Death Korps Quartermasters are a unique cadre of commissioned officers specific to the Astra Militarum regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg who serve as an amalgam of battlefield medic, Administratum-clerk and Ecclesiarchy preacher within the ranks of the Death Korps. They are a remnant of Krieg's war-torn history and the hard choices its population had to make in order to survive. Like other specialist ranks such as Death Korps Officers or Death Riders, Quartermasters are selected during training for their unshakable faith in the God-Emperor, their dedication to the ideals of the Death Korps as embodied by the Cult of Sacrifice and their mental aptitudes to act swiftly and decisively under duress and see an action to its logical end. To fulfil these tasks, Quartermaster recruits are given additional training in low-level tech-lore, field medicine and a far more intensive indoctrination into the tenets of the Cult of Sacrifice they are charged to embody.
As with many of the Korps’ specialists, the Quartermasters’ origins lie during the bloody civil war that had torn apart Krieg in the middle of the 41st Millennium, when loyalists and secessionists fought over the radioactive ruins of Krieg’s former Hive cities. In the blasted, winter-shrouded and irradiated wastes that now formed the surface, death came in multiple forms; some where obvious to the sight, an onrushing shell or a bayonet-wielding enemy, and other were far more subtle such as a torn enviro-suit or seal or the colourless and odourless clouds of toxic gases. With only very limited resources at their disposition, especially in terms of medical supplies, battlefield triage became essential to survival as a whole, the loyalists loathe to "waste" their precious supplies on soldiers with low chances of survival or which could not be readily returned to the battlefield. Wounded soldiers trapped in no man’s land or behind enemy lines were counted as fatalities unless they had the means to return to their lines on their own. It was the Quartermaster’s task to judge the severity of the soldier’s wound and if he should and would be treated. Those that were too hurt to be anything other than a liability for their unit and company would receive "the blessing of the Emperor's peace" - an honourable field execution. This explains why in stark contrast to the medical personnel of other regiments, Quartermasters are always armed, but the Quartermaster’s task does not end with the soldier’s demise.
Even in death, a soldier carries valuable tools of equipment that can benefit his comrades or given to new recruits as part of their basic kit: everything useful from weapons and ammunition, to pieces of clothing such as the iconic greatcoat of the Death Korps or regimental-issued socks will be stripped form the dead Guardsman. This task often requires the Quartermaster to venture alone into no man’s land, retrieving from the dead what the living need to continue the fight. This has often led outsiders to compare the Quartermaster to scavenger or carrion-eaters - sometimes quite literally picking the dead clean. The redistribution of arms and ammunition still count amongst the Quartermaster’s principal duties as well as the ministration of emergency treatment to injured Guardsman. In the modern day Death Korps, the Quartermasters also serve as tactical observers and logistics experts, monitoring the expenditure of ammunition during the battle, calculating attrition rates or spotting enemy guns and strongpoints which they then report to the competent officer. Additionally, as an incarnation of the Death Korps Cult of Sacrifice, the Quartermasters are charged with the deliverance of final rites to those too seriously injured to fight on. Amongst the Guardsmen, it is held in general belief that the deathmask of a Quartermaster should be the last thing a dying trooper should see.
Like all within the Death Korps, the Quartermasters are issued with the standardised uniform of the Death Korps, which includes the distinctive longcoat for which the Death Korps is famed. Trousers and boots are also the same as those issued to the average Krieg Guardsman, which helps to distinguish the Quartermaster from regular officers which often favour the more comfortable boots issued to the Death Riders where many officers have served while most Quartermasters are drawn from the infantry platoons and companies. Quartermasters wear the same Mark IX helmet as the rank and file which is left unadorned, save for the addition of a facemask worn over their rebreather mask. Representing the struggle of Krieg during the civil war, this facemask is fashioned in the form of a leering human skull as to better serve as memento mori held in such high esteem within the Cult of Sacrifice. This skeletal motif is often continued on the Quartermasters’ Carapace breastplate in order to resemble a human ribcage. Some Quartermasters choose to complete this already most sinister appearance with a black cape, worn above their armour and coat. To those soldiers ministered to by a Quartermaster, it must seem as if death itself has come to pass judgement on them. However, some Quartermasters eschew the traditional trappings of their function as to better to blend in within the ranks of common soldiers, thus avoiding to become the prime target of the enemy snipers. In order to treat battlefield injuries, a Quartermaster carries a Medi-pack.
Being called upon to serve at the frontlines or even venture into 'no man’s land', a Quartermaster is usually well equipped to deal with unpleasant encounters. As a matter of tradition, a Quartermaster carries a sidearm, both for protection and in order to deliver the Emperor’s Peace to those under his care which are too wounded to fight on and beyond saving. This sidearm can take the form of a Bolt Pistol, although most use the far more common Laspistol. In the same order of thinking, most Quartermasters also carry a close combat weapon such as a Chainsword.
Particularly in the wake of greater offensives, the dead are so many that a single Quartermaster could never hope to sort through all the battlefield detritus alone or tend to all the wounded. Therefore, it is not unusal to see Quartermasters followed by a retinue of utility or medical Servitors.
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pg.91
- Forge World - Quartermaster and Retinue