Belt Buckles of the German Colonial and Overseas Forces


Photographed below are several different types of belt and buckle worn overseas and in the colonies. The belt buckle was a traditional piece of insignia bearing the imperial crown. In some cases in the colonies when uniforms were in short supply the distinctive German belt buckles were the only items of official uniform worn.

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Schutztruppe or Naval Other Ranks Belt Buckle
      This was the standard belt buckle worn by German other ranks in the Schutztruppe, Seebataillone and Navy. It is made from two metal pieces: a brass back plate and a nickel front plate bearing the Imperial crown and the motto "GOTT MIT UNS" - God (is) with us.

The Schutztruppe, Seebataillone and Navy were Imperial forces and so wore this buckle showing the Imperial crown. The regular German army wore different belt buckles for the different German kingdoms each with their own mottos and styles of crown (or coat of arms in the case of Württemberg). The buckles were all made in a similar style with a brass backing and white metal front plate. Officers belt buckles from the different states of the regular army also bore state insignia and had belts woven in state colours.  The only overseas troops to wear these different state buckles were the East Asian Expeditionary Corps in China in 1900 and the German troops serving on Ottoman Fronts during the First World War. Later wartime belt buckles worn in Europe and on Ottoman Fronts were often made more cheaply from one piece of dull grey metal.
Photo © Doppler Collection

Naval Officers Belt Buckle
    The brass belt buckle worn by Seebataillone and Naval Officers. The buckle shows an imperial crown above an anchor with the monogram "W" superimposed, surrounded by laurel leaves. The belt is made from silver thread woven with two black outer and one red inner stripe, although the colours on this one have faded with time. The same belt and buckle was worn by Schutztruppe officers but in white metal with a larger imperial crown in the centre rather than the naval anchor and monogram. In action officers often wore  leather other ranks belts or privately purchased items rather than this all too distinctive belt.
Photo © Doppler Collection
Askari Belt Buckle
    A plain brass belt buckle worn by an Askari of the German East African Schutztruppe. These plain buckles were worn by the African soldiers serving in the Schutztruppe and Polizeitruppe of German East Africa, Cameroon and Togo.
Photo © Doppler Collection
Chinese Dragon Belt Buckle
    There has previously been some doubt as to whether these buckles (and German-made swords with similar decorations) were issued to German units in China. In fact they were made in Germany for the regular Chinese army and were not worn by any German forces. This buckle with is made from two metal pieces: a brass back plate and a nickel front plate bearing the Dragon design. Other similar buckles have been seen made from one piece of stamped brass.
Photo © Port Arthur Collection
Recommended External Link - "China-Waffen" at Traditionsverband

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