Projected Qualification Badge for Anti-Aircraft-Artillery

The continuously increasing number, the armaments and the range of aircraft during the war, made it necessary to create a unit specialized in the defence against aircraft of all types - the Luftfahrerabwehrartillerie, in short called the LFA-Artillery. This aircraft defence was under the command of the aviation units and was divided hierarchically under the commanders of the LFA service in the rear (Kommandanten der LFA-Artillerie im Hinterland), the commanders of the LFA service with the army in the field (Kommandanten der LFA-Artillerie bei der Armee im Felde) and into the senior LFA officers of the particular garrisons, factories, airfield and similar installations that needed protection. As from 1915, these units started to be equipped with specifically constructed LFA guns. The times when the enemy planes had been fought with improvised machine guns or field-guns mounted on tree stumps were now over. One of the most important guns of the LFA troops was the 8 cm Auto-LFA-Kanone, in which the entire carriage, not only the central pivot, could be installed and swiveled on a concrete plinth and was on a vehicle.

The officers and soldiers of the LFA troops considered themselves, probably correctly, as an elite within the fortress artillery and so their wish for an individual badge was absolutely understandable. After all, it was very often the practice in the Austro-Hungarian Army to designate such personnel of special units or those with special qualifications with particular badges or insignia such as cap or collar-badges. One should think of the machine gun personnel etc. The LFA Artillery members had already unofficially introduced a commemoration badge (a cap badge) by themselves - as did so many other units of the army - designed by the famous Professor Marschall. They wanted to let the symbolism of this private badge be completely or partly used as a basis for an official collar and cap badge and if possible a qualification-badge. The futile efforts in this matter are still documented today in the war archives in Vienna as file 19-1/34, Abtl.13, No.36100 - here is a translation of this correspondence.

"To the k.u.k. Kriegsministerium Abtl.7 in Vienna, Wiener-Neustadt, the 28th of June 1917

The wonderful successes of the Lfa artillery in the battles on the SW front induced the above department, as representative of the officer-corps of this newest weapon, to ask our supreme war commander for his graceful acceptance of an enclosed enlarged cap badge. A letter of the k.u.k. Adjutant General's office of His Majesty the Kaiser, which I quote in its wording, conveys the highest thanks to the officer-corps:

In reply of the letter dated the 3rd this month I am honoured with the Highest Instruction to inform you, that His k.u.k. Apostolic Majesty accepts the receipt of the cap badge offered by the officer-corps of the aircraft defence-artillery and herewith expresses the Highest graceful thanks to the corps.  

Lobkowitz, Generalmajor

I now herewith ask in the name of the officers and men for the introduction of a collar-badge for the Lfa-artillery, similar badges to those which have already been introduced for the other special-units. The design of the proposed badge, by Prof. Marschall, is submitted herewith. The supplement shows the cap-badge; for the collar-badge I propose to omit the "Lfa".

1 supplement"

This letter is signed by Hauptmann Alfons Freiherr von Baillou of the schwere Haubitz-Division number 8 (heavy howitzer division) attached to the LFA-Artillery, in his capacity as commander of the Training Department for the LFA gun batteries. The enclosed illustration to this letter corresponds to the cap badge shown below. This request was forwarded to the Präsidialbureau and department 5 for examination on the 27th of July 1917 with the following additional letter:

"Vid: 5.Abtl. and Präsidialbureau - With regards to an agreeable outcome, considering the path already taken towards the restriction of all collar badges designed with the new uniforms. If it becomes apparent that a badge or device is deemed necessary, eventually one of the existing cockade shaped badges could be chosen with same motive."

On the 28th of July 1917 department 5 accentuated it's refusal:

"This badge, as many others, is completely superfluous. The request will be rejected. The 5th Dept  is processing an order after which, in future, all similar entreaties, proceedings or request s for the introduction of badges or emblems of any kind is forbidden. Already the intermediate authorities would have to reject such requests. The order will be issued, amongst others to the 13th and Presidential offices. Maybe this will succeed in checking this badge mania, getting out of hand."

The Präsidialbureau restricted itself to underlining the word "badge mania" and beside it - with stamp and signature - added by hand the remark "The request will be rejected"!

Despite a hand written letter on the 11th of August 1917 by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Robert Edler von Langer, the chief of the Economic section of the war-ministry, in which he pointed out the importance (morale of the troops, motivation etc.) of this and similar badges, the training department of the LFA troops finally received the following decision:

"Vienna, the 28th of August 1917, Ref.Res.E.No.394 of 1917

The request for introduction of a collar-badge for the Lfa-artillery cannot be considered and further requests relating to this have to cease."

The hope for an official acceptance had admittedly died, but this did not further hinder the members of the LFA-artillery in proudly wearing their unofficial badge on their caps and very much against regulations on the left breast pocket until the end of the war.

Unofficially introduced commemoration badge.

Variant pattern - probably specific for collar-badge

Hauptmann of LFA with the unofficial breast badge

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