This article does not cite any sources. (August 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
(position title or appointment)
appointment insignia, ("double piston rings")
|Service branch||German Army|
|Rank||senior NCOs, e.g.
In the German Wehrmacht, Hauptfeldwebel (short: HptFW; address: Herr Hauptfeldwebel) was not a rank but a position title, assignment or appointment, equivalent to the Commonwealth company sergeant major or U.S. company-level first sergeant. There was one such non-commissioned officer (NCO) in every infantry company, artillery battery, cavalry squadron, etc. He was the senior NCO of his subunit, but his duties were largely administrative and he was not expected to accompany his unit into an assault or a firefight.
The Hauptfeldwebel had many nicknames, including Spieß ("Spear") and Mutter der Kompanie ("company mother"). He wore two 10mm broad rings of NCO braid around the cuff of his sleeves (nicknamed "piston rings") and carried a Meldetasche (reporting pouch) tucked into the tunic front, in which he carried blank report forms, rosters and other papers related to his duties. The German Army had no equivalent of the Commonwealth Regimental Sergeant Major.
The appointment could be held by a senior non-commissioned officer (Unteroffizier mit Portepee), normally Oberfeldwebel or Feldwebel. If the billet was filled out of necessity by an Unteroffizier ohne Portepee, he was termed a Hauptfeldwebeldiensttuer, or "one serving as Hauptfeldwebel." The equivalent appointment in anglophone armed forces might have been company sergeant major or U.S. company-level first sergeant.
In the Waffen-SS the equivalent to the appointment Hauptfeldwebel in Heer and Luftwaffe, was the SS-Stabsscharführer until 1945. The traditional nicknames "spear" and "company mother" were used as well. He also wore two rings of NCO braid around the cuff of his sleeves, similar to the Wehrmacht.
The appointment insignia, the so-called "double piston rings" on both cuffs (of sleeves) on the uniform jacket and the overcoat, were identical to those used in the Wehrmacht until 1945. The nicknames were analogue to the Wehrmacht "spear" and "company mother".
Today, the former billet Hauptfeldwebel as a company's Senior NCO has become a regular rank between Oberfeldwebel and Stabsfeldwebel. The position previously known as Hauptfeldwebel is now called Kompaniefeldwebel, while the nicknames - and, in their general outlines, the duties - have remained. Company sergeants major often have the rank of Hauptfeldwebel now, though.