Personal Equipment of the Schutztruppe

Figure 1
M1909 Equipment

Figure 2
M1898 Equipment

Figure 3
Rear of Equipment

Figure 1
shows the 1909 standard issue other ranks equipment as worn by a German other ranks trooper of the  Schutztruppe in Africa. This equipment was standard issue to the in Cameroon, Togo, Tsingtao and to European and some askari units in East Africa by 1914. It included six ammunition pouches held together in two groups of three. Each pouch held 15 rounds (three clips of five rounds), although a cavalry version was also sometimes issued which was smaller and held only 10 rounds per pouch. Occasionally single 10 round pouches were issued, mainly to officers. Leather straps over and under the shoulders carried a rucksack (see figure 3) and also served to support the ammunition pouches. The belt was clasped with a brass belt buckle bearing the imperial crown (see right). As was standard in the German army of 1914 all equipment was issued in brown leather. Unlike the German forces in Europe who were ordered to blacken their equipment in 1915 the colonial troops continued to use brown leather. Confusingly most German naval troops or landing parties wore black leather equipment, except the III. Seebatallion who wore brown for the tropical climate in which they served.

German Schutztruppe Belt Buckle
(See Belt Buckles Details Page)
Photo Copyright Damien Doppler

Figure 2
shows the old issue 1895 standard issue other ranks equipment as worn by an East African askari. The German Colonial and Naval forces defending the colonies were normally issued with standard German Imperial Army personal equipment, although sometimes slightly outdated. This equipment was still in use by most of the East African askaris and the New Guinea police. It was also often issued to reservists and auxiliary forces in other colonies. Each large ammunition pouch held 45 rounds. Again cavalry versions were issued holding only 30 rounds each. In this figure the back pack is not worn and so neither are the under arm straps. The shoulder straps were however often kept without the back pack to support the ammunition pouches. They met on the back in a Y configuration. Another strap across the chest is used to carry the bread bag or water bottle. Askari belt buckles were plain brass (see right).

Askari Belt Buckle
(See Belt Buckles Details Page)
Photo Copyright Damien Doppler
Figure 3 shows other ranks equipment in Marching order from the rear as worn by an East African askari. He carries the 1895 model leather backpack with hide flap, upon which is strapped his canteen. Around the backpack should have been his tent section or issue blanket but this askari, like others seen in photographs and contemporary illustrations has a locally made patterned blanket instead. On his left hip attached to the belt is the 1905 model bayonet, while on his right hip is his bread bag and water bottle. The water bottle was of course an essential item in the African campaigns and soldiers sometimes carried more than one of them. The main differences between the what was carried by the Imperial army in Europe and the askaris in East Africa are that the askaris rarely carried entrenching tools or greatcoats.

In action or where porters were available to carry additional equipment askaris were usually more lightly equipped. The back pack was the first item to be discarded, with askaris seen often with just ammunition pouches, bayonets, rolled blankets and water bottles.

Mounted Equipment.
A unique style mounted personal equipment was worn by the German South West African Schutztruppe (see right). The equipment itself consisted of a leather harness complete with 12 ammunition pouches, each with a strap holding down the pouch flap, stretching around the rear and buckled there. On the left hip was riveted a bayonet holder and on the right, a brass loop to attach a water bottle. Because this equipment was designed for mounted troops where the horse could carry much of the load, no provision was made for back packs, tent sections, blankets, canteens or bread bags.

This equipment was also worn by mounted personnel in the Cameroon, although in a slightly different fashion with the straps crossing over the chest as well as the back.

SW African Mounted Equipment
(See Mounted Equipment Details Page)
Photo from an Anonymous Collector

Under wartime conditions many variations were seen. Privately purchased items were often in use along with a variety of native, civilian, hunting, homemade and captured allied items especially in East Africa towards the end of the war.

Thanks to Peter Ellis of Leather Rebels Belts for his expert help on this page.


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