Bayonet Markings
of the Imperial German Colonial and Overseas Forces


Imperial German bayonets were usually marked in several ways which tell us a lot about the history of each individual weapon. Sadly for the historian, while most bayonets had their full compliment of markings before being issued not all bayonets did. During the First World War bayonet markings were frequently not applied and became quite rare. There are three markings to especially look out for on a bayonet. The unit and weapon number markings (usually on the hilt and scabbard), the manufacturer's marking (usually on the flat of the blade near the hilt) and the monarch's monogram and inspection date (usually on the blunt side of the blade).


Unit and Weapon Number Markings on the Hilt


Unit Markings of the South West African Schutztruppe
"K.S. 2183." on a kS98 bayonet and scabbard
Photo © Roy Williams

Unit Markings of the East African Schutztruppe
"Sch. D.O.A. 1345." on a kS98 bayonet and scabbard
Photo © Roy Williams

Unit Markings of the 2nd East Asian Infantry Regiment
"2.O.R.1.13" on an S98aAS bayonet 
Photo © Roy Williams


Upon issue to their unit, most bayonets were stamped across the hilt with a series of initials and numbers denoting the unit it was issued to and an individual weapon number ("Waffe Numer").

For example a bayonet marked "III.SB. 2.66." belonged to the III. Seebatallion, 2nd company, weapon number 66 and a bayonet marked "Sch. D.O.A. 1116." belonged to the Schutztruppe of German East Africa, weapon number 1116.

There were many variations on unit markings but the most common for overseas troops were-

KS- South West African Schutztruppe (Kaiserliche Schutztruppe)
SchDOA- East African Schutztruppe (Schutztruppe Deutsch Ost Afrika)
SchK or SK- Cameroon Schutztruppe (Schutztruppe Kamerun)
PT- Colonial Police (Polizeitruppe)
SB- Marine Infantry (Seebataillon)
OR- East Asian Infantry (Ostasiatische Infanterie Regiment)

When company, battalion and regimental numbers were used. companies and regiments were always referred to in Arabic numerals (eg. 1, 2, 3, 4) while battalions were designated with Roman numerals (eg. I, II, III, IV).

The weapon numbers usually ran in consecutive order from the first issue of that type of bayonet to that unit. From surviving examples it seems that when new models of bayonet were introduced the series of weapon numbers started over again. In some cases it seems from surviving examples that gaps were left in the numbering system, perhaps starting new batches on the nearest rounded up number.

For example S71/84 bayonets were issued in East Africa before kS98 bayonets and yet a S71/84 has been recorded with the markings "Sch. D.O.A. 1116." and a kS98 has been recorded marked "Sch D.O.A. 208.". So it would seem that the weapon number system started again either when each new batch of bayonets arrived in the colony or at least when the kS98 was introduced.

The unit numbers on bayonet hilts and their scabbards matched when first issued but it is not unusual to see mismatched numbers in modern collections. It seems that some of these mix ups may have been made by recent traders but the quantity of mismatches leads one to believe they were often used like that perhaps when one blade broke and another scabbard went missing.

It is not uncommon to see colonial bayonets with previous regular army issue markings cancelled out.

These unit and weapon number markings were also used on bayonet scabbards and on other weapons such as rifles, pistols and swords.



Unit Markings of the Cameroon Schutztruppe
"Sch. K. 3425." on an S71/84 bayonet and "Sch. K. 3158." on the scabbard. Note the cancelled out previous unit markings. They read "26.R.13.38.", showing it have previously been issued to the 26th Magdeburg Infantry Regiment ("Infanterie-Regiment. Fürst Leopold von Anhalt-Desau (1.Magdeburgisches) Nr.26").
Photo © Roy Williams

Unit Markings of the III. Seebataillon
The markings "III SB 5.133" show this bayonet to have been issued to the 5th (Mounted) Company of the III. Seebataillon based in Tsingtao. Being mounted infantry rather than cavalry, the 5th Company carried bayonets rather than swords.
Photo © Dow Cross


Manufacturer's Markings on the Blade


Crowned Erfurt factory Markings
on a kS98 from the South West African Schutztruppe

Photo © Chris Wood

Simson & Co of Suhl Markings
on an S98/05nAS from the I. Seebataillon.
Photo © Chris Wood

E&F Hörster of Solingen Markings
on a 1913 wooden gripped kS98 from the East African Schutztruppe
Photo © Stephen du Preez


The name of the manufacturer and sometimes their town was usually marked on the flat of the blade near the hilt. The factory markings appeared upside down to the hilt markings. Occasionally bayonets have two different manufacturer markings on each side of the blade. This is sometimes due to one factory making the blade and another assembling or modifying the bayonet.

