Signal Whistle and Whistle Cord
(Signalpfeiffer und Signalpfeifferschnur)

While the whistle cord or lanyard presented a splash of colour to the uniform, the whistle itself was used in combat conditions to give signals that otherwise were not as useful.  Shouted commands could often go unheard amidst the sound of gunfire, and soldiers standing up and waving their arms during a firefight were an obvious target for enemy soldiers, especially snipers who were trained to look for such distinctive behaviour as a means of singling out enemy NCOs and officers.


The signal whistle (signalpfeiffer) was a very simple design; made of black bakelite, it was about 5 cm long with a single chamber pipe containing a wooden ball.  A round end cap had a ring molded onto it to accept the whistle cord (signalpfeifferschnur).  The cord was approximately 35 cm long, braided in a chain herringbone pattern with a 2cm loop at each end.  One loop was threaded through the ring on the whistle, with the lanyard passing through the loop also and knotted in place.   The other loop was secured to a button on the uniform


The whistle was usually tucked into the right breast pocket, with the free end of the whistle cord being attached to the second tunic button.  The whistle cord was thus visible between the right breast pocket and the tunic front.


The whistle gave a distinctive blast, loud enough to be heard several hundred metres away, and not easily confused with Allied whistle.  British "Bobby" whistles were dual pitched and the US whistle gave a high trill.   The German Signal Whistle was harsh and grating, sometimes being described as matching the sound 'of a robin being castrated.'

whistle.jpg (128669 bytes)

whisel.jpg (26356 bytes)

German infantry used pre-arranged whistle blasts as tactical signals in the field.

-------- continuous blast ALARM
- - - 3 long blasts ASSEMBLE
- 1 long blast MOVE OUT or ATTACK
- - 2 long blasts WITHDRAW (signal was repeated)
- * 1 long and 1 short blast RIGHT FLANK PULL IN
* - 1 short and 1 long blast LEFT FLANK PULL IN
* * - 2 short and 1 long blast SHIFT LEFT
- * * 1 long and 2 short blasts SHIFT RIGHT
* * * * 4 short blasts REGROUP
- * - 1 long, 1 short, 1 long blast ASSEMBLE ON LEADER


whis.jpg (40622 bytes)

A trio of photos showing the whistle lanyard in use.   The photo above seems to be a very unoffical one; the studio shot at right and below seem to give a better impression of the intended method of wear of the signal whistle.

whiscord.jpg (16273 bytes)
whist.jpg (53863 bytes)