German Officers and NCOs in Togo

Figure 1
Polizeitruppe Officer
Togo c1900

Figure 2
Polizeitruppe Officer
Togo c1910

Figure 3
Polizeitruppe Officer
Togo c1914

Figure 4
Army Officer Seconded to Togo
Togo c1897



Uniforms of the German Officers and NCOs in the Togo Polizeitruppe
I have so far been unable to find any information or clear photographs of the uniforms worn by German officers in command of the first Togo Polizeitruppe in the late 1880s. They would probably have worn similar uniforms to the first Polizeitruppe officers in Cameroon and New Guinea- mostly a variety of privately purchased white and khaki tunics with white tropical helmets, probably worn without insignia except possibly for a small imperial cockade on the headgear. Peaked caps were white with a red hatband and piping, again with a small imperial cockade on the front.

From the mid 1890's onwards the Polizeitruppe officers of all colonies began to wear a standardised uniform. They wore a white tropical tunic based on the Schutztruppe 1896 tunic but without the blue piping. It had a stand and fall collar, four buttoned pleated patch pockets (the breast ones of which were slightly sloped inwards) with six brass buttons down the front each bearing the imperial crown. Privately purchased tunics often had slight variations such as higher standing collars and omitting the hip pockets. Matching white trousers were usually worn loose over brown leather shoes. Headgear consisted of a white tropical helmet with a small brass imperial eagle above a small imperial cockade worn at the front and a black/silver/red twisted cord around the hatband or a white peaked cap with a black leather peak, red hatband and piping and a small imperial cockade at the front. On active service a matching khaki uniform was worn, along with a khaki tropical helmet or a khaki cover worn over the white helmet. It appears from photographs that officers and NCOs sometimes wore a combination of the white and khaki uniforms and that mounted officers and NCOs may have worn corduroy riding breeches. In 1912 yellow was authorised as the facing colour for Togo (for shoulder straps and hatbands and piping on field caps) but was probably not widely issued before 1914. A photograph in "Imperial German Uniforms and Equipment Vol 3" by J Somers (see Book Reviews Page) shows a Togo Polizeitruppe Officers white tunic with yellow piping around the collar, front and Swedish style cuffs each with two horizontal buttons. No similar tunics have yet been seen in period photographs and this may have been a privately tailored exception to the rule.

The rank insignia of German NCOs and and officers in the Polizeitruppe of all colonies was worn on the shoulder straps on a red backing (possibly yellow on some uniforms after 1912). The exact insignia for each rank is still a mystery to me, please email me here if you have any information to help on this topic.

Uniforms of German Army Officers Seconded to Togo
As Togo had no Schutztruppe, an officer from the regular German army was posted there to oversee the training of the Polizeitruppe in military matters and to lead them in action if necessary. The same principal was applied in New Guinea, also being a colony without Schutztruppe. These officers wore Schutztruppe or privately purchased tropical uniforms without Schutztruppe blue piping and insignia but with the insignia of their home units, of which they were still active members (unlike the Schutztruppe officers and NCOs who were released from their previous regular army regiments upon being transferred to the colonial force).

Uniforms of the German Reservists in Togo
German reservists called up to defend the colony in 1914 were used to officer the expanded African Polizeitruppe and also formed into a company between 100 and 200 strong. This unit was known as the "Europäer-Kompanie" and was withdrawn to defend the radio station at Kamina but saw no action before the surrender of Togo. I have seen no photographs of them during the short campaign but they presumably wore a mixture of non-regulation khaki uniforms, slouch hats and tropical helmets similar to those worn by the reservists in
East Africa, Cameroon and New Guinea.

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a Togo Police Officer. He wears the white uniform and tropical helmet as described above.

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a Togo Police Officer. He wears the white uniform and peaked cap as described above.

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a Togo Police Officer taken during a training exercise. He wears the khaki uniform worn by officers and NCOs on active duty and a white tropical helmet as described above. This helmet may have been worn with a khaki cover in action. His trousers are tucked into brown leather gaiters and ankle boots.

Figure 4 is based on a photograph of Oberleutnant der Reserve Valentin von Massow, a German army officer seconded to Togo probably taken around 1898. Von Massow wears a privately tailored khaki uniform based closely on the Schutztruppe design but with a higher standing collar and scalloped pocket flaps and without the Schutztruppe's blue piping. His shoulder straps are those of a Prussian army officer, made of silver braid with black threads (probably with a brass numeral "4" and the red piping of von Massow's home regiment- the 4th Prussian Cuirassiers- although these details cannot be verified from the original photograph upon which this illustration is based) and with the single rank pip of an Oberleutnant (see Officers Rank Insignia Page). His buttons would likewise have probably been brass with a Prussian eagle on them as worn by his home regiment. On his left breast he wears what appears to be a Prussian Order of the Red Eagle medal with swords. He wears a privately purchased khaki tropical helmet with a dark hatband and a small imperial cockade above a small Prussian (black/white/black) cockade in the style of the regular army (the Polizeitruppe and Schutztruppe did not wear state cockades). In the original photograph upon which this illustration is based, von Massow is seen only from the waist up and so details of his belt, trousers or boots cannot be known. On campaign he would probably have worn gaiters and ankle boots, possibly with riding breeches and a pistol holster hung from his belt. The belt would probably either have been a plain leather privately purchased item or perhaps his home regiment's white and black horizontally striped officers belt (see Belt Buckle Details Page).

Oberleutnant der Reserve Valentin von Massow originally served in the 4th Prussian Cuirassier Regiment ("Kürassier-Regiment von Driesen (Westfälisches) Nr.4"). As a reserve officer he was seconded to Togo from April 1896 to July 1898. While in Togo he wrote several studies of both his military activities and also on geography and agriculture in the colony. He also led an expedition of 91 Polizeitruppe soldiers against the Dagbon tribe, defeating 5,000 of them and their tribal allies at the Battle of Adibo in September 1896- the largest battle fought in Togo in colonial times.


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