A Death Korps Grenadier is an elite soldier of the Death Korps of Krieg Imperial Guard regiments that hail from the post-apocalyptic Death World of Krieg in the Segmentum Tempestus. Grenadiers are chosen from the ranks of standard Death Korps infantry squads, usually by their Watchmaster or a Commissar and recommended for appointment as a Grenadier. They are also drawn from veterans and survivors of decimated Death Korps squads and platoons. This is not a promotion, as Grenadiers still carry the same rank they held before their appointment, but they are regarded as having seniority over rank and file Guardsmen by dint of their experience and veteran status. After serving with a Grenadier squad for a time, Krieg Guardsmen can then be returned to service with the standard infantry as a Watchmaster. Casualty rates amongst Grenadiers are very high, and although service in the heavy infantry is regarded as a privilege, it is also seen as a duty. A Krieg soldier appointed to a Grenadier squad cannot refuse the honour, and adopts the skull facemask as a symbol of acceptance of his fate. Statistically, eight out of ten Grenadiers are killed in action. The men behind the skull masks have accepted that they are essentially already dead. To the men of the Death Korps of Krieg, Grenadiers are those soldiers who have "lived too long", and who must now either prove exceptional enough to warrant promotion to a command role, or finally find atonement for their people's sins against the Emperor in death.
Grenadiers are principally used by the Death Korps regiments in a heavy infantry role as the leading edge of assault waves that are intended to smash key enemy defence points during a wider infantry attack. Many Grenadiers consider themselves already martyred in the Emperor's service and will not falter in their duty, regardless of the odds against them. Breaking with conventional Storm Trooper training, Grenadiers are never deployed by grav-chute, and instead often carry the brunt of an initial advance on foot, or as small tactical units in rapid moving Centaur armoured personnel carriers. Grenadiers carry a high percentage of special arms (such as Flamers and Meltaguns, etc.) and will also employ relatively unorthodox weapons such as Heavy Flamers in two-man teams. A Grenadier squad may also carry an additional Heavy Stubber to increase their firepower. Fatality rates amongst the Death Korps Grenadiers are very high, but it is considered an honour to be chosen to join their ranks.
The Death Korps Grenadier's uniform is the same standard issue as that given to all Krieg infantry. The greatcoat, trousers and boots are all exactly the same as those issued to other Krieg infantry. Under their armour, Grenadiers retain their normal uniform, and so wear the same colours as the rest of their regiment. Intended for deployment where the fighting is fiercest, Death Korps Grenadiers are equipped with heavy Carapace Armour that has been integrated into the standard Krieg kit. This comprises the Mark IX helmet, a rebreather facemask, three-piece shoulder guards, a chest plate with additional abdomen plates and shin and knee guards. All are made of Plasteel and reinforced with a layer of Ceramite for additional strength, heat resistance and weight reduction. This armour is very cumbersome, and whilst the extra protection it provides is welcomed by the Grenadiers, many often find it necessary to discard some parts of the armour during lengthy operations. Grenadiers will usually stencil their identification number on their chest plates and will add their squad numbers to their right shoulder plate. The standard Mark IX helmet will have a front plate attached with the Imperial Aquila embossed upon it to display the Grenadier's devotion and loyalty to the Imperium. As part of the Grenadier's initiation into his squad, he renews his oath of allegiance to the Emperor, and this plate acts as a reminder of his eternal duty.
The standard armament of the Death Korps Grenadier is the Type XIV Lasgun (heavy), referred to by troops as the turbo-discharge "Hellgun" or, more rarely, the "Hotshot" Lasgun. In effect, this weapon is an overpowered Lasgun that fires in the 28 megathule range and is linked to a high capacity power cell worn on the back. The heavy powerpack supplies enough power to keep the weapon firing up to 200 shots, depending upon the power setting and the weapon's condition. Hellguns require a lot of maintenance, and have a reputation as being unreliable in the field. Without proper maintenance, the weapon's rate of fire will start to drop off. Hellguns are not well liked by Grenadiers, as most prefer the standard and far more reliable Type XIV Lasgun, but regulations require Grenadiers to carry them, and the weapon's additional impact and damage is seen as compensation for all of its faults. Although the Hellgun does not have a bayonet lug, the Grenadier still carries a bayonet for use as a dagger in hand-to-hand combat.
As well as their primary armament, a Death Korps Grenadier also carries numerous anti-personnel and anti-tank grenades, which are vital when they become involved in close assaults against fortified enemy positions. The Grenadier's belt pouches contain spare respirator filters, ration packs and the Hellgun's maintenance kit. Because of their extra armour, Grenadiers cannot wear the standard regulator unit. Instead they wear the over-pressured Type V Respirator, where the regulator unit is inside a canister that is worn on the back. This unit serves exactly the same purpose as the standard rebreather, and contains the same filters and antidotes to environmental toxins.
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pp. 88-89, 91
- Dead Men Walking (Novel) by Steve Lyons