Officers of the Imperial German Army
On Secondment to the Colonies

Figure 1
Oberleutnant der Reserve von Massow
Seconded to Togo

Figure 2
Oberleutnant von Schäfer
Seconded to South West Africa

Figure 3
Seconded to Togo

Figure 4
Oberleutnant Mayer
Seconded to New Guinea

German Army Officers Seconded to the Colonies
Usually, German officers resigned their commissions with their home Imperial Army regiments upon commencing their service with the Schutztruppe. On occasion however, serving Imperial Army officers were sent on secondment to the colonies as observers, technical staff or to train and command local troops while still retaining their Imperial Army commissions.

In South West Africa, East Africa and Cameroon these army officers served alongside Schutztruppe officers. As Togo had no Schutztruppe, an army officer was permanently posted there from 1894 onwards to oversee the training of the Polizeitruppe in military matters and to lead them in action if necessary. The same principal was applied in New Guinea from 1911, also being a colony without Schutztruppe.

Uniforms of German Army Officers Seconded to the Colonies
German army officers seconded to the colonies
wore Schutztruppe uniforms- Grey Home Uniforms, Khaki and White Field Uniforms and Corduroy Uniforms (the latter in South West Africa only) but with the insignia of their home units. This insignia consisted of-

  • Army Officers shoulder straps (similar in rank display to Schutztruppe officers shoulder straps -see Officers Rank Insignia Page, but with braid in  state colours and with the number or monogram of their home unit in brass or white metal (depending of the regimental button colour) and on a backing of the regimental piping colour.
  • Small state cockades (see Cockades Details Page) worn below the imperial cockade on the Südwester, field cap or tropical helmet.
  • Army tunic buttons (in either white or yellow metal depending on their home regiment with a state crown or heraldic emblem).
  • State colours and emblems on belts, belt buckles, swords and sword knots.

Along with such army insignia the blue Schutztruppe piping was still worn on white and khaki tropical uniforms and colony colours (blue for South West Africa, white for East Africa and red for Cameroon and Togo) were worn on the piping, collars and cuffs of the grey home uniform. Likewise the hatbands and edging of their Südwester hats and peaked field caps were in colony colours. From 30th August 1912 army officers seconded to Togo were authorised to wear yellow as a new colony colour, while officers in New Guinea were authorised to wear green and those in Samoa were authorised to wear light rose pink (although this last order was purely hypothetical as no army officers were seconded to Samoa). White metallic cords were worn around the hatband of the tropical helmet, as used by the Schutztruppe.

As with most German officers uniforms from all branches of service, the uniforms worn by army officers in the colonies were usually privately tailored and therefore slight differences of cut and shape occurred. This probably happened more so with army officers seconded to the colonies, as so few were selected their uniforms would often have been unique.

One very interesting example of a tunic worn by a Leutnant of the 99th Upper Rhineland Infantry Regt ("2. Oberrheinisches Infanterie Regiment. Nr.99") seconded to Togo is photographed in "Imperial German Field Uniforms and Equipment 1907-1918 Vol 3" by Johan Somers (see Book Reviews Page). It is a white tropical tunic of similar cut to many Schutztruppe tunics but has the shoulder straps of the 99th Infantry and unusually has Togo yellow piping around the collar, front and Swedish buttoned cuffs. This is curious as the colony piping did not usually apply to the white tunic (which was usually piped blue irrespective of colony) and also because Schutztruppe tropical tunics did not have buttoned Swedish cuffs, nor did the uniforms of the 99th Infantry Regt (which had Brandenburg style cuffs). I believe this illustrates the unique nature of these uniforms, and the levels of variation from standard regulations that were sometimes worn.

Another interesting existing piece is a white tropical helmet photographed in "Tropenhelme der kaiserliche Marine, der Ostasiatischen Truppen und der Schutztruppen" by Ulrich Schiers (again see Book Reviews Page). It has the uncommon all green cockade of the Duchy of Anhalt (only worn by the 93rd Anhalt Infantry Regiment- "Anhaltisches Infanterie Regiment Nr. 93") with a reserve cross superimposed. It is not known to which colony this Reserve Officer was seconded.

