A Death Korps Watchmaster is the senior non-commissioned officer rank amongst the regiments of the Imperial Guard's Death Korps of Krieg. A Watchmaster is the equivalent of a non-commissioned officer with the rank of Sergeant in other Imperial Guard regiments. Within the Death Korps Death Rider squadrons, the equivalent rank is known as a Ridemaster. Watchmasters are the primary and most visible leaders for the enlisted troops of the Death Korps regiments. As veteran Guardsmen, Watchmasters are the leaders primarily responsible for executing their regiment's mission and for relentlessly training subordinate personnel so that they are prepared to execute their duties absent of fear and filled with unflinching faith in the Emperor of Mankind. Watchmaster training and education typically includes cultivation of leadership and management skills as well as service-specific combat training.
Infantry platoons form the bulk of the Death Korps siege regiments' manpower. Each siege regiment consists of five companies, which are broken down into ten infantry platoons and one heavy weapons platoon. Each company is led by a Death Korps Officer with the rank of Captain who is assisted by one Veteran Watchmaster. Each platoon consists of a command squad and up to six infantry squads. These squads are each led by a Watchmaster who acts as the squad leader. The Watchmaster is assisted by an appointed senior Guardsman, usually the longest serving soldier in the squad. Like their fellow Guardsmen, Watchmasters have been indoctrinated since birth in the martial traditions of the Death Korps. They are highly proficient with all the basic weapons of the Imperial Guard and most especially with the bayonet, and favour the bayonet charge in battle. They fearlessly lead their squads across "no-man's land" to storm enemy trenches and defences. Having no fear of death himself, a Watchmaster demands and expects no less from his men.
Like their fellow enlisted Guardsmen, a Watchmaster wears the standard uniform common to the regiments raised on the Death World of 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 Watchmaster 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. A Watchmaster's shoulder plates are embossed with his rank insignia. When fully equipped, a Krieg Guardsman is completely sealed against a contaminated environment by the layers of his uniform and his respirator unit.
A Watchmaster'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. 133, 139