Figure 1 is based on a photograph
of a Naval Rating from the Landing Party of the SMS Cormoran
taken in 1889 in Bagamoyo during the Abushiri Rebellion in German East Africa. Up until the 1880's the German navy (like many other European navies)
wore wide brimmed straw hats in tropical climates. The German navy's straw hats
were edged in black silk and had a black silk hatband with the name of the ship in gold lettering similar
to the cap tally. Other sailors of the ships in East
Africa at the time of the Abushiri Rebellion wore the newly introduced tropical
helmet in white.
This rating ("Matrose") is wearing a white working shirt
("Arbeitsbluse"- see right) with removable pale blue collar and matching white trousers.
The Arbeitsbluse often had a single breast pocket on the right side with no
flap or button. The
single large ammunition pouch carried by this sailor was replaced in the 1890's
by one either side of the belt buckle.
Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a Naval Rating from the
SMS Königsberg taken in German East Africa in 1914. He wears standard
tropical landing party dress: white summer
uniform with sewn in dark clue collar and cuffs (see right) and khaki tropical
helmet (which largely replaced the naval cap on land in the tropics- see
right). The naval tropical helmet often had a small imperial cockade at the
front and was originally issued in white although later versions were khaki. He
wears short black leather marching boots with canvas gaiters.
In the original photograph taken early in the
First World War, the whole Königsberg landing party is dressed
identically but war time conditions soon gave way to less regulation wear.
Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a Naval Rating
from the Landing Party of the SMS Emden taken in 1911 during the Sokehs
Rebellion on Pohnpei (known as "Ponape" in
German) in German New Guinea.
This rating is again wearing the Arbeitsbluse working shirt
which was usually white,
although it also appeared in darker shades from grey to khaki. From the
original photograph this one does appear to be quite off-white. This view shows
the back of the removable naval collar (see right), and most interestingly the curious fold-up back of the
helmet (see right). This sailor wears the same canvas gaiters over
ankle boots as the previous figure.
Note the the "Y" bracing of the German personal equipment
and bread bag hung from the belt. Also
hung from the belt is his S98 bayonet. Unlike the German army, Seebatallione and
Schutztruppe, the German navy did not wear coloured bayonet knots to identify
Figure 4 is based on a photograph of a Naval Rating from the
SMS Königsberg taken in German East Africa during the First World War. In
the original photograph upon which this illustration is based this naval rating
is part of an anti-aircraft role gun crew, most likely to
protect the SMS Königsberg in the River Rufiji from British spotter planes.
He wears the same working shirt as seen on
previous figures but it appears to have been of a much darker shade. It is
possible that it was issued in an off white colour or dyed khaki using tea,
coffee or local roots, as was common amongst Königsberg crew members fighting on
land alongside the Schutztruppe. Note the single pocket on the shirt and the
removed blue collar. On the left sleeve he wears a specialist or rank patch (see
below right). He still wears his white summer naval cap with the cap tally in
gold letters "S.M.S KOENIGSBERG" (see blue version with silver lettering to the
As the war went on former crew members of the
Königsberg fighting alongside the Schutztruppe (or manning the Konigsberg's
large naval guns now with new gun carriages on land- see right) wore less naval uniform and more Schutztruppe or improvised khaki uniforms until they
could no longer be distinguished from the Schutztruppe.
Figure 5 is based on a photograph
of a Naval Gunner from the SMS Habicht taken in German South West Africa
during the Herero Rebellion. When the crew of the SMS Habicht originally fought
in German South West Africa photographs show them wearing white naval uniforms
and white tropical helmets. However they were soon re-equipped with Schutztruppe
uniforms as being far more suitable to fighting on land and particularly in the
harsh climate of South West Africa.
naval gunner wears the Schutztruppe M1896 khaki uniform (see below) with blue Schutztruppe
piping and a naval gunner's specialist patch worn as it would be on a blue naval
uniform, on the upper left sleeve (see below). He also wears a Schutztruppe
Südwester slouch hat with hatband and edging in blue for German South West
Africa (see below). The original photograph upon which this illustration
is based shows only the figure from the waist up, I have assumed he was wearing
standard Schutztruppe riding boots.