From the early 1890s Germans serving in the
Schutztruppe were authorised to wear specialist insignia. This
insignia followed Prussian army standards though in Imperial rather than
Marksmanship awards in the early 1890s were
worn as short bars of lace above the cuff. From 27th January 1894 a
lanyard in twisted cords in the
imperial colours was authorised. See Figure 1 showing a second class award worn on the
Schutztruppe 1896 khaki uniform.
The lanyard was worn with one end
looped around the lower end of the shoulder strap and the other looped
around a tunic button, usually the second. The award came in ten
1st Class had a knotted shoulder end
with a single hanging knot at the other end.
2nd Class had a knotted shoulder end
with two hanging knots at the other end.
3rd Class had a knotted shoulder end with three hanging knots at
the other end.
4th Class had a woven circular shoulder end with no hanging knot
at the other end.
5th Class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with no hanging
knot at the other end.
6th Class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with a single
hanging knot at the other end
7th Class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with two
hanging knots at the other end.
8th Class class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with three
hanging knots at the other end.
9th Class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with a single
hanging knot of yellow metallic thread at the other end.
10th Class had a brass shield on the shoulder end with two hanging
knots of yellow metallic thread at the other end.
The brass shield worn on by the fifth to tenth
class awards bore the imperial monogram "W II" for Kaiser Wilhelm II
surrounded by a wreath topped with an imperial crown. This shield was
fitted over the woven circular braid on the shoulder end of the lanyard. Artillery
marksmanship awards had small brass artillery shells in place of the
knots at the button end.
One Year Volunteer
This insignia consisted of a twisted
cord in the imperial colours around the edge of the existing shoulder strap.
See Figure 2 as worn on the South West African Schutztruppe 1897 home
uniform (note the blue cuff for South West Africa).
One Year Volunteers had a curious position
within the German armed forces. Whereas as most Germans were subject to
three years conscription in the regular armed forces followed by part
time participation in the the Reserve, Landwehr and Landsturm, a one year volunteer
could elect to serve only one year before going onto the reserves or
straight to officer training.
Only the wealthy could choose to become a
one year volunteer for they had to pay for their own uniform, equipment
and rations. Because of this many one year volunteers' uniforms were tailor
made and of superior quality, their only other distinction being the
twisted cord in imperial colours around the shoulder strap. One year volunteers
were added as surplus to the strength of a unit and as well as in the
regular army they also served in the Imperial Navy, Seebataillone and Schutztruppe
of South West Africa.
Artillery Gun Layer
A Gun Layer ("Richtkanonier")
is the gunner who "lays" (or aims) the artillery piece. The insignia consisted of a gold grenade motif with flames
from its top and both sides on a horizontal oval patch in the colour of the
uniform. It was worn on the lower left arm. See Figure 3 as worn by an NCO (note the silver lace edging the cuff) on the South West
African Schutztruppe 1896 home uniform.
As well as being used by the
artillery batteries of the South West African Schutztruppe, this insignia may
also have been used by gun layers in the East African and Cameroon Schutztruppe,
although as yet I have yet to see photographic evidence.
Period photographs show a
variant of the insignia worn by the Mountain Gun Battery of the South West
African Schutztruppe in Okahandja in 1903. See Figure 4. The insignia consisted of a pair of crossed cannons
and a flaming grenade embroidered on the upper left arm.
The insignia looks slightly different on different gunners in the
original photograph, sometimes with
the angle that the cannons cross at being slightly sharper or flatter. This
would suggest that the insignia were individually made rather than mass
produced. As the insignia has not been illustrated on colour plates before I
only have a black and white photo upon which to base this illustration I can
only guess at the colour being red, it may of course have been any dark colour.