The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of Oberleutnant der Reserve Valentin von Massow, a German Army Officer Seconded to Togo probably taken around 1898. Von Massow wears a privately tailored khaki uniform based closely on the Schutztruppe design but with a higher standing collar, scalloped pocket flaps and without the Schutztruppe blue piping.

His shoulder straps are those of a Prussian army officer, made of silver braid with black threads (probably with a brass numeral "4" and the red piping of von Massow's home regiment- the 4th Prussian Cuirassiers- although these details cannot be verified from the original photograph upon which this illustration is based) and with the single rank pip of an Oberleutnant (see Officers Rank Insignia Page). His buttons would likewise have been brass with a Prussian eagle on them as worn by his home regiment. On his left breast he wears what appears to be a Prussian Order of the Red Eagle medal with swords. He wears a privately purchased khaki tropical helmet with a dark hatband and a small imperial cockade above a small Prussian (black/white/black) cockade in the style of the regular army (the Polizeitruppe and Schutztruppe did not wear state cockades).

In the original photograph upon which this illustration is based, von Massow is seen only from the waist up and so details of his belt, trousers or boots cannot be known for certain. I have drawn him wearing matching khaki trousers over short brown leather boots. On campaign he would probably have worn leather gaiters and ankle boots, possibly with riding breeches and a pistol holster hung from his belt. The belt would probably either have been a plain leather privately purchased item or perhaps his home regiment's white and black horizontally striped officers belt (see Belt Buckle Details Page).

  Valentin Albrecht Ludwig August Hubertus von Massow (1864-99) originally served in the 4th Prussian Cuirassier Regiment ("Kürassier Regiment von Driesen (Westfälisches) Nr.4"). As a reserve Oberleutnant he was seconded to command the Polizeitruppe in Togo from April 1896 to July 1898. While in Togo he wrote several studies of both his military activities and also on geography and agriculture in the colony. He also led an expedition of 91 Polizeitruppe soldiers against the Dagbon tribe, defeating 5,000 of them and their tribal allies at the Battle of Adibo in September 1896, the largest battle fought in Togo in German colonial times. He died of Blackwater Fever in 1899.

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of Oberleutnant von Schäfer, a German Army Officer Seconded to South West Africa, taken onboard the steamer "Lulu Bohlen" on his return voyage to Wilhelmshaven in April 1905. Von Schäfer had been in South West Africa during the Herero Rebellion serving as adjutant to the Seebatallion Marine Expeditionskorps.

While some other officers of the Marine Expeditionskorps in the original photograph upon which this illustration is based wear Schutztruppe uniform and Südwester hats, von Schäfer wears the uniform of his home unit the 123rd Württemberg Grenadier Regiment ("Grenadier Regiment König Karl (5.Württembergisches) Nr.123"). He wears a privately purchased Pickelhaube bearing the Württemberg Coats of Arms in white metal and a Württemberg cockade (black/red/black) on the left side. His officer's greatcoat is double breasted with white metal buttons bearing the Württemberg crown and an infantry red collar. The shoulder straps are in white metallic braid with Württemberg's black and red threads, the 123rd Regiment's crowned monogram ("K" for Karl) in white metal and a single white metal rank pip for an Oberleutnant. Under his greatcoat collar can be seen the red collar with white double Litzen of the 123rd Regt. The tunic would have been dark blue piped in red with the same shoulder straps, eight white metal Württemberg buttons down the front and Swedish style cuffs also bearing white double Litzen.

While on active service in South West Africa von Schäfer would probably have worn Schutztruppe or Seebatallion uniform, though this photograph taken before he arrived back in Germany shows that he did at least take his dark blue home uniform along to Africa, and may also have worn it there on formal occasions. At least one other period photograph shows a Lancer ("Ulan") officer in dark blue full dress in South West Africa.

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a German Army Officer Seconded to Togo taken with the Lome Polizeitruppe in about 1910. This officer wears his uniforms exactly as prescribed by regulations. The uniform consists of a Schutztruppe 1896 khaki tunic piped in blue with matching trousers. Around his neck he wears a small white removable collar or neck stock ("Halsbinde"). Such collars were commonly worn by officers in the field. He wears a grey peaked cap to match the home uniform, piping and hatband in colony colour (in this case red for Togo, up until 1912 when it was replaced by yellow). The peaked cap has a small imperial cockade above a state cockade and the shoulders straps are those of an army Leutnant with an unidentifiable regimental numeral or monogram. His boots are probably privately tailored brown leather riding boots.

