German New Guinea
 Micronesian Polizeitruppe Other Ranks and Auxiliaries

Figure 1
Yap, West Caroline Islands

Figure 2
Saipan, Mariana Islands

Figure 3
Caroline Islands

Figure 2
Auxiliary Soldier
Ponape, East Caroline Islands

After the establishment of German New Guinea on Kaiser-Wilhelmsland and the Bismarck Archipelago in 1884, the colony gradually spread Northwards taking control many of the islands of Micronesia. The Caroline and Marshall Islands became part of German New Guinea in 1885, as did Nauru in 1888 and finally the Marianas in 1899 (except American Guam).

Also in 1899 the first Polizeitruppe were established on these islands, under the command of a handful of German Polizeitruppe NCOs. The other ranks were recruited from Malays in the Dutch East Indies. Some, but not all, had previous military experience in Dutch service. There were originally 12 in the West Carolines, 22 in the East Carolines and 12 in the Marianas.

Later some Micronesian Polizeitruppe were recruited locally as well as more Malays being employed. To defeat the Sokehs Rebellion on Ponape in the East Caroline Islands in 1910, Melanesian Polizeitruppe soldiers were brought in (together with the guns and landing parties of the SMS Emden, SMS Comoran and SMS Nürnberg). After the rebellion Melanesian Polizeitruppe soldiers were permanently stationed there to deter future revolts. Melanesian Polizeitruppe also served on Nauru.

By the outbreak of the First World War the numbers of police in Micronesia had increased to 71 in the West Carolines, 122 in the East Carolines, 30 in the Marianas, 39 in the Marshalls and 21 on Nauru. These numbers were not enough to defend against the Japanese Navy which took all the islands without resistance between 29th September and 21st October 1914. The only thought of resistance was on Ponape, where deputy District Officer Koehler and two German Polizeitruppe NCOs retreated into the bush with about 50 Melanesian Polizeitruppe to plan a defence. After seeing the size of the Japanese landing force they wisely surrendered.

Uniforms of the Micronesian Polizeitruppe
The Micronesian Polizeitruppe wore several types of uniform, often in combination with each other. Some were the same as worn by the Melanesian Polizeitruppe on New Guinea, but other items were unique to Micronesia.

White Naval Style Uniform
The Micronesian Polizeitruppe were issued a white naval style uniform (as also worn by the Cameroon Schutztruppe). This consisted of a white top with short sleeves, edged around the wide collar in blue. It had three horizontal blue bars across the chest. Some photographs show these bars to have been quite thin and wide, while others seem to have been thick and short. This top was accompanied by matching white three quarter length trousers.

In addition they were issued the same dark red loincloth as worn by the Melanesian Polizeitruppe. Some photographs show Micronesian Polizeitruppe bare-chested wearing only the loincloth, though it was not unusual to see the white top worn with the dark red loincloth.

Khaki Naval Style Uniform
A khaki naval style top (also worn by the Melanesian Polizeitruppe and the Cameroon Polizeitruppe) was also sometimes issued. It had red edging on the naval collar and around the cuffs. Matching three quarter length khaki trousers were worn. NCO rank insignia was worn in the form of red chevrons on the upper left sleeve of the khaki top (see NCO Rank Insignia Page) by Melanesian NCOs and so also presumably by Micronesian ones. Judging from period photographs it was not commonly worn and may only have been issued to NCOs as some photographs show other ranks topless or wearing the white naval top while only the NCO has a khaki top. This top was accompanied by matching khaki three quarter length trousers. Some photographs show khaki or off white trousers worn with the white top.

Local Adornments
Surprisingly the German authorities seem to have tolerated the islanders habit of wearing non-uniform adornments while in Polizeitruppe service. These adornments consisted of plaits of plant fibres adorned with seashells, animal bones and teeth, pieces of coral, beads, agate, coloured stones or even large insects. They could be worn around the upper arms, wrists, neck, ankles or in the hair. Micronesian Polizeitruppe were not issued boots or puttees and all period photographs show them barefooted.

The headdress of the Micronesian Polizeitruppe came in various forms, though many of them went without headgear at all. Some had short cropped hair, while others had large Afro-style haircuts some decorated with locally made adornments (see above).

Straw Hat
The straw hat held up on the right hand side with a large imperial cockade (as originally issued to the East Asian Expeditionary Corps) was commonly worn by the Micronesian Polizeitruppe.

Südwester Hat
Some photographs taken in the Marianas show the Polizeitruppe wearing what appears to be a Südwester hat with a dark coloured hatband and edging and a large imperial cockade holding up the right hand side. The colour of the hatband and edging is impossible to tell for certain from the original black and white photographs. It may have been red as worn on the peaked cap and commonly seen on most Polizeitruppe headgear in all colonies. Likewise it is difficult to be sure if the hat is made from grey felt, as worn by the Schutztruppe in Africa or possibly straw or Hessian type material (see below).

