|Corduroy uniforms were first worn by the
Schutztruppe's ancestor, the Truppe Des
Reichs-Kommissars, in South West
Africa in the late 1880s. Since then several modifications had been
made to the tunic including the addition of blue
collar and cuffs with Litzen, and yet the basic corduroy uniform was found
to be ideally suited in its durability, natural camouflage colour and
protection from the climate of South West Africa.
Although the corduroy uniforms are
often shown in Contemporary Illustrations as being grey in colour the
uniform regulations of 19th November 1896 describe it as sand coloured
("Sandfarben"). Surviving examples show it to have been various
shades from brown to pale khaki, with later issues being noticeably
lighter, no doubt made worse by sun bleaching in Africa.
The different types of corduroy tunic
and uniform authorised from 1896 onwards were the Kord Waffenrock, its
variant the Kord Interimsrock and the Kord Litewka. They
replaced the old 1894 Kord Waffenrock
(noticeable with their Polish style cuffs and breast pockets). The replacement did not happen
overnight however and period photographs show the 1894 tunics still in use
as late as 1899. Both the Waffenrock and Litewka were worn
side by side by all ranks of the Schutztruppe in the 1900s. Period photographs
members of the same unit with some wearing one and some the other. The
Interimsrock was rarely worn
and then only by officers.
On 29th December 1913 a new order officially
replaced the Waffenrock (and the Interimsrock) entirely with the Litewka,
which was now renamed
the "Kord Feldrock".
Parade aiguillettes, marksmanship
lanyards, musicians swallows nests and other specialist insignia were
all worn on the corduroy uniforms (see
Specialist Insignia Page).
The 1896 Kord Waffenrock
On 19th November 1896 a new corduroy tunic known as
the "Kord Waffenrock" was authorised for the Schutztruppe as a home
uniform for wear in Germany and as cold weather wear on service in Africa. A following order
11th March 1897 replaced its use as a home uniform with a
new Grey Home Uniform, but retained the
for use in South West Africa.
The new Kord Waffenrock was identical in
cut to the 1897 Home Uniform but made
of corduroy. It had a stand and fall collar and Swedish style
cuffs in colony colours (blue for South West Africa). Piping down the
front and around the scalloped rear pleats was also in blue. It had single
white Litzen on the collar and cuffs with a red central stripe (officers
and senior NCOs had white metallic lace). The tunic had no visible
pockets. It had eight white metal buttons
down the front each bearing the imperial crown, six around the rear
pleats, two on each cuff and one similar but smaller ones to hold each
shoulder strap. Shoulder straps for other ranks were of twisted mohair
cord in black/white/red for NCOs and other ranks.
NCO rank was shown in
the form of white metallic lace around the collar and cuffs and buttons on
the collar (see NCO Rank Insignia Page).
Officers displayed their rank insignia on their shoulder straps (see
Officers Rank Insignia Page).
Interestingly, the Kord Waffenrock was also
authorised for use by the Schutztruppe of East Africa and Cameroon in the
order of 1896 as a home uniform. It was replaced in the 1897 order with
the grey cloth uniform, and so was officially worn for less than four
months. I have so far not seen any photographic proof of its use by the East
African or Cameroon Schutztruppe in that short period, nor have any
surviving uniforms been found. The 1896
regulations stated that the East African Kord Waffenrock had piping, collar and
cuffs in white and the Cameroon one had such distinctions in red.
The 1896 Kord Interimsrock
A corduroy interim tunic was also authorised for Schutztruppe officers
in the same order of 19th November 1896. It was
of identical cut to the Waffenrock but with plain corduroy collar and
cuffs rather than blue cloth ones and no Litzen on either. Blue piping was
as usual down the front, around the rear scallpoed skirts and also on the
collar and cuffs.
Officers displayed their rank insignia
on their shoulder straps in the usual manner (see
Officers Rank Insignia Page).
The Kord Litewka/Feldrock
I have so far been unable to find the dated clothing order ("Bekleidungs
Vorschrift") that authorised the corduroy Litewka. Certainly a serge
or molton Litewka was authorised on 28th November 1899 and the corduroy
Litewka seems to have been in common use in South West Africa shortly
afterwards. 29th December 1913
The Kord Litewka had a concealed front, no piping, plain stand and fall
collar, plain cuffs and four rounded pockets also with concealed buttons.
The breast pockets were slightly sloped inwards as on the
1896 Khaki Uniform. It had two
buttons on the plain rear to help support a belt and a small white metal
button with the imperial crown to hold each shoulder strap. Shoulder straps for
other ranks were the same twisted black/white/red cord as on other
NCO rank was displayed
on the Litewka in the form of inverted chevrons on the upper left arm
(see NCOs Rank Insignia Page).
Officers displayed their rank insignia on their shoulder straps in the
usual manner (see Officers Rank
The Kord Litewka was exclusive to the South
West African Schutztruppe and was not worn in other colonies. It was
however also issued to Officers of the
Marine Expeditionskorps (made up of Marine Infantry from the
Seebatallione) during their deployment in South West Africa 1904-05.
Privately Tailored Variations
As with all privately tailored uniforms purchased by officers, NCOs and
One Year Volunteers variations in cut were sometimes seen, such as the use
of higher collars and occasional addition of extra pockets. One very
interesting Schutztruppe corduroy tunic in a private collection has been
seen in the cut of the
1896 Khaki Uniform with six buttons
down the front, four buttoned pockets and buttoned Swedish style
Trousers and riding breeches for use with the corduroy tunics were made in
matching corduroy. They were initially piped down the outside seem in
colony colours (blue for South West Africa) to match the tunic but from
the order of 29th December 1913 piping was omitted from
corduroy trousers. It seems from surviving examples that some may have
been made without the piping prior to that date.