Figure 4 is based on a photograph of Oberleutnant Georg Mayer, a Bavarian Army Officer Seconded to New Guinea taken in training with the New Guinea Polizeitruppe and Reservists just prior to the Australian invasion in 1914. He wears a white tropical uniform, similar to that of the Schutztruppe but with Bavarian army officers shoulder straps in blue and white braiding, with a single pip for Oberleutnant. The backing for the shoulder strap would have been in regimental piping colour, in this case red for the 2nd Bavarian Heavy Cavalry Regiment ("2. Schweres Reiter Regiment Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este"). The tunic appears to be without the blue piping usually, but not always seen on Schutztruppe uniforms. His buttons would likewise have been brass, bearing the Bavarian lion. His trousers are khaki and are quite probably from a matching khaki uniform he may have owned, which would most likely have worn in action during the Australian invasion. His tropical helmet is white and has a small imperial cockade above a small Bavarian one (white/blue/white). He would again most likely have had a matching khaki helmet or at least a cover to wear over his white helmet in action.

  Georg Mayer was an Oberleutnant in the 2nd Royal Bavarian Heavy Cavalry Regiment on secondment to New Guinea having arrived there in early in 1914. He served under Rittmeister von Klewitz and was captured early in the Battle of Bita-Paka after having been duped into talking to  an already captured German soldier. He spent the rest of the war in Berrima Prisoner of war camp in Australia.

List of German Army Officers Commanding the Polizeitruppe of Togo and New Guinea
Below is a list of the German Army Officers who commanded the Polizeitruppe of Togo and New Guinea. It includes, where known their dates of service overseas, their home unit from which they were seconded (including the state cockade, shoulder strap piping colour and the colour of the tunic buttons as worn by their home units). As you can see there are some gaps in the list that need filling in. If you happen to know more about any of these officers or any German Officers serving abroad p
lease contact me here

For the purposes of this chart I have used the following standard rank abbreviations:  
  Lt. - Leutnant - 2nd Lieutenant  
  Oblt. - Oberleutnant - Lieutenant  
  Oblt dR. - Oberleutnant der Reserve - Reserve Lieutenant  
  Hptm. - Hauptmann - Captain  
  Ritt. - Rittmeister - Cavalry Captain  
German Army Officers Seconded to Togo



