PRUSSIA – PREWAR SLEEVE DEVICE/PATCH FOR KÜRAßIER KOLLER – REGIMENTAL FAHNENTRÄGER
One of the most honored positions within any regiment was the assignment to carry and maintain its regimental standard. All of the European armies, (including Germany), had fascinating traditions with regimental standards. In Germany, regimental banners or standards were authorized and issued by the König, or Kaiser. It had a true pageantry to it. In addition to the actual standard/banner, regiments brandished flagpoles adorned with streamers proclaiming the year of the regiment’s establishment, the regiment’s collective battle honors, and brass identification rings. Depending on the regiment, the pole might be topped by a Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. The men fought with great pride under these flags. For a regiment to lose its flag in battle was a horrible event. It rained dishonor on ALL the men attached to the regiment, from its regimental commander down to the lowliest private.
The man assigned to maintain and carry the regimental banner was highly-regarded by his officers and NCO’s. He bore the standard, carrying it in a special case when it was not unfurled. He was expected to protect the banner with his life. The sight of the banner waving, even in battle, was a rallying point for the regiment’s men. If the color bearer fell during battle, another man immediately snatched-up the banner to show that the regiment was still in the fight. Naturally, a man so honored as to carry the regimental colors was awarded a special sleeve patch designating him as the regimental color bearer. In addition, he wore a shorter sword to lighten his load and to give him more flexibility marching and in battle.
It is easy to see that the number of German Army color bearers was very limited, as was the very special sleeve patch. This particular patch was worn on a küraßier’s pre WW I white/cream-colored, kersey wool, dress koller sleeve. The shield-shaped patch measures 3 ½” x 5.” It sports a pair of crossed regimental flags, beautifully done in yellow, white, and black thread. Between the flags is a Hohenzollern Crown made of yellow, white, and red thread. Kaiser Wilhelm II’s yellow royal cypher appears at the patch’s bottom. It is very elegant and quite rare, as only ten (eight plus two Garde) Küraßier-Regiments existed in the German Army.
[As an aside, regimental banners are greatly prized by collectors. Prices BEGIN at $20,000 for these beauties, WHEN they come on the market. Some examples fetch in excess of $50,000. They rarely become available. Many of them were taken to Russia at WW II’s end, and not released until thirty to forty years later]. This patch is an amazing piece of history.