Many factories produced bayonets for the German imperial army as well as small companies making privately tailored edged weapons mostly for officers, NCOs and one year volunteers. Most of these factories were in the Central German industrial areas of the Ruhr in the West or Thuringia in Prussian Saxony.

Some of the most notable manufacturers were-

The most commonly seen factory markings on bayonets of the Imperial German era are those of the Royal Prussian Army works at Erfurt in Prussian Thuringia. The Royal Prussian armoury had been established at Erfurt in 1862. Their marking had the Royal Prussian crown above the word Erfurt.

Simson and Company
Simson and Co. was founded in Suhl, in Prussian Saxony by brothers, Löb and Moses Simson in 1856. They made firearms and edged weapons as well as bicycles and motor vehicles. After the Treaty of Versailles limited the German army to purchasing firearms only from one outlet, Simson & Co was chosen. The Jewish family owners were forced to flee Nazi persecution in 1936 and the factory was from then run as part of a larger group of metal works as the "Berlin-Suhler Waffenwerke" or BSW (which was jocularly known by locals as "Bis Simson Wiederkommt" or "until Simson returns").

From 1945 the Soviets took control and part of the factory was dismantled and taken to the Soviet Union. In 1952 the company began operating again under the Simson name producing hunting rifles, bicycles and motorbikes (including the famous Simson Schwalbe moped). Like many East German companies it did not survive the transition to a market economy in the 1990s and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2003.
Recommended External Link - Wikipedia Page on Simson & Co

E & F Hörster
The Hörster factory was in Solingen, near the Ruhr. Solingen is famous for its knife manufacture to this day. They originally made bayonets marked as F Hörster and from the mid-1870s the company became E & F Hörster.

One particular batch of E & F Hörster bayonets are of special interest to colonial collectors. Every 1913 Hörster kS98 with wooden grips that has so far been noted with a unit mark, belonged to the Schutztruppe of the African colonies. This particular model of kS98 was probably the first to have the wooden grips with two screw bolts which became standard soon after, as they were cheaper than the old chequered leather grips and showed less tendency to rot in tropical climates.

VC Schilling
VC schilling were one of several arms factories based in Suhl, in Prussian Thuringia along with Erfurt and Simpson & Co. Schilling is of especial interest to colonial collectors as the as the factory that made the Pfm71/98 conversions for the East Asian Pioneers.


Heller Bros of Marienthal Markings
on an S84/98nAS bayonet from the 601st MG Coy of the Pascha I Expedition. Note that 'brothers' in German is abbreviated as "Gebr".
Photo © Chris Wood

Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Co of Solingen Markings
on a S98/05aAS Bayonet from the 2nd Naval Pioneer Company of the Marinekorps Flandern. Note that 'company' is abbreviated in German as "Cie".
Photo © Chris Wood

VC Schilling of Suhl Markings
on a Pionier-Faschinenmesser 71/98 issued to the 2nd East Asian Pioneer Company ("2. Ostasiatische Pionier Kompanie"), of the East Asian Expeditionary Corps.
Photos © Alain Ereth

  Monarch's Monogram and Date of Manufacture Markings on the Blade  

Wilhelm I or II 1888 Monogram
on an East African Schutztruppe S71/84, marked with a crowned "W88". 1888 was the year of three Prussian Kings/German Emperors. Wilhelm I died on 9th March 1888, his son and heir Frederick III died on 15th June and was succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II, who reigned up until his abdication in 1918.
Photo © Chris Wood

Albert of Saxony 1887 Monogram
 an East African Schutztruppe S71/84 with a crowned "AR87" monogram for King Albert of Saxony. The bayonet was originally issued to the Royal Saxon army before entering Schutztruppe service.
Photo © Old Smithy's Bayonet Pages


Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia 1861 Monogram
on a Naval FüsS60 marked with a crowned "FW61". King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia died on 2 January 1861 so unless this bayonet was made on the first day of the year, it is likely that bayonets were still stamped with his monogram for sometime after his death. Note also that early bayonets were marked on the flat of the blade.
Photo © Roy Williams

The date of manufacture or inspection was usually marked on the blunt edge of the blade. Note that this was the year that the bayonet left the factory not necessarily when it was issued to a unit. Some bayonets were kept in storage for several years before being issued.

The markings showed a crowned monogram of the reigning monarch above the last two digits of the year. For example a bayonet marked "W00" was made in the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, in the year 1900.

As most overseas troops were imperial forces they usually bore the imperial monogram. Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended to the royal Prussian and imperial German thrones in 1888, before the first Schutztruppe were formed and abdicated a few days before the last Schutztruppe surrendered so his monogram features on the vast majority of bayonets used by Imperial German overseas forces.

