A Collection from the East Asian Army


Photos © François Fischer


  This excellent collection shows items from the German East Asian Expeditionary Corps, and its later reformations the East Asian Occupation Brigade and the East Asian Detachment. These units helped crush the 1900 Boxer Rebellion and then protected German interests in China until 1909 with their principal bases at Peking and Tientsin. The collection shows three items, an other ranks spiked helmet ("Pickelhaube"), an officers' sword and a pioneer's bayonet.

The Pickelhaube
The 1900 Pickelhaube of the East Asian Occupation Brigade was authorised for wear in February 1901 and was unique in several ways. Firstly rather than being made of blackened leather as were most Pickelhauben of the German army, this was made of grey/green pressed felt with front and rear peaks in green leather. To some extent it may have been a test idea for the German command to produce cheaper and more camouflaged headdress for the army in future. Certainly pressed felt Pickelhauben came to be in common use during the First World War when supplies of imported leather could not be obtained.

Secondly, as the East Asian Occupation Brigade was an imperial unit rather than one nominally under state command as was the regular army in Germany it has only imperial insignia. This insignia takes the form of an imperial eagle in yellow metal, and only an imperial cockade on the right hand chinstrap boss (just visible in this photograph) and no cockade at all on the left where the state cockade was usually displayed.

The third noticeable difference on most East Asian Occupation Brigade Pickelhauben was vertically elongated ventilation holes at the base of the spike. Interestingly this Pickelhaube does not have such holes, instead having round holes as usually worn on regular army Pickelhauben. It may be that only some Pickelhauben had these elongated holes or that this one has a replacement spike.

A fourth unique part to the East Asian Brigade Pickelhaube not visible in this picture, was that it had a small round metal lid that could fit over the spike hole when the spike was removed. Again this appears to be a trial run for future army use and Pickelhauben were regularly worn during the First World War with the spike removed.

As with most uniform items, officers usually purchased privately made Pickelhauben with better quality materials. This helmet however appears to be a mass produced other ranks version, probably issued to the infantry or cavalry. The East Asian artillery wore a ball instead of a spike on their helmets, the pioneers had a white metal eagle and the train company wore Jäger style shakos also made of grey/green pressed felt.

The Officer's Sword
This is the standard model sword for an Infantry officer of the East Asian Occupation Brigade, again notice it has imperial rather than state insignia in the form of an imperial eagle on the hilt. Officers' swords in the regular army usually bore state insignia such as a Prussian Eagle, or a Bavarian Lion.

The Pioneer's Bayonet
The East Asian Pioneer bayonet was of a unique model, the "Pionier-Faschinenmesser 98". This bayonet pre-dates the other items in this collection by six months or so. It looks like it was issued to the East Asian Expeditionary Corps in the Summer of 1900, judging by its unit marking. It has the marking "O.P.2.103." (see close up below) for the 2nd East Asian Pioneer Company ("2. Ostasiatische Pionier Kompanie"), weapon number 103. The 2nd and 3rd Pioneer Companies were disbanded in May 1901.

An illegible marking inside the Pickelhaube. Another illegible marking inside the Pickelhaube. Please contact me here if you can decipher either of these markings (clicking on the image will give you a larger version of these photographs). The markings "O.P.2.103." on the Pioneer Bayonet

This Collection belongs to François Fischer, thanks very much to him for sharing these photographs with us and also to Christian Méry for his help. Please respect their generosity in sharing these images with us by not reproducing them without prior permission. 





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

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