A 'DEMJANSK' ARM SHIELD AWARD FOR LUFTWAFFE PERSONNEL,
dated 1942, approximately 4 1/4in. in length and comprising of a metal shield affixed by four folding tabs to an airforce blue felt backing, the shield with a raised design of crossed medieval style swords above the date '1942' beneath a single-engined reconnaissance aircraft, surmounted by an eagle with swept-down wings clutching a swastika wreath flanked by bunkers and above the word 'DEMJANSK', the whole in fine condition and still retaining its original gummed brown paper backing label
Provenance: Arm shield awards were something of a Nazi innovation. Various types were produced to reward personnel of all services for participation in a given theatre of operation, and not necessarily for bravery or valour (although being awarded a gallantry medal would automatically qualify the recipient for one). This particular shield was to commemorate the defence of the town of Demjansk by the Second Army Corps. Various services qualified, including such non-combatants such as the police.
The defence of Demjansk held up eighteen Russian divisions for over fourteen months for the loss of 3,335 German personnel killed and over 10,000 wounded. The Luftwaffe supplied the town by air, and the crews taking part qualified for the award presented here. For Luftwaffe personnel the criteria for the award was to have flown fifty or more combat missions over the garrison and surrounding area or to have flown and landed in over fifty supply missions. For ground forces the criteria was to have been wounded, won an award for bravery or to have served with the garrison for over 60 days. Approximately 100,000 awards were made to all qualifiying personnel.