|German men of military age
living in Cameroon and Togo were called up as reservists upon the
outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Most, but not all, had
undergone basic military training back in Germany.
Reservists in Cameroon
German Reservists, Landwehr and Landsturm were
originally formed into their own units when the First World War broke out, but were later dispersed amongst
existing Schutztruppe formations. Ultimately, as with the rest of the Cameroon
Schutztruppe lack of equipment and ammunition
hindered their full potential.
Uniforms of the Reservists in Cameroon
The reservists in Cameroon like those in
and Togo did not have enough regular Schutztruppe uniforms to go around
and so wore a mixture of Schutztruppe (including those usually only worn
by African soldiers) and privately acquired uniforms,
slouch hats and tropical helmets. Some photographs show reservists wearing an
imperial eagle badge from the fez of the Schutztruppe African soldiers. Presumably there were more of these to go around than
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and was withdrawn to defend the radio station at Kamina but saw no action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.
Uniforms of the Reservists in Togo
I have seen no photographs of the Togo Reservists during the short campaign
of 1914 but like
the reservists in Cameroon,
they most probably wore a mixture of non-regulation khaki uniforms, slouch
hats and tropical helmets with armbands or cockades in the
imperial colours to identify themselves.
contact me here if you have if you have photographs of
German soldiers in Togo, 1914.
Figure 1 is based on a
Obermatrose der Reserve Rassak,
a German Reservist, taken in Cameroon during the First World
War. Most of this man's uniform
is probably supplied mostly by himself, he wears a non-regulation khaki
shirt and slouch hat. His trousers, leather gaiters and short boots may be
Schutztruppe issue. He carries one 1871/95 ammunition
pouch held up on a non-standard belt. He has the straps for a backpack,
though if it is a standard issue Schutztruppe backpack cannot be
seen. He is again armed with a K98 carbine
and has an
unidentified pistol in a holster on his belt.
Note that although Rassak is
serving in the Schutztruppe he retains his junior NCO rank of "Obermatrose"
from his previous naval service.
Figure 2 is based on a
photograph of a Schutztruppe officer commanding a reserve unit early in
the war. He wears the Schutztruppe 1986 khaki uniform piped with
officers shoulder straps, a 1913 khaki tropical helmet and carries a
pistol and ammunition pouches on his belt.
Figure 3 is based on a
photograph of Unteroffizier Franz, a German Reservist, taken in
Cameroon during the First World War. He wears a tropical helmet which may
be of official 1913 Schutztruppe issue with an imperial eagle badge from
the fez of a Schutztruppe African soldier. His tunic is curiously also
that worn by the
Schutztruppe African Soldiers. Shortages in German Schutztruppe stocks
were no doubt behind this unusual issue. The tunic has red collar edging
and chevrons on the cuffs. It has plain khaki shoulder straps, no pockets
and four white metal buttons down the front. In the original photograph
upon which this illustration is based his left side cannot be seen to
determine if he is wearing the rank chevrons of an Unteroffizier (see
Insignia Page). Neither can his lower legs be seen clearly in the original
photograph, I have illustrated him with short leather boots and puttees as seen worn by some other
reservists in the same group. They may have been standard issue
Schutztruppe grey puttees, or possibly old or improvised stock. He carries 1871/95 ammunition
pouches on a standard Schutztruppe German other ranks brown leather belt and
buckle (see below), but with thinner shoulder straps, perhaps those from his bread bag.
He is armed with a
K98 carbine as issued to most German troops in the Cameroon Schutztruppe.
Schutztruppe M1896 Tropical Helmet
Photo © Peter Suciu of
Schutztruppe Fez Eagle
Colonial Insignia Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection
Schutztruppe Other Ranks Belt Buckle
Belt Buckle Details Page)
Armband in Imperial Colours
Identification Brassard Details