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Original German WWII Heer Army M31 Bread Bag in Olive Green Canvas with RBNr. Marking - Unissued

Regular price $250.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a wonderful unissued example of an M31 Haversack, also known as the “bread bag”. The bag itself does appear to be complete and has all original buttons, clips and leather securing tabs retained. The canvas body still has a lovely color to it and is similar in appearance to the tropical bread bags but has leather straps instead of the iconic webbing. These were brought out later in the war circa 1943-1944. This is one of the most phenomenal unissued examples we have ever seen.

It is in fantastic condition, though the leather on it does show some deterioration and stretching, mainly on the closure straps. Many of the other straps and fittings are canvas, so this possibly could have been intended for the Tropical campaigns, or used parts left over from that style. It has a clear RB-Nr. 0/0867/00?? marking on the center strap with the hook. The hook rivet blocks the last 2 digits of the number unfortunately. 

A lovely example presented with some great original canvas. Comes more than ready for further research and display.

Several items of field gear were carried over from the First World War by the German military. One of the most well-known is the breadbag. This was a small bag which fastened to the belt and was used as a general purpose carry all bag for the most basic needs of a soldier. The same basic design was used for nearly 100 years by the German military, police and political organizations.

During WWII, the standard pattern bag was known as the "M31". This featured minor changes from its WWI predecessor. The SA, HJ and a plethora of political and government organizations also had their own models but those will not be dealt with here. Most varied only in color and the number of loops on the flap from the standard M31.

Breadbags came in a variety of colors and fabrics. Generally, early and pre-War bags are made from cotton canvas which tends toward a gray or fieldgray color. 1940-42 dated bags are often more of a khaki-olive. At the same time, cotton shortages led to the introduction of a coarser linen or hemp canvas. This fabric is usually olive green, though shades of khaki and brown exist.

In 1940, an all-cloth bag was issued for use in hot climates. The bag was the same as the standard M31 except that the leather straps and tabs were replaced with cotton webbing pieces.

Late in the War, the M44 Breadbag was introduced. It was simplified for faster production and a small pocket was added to hold the rifle cleaning kit. Finally, a Volksturm model was made in 1944-45.

Reichsbetriebsnummer or RB number (also represented as RB Nr or Rbnr). Before the war, the Germans set up a system for registering and recording the factory information, the Reichsbetriebskartei. This was to help enable machine tabulation of facts and figures. It was from this that the Reichsbetriebsnummer came into being. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion (Ministry for Armaments and War Production) files survive today in the Bundesarchiv, however, these are only fragmentary. There is a holding file from the working group created by the Office of Machine Reporting in the Armament Office of the Reich Ministry for Armaments and War Production - their main focus was the operations of the industry group for which an economic interest was Armour production. This index provides information on the most important data of the companies covered by it, production profile, operating area, number of employees and the responsible operator.

As a prerequisite for the intended use of the punch-card method in the armaments industry, it was this system which gave rise to the Rbnr. The operating numbers were assigned by the competent local district offices of Machine reporting. (Bezirksstellen des Maschinellen Berichtswesens.) The index is in the form of index cards that are accessible numerically (approximately 14 meters of index cards!). Access to this register is only possible through the naming of this company, stating the place of production. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion files have multiple entries on the introduction of the factory and also the lot no.

The Rbnr code was used from 1943 onwards and replaced the makers name and address (or company logo) on government contract uniforms, caps and field equipment and knives. It is either rubber ink stamped on cloth or die stamped onto leather & metal items. It has been written countless times that this numeric code system was introduced as a security measure to help mask production locations. This was not the case but it was perhaps, a helpful by- product of the system. It is not unknown to find the Rbnr together with the maker’s info. Had it been a security measure, clearly this practise would have been banned.

So what was the Rbnr? It was a nine digit number and was normally represented thus: RB Nr: 0/000/0000.

The first prefix number could range from 0 through to 9. This number determined the membership of the various groups in the realm of Trade and Industry (Reichsgruppenleitzahl)

• 0 Industry
• 1 Crafts
• 2 Commercial wholesale trading companies
• 3 Banking
• 4 Insurance Companies
• 5 Energy (Electrical companies and such)
• 6 Tourism (Including Hotels, Wine and Mineral Water companies)
• 7 Traffic
• 8 Food Industry
• 9 Not otherwise mentioned groups

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