By Willi Schumacher
Winter Clothing for Panzer Troops
Part of the issue of basic clothing for each member of a panzer crew was the standard gray-green greatcoat. This coat was not very comfortable and was cumbersome when trying to operate the tank. The German Army developed the first parkas for use during the winter of 1942/43 and consisted of four pieces: coat, trousers, mittens and a toque. These were manufactured in a field-gray exterior reversible to winter white. Prior to the issue of winter clothing and equipment commencing 1 October 1943, the Army made the important modification to the parka uniform by replacing the field-gray side with their unique camouflaged pattern, either tan water or green splinter. The coat was double-breasted with the interior set of buttons being fastened to provide additional protection. There were two slash pockets with straight buttoned flaps, a size adjustable waist belt and a hood with drawstring. On each sleeve on the winter white side were small buttons to accommodate the wearing of colored identification bands. These color bands changed daily and were used like a password system to identify friend from foe. The trousers had twin slash pockets on the front with forward folding flaps and a buttoned fly. The knees were reinforced with additional material and the cuffs had drawstrings for closure around the ankles. There were provisions for the wearing of suspenders. The mittens were manufactured in the same camouflage pattern and reversible to winter white. Later models incorporated a trigger finger in addition to the thumb. These mittens were connected to each other with a string and could be hung around the neck when not being worn. For the head there was a toque, a hood with a skirt, which made it interlocking with the coat. It also had a closure in the front around the neck and chin. When closed up, only the eyes, nose and mouth were exposed.