The german Tornister 34/39

A very traditional item in the german armed forces was the calfscin tornister. Seen on paintings of prussian soldiers, both at waterloo and in the two schleswig wars, it followed the german soldier trought both world wars. Eventually it was replaced by the gefechtsgepack fur infanterie and the rucksack.  The latter beein more versatile and most importantly, less resourcedemanding to produce. Later replaced by the Koppeltragestell(Y-straps) and A-Frame.

The Tornister 34 was adopted in november 1934 and was similar to the older models. It can be differed from the ww1 version as the latter having a woodplate for stiffening besides different markings.  It was constructed of canvas in different colors. Brown, tan and red green can be seen. The backflap was covered with unshaven calfskin giving it the german nickname `"affe", meaning monkey in german. From the time just before the war they can be seen with no calfskin on the back. 

The Tornister 34 had integral shoulder straps and auxilirary loops to attach to e.g ammo puches. Some are observed with straps from ww1 wich was reused. This fact cannot be used to differ the Tornister 34 from the 39 as tornister 34 was often modified to be used with the koppeltragestell. These straps were adjustable. The standard issue had a leatherloop at the bottom with a hook that ataches to the belt.

The soldier was issued with thre mantelriemen together with the tornister. This made up the mantelrolle consisting of blanket, greatcoat and often zeltbahn. The mantelriemen was about 52cm long- They had a buttoning strap used to fastene it to the loop of the tornister. 

Inside the tornister there were different pockets.

Picture left showing the D-ring at the top for mounting the mantelriemen for the mantelrolle. This pack was made in 1937 and is very clearly makers marked. Made by "sachs und deisselberg Hamburg". The Tornister 34 shown is for specialist equipment. It is a signallers no#3 backpack used for spares and equipment. They were numbered to show the type of equipment carried. The medics also had their own Tornisters marked with the red cross. For unknown reasons they are becoming very expensive. 

Left picture showing the inside of the Tornister with marks from its previous contents. More regarding the content below. The standard tornister for the infantryman differed from this. In the main compartment they carried shoes, shoepolish, tent accessories bag, messkit, wool socks, iron ration tin and a sweater. In the topflap they had shaving kit, washing kit, sewing kit, towel and undershirt. 

In april 1939 the Tornister 39 entered service. It was basically the same tornister as the 34. It was introduced with the Koppeltragestell for infanterie and the gurtbandtragegerust A-Frame) and the integral shoulderstraps was removed. It could attach to the A-Frame or the Y-straps. The shoulderstraps was replaced by two D-rings. The M39 can as the m34 be found with both calfskin and canvas backflap. Another detail differing the m39 from the m34 is the leather flap with front on the fur covered front flap of the tornister. This flap with stud is there to fasten the a-frame. The m39 lack the pocket for kochgeschirr 31 on the inside as well. The Kg31 was, with the introduction of the tornister39, to be carried attached to the a-frame.

Many variations exists. Some m34 were modified into m39. Some m39 migh have had carrying straps attached. Many had straps attached postwar in use as camping equipment. In addition there are reproductions made, mostly with canvas type flap. 

Die Fernsprechtornister

The tornister 39 pictured here is the fernsprechtornister used by nachrichten (lemon yellow collar, brown for luftwaffe). Few has been conserved complete. Signaltruppen had a group of 4 soldiers. One squad leader and three technische. They had tornisters numbered from1 to 3 stating its content. The picture left shows the content of the fernsprechtornister 3.


1. Top left. Elementprufer in ledertasche/batterytester in leather case

2. large compartments. Trommeln mit 500m leichten feldkabel/reels with light field cable

3. Pocket leather in lid. Abspuler / cable layer (handle for the reels)

4. Attached to side. 2x Drahtgabelteile/ two poles parts

5. Handschue /one glove

6. Drahtgabelaufsatz/Cable pole xtension

7. Drahtgabelaufsatz/ cable pool wire hook

8. Kopffernhorer/1 headset

9. Buchse mit hakenstiften/box of cable stakes

10. Feldelement/spare battery

11 1 mikrofonen in blechschachtel/1 pare microphone in metal box

It would be interesting but almost an  impossible mission to complete this fernsprechtornister.

For reference -  The Swiss Tornister

The swiss army also had a similar tornister.