Linnemann Pattern 1870 Entrenching tool | Den Linnemannske Spade
One of the most common misconceptions I encounter in the world of militaria is, that the famous small "shovel-based" entrenching tool that the infantry of Germany, Austria, Russia (among many others) carried from the beginning to the mid 20th century (and beyond) was a German invention. It is in fact a Danish invention. I understand why most people believe this, it is beyond their wildest imagination that anything remotely useful in a military context should originate from a small country like Denmark. But the small country of fairy-tales, Hans Christian Andersen and pastries has a long tradition for producing some very high quality weapons (E.g. "Madsen") and apparently also entrenching tools.
The story has its beginning in the trenches of Dybbøl during the war of 1864 between Denmark and Prussia and Austria (Second Schleswig War). The war is a politically complicated affair, and it is sufficient to say that Denmark lost the war and was diminished with 1/3 of the pre-war area. During the Prussian siege of the Dybbøl fortifications, an officer named Johan Buch Linnemann (1830-1889) found it increasingly difficult to mend the damages caused by the Prussian artillery. The soldiers under his command did not have the necessary tools and while in the trenches he designed a small shovel that was easy to carry and could be used in a crouched / prone position - the famous Linnemannske Spade. In 1869 he patented the design and in 1870 the Danish army bought enough to equip the entire army.
This entrenching tool proved a success and Linnemann travelled to Vienna, Austria, where he began producing the entrenching tool for the Austrian and Russian army. He applied for patent rights in a number of European countries, but many countries did not grant him the rights - although they themselves introduced the entrenching tool. Countries like Germany and France never paid him anything - although they were some of the most prominent users.
The first country to use the tool during war-conditions was Romania during the Balkan Wars of 1877-78.
Source: Nieuwenhuis, Peder, "Johan Linnemann", in: Bricka, C. F. (red.), Dansk Biografisk Lexikon, Kbh.: Gyldendal, 1887-1905.