German East Africa
African Auxiliary Personnel

Figure 4
African Irregular Soldier

Figure 2
Hospital Askari NCO

Figure 2
African Sailor

Figure 1
Signals Askari

Figure 2
Hospital Askari NCO


Figure 3
Police Askari NCO

Figure 4
Police Askari

Figure 4
African Irregular

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of an Schutztruppe Signals Askari. There was a separate signals detachment ("Signal-Abtleilung") independent of the askari Field Companies in East Africa. Signallers from the detachment were then posted to the Field Companies. As well as adults, young cadets were recruited into the signals detachment from the best pupils from schools set up by the Germans in East Africa. The specialist insignia of the signals detachment was two crossed red flags in a white oval worn on the upper left arm (see right and also the Specialist Insignia Page).

This signaller wears neither puttees nor boots. Although the Germans took care generally to see their men booted, askaris are also seen barefoot quite often, either due to shortages or preference.

Schutztruppe Askari Gunners wore a horizontal oval patch with a red bursting grenade motif in a similar way on the upper left arm (see right and also the Specialist Insignia Page.). During the First World War these specialist insignia were used less and less.


Signals Detachment Arm Badge

Gunner Arm Badge

Figure 2 is based on a pre-war photograph of a Hospital Askari NCO. This askari attached to hospital duties unusually wears a German hospital assistant's white tunic- of the same cut as the Schutztruppe tunic with brass buttons and with Schutztruppe white/red/black twisted braid shoulder straps but without the usual Schutztruppe blue piping. On the upper left sleeve is a white circular badge bearing a medical red cross (see the Specialist Insignia Page). Often a simple red cross armband was worn instead. Below this is his rank insignia- two chevrons for Schausch or corporal. Both German and African medical NCOs in East Africa wore gold chevrons on a black background (see right). He wears a watch chain from the left breast pocket to the third tunic button.

Aside from the tunic he is dressed similarly to most East African askaris with the tarbush and white metal eagle, brown belt with plain brass buckle, bayonet, khaki trousers, brown boots and obsolete issue dark blue/grey puttees.


Hospital Schausch Rank Chevrons

Figure 5 is based on a photograph of a Polizeitruppe Askari NCO. The East African Police ("Polizeitruppe") askaris were distinguished from Schutztruppe askaris by their larger tarbush eagle in brass, brass tunic buttons and an oval white patch with the red letter P for "Polizeitruppe" on the upper left arm (see right and also the Specialist Insignia Page). NCOs rank insignia as with all askaris was shown with inverted red chevrons also on the left arm. He wears one stripe denoting him as an Ombascha or Lance Corporal (see NCO Rank Insignia Page)

Figure 6 is based on a photograph of a Polizeitruppe Askari. He wears the red felt fez with black tassel issued to all askaris for off duty or light duty wear instead of the tarbush. As a policeman involved in light duties (in this photo escorting African prisoners) he only carries one M1895 ammunition pouch for his Mauser M71 Jägerbüsche  rifle.

At the outbreak of the First World War the Polizeitruppe were incorporated into the regular Schutztruppe field companies. They were a useful reserve to the Schutztruppe although not fully trained up to regular askari standards. Both the arm patch and large eagle were soon discarded in wartime.

Police Arm Badge

Figure 4 is based on a photograph of an East African Irregular African Soldier taken in about 1917. Irregular African troops (known as "Ruga-Ruga") were recruited in large numbers by the Germans in East Africa as guides, scouts and light infantry. They usually had no uniform at all and often wore their traditional tribal costumes. This figure wears sandals but many were barefoot. As with this figure most carried bandoliers along with locally made water bottles, knapsacks and blankets. The other figures in the original photograph are dressed equally casually, some with non-regulation fezzes with a single feather stuck in the top. Some irregulars were armed with Mausers but many carried older firearms, hunting rifles, old percussion caps and spears. (On display in the Imperial War Museum in London is an old .60 inch percussion cap musket captured from German forces in East Africa. The musket has a very interesting history having been sold by the United States to France after the American Civil War, captured by the Prussians in 1870 and was still in service in the 1914-18 war.)

As well as these soldiers the German forces needed an even larger number of African Porters to carry their supplies and equipment (not to mention dragging the SMS Königsberg's guns across many miles and varieties of terrain during the First World War). They were usually seen dressed lightly and poorly, in simple shirts with tied skirts or shorts, none of which were uniform.  


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