The orders of 19th November 1896 also authorised a
peaked field cap for all ranks in matching corduroy. "The German Colonial Troops" by Kraus and Müller says the cap may have been introduced as early as 1894.
This date seems unlikely to me as the new Schutztruppe formation sent from
Germany that year are seen in period photographs still wearing the old
Kepi style caps, though other photographs of the field cap worn with the
1894 Kord Waffenrock suggest it may well have been introduced ahead of the
The field cap had a hatband and piping in
colony colours (blue for South West Africa), a small imperial cockade at
the front and a black leather peak. Like most German peaked caps it was
issued with a wire retaining loop that held the shape of the top of the
hat. This loop was often removed to give a more comfortable appearance.
The 1896 uniform regulations authorise
the use of a black leather chinstrap held at either side with a small
white metal button bearing the imperial crown. The uniforms regulations of
1898 simply say the cap is in the style of the Prussian infantry which at
the time did not have a chinstrap (see the
Imperial Army Caps). It seems from period photographs and surviving
examples that most caps did not use the chinstrap but that a few (possibly
privately purchased) caps did retain them. Other privately tailored variations on the field cap
such as not having the blue hatbands or piping have been seen on surviving
examples (see the Schutztruppe section of the
website). By an order of 29th December
1913 the peak was changed to grey leather although from period photographs
it seem the old black leather versions were still more commonly in use up
As with the Kord Waffenrock, the corduroy
field cap was also authorised for use by the Schutztruppe of East Africa
and Cameroon in the order of 1896, although it was replaced in the 1897
order with a grey cloth cap, and so was officially worn for less than four
months. I have so far not seen any photographic proof of its use by the
East African or Cameroon Schutztruppe in that short period, nor have any
surviving uniforms been found. The 1896 regulations stated that the East
African cap had hatband and piping in white and the Cameroon one had such
distinctions in red.
On active service, the South West African Schutztruppe more
commonly wore the grey felt Südwester hat (with hatband and edging in
colony colours and held up on the right hand side with a large imperial
Figure 1 is
based on a photograph of a Gefreiter of the South West
African Schutztruppe probably taken
before the outbreak of the Herero Rebellion in 1904 and is typical of
the appearance of the Schutztruppe in the early years of the twentieth
century. He wears the Kord Waffenrock as described above.
Note the single small collar button at the rear of the
collar Litzen worn with no
additional lace around the collar or cuffs, showing this NCO to be a Gefreiter
(Lance Corporal or Private 1st Class- see NCO
Rank Insignia Page). The rank of Gefreiter for German personnel in the
Schutztruppe was unique to South West Africa. In the Schutztruppe of
East Africa and Cameroon the lowest
ranking Germans were Unteroffizier (Corporals).
Like most South West African
Schutztruppe on active service this Gefreiter was the
Südwester slouch hat. He wears the short brown leather
riding boots of the Prussian Dragoons of the Imperial army, as were
standard issue to mounted other ranks in the Schutztruppe.
The photograph upon which this
illustration is based can partially be dated by the early pattern of South West African
Schutztruppe equipment that he wears. This all in one brown leather
equipment (incorporating belt, shoulder straps, ammunition pouches,
water bottle loop and bayonet frog- see
Schutztruppe Mounted Equipment
Details Page) is of an early pattern without press studs
on the ammunition pouches or additional pouches on the shoulder straps
as were later added.
His rifle cannot be seen clearly in the
photograph upon which this illustration is based, though judging from the period
it may well be a G88 with an S71/84 bayonet.
Figure 2 is
based on a photograph of a Trooper of the South West
African Schutztruppe probably taken during the Herero
Rebellion 1904-07 wearing the Kord Waffenrock seen from the rear. Note
the piped and scalloped rear skirts of the Waffenrock are of the same
design as worn on the
His equipment is again
the South West African Schutztruppe issue as described above buckling
at the back and with two ammunition pouches on each side at the rear. On the right side it had a brass eye for attaching a
water bottle and on the left side it had an integral
bayonet frog worn here with a kS98 bayonet with steel scabbard.
Company coloured bayonet knots were authorised for other ranks of the
Schutztruppe in 1896 if not before. I have coloured the bayonet knot in
red and white to show the colours of the 2nd Field Company, although of
course in the original monochrome photograph it is impossible to tell
which company the trooper is from.
Figure 3 is
based on a photograph of an Trooper of the South West
African Schutztruppe machine gun unit probably taken during the Herero
Rebellion 1904-07 wearing the Kord Litewka introduced in 1900. Machine
gunners and artillerymen wore no insignia to distinguish their arm of
service from normal Schutztruppe mounted infantrymen.
This trooper wears the matching corduroy peaked cap with hatband and
piping in cornflower blue for South West Africa and matching corduroy
trousers tucked into short brown leather riding boots with stirrups.
is based on a photograph of a Trooper of the South West
African Schutztruppe again probably taken during the Herero
Rebellion 1904-07. This view shows the plain rear of the Kord Litewka
with two buttons at the belt line. This trooper wears matching
riding breeches, a Südwester, and short leather boots with gaiters.
Short boots and gaiters were usually worn by officers. It is
possible that the figure in the original photograph is in fact an officer.
Aside from their shoulder
straps which were sometimes removed in action, officers wore little to distinguish themselves from other
ranks in South West Africa. On active service they usually discarded
their swords and sometimes carried carbines. This practice was particularly useful in
the face of the Herero and Nama who were often expert snipers.