The Illustrations are all based directly on photographs from the period with
colours and details taken from contemporary illustrations and surviving items of
militaria. Every attempt has been made to show the soldiers as they appeared on
duty or in combat. However due to scarcity of source material there are still
gaps in my knowledge of the subject. Please either
email me here if you know
something I don't or if you spot any mistakes on my part.
Colours used in the illustrations may
appear lighter or darker on different computer screens and should only be used a
rough guide as they often varied in the field due to manufacture differences and
wear and tear in hot climates.
Colours of Metal Buttons- in the text I
have often tried to keep to the phrases "yellow metal" and "white metal" when
referring to buttons, helmet plates, shoulder strap braid and suchlike. Many
source materials refer to specific metals such as gold or silver. While some
officers insignia was gold plated, most medals and buttons described as gold were
made from alloys such as bronze, brass ("Messing") or a brass variant
known as Tombac or Rich Low Brass. In
a similar way most other ranks medals buttons described as silver were made of polished
steel or gilt (a silver coloured brass). In fact many variations of metals and alloys were used in the making of
buttons, insignia and medals in Imperial Germany, particularly later in the
First World War due the shortages of raw materials.
Language - For the benefit of the English speakers I have tried to use as
little German as possible in writing this site. German uniform titles and unit names are given in
italics after English translations.
The main exceptions to this are the German words
"Schutztruppe" and "Seebatallion". Schutztruppe is
used to describe Germany's regular Colonial Forces. The word itself literally
means "protectorate troops" but has no direct suitable equivalent in English so I have
used the German word throughout. Seebatallion literally means "sea battalion" of
course. It would perhaps be better translated as "marine infantry battalion",
although that would cause confusion with the separate German naval "Marine
As neither English phrase sits comfortably in context so I have stuck to the
There are two other terms of uniformology I have
commonly left untranslated in German. They are "Litewka" and "Litzen".
Litewka is word of Lithuanian origin used to describe a plain tunic worn off
duty or for light work, there is no direct English Translation. Litzen are the
collar and cuff lace bars worn by some German elite units (including both the
Schutztruppe and Seebatallione). "Collar and cuff lace bars" is an ungainly
phrase so I have stuck with Litzen throughout.