Südwester Slouch Hats


This was the most famous headgear of the Schutztruppe. It was worn by all ranks on almost all occasions in South West Africa and on home duties back in Germany. In East Africa and Cameroon it was not so widely used, often being replaced by the tropical helmet on active service.

It was made of grey felt and held up on the right hand side by a large metal imperial cockade in black/white/red. The hatband ribbon and edging were in blue for South West Africa, white for East Africa and red for Cameroon.

Officers and senior NCOs hats were often privately tailored and therefore better quality and more elaborate with wider ribbons, bordering and cockades, sometimes with the white section replaced by silver.

The Südwester was a source of pride to the Schutztruppe and also a practical piece of kit, shading the eyes from the sun during the day and rolling up into a pillow at night.

Several variations on the Südwester were also worn including straw versions (mostly worn by troops in China and Macedonia, although some were seen in Africa), ones with different coloured hatbands and edging (for generals and colonial officials) and a variation on the theme in light brown worn by the South West African Landespolizei (see below).




The photos on this page are from the Doppler Collection and Ian Harrion. Please respect the owners' generosity in sharing these photos with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.
Click on the pictures below to enlarge




South West African Schutztruppe Officer's Südwester
Photos © Doppler Collection

This photo clearly shows the blue edging of South West Africa and the large imperial cockade.


A look at the left side of the hat showing the hatband and ribbon tie.


A view underneath of the hat showing the leather interior hatband.


South West African Schutztruppe NCO's Südwester
Photos © Doppler Collection

This photo shows the hat of a Vize Feldwebel (Sergeant Major) of the South West African Schutztruppe.   The interior of this hat still with an elastic cord as a chipstrap.   A close-up of the quite elaborate NCO's cockade.

South West African Schutztruppe Other Ranks Südwester
Photos © Doppler Collection

This photo shows an other ranks South West African hat, clearly of lower quality manufacture with a less elaborate cockade.   Another view of the same low quality other ranks hat.   A look at the left hand side of the other ranks hat, showing the ribbon tie.

East African Schutztruppe Südwester
Photos © Doppler Collection

The East African version of the Südwester with white hatband and edging. Judging from the quality of the hat it is possibly a privately tailored officer's version.   A close-up of the cockade (note the white enamel has mostly worn away).   A look at the left hand side of the East African hat, showing the ribbon tie.

Cameroon Schutztruppe Südwester
Photos © Ian Harrion

This Südwester has the red edging and hatband worn by the Schutztruppe in Cameroon. What is especially curious about this hat is the fact that the hat is made of a Hessian type cloth rather than the usual grey felt. Other Südwester have been seen in period photographs in both Cameroon and South West Africa made of Hessian or straw.   A side view of the Cameroon Südwester. Note that this hat is worn on its model backwards and would more normally be worn with the cockade on the right hand side. It has however been seen in several period photographs that Südwesters were sometimes worn back to front (even von Lettow-Vorbeck wore his backwards during his triumphant return parade in Berlin in 1919), at least one photographs shows one worn with the fold and cockade at the front by a Schutztruppe soldier in South West Africa.   An inside view of the Cameroon Südwester showing the interior leather hatband and chinstrap.

South West Africa Landespolizei Südwester
Photos © Doppler Collection

The German South West African police wore this variation of the Südwester in light brown felt, with a khaki hatband and no coloured edging. It was held up on the right side with a brass imperial crown and had a small imperial cockade at the front.   A close up view of the small brass imperial crown holding up the right hand side. Note that the cross has been broken off the top of the crown. Some privately purchased police hats worn by officers had had noticeably larger crowns.   A close up view of the cockade on the front of the hatband.

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