Photo courtesy of Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Adendorf-002-18A

I recently received these spurs from a friend whose father, Curtis O. Ringold, served with the 4171 Quartermaster Depot Company during the war’s final months in Europe. The chrome pair has the word “GESCHMIEDET” on one side and on the opposite, an emblem with the letters “L” and “F” on either side of it. The black pair has only the initials ERN on one side of each spur. Any information you can provide on these artifacts would be appreciated. —Robert B. White, Germantown, Tenn.

The items in question are German army spurs. “Geschmiedet” is German for “forged,” indicating the manufacturing process; the “L” and “F” are likely a trademark—very possibly that of Linden & Funke in Iserlohn, a German metalware manufacturer and supplier to the German army—the Heer. The “ERN” on the darker pair is typical of the manufacturing codes the German military used to hide the identity of civilian contactors and their locations from enemy forces; the code ERN designates the W. G. Dinkelmeyer Works in Koetzling. Protecting such information was particularly important in wartime Germany, when Allied aircraft could conduct bombing raids over most of the country. 

Spurs may seem a quaint or ceremonial wartime item, but they were prevalent in the German army, which was heavily dependent on horses. There is a widely held belief that the Heer was highly mechanized; in fact, more than 80 percent of German divisions relied on horse-drawn transport for their logistical needs. During the war, the German army maintained an average of 1.1 million horses. As fighting continued and Germany found it increasingly difficult to maintain motorized equipment, it turned to horses all the more, by 1944 forming six cavalry divisions and two cavalry corps. 

Your spurs may have been unissued since they lack the leather strap to fasten them around the wearer’s boots. I can find no reference explaining the difference in finishes, but I suspect the bright finish is for dress occasions; the dark for use in circumstances when shiny objects should be avoided. These spurs may well have hailed from a warehouse or supply depot; since Curtis O. Ringold served in the Quartermaster Corps—the service responsible for supply—it is possible that the U.S. Army assigned him to inspect German supply depots for material that could be reissued to Allied forces. —Tom Czekanski, Senior Curator and Restorations Manager


This column was originally published in the October 2017 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here.