German Schellenbaum of the III. Battalion, 79th Infantry Regiment

Schellenbaum, Luftwaffe parade, Hermann Goring, March 1, 1938 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H02734).jpg

This is a German schellenbaum used in military parades in Nazi Germany (1933-1945). Nicknamed "jingling Johnny" in English, a schellenbaum is a musical instrument and military standard. A member of the unit’s band would hold the pole and shake it while marching with the rest of the band, usually behind the front drumline. This particular one belonged to the III. Battalion of the 79th Infantry Regiment, part of the 16th Infantry Division, as evidenced by the front standard.1 On the back of the standard is a flag for the Imperial German 99th Infantry Regiment (1881-1919) part of the 30th Infantry Division in WWI, the traditional unit of the 79th. At the top of the pole is a Prussian eagle grasping a bundle of lightening bolts and holding the standard in its beak. The middle of the pole has a star burst with the German WWII eagle national emblem set in the middle. Below is a crescent shaped cross bar with two horsehair tassels in the German national colors hanging from either end. The cross bar has small bells and stars hanging from it. Below the cross bar is a large brass bell with smaller bells and stars hanging from the edge. A leather belt with a small front pouch was used to facilitate holding the schellenbaum while marching.


Brief History of the SchellenbaumSchellenbaum, East Germany, October 11, 1949 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S88784, Eva Kemlein)

The schellenbaum was originally a Turkish instrument that likely derived from a similar item used by the ancient Chinese. The German word schellenbaum roughly translates to Turkish crescent, referring to the crescent-shaped crossbeam in the middle. It was originally carried as part of the military band to keep time synchronized between the music and marching. Through various interactions, including war, Western European countries adopted the instrument into their own military bands. By the 19th century, many European countries, such as France, Germany, and Great Britain, had their own form of Turkish crescent. In recent years, it has fallen out of favor; with many military bands, such as the British, completely removing it from service. However, both France and Germany retain a few, though they are usually only used during extremely ceremonious occasions.


Brief History of the 30th Infantry Division in WWI

The 99th (2nd Upper Rhenish) Infantry Regiment was a part of the 30th Infantry Division during World War I (1914-1918). The division was active before the war and remained in service throughout, though it was transferred to various other units at times. The 30th started the war fighting in Alsace-Lorraine where it crossed the French frontier on August 20, 1914. It remained in the area until October when it was transferred to the 15th Army Corps and sent to Flanders. The 30th stayed in Flanders 15 months, including all of 1915, fighting in various engagements around the area. In 1916, elements of the 30th, including the 99th, were transferred to Verdun to take place in the February offense there. This was the legendary Battle of Verdun. The division fared well at Verdun because they were stationed in an area that did not see intense fighting. After Verdun, they transferred around various fronts. By 1917, they were stationed mostly in the Champagne area. A 1917 value estimate by the United States Army shows that the division was a top rated unit with the 99th having high morale. The 30th division remained in the Champagne area for the rest of the war, with only a few stints in places like Montdidier and Cambrai. It was not used as much during 1918 and actually had several failures on the front.2


Brief History of the 16th Infantry Division in WWII

As stated above this schellenbaum belonged to the III. Battalion of the 79th Infantry Regiment. The traditions of the 99th Regiment were bestowed on the 79th, as seen in the double sided standard. This regiment belonged to the 16th Infantry Division, which saw action at the very beginning of World War II. The division was created in October 1934, though it was not designated the 16th until 1935. Its home station was Munster, Wehrkreis VI, and the unit was mostly made up of Prussians and Westphalians. In 1939, it was sent to the Lower Rhine on the Saar Front. The 16th took part in the Invasion of France, where they supported panzer formations at the Battle of Sedan. After the French campaign, the division returned to Germany and was broken up into the 16th Panzer and 16th Motorized Infantry Division.3

Germany World War II
Musical Instrument

Description and Histories by Samuel Grubb