged up with Feldgendarmerie insignia and carrying a Polizei Degen. Nice officer quality hand embroidered cuffband too. Regular army visor cap though.

HFg158-Feldgendarmerie Rock.jpg

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Redcap

And the other way around - this time regular army Feldbluse, but his old Polizei visor cap.

HFg225.jpg

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Yes, never say never when discussing the militarized German Police uniforms.  "Standard" seems to be quality that was pretty subjective.  I know from experience the penchant of policemen to continue to wear older regulation uniform bits and pieces to show their longevity and earlier service.

 

Great photos showing this propensity BTW.

 

 

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Jack the Collector

Sarge,great information as always.I do have a question.In terms of rarity,which knot is toughest to find?

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20 hours ago, Jack the Collector said:

Sarge,great information as always.I do have a question.In terms of rarity,which knot is toughest to find?

 

The answer to that question is probably highly subjective.  I want to say the toughest to find is generally the one you don't have yet but are looking for.

 

In terms of scarcity it would have to be one of the smaller organizations such as:  Baden Polizei, Postschutz, or perhaps a black mourning knot.  I have seen fewer of the Justizbeamte knots than anything else so perhaps this might be the rarest.  

 

 

Justiz KS98.JPG

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