German East African Schutztruppe Askari
The most commonly worn headdress of the German East African
Askaris from the official formation of the Schutztruppe in 1891 to the
First World War was the Tarbush (or Tarbusch in German).
It consisted of a wicker frame with
a khaki cover which included a neckshade. At first brass numbers on the front of
the Tarbush identified each Field Company. Later a small white metal Imperial
Eagle badge was worn. This was the most commonly seen variant during the opening
stages of the First World War.
The Polizeitruppe wore a larger
brass imperial eagle. Other photos from the colonial era show the the Tarbush
worn without any insignia.
Embroidered or Printed Eagle Askari
Another type of Askari Tarbush that
has appeared in modern collections, museum s and online auctions is the Tarbush
with a printed or embroidered eagle.
The eagle in this case is not the
Imperial eagle of the Schutztruppe but the upturned winged eagle of the Prussian
dragoon regiments. No period photographs have yet shown askaris wearing such
Shout At The Devil Askari Tarbush
The 1976 film 'Shout at the Devil' starring Roger Moore and Lee Marvin is set in
German East Africa during the First World War and is very loosely based on
events surrounding the true story of the for and the and the sinking of the SMS Königsberg in the Rufiji Delta in 1915.
The costume department for the film
probably based their research on blurred photographs of German East African askaris and
made what they thought were reasonable facsimiles, albeit with an embroidered Prussian
Dragoon eagle rather than a metal badge of an Imperial Eagle. The other error
that the film Tarbushes made was having a red inside lining on the neckshade.
But from a distance the askaris didn't look too bad in the film.
It was only when these 1970s film props
(with their red linings removed) entered auction houses, museums and private collections labelled as
genuine First World War militaria that the confusion began.
This is an example of an innocent film prop can alter
modern collections and historical research. These items rightfully belong in a
collection of film memorabilia.