German New Guinea

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3
Police NCO

Figure 4
Police Officer

Figure 5

Figure 6


Figures 1 & 2 are based photographs of New Guinea Policemen and show them as they appeared during their brief resistance to the Australian invasion of 1914. Figure 1 is based on a photograph taken before the war but wartime photographs shown them dressed the same. Figure 2 is based on a photo of the police as prisoners of war onboard an Australian ship. They wear only a traditional dark red native sarong (variously known as a Hüfttuch (hip-cloth) or Lendentuch (lion cloth) in German, a Sulu in Tok Pisin or a Rami in Hiri Motu, a widely spoken Papuan language) held up with a German naval issue belt and buckle with one or two M1895 ammunition pouches and a bayonet and scabbard. Some police (as with Figure 1) wear a dark brown peaked field cap with a red hatband and small imperial cockade while others (as with Figure 2) wear a straw hat with an imperial cockade holding up the right side, as originally issued to the East Asian Expeditionary Corps. Some straw hats don't appear to have one side held up at all and some police were bare headed, some with short cut hair others with wild Afro-style haircuts.

They were armed with the Mauser '88 Carbine and the Jägerbüsche '71 rifle. The original New Guinea police organised by the German New Guinea Company (prior to direct Imperial administration of New Guinea in 1899) were armed with old French Chassepot '71 rifles, presumably captured during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. As well as the ammunition pouch (or pouches), the New Guinea police were issued water bottles, ground sheets and rucksacks.

Figure 3 is based on a prewar photograph of a New Guinea Police NCO. During relatively cold weather, on night patrol and in the rainy season the New Guinea police wore khaki cotton naval style uniforms with a naval collar and cuffs edged in red. These uniforms were similar to those worn by Wissman's askaris in East Africa in the early 1890's and also by early Cameroon native police. In some photos of New Guinea police the NCOs are wearing this naval style top while the rank and file wear only the sarong as in the previous illustrations. This may have been to display rank insignia as seen by the single red chevron on the upper left sleeve of this NCO.

Figure 4 is based on a wartime photograph of a German Police Officer on New Guinea taken during a training exercise prior to invasion. He wears his white tropical uniform tunic (without Schutztruppe blue piping) and matching tropical helmet. Although they can't be made out in the original photograph the tropical helmet would have had a small brass imperial eagle above a small imperial cockade. In a small gesture towards the practicality of modern warfare he wears khaki trousers, probably personal items, instead of the matching white issue ones. A khaki uniform was authorised for personnel in New Guinea with green as their colony colour on Südwester hats and field caps but does not appear to have been worn.

Figures 5 & 6 are based on wartime photographs of German New Guinea Reservists called up to defend the island. They wore an often ill fitting simple khaki uniform, some without pockets, with no visible insignia or ranking. They all wear slouch hats but some have no cockade, most have their brim held up on the right (Figure 6 seems unique in being on the left). Many of the reservists also wore green armbands on each arm to identify themselves especially if the were not wearing an imperial cockade on their slouch hats. They mostly wear short boots with gaiters as shown here although some simply have their trousers worn loose over their boots. They often have only one M1909 (as with Figure 5) or M1895 (as with Figure 6) ammunition pouch.

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