Identification Brassards
Reproduced from the Doppler Collection by kind permission



Armbands in the German Imperial colours (black/white/red) were worn on the upper left arm by different German colonial forces to aid identification. They were worn most commonly in the First World War during the East African campaign when regulation uniforms and insignia were not available and the enemy was dressed very similarly. Examples had been seen on Witbooi auxiliaries on the German side in pre-war colonial campaigns in South West Africa and were also known to have been worn by the Tsingtao Chinese Police (who also wore the other style of armband shown here) and most likely by other irregular units in the colonies.

During the brief resistance in New Guinea, German reservists wore green armbands on the left or both arms to identify themselves. Non-combatant German New Guinea Police wore white armbands during the campaign.

Shown below are several types of armband or brassard worn by the German colonial forces.

Please respect the owner's generosity in sharing these photos with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

East Asian Infantryman
He wears the 1900 East Asian Pickelhaube, the 1904 East Asian field grey uniform with a brassard in the imperial colours on the left forearm.
Photo from Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia


An identification brassard in imperial colours, probably belonging to an officer. The example shown here is a high quality 1899 version made from ribbon similar to that issued with medals and is edged in white at the top and bottom.   A close up view of the seam of the officer's brassard. This example has the Imperial Crown and presumably the manufacture date markings printed. Not all armbands would have had this and certainly not the handmade versions worn in East Africa   Another simpler linen brassard again in imperial colours. Simple brassards such as these were manufactured for use in several colonies. Later wartime versions in East Africa were often improvised as needed or replaced by simple strips of coloured cloth sewn onto the shoulder strap which also proved less of a target for snipers.
An armband worn by the German Police in Tsingtao. It reads "Polizei" in both German and Chinese. The Chinese characters are one character for "German" followed by three phonetic characters for "Po", "Li" and "Zei".   Detail of the brass buttons attaching the Chinese armband.   The Chinese armband as it would have been worn.
    An armband and a ribbon for sewing onto the uniform to aid in identification. These items were captured during the First World War. (Imperial War Museum Collection)    

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(except where stated)

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