Because the majority of these HiWi were coming from a rural background, most of them were sent to horse drawn units. This type of volunteer had therefore nothing to do with the volunteer legions or Ost units, these were combat units formed with men all coming from the same region or ethnic background.

The "freiwillig-gezogener-Hilfswilliger (HiWi)" was a volunteer working for the German army. These volunteers were drafted in from countries that once were under German occupation. They formed a workforce that enabled unit comman-ders to redeploy young German soldiers for frontline duties.
A determined number of HiWi often of different nationalities, were assigned to a certain German unit.

The uniform of HiWi didn't have any insignia except for a brassard with a printed text. "Deutsche Wehrmacht" or "Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht" were the most common ones.
Their clothing and equipment was a mix of reused old items and new production gear. It was issued in depots at army or corps level.

The canvas sweat blanket, existing in different color shades, was used to cool down horses after work and were normaly stored in the supply wagons. Two examples of these blankets can been seen in the museum at Diekirch (Luxembourg).

An original picture of Hilfswilliger showing the lack of insignia and schoulderboards.

Besides their normal tasks, the Batterie Hilfsfreiwilligen also had to do their part of armed guard duty to protect the units rear area with the horses and supplies. The Stahlhelm, Karabiner 98k with bayonet, ammunition and gasmask were issued by the unit where the volunteers served.

Even after duty, the care of animals goes on...

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