Updated: Sep 26, 2020
The photograph here shows 3 members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) who are working under the Luftwaffe in a forest. This was common practice for members of the RAD during wartime to work alongside the Wehrmacht to help in construction and maintenance of emplacements and structures. The RAD were very important to the maintenance and efficiency of the Wehrmacht and as seen here for the Luftwaffe . RAD personnel that worked alongside the Luftwaffe helped in the build of Airbases and runways. By 1942 there were 56 organised company’s serving alongside the Luftwaffe in the western campaign. These organised company’s were also set as guards and to be used as emergency troops to engage in attacking forces, usually partisans.
In this photograph the RAD members can be seen in the field with a zeltbahn tent behind them, foliage as camouflage can be seen behind it. Their kit can be seen placed out in front of them as they pose in the forest for the photograph. Mess tins and water bottles can be seen laid out among the other pieces of kit, suggesting they have maybe recently eaten or dunk whilst at rest. The Arbeitsmanns stahlhelms can be seen and have the Luftwaffe eagle decal on the side. The indication that they are RAD members lies with the arm patch of the furthest left member showing the unit sleeve patch (This would be numbered and tell you the unit or battalion of RAD they were in, but as the position he is posing its not possible to tell). The other features that allow us to see they are members of the RAD is their iconic tunic style. As the RAD were used in support, resources and weapons were not issued like the rest of the Wehrmacht. This is seen in the stack of rifles to the right of the photograph. These weapons are not the standard Kar98 rifles but are actually M1886 Lebel rifles, these rifles were gives the name of the Gewehr 301 (f). The rifles used 8mm rounds and were the first powder less cartridge rifle to be adopted by any county. These rifles were not issued in large amounts so this is likely why they were issued to the RAD. The RAD seen here seem to be on some down time to relax in the forest, a path can be seen to lead further into the forest on the right. It is unknown a date or location but it is clear that they are in the field likely stopped before moving on.