Close Combat Clasp

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Close Combat Clasp
Nahkampfspange
Nahkampfspange Heer Gold.jpg
Nahkampfspange Heer Silber.jpg
Nahkampfspange Heer Bronze.jpg
Close Combat Clasp in Gold, Silver, and Bronze
Awarded by Nazi Germany
Type Clasp
Eligibility Soldiers of the Heer, Kriegsmarine and Waffen-SS
Awarded for Achievement in hand-to-hand fighting in close quarters
Campaign World War II
Status Obsolete
Statistics
Established 25 November 1942
Total awarded 36,400 Bronze Class
9,500 Silver Class
631 Gold Class.[1]
Nahkampfspange.jpg
These are the design permitted to be worn in Germany after 1957, the eagle and swastika symbol having been removed.

The Close Combat Clasp (German: Nahkampfspange) is a German military award instituted on 25 November 1942 for achievement in hand-to-hand fighting in close quarters. The Close Combat Clasp was worn above the upper left uniform pocket. The clasp was die-cast and made of either tombac or later zinc, with a slightly curved centerpiece consisting of the national emblem surmounting a crossed bayonet and hand grenade.

Criteria[edit]

The award was bestowed in three classes: Bronze for 15 close combat battles; Silver for 25 battles; and Gold for 50+ battles.

The Gold Close Combat Clasp was often regarded in higher esteem than the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross by the German infantry. Of the roughly 18–20 million soldiers of the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, 36,400 received the Bronze Class, 9,500 the Silver Class and 631 the Gold Class.[1]

In 1944 a version for the German Air Force was created to note the increasing number of Air Force personnel and paratroopers taking part in direct combat.[2]

Design[edit]

The badge was die-cast and made mainly of zinc. Depending on the manufacturer the clasp is either straight or slightly curved and measures between 95mm to 97mm wide. Towards the war's end production quality fell and these badges often use poorer quality metals and workmanship than earlier produced pieces.

The design features a central motif consisting of the national emblem of eagle and swastika surmounting a crossed bayonet and stick grenade. The centerpiece was cut out and backed with a thin, flat square steel, crimped in place on the reverse. The gold and silver awards were often plated in the same metal, whilst the bronze badge was lacquered with a composition called brennlack, which was a powdered metal. When oven heated the paint was burned, leaving a metallic type coating that will flake off with time. The pins are normally wider in the center, tapering at the ends. The weight could be anything between 24 and 37 grams depending on the metal used.[3]

Due to the manufacturing process it is sometimes difficult to identify the exact class of some awards. This has been caused by chemical discoloration between the zinc base metal of the clasp and whatever process was used to apply the original colour wash.

Awards of the gold clasp were usually awarded in person by Hitler, Himmler or other high-ranking officials.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Thomas M. Durante (2007), The German Close Combat Clasp of World War II, ISBN 978-90-812301-1-7
  • Florian Berger (2004), Ritterkreuzträger mit Nahkampfspange in Gold, ISBN 3-9501307-3-X
  • Manfred Dörr, Die Träger der Nahkampfspange in Gold, Heer-Luftwaffe-Waffen-SS 1943 - 1945 ISBN 3-7648-2585-5