Background to the East African Polizeitruppe
The police force ("Polizeitruppe") of German East Africa was formed on 1st
Prior to then police duties had been carried out by members of the
Wissmanntruppe/Schutztruppe. From 1894/95, the Polizeitruppe were a
separate force from the Schutztruppe, coming under the command of the
colonial governor, rather than the Schutztruppe's military command.
were primarily intended for police duties, collecting taxes and
maintaining law and order, although they did at times take part in combat
actions during times of rebellion and war in the colony. Many of the
Polizeitruppe other ranks were former Schutztruppe askaris and while they
were armed with the same Jägerbüsche 71 rifles (and later Maxim machine
guns- and at least one period photograph shows them using artillery- see
right), they were not fully trained up to Schutztruppe standards and were considered
as second class soldiers. On the outbreak of the First World War they were
incorporated into the Schutztruppe, forming additional Feldkompagnien.
Uniforms of the German
Officers and NCOs of the Polizeitruppe of East Africa
White Tropical Uniform
The First Police Officers in East
I have seen no photographs of Schutztruppe officers and NCOs on police
duty prior to 1892. It seems reasonable to assume they would have worn
their Schutztruppe Uniforms,
possibly sometimes with the addition of a red sash worn over the right
shoulder as worn by their askaris and by their counterparts in
South West Africa at this time.
I have likewise seen no photographs or uniform regulations for the
Polizeitruppe dating from their formation in 1892. As the first
Polizeitruppe NCOs were drafted from the Schutztruppe it again seems
reasonable to assume they continued to wear Schutztruppe uniform until
issued new Polizeitruppe uniforms.
Later a white tropical uniform (see right) was introduced specifically
for the Polizeitruppe of most colonies. The tunic was based on the
Schutztruppe 1896 tunic but without the blue piping. It had a stand
and fall collar, four buttoned pleated patch pockets (the breast ones
of which were slightly sloped inwards) with six brass buttons down the
front each bearing the imperial crown. Privately purchased tunics
often had slight variations such as higher standing collars, five
buttons rather than six or omitting the hip pockets. Matching white
trousers were worn.
Khaki Tropical Uniform
On active service a khaki uniform identical in cut and insignia to
the white uniform was authorised. It appears from photographs that
Polizeitruppe officers and NCOs sometimes wore a combination of the
white and khaki uniforms and that mounted personnel may have worn
corduroy riding breeches.
The rank insignia of the
German NCOs and and officers in the Polizeitruppe of all colonies was
worn on the shoulder straps on a red backing and consisted of yellow
metallic thread edging and possibly a brass imperial eagle. The exact insignia for
each rank is still a mystery to me, please
email me here if you have any
information to help on this topic.
White tropical helmets were worn with an imperial cockade on the
front. On 27th October 1906 a small yellow metal eagle was authorised
to be worn above the cockade. On 16th March 1912 a cord in the
imperial colours was authorised to be worn around the hatband for
those with Wachtmeister rank. Khaki covers were worn over the white
tropical helmets on active service.
Recommended Reading - "Tropenhelme der kaiserliche Marine, der
Ostasiatischen Truppen und der Schutzruppen"
by Ulrich Schiers (see
Field caps worn by the Polizeitruppe were authorised in grey with black leather
chinstraps and peaks, red hatbands and piping, and a small imperial
cockade on the front. White field caps to match the white tropical
uniform were also worn with the same peak, hatband and cockade.
Short brown leather boots were worn, sometimes with leather gaiters.
White leather shoes were worn on parade.
Weapons and Equipment
Germans of all ranks in the Polizeitruppe were entitled to carry a
sword. These are often seen in photographs but were probably not
carried in action. Pistols were presumably carried in action as the
side arm of preference, though I have found no records of which
pistols or revolvers were issued. Most photographs show the
Polizeitruppe officers wearing very little equipment, often simply
an other ranks Schutztruppe belt- plain brown leather with an
imperial belt buckle (see
Belt Buckle Details Page).