Unit Seconded from

Cockade Piping Buttons
Oblt. Hans Georg von Doering 6 Aug 1894 21 Jul 1899 98th Infantry Regt (Metz)
Metzer Infanterie-Regt. Nr.98
Prussia yellow yellow
Oblt. August Braunbeck 21Jul 1895 23 Dec 1895 13th Field Art Regt (1st Württemberg)
Feldartillerie Regt. König Karl (1.Württembergisches) Nr13
Württemberg black yellow
Oblt. dR. Valentin von Massow 4 Apr 1896 1 Jul 1898 4th Cuirassier Regt (Westphalian)
Kürassier-Regt. von Driesen (Westfälisches) Nr.4
Prussia red yellow
Lt. Adolf Freiherr von Seefried auf Buttenheim 7Jul 1898 30 May 1899 14th Royal Bavarian Infantry Regt
Kgl. Bayer. 14. Infanterie-Regt. Hartmann
Bavaria yellow yellow
Lt. Adolf Mellin 7 July 1899 9 Aug 1899 50th Infantry Regt (3rd Lower Schleswig)
3. Niederschlesisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.50
Prussia white yellow
Lt. Adolf Freiherr von Seefried auf Buttenheim
(second time in service)
9 Aug 1899 12 Feb 1900 14th Royal Bavarian Infantry Regt
Kgl. Bayer. 14. Infanterie-Regt. Hartmann
Bavaria yellow yellow
Oblt. Johannes Wilhelm Priel 12 Feb 1900 1 Aug 1900 12th Pioneer Bat (1st Royal Saxon)
Kgl. Sächs. 1. Pionier-Batl. Nr.12
Saxony red white
Lt. Julius Smend 1 Aug 1900 30 Aug 1900 55th Infantry Regt (6th Westphalian)
Inf-Regt. Graf Bülow von Dennewitz (6.Westfälisches) Nr.55
Prussia white yellow
Hptm. Hans Georg von Doering
(second time in service)
30 Aug 1900 31 May 1901 98th Infantry Regt (Metz)
Metzer Infanterie-Regt. Nr.98
Prussia yellow yellow
Lt. Arthur Rieck 1 May 1901 27 Sep 1906 61st Infantry Regt (8th Pomeranian)
Infanterie-Regt. von der Marwitz (8.Pommersches) Nr.61
Prussia blue yellow
Oblt. Gotthard Freude 27 Sep 1906 29 Apr 1907 68th Field Art Regt (6th Royal Saxon)
Kgl. Sächs. 6. Feld-Artillerie-Regt. Nr.68
Saxony red white
Lt. Friedrich von Nagel zu Aichberg 29 Apr 1907 29 Jun 1907 Bavarian Life Guard Infantry Regt
Kgl. Bayer. Infanterie-Leib-Regt.
Bavaria red white
Lt. Kurt Schlettwein 28 Aug 1907 20 May 1908 148th Infantry Regt (5th West Prussian)
5. Westpreußisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.148
Prussia blue yellow
Lt. Karl Gaisser 20 May 1908 28 Dec 1908 13th Field Art Regt (1st Württemberg)
Feld-Artillerie-Regt. König Karl (1.Württembergisches) Nr.13
Württemberg black yellow
Oblt. Gerhard Häring 28 Dec 1908 18 Apr 1909 1st Field Art Regt (1st Lithuanian)
Feld-Artillerie-Regt. Prinz August von Preußen (1.Lithauisches ) Nr.1
Prussia black yellow
Oblt. Georg Trierenberg 12 Apr 1909 12 Jan1912 66th Infantry Regt (3rd Magdeburg)
3. Magdeburgisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.66
Prussia red yellow
Lt. Walter Stockhausen 12 Jan1912 12 May 1912 30th Infantry Regt (4th Rhineland)
Infanterie-Regt. Graf Werder (4.Rheinisches) Nr.30
Prussia yellow yellow
Oblt. von Hirschfeld ? ? 51st Infantry Regt (4th Lower Schleswig)
4. Niederschlesisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.51
Prussia yellow yellow
Hptm. Pfaehler ? ? 51st Field Artillery Regt (2nd Upper Alsatian)
2. Ober-Elsässisches Feld-Artillerie-Regt. Nr.51
Prussia red yellow
Oblt. Mans ? ? 17th Field Artillery Regt (2nd Pomeranian)
2. Pommersches Feld-Artillerie-Regt. Nr.17
Prussia white yellow
Lt. von Rentzell ? Aug 1914 Guard Rifle Battalion
Prussia red yellow
German Army Officers Seconded to New Guinea
Oblt. Albert Prey 1911* 1914 58th Infantry Regt (3rd Posen)
3. Posensches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.58
Prussia white yellow
Oblt. Georg Mayer Replaced Prey 1914 1914 2nd Royal Bavarian Heavy Cavalry Regt
Kgl. Bayer. Schweres Reiter Regt. Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este Nr.2
Bavaria red yellow
Ritt.Carl von Klewitz 8 Mar 1914 1914 25th Dragoon Regt (1st Württemberg)
Dragoner-Regt. Königin Olga (1. Württembergisches) Nr.25
Württemberg white yellow

This list was compiled with reference to the following recommended Sources-
An article on Togo by Ferdinand Rhadern at Traditionsverband.
"Die Deutsche Schutztruppe 1889/1918" by Werner Haupt (see Book Reviews Page)
"Biographisches Handbuch Deutsch-Neuguinea 1882-1922 (2nd edition)" by Karl Baumann, Dieter Klein und Wolfgang Apitzsch. *Interestingly this book says Oblt. Prey served in New Guinea from 1906 rather than 1911, though this does seem a much longer period of service than was usual.

Kaiser's Bunker
website for lists of regimental insignia in the Imperial German army.
Special thanks on this page to the researches of Bruce Swanton and Karsten Herzogenrath.

Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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