WW2 German unit identification help

Hi folks,

I was wondering if anyone could help me with identifying this german unit from WW2.

Picture is of my wife's Great Uncle, he is the one sat on the front row extreme right. The only details I have is that he was a prisoner of war in france where he was held by some jock regiment at an "aerodrome". I am pretty sure he was with a Panzer regiment but that is second hand info. The first two digits on his left hand shoulder badge read 17 and I believe the third digit is 3.

If anyone could shed any light on any aspect of the picture then it would be much appreciated, no matter how trivial.
Oh and any ideas what the R.A.D was or stood for?


Well, my German tells me it was from 1942. Kriegsjahr would mean "year of war".

RAD was the Reichsarbeitsdienst - the Reich Labour Service. The shoulder number could be which work district he was in, as you can see it looks like a shield, but is meant to represent an up turned shovel.

More here: Reichsarbeitsdienst - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thanks scavenger, exactly the sort of info I was looking for. With that I have something I can use to start a bit of digging, no pun intended.
Might be worth a visit to the Axis Forums on Network 54's Missing-Lynx. It's mainly a modeling and miniatures site but they have some of the most knowledgable war historians around on there.

German teenagers during the 3rd Reich period spent a year in the RAD between finishing their time in the HitlerJugend & being conscripted into the Army, Navy or Luftwaffe at age 18. Although against German conscription law (the Waffen-SS were not supposed to recruit RAD personnel), 2 Waffen-SS divisions (9th Hohenstaufen & 10th Frundsberg) were recruited from the RAD in 1943.

As has been said, the RAD was a para-military labour organisation that was used as a 'stepping-stone' between HJ and regular service. Thus by the time of his capture in 1944 he would probably have been in a regular unit and not the RAD unit shown here. That said, the RAD were armed and did occasionally fight as emergency combat units - especially in 1945.
Strange thing about the photo is that the two Group Leaders or NCOs at the front centre of the photograph appear to be wearing Alpine Caps and puttees, both of which were associated with mountain troops. However, must agree about the designation RAD Reichs Arbeit Dienst. Post war years, a similar system, instead of conscription, was in place for concientious objectors who would do a year of voluntary work instead of National Service with the Bundeswehr.
Not seen that one before. The key is normally associated with 1st SS Panzer Division and 1st SS Panzer Corps, but this one is stylistically different. You can also see the 'W' at the start of the registration plate, which makes it Heer (e.g. 'WH-12345') or possibly Luftwaffe (e.g. 'WL-12345'). SS registration plates had the SS runes at the start.
I've looked right through all the known formation signs and I can't find that key. However, while looking at some completely unrelated 18th Century history, I noticed that the key in exactly that style is the armorial device for the city of Munster. My guess therefore is that maybe it's the sign for a division formed in Munster, but I'm afraid that I can't do any better than that.


Book Reviewer
any ideas on this one ?
Is there a bigger version of that picture
I would be interested to see where the van is it looks like a marshelling yard or something

Is It a captured van?

It's quite inusual that it has a Cab over engine design most builders at that time were building Bonneted cabs
It looks British tio me but I can find a similer looking Fiat

Although the windscreen is not split and I still wouldn't want to take it to Russia

The Germans never threw any MT (or guns, or smallarms or AFVs) away - they had a bewildering array of captured types. I think you're right - it's not my strong-point, but I'm sure I've seen those trucks in Italian service.
Sure the truck isn't a French citreon? Looks similar and large numbers were captured after Dunkirk but viewing via a mobile phone so can't make out the details f
Got the truck - it's a Renault AGR 4-tonner. As you say, it would have been captured from the French in 1940.

The Italians did build some French trucks under licence and the Germans did use Italian vehicles, but not until late in the war, after Italy had thrown in the towel. The colour scheme here is also wrong for the latter part of the war (they went from uniform dark grey to a three-colour camo scheme in 1943).

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