Uniforms of African Soldiers in
the Cameroon Schutztruppe
Khaki Naval Style
When the Schutztruppe were first formed they wore the same naval style
khaki tops edged in red as worn by the Cameroon Polizeitruppe but without
the Polizeitruppe red sash. Period photographs have shown the use of the
same NCO rank chevrons as seen on later uniforms. I have seen no period
photographs showing the use of musicians swallows nest on the naval
style uniforms. They also wore the same three quarter length khaki
trousers as the Polizeitruppe and like them were barefoot.
The Schutztruppe wore the same rolled red felt fez with
a knotted blue/black tassel as
the Polizeitruppe with a small Imperial eagle with spread wings on the
front. It is not known if the early eagles were still in Polizeitruppe
yellow metal or the white metal seen on later Schutztruppe eagles.
Sudanese Askari Uniforms
Period photographs of the first Sudanese askaris employed by the Cameroon
Schutztruppe in the early 1890s show them wearing the same uniforms as the Sudanese askaris
in East Africa- plain khaki tunics with stand and fall collars, plain
shoulder straps, no pockets and five buttons down the front. Period
photographs have shown the use of the same NCO rank chevrons as seen on
later uniforms and the use of musicians swallows nests although no other
specialist insignia has been seen on the Sudanese uniforms.
East African askaris they wore khaki tarbushes, at least one period
photograph shows an imperial eagle worn on the front of the tarbush although it is impossible
to tell in other photographs if the eagle was always worn. They wore puttees, which
appear darker than their khaki uniforms in period photographs and so
were probably dark blue/grey, as worn in East Africa and later by most
African soldier in the Cameroon Schutztruppe. The Sudanese troops proved
to be unsuited to Cameroon's damp tropical climate and were soon
withdrawn from service.
1900 Khaki Uniforms
Sometime around the turn of the Century new uniforms were issued for
the African soldiers of the Cameroon Schutztruppe (Carl Henckel
dates the change as 1900-
Illustrated Plates Page). These new
uniforms were similar to the East
African askari uniforms in that they
consisted of a short khaki tunic without pockets and five (or sometimes
only four) plain white metal buttons fastening the front. It had a khaki
stand and fall collar with red edging and a red Litzen style bar
in the centre. The cuffs
had a red chevron, while the shoulder straps were plain khaki.
NCO rank insignia was shown in the from of
red chevrons of the upper left arm as worn by the East African askaris (see NCO
rank insignia below).
Musicians wore swallows nests on their shoulder (see
Specialist Insignia Page) but no
other specialist insignia was worn.
The red rolled felt fez with a blue/black
knotted tassel was retained with a white metal imperial eagle on the
Matching khaki trousers were worn with
dark blue/grey puttees. Later issues of puttees were grey. Most African
soldiers in the Cameroon Schutztruppe wore brown leather boots but some
went barefoot either due to shortage or out of preference.
From its introduction this uniform was worn in action, on parade and
for most duties. In the First World War it caused some confusion as
the invading French Senegalese Tirailleurs
also wore khaki uniforms with a red fez.
White Fatigue Uniforms
soldiers in Cameroon were also issued a fatigue dress made up of a white
naval style shirt (which was also usually worn beneath the khaki tunic) and
matching white three-quarter length white trousers. The shirt had short
sleeves, a blue edging
on the square collar and three horizontal blue stripes on the chest. No
rank or specialist insignia was worn on this uniform. This uniform was also worn by the
Polizeitruppe on the Marshall and Caroline Islands of the German
Senior NCO Uniforms
African Sergeant Majors ("Feldwebel") in the Cameroon Schutztruppe and
Polizeitruppe were uniquely entitled to wear the uniform of a German NCO-
a four pocketed 1896 khaki tunic and trousers, both piped in blue (see
1896 Khaki Tunic Details Page). The only difference was that they
had plain khaki shoulder straps rather than the German NCOs twisted
cords in the imperial colours. Their headdress was the regulation Südwester slouch
hat with a large imperial cockade pinning up the right hand side and the hatband and piping in red for
Cameroon (see Südwester Hats Details Page).
The African Sergeant Majors did however still wear their rank chevrons
in red rather than the white metallic lace used by German NCOs. Their
trousers were the same as for German NCOs, khaki with blue piping down
the outside seam. Brown leather boots were worn, although one photograph
shows a Feldwebel wearing the short white boots usually worn by German
officers and NCOs with their white tropical uniforms.
From their formation, the African soldiers of the Schutztruppe
carried brown leather 1887 ammunition pouches (usually two on the front
with an optional third on the back) on a brown leather belt with
a plain brass belt buckle. By 1914 these had mostly been
replaced with brown leather 1909 ammunition pouches along with the issue
of the K98 rifle. The
African soldiers of the Cameroon Schutztruppe were also issued with the
same backpack, bread bag, water bottle and tent quarter or blanket as
were the troops of the regular German army, but most photographs show them wearing much less equipment.
Unlike the regular army they were not issued with entrenching tools. Some photographs show show
soldiers of the Cameroon Schutztruppe wearing a bandolier of ammunition
pouches rather than pouches on their belts.
The mounted units of the Cameroon
Schutztruppe wore the same uniforms as the dismounted troops, but their
equipment was of the type issued to the mounted Schutztruppe of German
South West Africa (see
Mounted Equipment Page) but worn with the straps crossing the
Schutztruppe were originally issued the
JB71, though photographs
also show the use of the Kar88
by mounted troops.
most of the Schutztruppe had
been re-armed with the
Kar98az, leaving stocks of the
old JB71 for new recruits in
wartime. According to Hew Strachan's
"First World War in Africa"
Cameroon had 3,861 rifles of
the modern 1898
type with two and a
rounds and only 2,920 rifles
of the 1871
model with half a
million rounds. Due to the
shortage of ammunition,
spent rounds were reloaded
with locally made gunpowder
(or using Nitro-glycerine
requisitioned from civilian
mining operations) with
varying results and original
1898 rounds were prioritised
for use in machine guns. Attempts were also
made at locally made rifles
but their unreliability made
them extremely unpopular.
To fit the Jägerbüsche 71 rifle,
S71/84 bayonets were issued. When the K98 rifle began to be
issued it came with the kS98 bayonet. During the First World War
captured bayonets were also sometimes put into use. The
Collectors Book of German Bayonets by Roy Williams shows a
photograph of a French Lebel bayonet with Cameroon Schutztruppe
unit markings on it. Bayonet knots were not worn.
Each company was also issued with at least one Maxim machine gun by
1914. Some Feldkompagnien had an artillery piece or two with an
additional artillery detachment was based in Duala.
ranks in Cameroon's mounted detachments carried a lance with a two
pointed pennant divided into three horizontal stripes of the Imperial colours.