M42 Army (Heer) Pionier Feldbluse with provenance – Monte Cornio Italy 1945
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Straight out of the woodwork in Germany, found by one of my pickers in the Frankfurt area a few weeks ago; Standard issue M1942 army Feldbluse that came straight from the veteran Fahnenjuncker (officer aspirant) Hubert Kaiser, serving in Pionier-Bataillon 356, part of the 356st infantry division that mainly fought in Italy. The jacket is in light worn condition and complete with its original applied insignia. Interesting is of course, that this was most likely his ‘walking-out’ jacket and it was period upgraded with dark green colored M36-style insigia to look more fancy. These insignia were applied on top of the factory applied ones, that still remain visible under the stitching (eagle and collar tabs). The sleeves shows a Sturmboot steerman insignia. The jacket shows light wear and is void of damages and/or repairs. It is nicely maker marked inside with RBNR 0/0721/0030. The interesting part is that this jacket was found together with the matching M40 trousers (selling seperately) and all the documents of this soldier. His Solbuch, drivers licence and Pionier manual are all there. Some interesting documents were still in the Soldbuch such as a close-combat notice for combat in Monte Cornio in Italy, and a document attaching him to a Volkssturmunit at the end of the war. The American capture papers are present as well. The picture in his solbuch shows a similar M42 tunic, maybe before he upgraded it with the M36 pattern insignia. This grouping remained untouched as was recently found upon the death of Mr. Kaiser in Frankfurt. A beautiful and untouched piece that has never been in a collection before!
The 356th Infantry Division was formed on May 1, 1943 as the “Gisela” unit near Toulon in southern France. In November 1943 the division was transferred from France to Italy on the Ligurian coast between Ventimiglia and Genoa. In the spring of 1944 units of the division were deployed to fight partisans in northern Italy between Liguria and Piedmont. The Fusilier Battalion 356 was transferred to the Anzio-Nettuno area at the end of January 1944 and took part in the Battle of Anzio near Cisterna di Latina and Velletri. From mid-February to early March it was then used on the Monti Aurunci near Castelforte and the Monti Ausoni near Coreno Ausonio on the Gustav Line. The 1st Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 871 was also transferred to the Gustav Line on the Garigliano River at the beginning of March and fought there in defensive battles with heavy losses until the end of March. In June 1944 the division was transferred to Tuscany and then used in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna at the Gotenstellung. In July 1944, the division south of Florence near Greve in Chianti was involved in heavy defensive fighting against attacking South African units, with which the Allies began their attack on Florence. Between January and August members of the division were involved in numerous war crimes against Italian civilians. In all, more than 200 people fell victim to the division’s war crimes. By September 1944 the division had reached the “green position”. The march along the Via Emilia to the area between San Marino and Rimini followed. After heavy defensive fighting on both sides of the Via Emilia, the division withdrew to December 1944 via the Savio, Bidente and Montane to the Senio near Bagnacavallo. In January 1945, the division was first transferred through northern Italy to Hungary. In March 1945 she fought at Lake Balaton and near Stuhlweißenburg and then retreated to Austria via Komarom and Raab. In May 1945, the division was taken prisoner of war by the US near Wiener Neustadt. (Lexikon Der Wehrmacht)