Bavarian, Saxon and Württemberg army units serving overseas sometimes carried bayonets marked with their own king's monogram.

Having said that, an example of a bayonet used by a Bavarian company in the the East Asian Expeditionary Corps show it to have the German Kaiser's monogram, rather than that of the Bavarian king. So it seems that as the East Asian Expeditionary Corps were issued new bayonets before their departure for China, they may all have had the German Kaiser's monogram rather than those of the kings of Bavaria, Saxony, and Württemberg.

Bavarians, Saxons and Württembergers in the Asienkorps and other army units in the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia (most notably the largely Bavarian Georgian Expedition) during the First World War may have carried state monograms. Although as the war dragged on, bayonet markings became less common and fewer state distinctions were seen in army use. Prussian or imperial insignia became common to many state armies.

On rare occasions bayonets from other German state armies were re-issued to the Schutztruppe. Two examples so far been seen in modern collection, one a King Ludwig III of Bavaria marked Cameroon Schutztruppe kS98 bayonet and the other an East African Schutztruppe S71/84 with a monogram for King Albert of Saxony.

An exception to the imperial and royal monogrammed date markings is seen on some naval S98 bayonets between 1906-07, which are marked with a crowned M (for "Marine") over a two digit date.

Inspection markings to verify the bayonets' quality were often placed directly below the manufacture date, as well as on other parts of the bayonet.

Recommended External Link - See Bajonett for full listings of the different German monarchs monograms.


Imperial Navy 1906 Monogram
on an S98nA bayonet issued to the 2nd Matrosen Division. Marked with a crowned "M06" (the M standing for "Marine" or Navy). Most naval bayonets are marked with the monogram of Wilhelm II or unmarked. This "M" monogram has only been noted on S98 bayonets produced in 1906 and 1907.
Photo © Chris Wood

Wilhelm II 1916 Monogram
This example is on an S98/05 bayonet, marked with a crowned "W16". It was found by Staff Sergeant Selwyn Jorgensen of the 2/14 Australian Infantry Battalion during the Battle for Kokoda in New Guinea, successfully defending Port Moresby against the Japanese Army in 1942. The bayonet however, was almost certainly originally used by the Imperial German army on the Western front during the First World War. It cannot have been part of German New Guinea's armoury as the colony had surrendered in 1914, two years before this bayonet was manufactured. How it ended up in New Guinea 28 years later is a mystery.
Photo © Murray Jorgensen

  Markings on other Weapons

Although this page specifically describes the markings seen on bayonets, similar manufacture, date and unit markings were used on most issued weapons as seen in the examples below.

Pistol used by the Colonial Police
The markings "L.P.92" on the butt of this Roth-Sauer Pistol show it have been used by the Landespolizei of South West Africa.
Photo © Alistair Hayes

Naval Sword used by the Marine Infantry
The markings "III. St. S.B. 37" show this 1870/1880 pattern Naval sword to have been issued to the depot unit or "Stamm" of the III. Seebataillon based at Cuxhaven in Germany.
Photo © Dow Cross

Rifle Disc used by the East Asian Expeditionary Corps
This is a rifle butt disc from a Gew98.
The markings "6.O.R. 3.1.29" are for the 6th East Asian Infantry Regt, 3rd Battalion, 1st Company, weapon number 29. The "6. Ostasiatische Infanterie Regiment" were part of the 1900 East Asian Expeditionary Corps.
Photos © Gilles Sigro


Further Reading

For more photographs and information of the different unit markings used overseas and in the colonies, see the individual pages on this website on:-

South West African Schutztruppe Bayonets
East African Schutztruppe Bayonets
Cameroon Schutztruppe Bayonets
Colonial Polizeitruppe Bayonets
Marine Infantry- Seebataillone Bayonets
East Asian Army Bayonets

Imperial Navy Bayonets
German Forces on Ottoman Fronts Bayonets

This is a very brief introduction to the vast topic of Imperial German bayonet markings in general and is by no means a full list of all markings bayonets used in the Imperial era. For more information the following websites are highly recommended:-

The Collector's Book of German Bayonets
French Bayonet Collectors Association
World Bayonets
Old Smithy's Bayonet Pages
Bayonet Connection
Gothia Arms Historical Society
Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Co

To go further into the subject some highly recommended books are "German Bayonets Vols. 1-4" by Anthony Carter (published by Tharston Press) and "The Collector's Book of German Bayonets 1680-1945 Pts. 1&2" by Roy Williams (available from this link).

Thanks very much to everyone who shared photographs of their collections for the making of this website. Special thanks to Chris Wood for providing the vast majority of the information on the bayonets pages of this website. Please respect the generosity of all these collectors in sharing their copyrighted photos with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.


Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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