This is an exciting WW I U-Boot Badge. The award was instituted on 1 February 1918. Like the Imperial German Air Service’s assorted flight badges, it was a qualification badge. Aviators and sailors needed to fulfill certain qualifications in order to receive one of these badges. Whereas the Imperial German Air Service had four basic types of flight qualification badges, the Kaiserliche Marine (excluding its Air arm) had only one U-Boot Abzeichen. Just prior to WW II (starting in 1935), the Kriegsmarine had added a number of badges for its various sizes and types of surface ships, in addition to the U-Boot Badge. To earn the qualification badge, every sailor (officer, NCO, or enlisted man) had to serve aboard a U-Boot and participate in three war patrols.
The badge is oval-shaped and measures 2″ x 2.” An oval wreath of leaves contains within it a U-Boot complete with its conning tower and bridge. A periscope is also evident. A detailed Hohenzollern Crown appears at the badge’s top. The badge displays a marvelous patina that has not been cleaned for decades, turning it a burnished gilt.
The badge’s reverse features a gorgeous swollen (coke bottle type) pin. This particular style of pin (also seen on custom 1914 Iron Crosses 1st Class) is a mark of excellent quality and attention to detail. We can also see on the pin where it has been slightly pressed in. It is a sure sign that the badge was actually worn on a tunic. More often than not, loops of thread were sewn into the tunic and the pin was then passed through them. Even a sturdy pin like this would have had difficulty in piercing a tunic’s heavy wool. The badge’s silver (.800) hallmark is stamped on the submarine’s reverse.
All in all, it is an excellent badge that is worthy of any collection.