Knotted around the bayonet frog, the Troddel has its
origins in the saber knot, which was used to keep the saber attached to
the Soldat's hand in combat. By the time of WWI, the Troddel had merely become a part of the
complex system of insignia that the German Army used for unit identification.
Original pre-war/early-war 3rd Company Troddel.
Those of Gefreiter and Musketier rank should take care to wear only
those Troddeln signifying the Third Kompagnie, i.e. colored
Knotted around the bayonet frog, the Troddel has
its origins in the saber knot, which was used to keep the saber attached to
the Soldat's hand in combat. By the time of WWI,
the Troddel had merely become a part of the complex system
of insignia that the German Army used for unit identification.
In the Pre War years,Imperial German infantry troops were organized
into twelve (12) companies, identified by their
tassels (Troddeln), AND by the company
number on their shoulder board buttons.
In 1913, they added a 13th and 14th company for the new MG companies, and
then a 15th and 16th company late in 1914. In late 1914, almost immediately, this
system broke down due to volume and supply problems. In the Fall of 1915, the
shoulder board buttons with company numbers were dropped from the field
jacket and coat, leaving only the "peacetime" uniform with them.
Original photo clealry showing the Troddel
In March of 1916, shortages of cotton saw the tassels made only of recycled old cotton, AND, the ribbon and
fringe went to gray instead of white, keeping just the colored parts the same.
Army administration tried to adhere to the wearing of the correctly "coded" tassels throughout the War, but the
constant transferring and reassigning of troops broke the system down. Plus, by late 1916, the effects of the blockade
were so bad, and local materials so scarce, that materials could not be found to continue production and production of
tassels was completely stopped in January of 1917. What supplies left in inventory lasted a couple of months until all
had been issued.
Each regiment in the German Army consisted of three battalions and each
battalion had four companies. Each enlisted soldier wore the M1873 Troddel, and
depending on what color combinations were used indicated the battalion and company. There were four colors used, each
color signified a number: white for 1, red for 2, yellow for 3 and blue for 4. Soldiers used a clever phrase as a memory
aid: "Wir Rauchen Gerne Brasil" (We like to smoke Brasil tobacco). This sentence should allow any soldier
in the imperial army to learn the entire company colors.
Original late-war Troddel with grey band and tassel with nomenclature.
The Stengel (stalk) of the Troddel represents the
Battalion, the Kranz (wreath) and Schieber (slider) represent
the company. So a white stalk with yellow slider and wreath is I Battalion, 3rd company. If
you have a red stem with a blue slider and wreath, then you have II Battalion, 8th
company (the 8th company is the 4th company in the second battalion).
Photos from Johan Somer's Imperial German Field Uniforms
and Equipment 1907-1918.
Above: The M.1873 Troddel as worn on the bayonet.
Illustration detailing how to "tie" the Troddel
Tying the Troddel
Place the Troddel behind the frog at an angle leaving
the end about one-half inch exposed out the left side.
Fold the Troddel over the front at an upward angle.
Continue to fold around the back.
Then again over the front.
Flip the frog over and fold again across the back. The free
end should be unfolded back to the left.
Now the knot end can be slipped through the loop.
Flip it back over and pull the knot across the back to the left.