German Reservists on New Guinea 1914

 
 

Figure 1
Reservist
New Guinea 1914

Figure 2
Reservist
New Guinea 1914


Figure 3
Reservist
New Guinea 1914

     
 
 
Background to the German Reservists on New Guinea
German men of military age living on the islands of German New Guinea were called up as reservists upon the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Most, but not all, had undergone basic military training back in Germany. About 50 of these reservists on the Bismarck Archipelago participated in the defence of Bita-Paka radio station against the Australian invasion in September 1914.

Uniforms of the Reservists on New Guinea
Judging from period photographs the reservists had no regulation uniform but all were common in that they wore some form of khaki uniform and a slouch hat. Some of the tunics were ill fitting, some had pockets some did not. To identify themselves they wore green armbands on both arms. Green had been authorised as the official colony colour for German New Guinea in 1912.

Period photographs show that their equipment usually consisted of a single ammunition pouch (of a variety of types including the 1889/95) on a leather belt with an other ranks naval style belt buckle, as also worn by the New Guinea Polizeitruppe.

     
  The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a German Reservist taken just prior to the Australian invasion of 1914. This reservist is typical of their casual appearance in that he wears a loose fitting khaki tunic without insignia or breast pockets. He wears a slouch hat hat pinned up on the right hand side and green identification armbands on both arms. His khaki trousers hang loose over his boots. The equipment worn consists of a single 1909 ammunition pouch and a leather belt with the naval belt buckle.

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a German Reservist also taken just prior to the Australian invasion. This reservist is also quite typical of their  appearance. He has a slouch hat pinned up on the left side- the right side being the more common way to pin up the side of the hat. He also wears a loose fitting khaki tunic without insignia. This time the tunic has breast and hip pockets. The khaki trousers are worn tucked into leather gaiters worn over leather boots. He carries one 1889/95 ammunition pouch and a leather belt with the naval belt buckle.

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a German Reservist also taken just prior to the Australian invasion. This reservist has a tropical helmet with a khaki cover. From it's shape it appears to be the German 1891/96 model issued throughout the colonies. It may be that this reservist is a Polizeitruppe NCO or junior colonial official. In the same photograph upon which this illustration is based are several other reservists. Most wear slouch hats but this man and one other wear tropical helmets. The other helmet is lower and rounder in shape. This reservist also wears a loose fitting khaki tunic without insignia. The khaki trousers are worn tucked into puttees worn over short leather boots. He carries a German issue water bottle.

 
     


German New Guinea Reservists
This photograph shows the reservists on a training exercise just after the outbreak of war in 1914. Note the lack of standardisation with their uniforms- some hats are lighter or darker than others, some with hatbands some without. Some of them have pockets on their tunics, some do not. Some have their trousers worn loose while others wear gaiters. This would imply that the uniforms did not come from a central depot and may have been individually made or purchased from various stocks.
Photo from the Australian War Memorial / WikiMedia

Recommended External Links
The Battle of Bita-Paka on FirstWorld War.com
The Battle of Bita-Paka on Wikipedia
The Australian Official History of the War in the Pacific at the Australian War Memorial Website

 

 


Thanks to Bruce Swanton and Sebastian Grenda for their help on this page

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

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