A Death Korps Guardsman is one of the standard enlisted infantrymen who comprise the Death Korps of Krieg Imperial Guard regiments. Each Death Korps soldier is fully trained to the standards expected for combat-readiness set down by the Imperium's Departmento Munitorum, with particular emphasis placed on hazardous-environment survival, endurance, and physical and mental resilience. Proficient in the use of all basic Imperial Guard weaponry types as well as grenades and explosives, a Death Korps soldier is also an expert at the rapid construction of effective trench works and static defences.
They are also exemplary hand-to-hand combatants, with bayonet-drill being practiced from childhood. Accuracy is secondary in Death Korps weapons training to fire discipline, with the ability to maintain continuous fire en masse as part of an infantry formation considered to be of paramount importance. Death Korps Guardsmen have a tendency to be highly insular, unemotional and often taciturn to the point of silence outside of their duties.
They also display a high degree of fatalism and an unusual morbidity of habit, such as carrying relics, ossuaries of bone or other memento-mori about their persons as a form of religious observance to honour those who have fallen in the service of the God-Emperor.
Recruit Selection and Training
Recruitment for the regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg is similar to that found on many other Imperial worlds throughout the galaxy that have become primary sources of new regiments for the Guard. Though their harsh training methods, combat doctrines and regimental organisation are not in themselves unique amongst the units of the Imperial Guard, the Death Korps regiments are both unorthodox and extreme in their application. Tested, selected and relentlessly trained almost from birth for their appointed role as Imperial Guardsmen, the rates of fatality and injury during training are high amongst Death Korps recruits.
To ensure that only the toughest and best make it into a new Death Korps regiment, training is brutal and quickly weeds out the weak and unworthy, for fear and weakness are not tolerated. The minds and characters of the young prospective Guardsmen are purposefully broken and refashioned to be stronger, just as their bodies are trained to withstand hardship and endure suffering that would kill other men -- a task already begun by the mere fact of living a life on the blighted post-apocalyptic Death World of Krieg.
Amongst the ruins of the radiation-blasted battlefields of Krieg, the training regiments march, dig trenches, clear minefields and fight mock battles against other cadets. Only those that endure are judged fit enough to take their honoured place as members of the Death Korps. As a result, Death Korps regiments maintain a standard of discipline and selflessness in combat that is unmatched by Imperial Guard units raised on other worlds.
Gas masks are conventionally viewed as a second skin for the warriors of Krieg, as Death Korps soldiers are trained to permanently operate with them if required. Fear of failing the Imperium and one's comrades, and a ceaseless devotion to duty, honour and the God-Emperor are instilled in new recruits to make certain that they will stand their ground in combat under any situation. Mental conditioning is a key part of the training of new Death Korps troops so that they will be prepared for the myriad horrors to be found on the battlefields of the Milky Way.
All Krieg Guardsmen wears the standard uniform common to the regiments raised on Krieg. Its most distinctive feature is the heavy greatcoat which is manufactured on Krieg from a hard-wearing thick cloth and produced in a variety of colours. The great coat provides limited protection, but is also heavily chemically impregnated against chemical and biological attack -- an unfortunate side effect of this being the pungent smell that the garment emits. The greatcoat is completely waterproof and very warm, a trait which is particularly useful when its wearer is deployed to colder climates.
The greatcoat is double-breasted and includes brass buttons, a pair of which allows the coat's front to be turned back to allow for greater mobility in combat. Uniform cut and design is almost identical throughout the entire Death Korps but colours can vary from regiment to regiment and the officer ranks tend to have slightly more ornate uniforms than the rank and file.
A Death Korps Guardsman also wears the standard issue Mark IX helmet made of Plasteel, which has an adjustable cradle for fit around the head, flaring to allow a good fit for the gasmask and which is ventilated via the top spine. This ventilation has an internal filter to keep out chemical or biological agents. There are many variants of the the standard Mark IX helmet issued to specialists and officers. The shoulder plates are Plasteel construction and buckle to the greatcoat. When fully equipped, a Krieg Guardsman is completely sealed against a contaminated environment by the layers of his uniform and his respirator unit.
A Death Korps Guardsman's main weapon is his Lucius Pattern No. 98 Lasgun. This weapon is standard issue to Krieg regiments, and stockpiled in vast numbers in Krieg's armouries. The Lasgun also includes a bayonet lug which can be fitted with the standard issued 45 centimetre-long sword-bayonet.
This heavy bladed, razor-sharp knife is a Watchmaster's only close combat weapon. A bayonet charge led by a Watchmaster seems to be more effective at driving the enemy away from a Death Korps regiment's fortified positions than even the use of their artillery and heavy weapons platoons. Watchmasters, like all Krieg Guardsmen, are also equipped with a single, standard issue No. 38 Frag Grenade, but additional grenades will be issued to squads before an attack against static enemy positions.
All Krieg Guardsmen are issued distinctive respirator units. The entire unit can be carried inside a leather satchel, which buckles onto the webbing's shoulder straps. Krieg Guardsmen are also issued leather webbing which includes carrying straps for their backpack, respirator filter unit and regulator, four ammunition pouches for Lasgun powerpacks, additional pouches for carrying other kit, such as weapons and respirator maintenance kits, replacement filters and biological or chemical weapon antidote vials.
They are also issued a leather backpack which buckles to the webbing shoulder straps. It has additional straps to attach a bedroll, which also doubles as a waterproof shelter-half, and a dry-tin canister for storing perishable materials by sealing them against the environment. Finally, as all Krieg Guardsmen are expected to dig their regiment's trenchworks, they are also issued a small entrenching tool. As trench warfare is the Death Korps' preferred method of fighting, they must constantly dig new trenches, or repair and improve their current position in the line.
Each Guardsman carries an entrenching tool in a carrying case which is worn on the belt and which also has loops for carrying the bayonet when not attached to the Lasgun. Larger tools such as mattocks and shovels will be issued when needed for heavier entrenchment work.
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pp. 16-17, 90-91