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The tornister or backpack was introduced in 1934 and was not used in combat.


"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." Winston Churchill October 1st 1939

WWII German M39 Tornister

Standard German army backpack or tornister was throughout the war until 1945. Introduced in April 1939, the "Tornister 39" backpacks were issued to every soldier to carry whatever gear he wasn´t already wearing on his person (like extra ammunition, rifle cleaning kit, extra rations, extra clothing). These packs were not carried into combat and were left in a depot, trains, or vehicles and were carried behind the lines in formations, parades, etc.

The main difference between the Model 1939 and the previous Model 1934 backpack was that the Model 1939 had two large "D" rings with hooks fitted at the top of the backpack, in place of the black leather shoulder straps, which were used to attach it to the upper "D" rings on the back shoulders of the soldier's "Y" straps. The M39 also has a short strap on the outside of the fur flap that the M34 does not. The M34 also had a short leather strap at the bottom to attach to the equipment belt; the M39 did not have this strap. A combat "A-frame" could be attached to the outside of the tornister. The M39 also did not have a pocket for the messkit as did the M34. The fur commonly found on the outside flap is from a calf or cow.

The tornister was used to carry issue items such as top shoes (with brush, polish, and cloth inside), wool socks, shirt, tunic, trouser, blanket, tent poles, iron ration meat tin, R34 cleaning kit, Personal items were stored in the outer flap. These included a towel, underwear, shaving kit, soap, etc.



Model 1939 tornister. Fur consists of three shades of brown; dark brown, light brown, and tan. Canvas is brown-green (olive drab). Complete with all straps and buttons, excellent condition. This tornister is named to "Sperl K." and ink stamped, "Ohne Einlage". This may translate to "without frame". It has a history of having been brought back by a US veteran from Germany in 1945 when he finished his tour of duty there in the Battle of the Bulge. According to the veteran's son, it came from the Saar area near Faha, Germany. Manufacturer code "bdt" is for Salewa Lederwarenfabrik G.m.b.H. in München Thalkirchnerstr. 47. It has been discussed on the WAF here and here. (20090207)


Hans Deuter

Model 1939 tornister, made of brown fur and brown-green (olive drab) canvas. Complete with all straps and buttons, good condition. Numbers "296" are ink stamped to each of the two inside leather reinforment panels. This example is named to two soldiers; Bruno Volkmann and Georg Zeula. (20060927)

The city of Augsburg is located in south central Germany.

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Early K98 Pouch Gallery: 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | Text - No Date
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Late K98 Pouch Gallery: 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | Illegible Stamp | RBNr - No Date | Text - No Date | No Stamps

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