GERMANY – DOCUMENT WITH AWARD – FELD-LUFTSCHIFFER-ABTEILUNG DOCUMENT AND DECORATION GROUP
Due to their limited numbers, we are seldom able to offer Luftschiffer-Abteilung document and decoration groups. Today, however, we have just such a collection! The Imperial German Army operated a variety of airship detachments, although its “glamour” division featured zeppelins. Early in WW I, the Army and Navy both operated zeppelin fleets. In 1917 the Army closed down its zeppelin operations and turned the balance of their equipment over to the Navy for their zeppelin raids against England. Once they had eliminated their zeppelins, the Army continued to operate observation balloons that monitored British ground units and helped with artillery spotting. [Their operations were similar to the Imperial German Air Service’s airplane observation squadrons that scouted out enemy operations and assisted with coordinating artillery strikes].
Today’s group is from one Otto Justus, a Gefreiter who served in Feld-Luftschiffer-Abteilung Nr 21, a balloon detachment. He was further assigned to Balloon Nr 61 within that Abteilung. His group contains the two documents and two decorations listed below.
1). A cased Free State of Hamburg Hanseatic Cross and its award document. The document is dated 2 July 1917, and measures 8″ x 13.” [It and the following document are housed in a plastic protector. HOWEVER, this document has been folded both vertically and horizontally, exhibiting some tears between various points as a result of age and handling. The document remains fully connected, and extra care should be taken if the new owner decides to remove it from the plastic holder]. A Hanseatic Cross from the Free State of Hamburg is also included. The latter was the city/state’s 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class equivalent. The cross’s obverse features red enamel arms, while its center displays Hamburg’s famed Rathaus (City Hall). [The latter is recognized around the world. It was rebuilt after WW II, following its destruction when the Allies bombed Hamburg]. A red and white 1 ¼” x 8 ¾” replacement ribbon for the decoration is included in the award’s presentation box. The presentation box itself measures ½” x 2 ½” x 4 ¾.” The top flips up and is connected by the barest thread to its lower half. A piece of scotch tape secures the two halves.
2. A 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class and its award document. The award document measures 6 ¾” x 8 ¼.” Again, it states that Justus served in Balloonzug Nr 61 within Feld-Luftschiffer-Abteilung Nr 21. The document bears Feld-Luftschiffer-Abteilung Nr 21’s Prussian unit stamp. The document is dated 21 May 1918. In addition to Feld – Luftschiffer – Abteilung Nr 21’s unit stamp, the document was signed by the Leutnant der Reserve commanding Balloonzug Nr 61. A fine 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class accompanies the document.
It all makes a fine presentation, whether you are interested in matching documents and decorations, or have an interest in airship collectibles.