Bayonets
of the South West African Schutztruppe

 
 

 

     
  The first South West African Schutztruppe (or "Truppe des Reichs-Kommissars" as they were known at the time) were not initially issued bayonets, instead being mounted troops they carried K88 carbines, revolvers and large bowie type knives. These were carried in a leather bayonet with steel edgings and a short buttoned leather strap that held the knife in place. I have so far not seen one of these early knives in a modern collection. It is not known if they carried unit markings.
Recommended External Link - Edged Weapons of the Schutztruppe Pt4 at Seitengewehr.de

The first bayonets issued to the Schutztruppe were S71/84 patterns to fit Jägerbüchse 71 and G88 rifles. These were replaced with S98aA bayonets during the Herero Rebellion 1904-07 along with the introduction of the Mauser G98 to the Schutztruppe.

From around 1910 the kS98 became the standard bayonet of the Schutztruppe until the First World War. The hot dry climate of South West Africa did not tend to rot the leather grips of the kS98 bayonet as badly as the damp climates of East Africa and Cameroon, so many South West African bayonets retained their original leather grips. Nevertheless from 1913 some bayonets with wooden grips were issued and from early 1914 some with unvulcanised rubber grips.

The bayonets of the South West African Schutztruppe were unit marked "K.S." (or sometimes "KS" without the punctuation) for "Kaiserliche Schutztruppe"  followed by a two, three, four or five figure weapon number (for example "KS4892"). Occasional exceptions do exist, such as one S71/84 bayonet reportedly marked "K.S.22b", probably one of the earliest bayonets issued to the Schutztruppe in South West Africa. Confusingly the same "K.S." markings were used by the cavalry school ("Kavallerie Schule") in Germany.

No further unit markings, such as Field Company numbers were in standard use but at least for a time around 1904/05 when the Schutztruppe used regimental organisation some S98aAS have appeared marked "2.F.R.E.4.179." for the "2. Feld Regiment, Ersatz Kompagnie 4" and "2.F.R.1.105" for the "2.Feld-Regiment, 1. Kompagnie" (see below).

 


Unteroffizier of the
South West African Schutztruppe
At his left side is a kS98 bayonet with a bayonet knot in imperial colours for NCOs.
Photo © Joe Robinson

 
         
     
S98aAS Bayonet from the South West African Schutztruppe Photos © Roy Williams, author of Collectors Book of German Bayonets
The S98 bayonet was not commonly issued in South West Africa, only one has been noted in a modern collection with the usual Schutztruppe "KS" markings. The markings "2.F.R.E.4.179." on the hilt show this bayonet to have been issued to the 2.Feld-Regiment, 4. Ersatz-Kompagnie of the Schutztruppe of South West Africa, weapon number 179. The Schutztruppe were only temporarily formed into regimental units during the Herero Rebellion. This bayonet was made at Erfurt in 1900 (marked "W00") and has a sawback blade. Like all S98aA bayonets it has a one piece wooden grip and a leather scabbard.

S98aAS Bayonet from the South West African Schutztruppe Photos © Chris Boonzaier of the Soldier's Burden Website

The markings "2.F.R.1.105" on the scabbard show that it (and presumably its matching bayonet) were issued to the 2.Feld-Regiment, 1. Kompagnie of the Schutztruppe of South West Africa, weapon number 105. As mentioned above the Schutztruppe were only temporarily formed into regimental units during the Herero Rebellion. This bayonet was made at Erfurt in 1899 (marked "W99") and has a sawback blade. Like all S98aA bayonets it has a one piece wooden grip and a leather scabbard. Note the length of the S98 bayonet when compared to the two shorter kS98 bayonets in the photograph above right.
 