One other uniform variation has been seen to
be worn by the Schutztruppe artillery in South West Africa. Johan
Somers' book "Imperial German Uniforms and Equipment 1907-18 Vol.3" (see
Book Reviews Page) shows a photograph of a
gunner wearing a greatcoat with plain shoulder straps featuring the
number "1" (and a grenade motif according to the author, although this
cannot be confirmed from the printed photograph). This is presumably a
unit number for the battery or artillery company. The colours of the
strap or number cannot be made out for certain from the monochrome
photograph. This is the only time I have seen unit numerals worn by the
The insignia worn by a Corporal Farrier ("Fahnenschmied") consisted of a silver/grey horseshoe on the lower left arm.
See Figure 5.
regular imperial army the lower rank of farrier ("Beschlagschmied") was
denoted by a smaller horseshoe in the piping colour of the uniform (in this case
blue), while a senior farrier ("Oberfahnenschmied")
wore insignia with two concentric horseshoes (one within the other) in
silver/grey, it is assumed this practice was
also done in the Schutztruppe but has not been confirmed by photographs so far.
The Schutztruppe of German South West Africa were entirely
mounted so would have had farriers in each company. Three Schutztruppe companies
in Cameroon had
mounted elements so may also have had some farriers with this
insignia. It seems unlikely that this insignia would have been commonly used in the East
African Schutztruppe as so few of their troops were mounted.
From 1912 the insignia
worn by a Medic of the Schutztruppe
consisted of a Rod of Asclepius (a snake twisted around a staff) in yellow
metallic thread on an oval patch of the same colour as the uniform worn on the
upper right arm. See Figure 6 as worn by an NCO on the East African
Schutztruppe 1896 home uniform (note the white cuff for German East Africa).
Prior to 1912 medics either
wore the uniform of a medical NCO (blue collar and cuffs edged in red)
or simply a red cross armband.
Qualified Horseman or Infantryman
A twisted woollen cord was worn on the shoulder strap by graduates
of the one year course at the Military Riding School in Hanover and also by
personnel attached to and former personnel of the Prussian Infantry Instruction
Battalion ("Lehr-Infanterie-Batallion") based in Potsdam. See
Musicians in the German army and also the
Schutztruppe were distinguished by striped shoulder pieces known as
swallows nests ("Schwalbennest").
These swallows nests came in a range of colours and variations depending
on the unit and the type of musician. They were removable in action.
swallows nest was made of two colours- the base of which was in one colour, with
eight vertical stripes underlined by one horizontal stripe in a second colour.
German musicians in the South West African Schutztruppe wore swallows nests with the base in blue
and the stripes in silver/grey.
The swallow's nest of the
Schutztruppe remained the same colours on corduroy, tropical white and home grey
uniforms. See Figure 8.
The Schutztruppe of Cameroon
and East Africa are not known to have had German other ranks musicians,
only music masters to lead the African musicians.
Mounted buglers were distinguished by swallows nests based on those of
the Prussian cavalry with seven stripes sloped at a 60 degree angle
sloping from the bottom edge at the front to the top at the rear. Thus a
pair of such nests would look opposite to each other. Again the colours
of the swallows nests have the base in blue and the stripes in
silver/grey. See Figure 9.
The Schutztruppe of Cameroon
and East Africa did not have mounted buglers.
The swallows nests of Music Masters ("Musik Meister") and band
leaders had a fringe on the bottom edge, usually in the same colour as
the stripes of the swallows nest.
There were some differences
between different band leaders swallows nests in the different colonies,
some having blue as the base colour and silver as the stripe and fringe
colour, and some not having the pointed stripes.
The shoulder strap of the
music master had a metal lyre badge as worn in the Prussian army. Again
these straps may have varied from colony to colony and period
photographs also show them
wearing plain other ranks shoulder straps..
The Cameroon Schutztruppe Music Master is illustrated by
Pietsch as having a red
braided shoulder strap with a brass lyre. See Figure 10.
The rank of music master in
the regular army was also distinguished in the regular army by wearing a
belt buckle with a lyre in the centre rather than a crown. It is unknown
if this distinction was worn by the Schutztruppe.