One of the most honored positions within any regiment was the assignment to carry and maintain their regimental standard. All of the European armies, (including Germany), had a fascinating tradition in 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 flag poles 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 even have been 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. As you can see, the number of color bearers in the German Army was very limited, as was this very special sleeve patch. The patch was intended to have been worn on the sleeve of the feldgrau tunic. This example is far larger than a pre WW I sleeve patch. It measures 6 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ and is in the shape of a shield. It sports a pair of crossed regimental flags, beautifully done in yellow, green, white, and black thread. Between them is a Hohenzollern Crown made of yellow, white, and red thread. At the bottom of the patch is Kaiser Wilhelm II’s royal cypher in red. It is very elegant and quite rare. [As an aside, regimental banners are greatly prized by collectors. Prices BEGIN at $20,000 for these beauties when they come on the market. I have seen examples fetch in excess of $50,000. They rarely become available. Many of them were taken to Russia at the end of WW II, and were not released until thirty to forty years after its end]. This is an amazing piece of history.