kS98 Bayonet with Leather Grips from the South West African Schutztruppe Photos © Chris Wood
The markings "KS4892" on the hilt and scabbard show this bayonet to have been issued to the Kaiserliche Schutztruppe (of German South West Africa), weapon number 4892. This bayonet was made at Erfurt in 1912 (marked "W12") and has the original leather grips held with three rivets and a steel scabbard. Like all kS98 bayonets it has a sawback blade. The Erfurt kS98 with leather grips was the most commonly issued variant to the South West African Schutztruppe (see more examples below)
 
kS98 Bayonet with Wooden Grips from the South West African Schutztruppe Photos © Chris Boonzaier
This bayonet has no unit markings. It was made by E&F Hörster (note the maker's mark just visible on the blade in the photo on the right) in 1913 (marked "W13") with wooden grips. As previously noted on this website the E&F Hörster 1913 wooden gripped kS98 bayonets all seem to be from one batch made for colonial issue. It also has the marking Erfurt on the other side of the blade. This bayonet was captured by Private ER Cumming of the 1st South African Infantry (Durban Light Infantry) and taken home to Natal by him after the campaign of 1914-15.

The Imperial War Museum in London also has an E&F Hörster wooden gripped kS98 bayonet with a handwritten tag saying it was captured in German South West Africa 1915. Interestingly no unit markings can be seen on that bayonet either, although it may be that the bayonet is displayed with them facing the wall rather than the visitor.

 

kS98 Bayonet with Composition Grips from the South West African Schutztruppe Photos © Roy Williams

The markings "K.S.5278" on the hilt and scabbard show this bayonet to have been issued to the Kaiserliche Schutztruppe (of South West Africa), weapon number 5278. The blade was made at Erfurt in 1912 (marked "W12"). It has been re-gripped with composition grips made of unvulcanised rubber first introduced in 1914.
   

S71/84 Dress Bayonet from a Veteran of the South West African Schutztruppe  Photos © Roy Williams

This is a privately purchased S71/84 bayonet with a beautifully engraved blade made for a veteran of the South West African Schutztruppe. It has no unit or date markings but has maker's mark in the form of a king and a knight over "WK&C" for  Weyersberg, Kirschbaum and Company on the top of the blade on one side. The engravings are in cornflower blue for South West Africa and read "Zur Erinnerung an meine Dienstzeit"- (In memory of my service) with the Kaiser's head on one side and "Deutsch-Süd-West-Afrika" on the other. The scabbard is of black leather with nickel plated mounts and has a black patent leather frog. The knot is an officers sword knot ("Portepee") in the imperial colours, showing the original owner to be an officer or senior NCO (see Bayonet and Sword Knots).

     
More kS98 Bayonets with Leather Grips from the South West African Schutztruppe
As can be deduced by the number of these bayonets that appear in modern collections, the Erfurt kS98 with leather grips was the most commonly issued South West African Schutztruppe bayonet. Many of these examples were captured by South African troops in 1914/15 and taken home as souvenirs. Their weapon numbers and dates of manufacture are noted below (eg. W06=1906). Non-matching bayonet and scabbard combinations are quite common and while some may have been put together by post-war collectors many may also have been in use by the Schutztruppe when one or other was damaged or lost. All these blades are marked as having been made at Erfurt.


K.S.1613 W06
Photo © Francois Kruger


K.S. 2183. W12
Photo © Roy Williams


K.S.1516 W10
Photo © Chris Boonzaier

     

KS4916 W12
Photo © Keith Homer

KS2698 W12
Photo © Chris Boonzaier

K.S.11067
Photo © Nate Friedlander
     


K.S. 2556 W12
Photo © Roy Williams

Note-  The scabbard has the markings K.S. 4692 showing it originally to have been issued with bayonet number 4692.


K.S. 2749 W12
Photo © Dow Cross

Note-  The scabbard has the markings K.S. 2619.


K.S.85.34 W06
Photo © Roy Williams

Note- the punctuation between the numbers 85 and 34 on the hilt is not present on the scabbard and seems to be incidental.

     
 


KS 2232
Photo © Chris Boonzaier

Note- This kS98 bayonet is STOLEN PROPERTY. It went missing in the post between South Africa and Germany in 2011. If you know its whereabouts please contact the webmaster here.

 
 

 

 

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

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