German Close Combat Clasps
(Nahkampfspange) - Army & SS
(last clasp added 10 March 2011)
All clasps and badges are genuine Second World War Two issue and not reproductions unless otherwise noted.
The German Close Combat Clasp (Nahkampfspange) was instituted by Adolf Hitler on November 25, 1942 to recognise the combat achievements of the German soldier. Before this time, other awards such as the Infantry Assault badge and Panzer Assault Badge had accomplished this task, however, with the attack on Russian in 1941 and later the joining of the war by the Americans, it became necessary to institute additional awards.
Grades & Issue
The combat clasp was issued in three grades: The bronze award was issued for 15 close combat days, the silver award for 30 days and the gold for 50 days of close combat. The main definition of close combat is defined as; close enough to the enemy to use hand to hand combat and close combat weapons. Also counted towards close combat are days during which an individual was part of a assault, reconnaissance attach, defending a position or a single messenger run in combat. These days had to be meticulously recorded in the solder's record book and certified by direct superiors and ultimately the Divisional Commander.
Due to the number of soldiers that had served in Russia before the clasp was instigated, retrograde issue was possible. 5 combat days equalled 8 months of deployment, 10 days 12 months and 15 days equalled 15 months deployment.
Although issue of the combat clasps was reserved for members of the Army and SS, Luftwaffe personnel were also awarded the clasp. While this was not the norm, as the Luftwaffe had it own General Assault Award and Close Combat Clasp (instigated in November 1944), it became more common towards the end of the war when Luftwaffe personel were spending longer periods in front-line operations.
It must be remembered that the Close Combat Clasp was not in the same league as the Infantry Assault badge or other lesser award. This award was highly recognised and any soldier wearing a clasp was instantly known to have accumulated a lot of front line actual combat experience. The gold clasps was usually only issued by Hitler, Himmler or other high ranking staff officers.
Construction & Materials
The clasps were made mostly from zinc material and construction was by several manufacturing companies. Most clasps are maker marked, however, there are examples that are unmarked. The pin assemblies of combat clasps are usually constructed from tombac and several differing pin designs have been observed. Equally, there are several types of attachment points used to attach the tombac pin to the zinc badge material. Likewise, the catches used to secure the pin are not all identical; the most widely used catch is the round wire catch and flat wire catch.
As all three grades of the award are identical, the colour of the award is vital to define the level of clasp. Finishes were applied differently by different companies and a connection often can be made between the finish type and the date that the clasp was manufactured. Silver and gold plating is by far the best finish which is closely followed by brennlack. Brennlack is a type of lacquer paint and is the most common of the finishes. Often companies used a two toned finish to accentuate the high points of the clasp's design. Lacquer and a standard wash was also used on clasps, however, this finish is of low quality and deteriorates relatively quickly. Towards the war's completion, many of the clasps (as well as other badges and awards) were of far lesser quality and worksmanship than earlier produced pieces.
Often the colour of a class is difficult to define. This is not how the clasp would have appeared during the war years, but is a result of the chemical reaction between the zinc base metal of the clasp and whatever application method was used to apply the colour.
Unlike Alied Armies, German soldiers wore their badges and awards in combat conditions.
This purpose of this page is NOT to provide an in depth review of all combat clasps, their manufacturing process, or detailed information relating to reproductions. For information in this field I direct you to Thomas Durante's excellent reference book - The German Close Combat Clasp of World War Two.
Please note, that although I am interested in the Second World War history and collect close combat clasps and other 3R awards, I do not agree, reconcile or affiliate with any political movement (s) related to the period.
Nahkampfspange in Bronze (WH-26)
Linden, Friedrich (Ludenscheid) FLL
Constructed from zinc material and marked in capital letters FEC.W.E.Peekhaus Berlin on the left and FLL in three circles on the right. Peekhaus was a well respected designers in the 1930's and designed many 3R awards and badges. The square rear plate has been lost. The finish is a bronze two-toned brennlack
Rear of above clasp (WH-26)
Often the colour of the clasp is better preserved on the rear than the front. It's the nature of zinc that any colour applied to the clasp will with time fade as the colour reacts with the zinc and dissolves into the metal. Note that the clasp pin is made from tombac and attached to the clasp by a solid pad to improve the integrity of the attachment. The pin is referred to as a full banjo style pin
Nahkampfspange in Silver (WH-33)
Constructed from zinc material with a high quality silver plating finish. The detail shown in this clasp exceeds that of many other manufacturers
Rear of above clasp (WH-33)
No markings. Note the excellent preservation of the silver plated finish. Also observe the pads at the joining point between the zinc clasp and the tombac pin assembly. The pin is referred to as a slender banjo style pin
Nahkampfspange in Silver (WH-24)
Linden, Friedrich (Ludenscheid) FLL
Constructed from zinc material and exhibiting a low quality silver plating or a silver wash which has either worn off with use, or has been slowly dissolved by the zinc metal
Rear of above clasp (WH-24)
Marked in raised capital letters FEC.W.E.Peekhaus Berlin on the left, and FLL in three circles on the right. Peekhaus was a well respected designers in the 1930's and designed many 3R awards and badges. The pin is referred to as a full banjo style pin. Often the pin was not coloured as per the grade of the clasp (bronze, silver or gold)
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Nahkampfspange in Silver (WH-??)
Josef Feix & Sohne (JFS)
Constructed from zinc material and designed and marked in capital letters FEC.W.E.Peekhaus Berlin, the JFS is a premier clasp. JFS used a combination of high quality zinc and a heavily applied finish, which often resulted in many JFS clasps retaining much of their detail in the strike and colour. The clasp to left has been finished in a strong two-toned brennlack
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Rear of above clasp (WH-??)
Maker marked in raised capital letters on the left with the designer name (FEC.W.E.Peekhaus Berlin) and the letters JFS within a box on the right. This clasp has a very distinctive rectangular pad that is used to secure the pin assembly to the clasp. Note also the method in attaching the back plate to the clasp; there are several different methods for attachment, each pertaining to a specific maker. Note also the raised maker mark which is easier and quicker to produce than a stamped mark; a stamp requires an extra process after the clasp was produced