Field Cap
The dark khaki peaked cap (as worn by the Melanesian Polizeitruppe) with a red hatband and small imperial cockade was also issued to some Micronesian Polizeitruppe (some photos showing only NCOs wearing them).

Yap Parade Cap
Another very curious item of headgear has been seen in contemporary illustrations but not (so far) confirmed in photographs. The illustrations (such as those in the 1920 "Deutsches Kolonial Lexicon" and the 1933 Waldorf-Astoria cigarette card set- see Contemporary Illustrations Page) show Polizei-Soldaten on Yap (or "Jap" in German) in the West Caroline Islands wearing a peakless blue cap on parade, edged along the top and rear with a twisted cord in the imperial colours, with a white feather plume at the front possibly held with an imperial cockade (see below right). Please contact me here if you have photographs of this curious headdress. 

Naval Other Ranks Belt Buckle
(See Belt Buckle Details Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection

Yap Parade Cap
Illustration from the "Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon"
(See Frankfurt University website)

Südwester Hat
similar to those worn in Micronesia
(See Südwester Details Page)
Photo © Ian Harrion

Brown leather equipment was carried, usually simply in the form of a belt with a naval other ranks belt buckle (see above) and two 1871/95 ammunition pouches. One photograph shows the only equipment worn to be a small single semi-circular pouch on a thin belt. I have not been able to identify the purpose or source of these pouches.

I have seen no photographs showing the Micronesian Polizeitruppe carrying any more equipment, however an illustration in the "Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon" shows a soldier of the Carolines Polizeitruppe carrying the same equipment as worn by the Melanesian Polizeitruppe. It consisted of a water bottle, metal canteen, groundsheet and a large backpack. This backpack was not of the pattern usually issued to the German army (or colonial troops) but of a loose shape and appears to be similar to the "Seesack" carried by the German navy (see Naval Equipment Page).

The Micronesian Polizeitruppe were mostly armed with Mauser G71 rifles with S71 bayonets, though some photographs show Mauser carbines also in use.

The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a Micronesian Police Soldier ("Polizei-Soldat") taken in 1910 on Yap in the West Carolines. He wears the dark brown peaked cap with red hatband and piping and small imperial cockade, white naval top with blue edging and chest stripes and the dark red loincloth (folded up quite short) all of which were standard issue for the Micronesian Polizeitruppe. His equipment consists of two 1871/95 ammunition pouches worn on the standard leather belt and naval belt buckle. His rifle is the Mauser G71 with an S71 bayonet.

It may be that this Polizei-Soldat is an NCO, though no rank insignia was known to be worn on the white naval top. The other Polizei-Soldaten in the original photograph upon which this illustration is based are less uniformly dressed. All wear the lioncloth, half have the white naval top but none wear any headdress. They all have the same 1871/95 ammunition pouches, though some only have one, all worn on the standard leather belt and naval buckle. Most are armed with the G71 though some have carbines, all fitted with the S71 bayonet.

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a Micronesian Police Soldier taken in 1903 on Saipan in the Marianas. He wears a Südwester style hat held up on the right hand side with a large imperial cockade. It is impossible to tell from the original photograph upon which this illustration is based the colour of the hatband and edging, it may have been red as worn on the peaked cap and commonly seen on most Polizeitruppe headgear in all colonies. Likewise it is difficult to be sure if the hat is made from grey felt, as worn by the Schutztruppe in Africa or possibly straw or Hessian type material (see above). He wears the white naval top but with khaki three quarter length trousers. He carries a single 1871/95 ammunition pouch unusually worn in the centre. His rifle is most likely the Mauser G71 and a scabbard probably for the S71 bayonet can be seen on his left side.

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a Micronesian Police Soldier taken in the Carolines, possibly in 1909. He wears the straw hat held up on one side with a large imperial cockade. Südwester and straw hats were usually worn with the brim held up on the right hand side, this Polizei-Soldat appears to be wearing his hat backwards. He wears a white naval top and matching trousers. The belt and buckle are of standard naval issue. He does not appear to be carrying any ammunition pouches, though one may be hidden from view on his right hand side. His rifle is again the Mauser G71 with an S71 bayonet.

Bali Polizeitruppe Soldiers
The caption to this photographs says that it shows Leutnant Hutter with a unit of Bali soldiers. These were presumably some of the first recruited in the Dutch East Indies for service in German Micronesia in 1899. Their uniforms cannot be clearly seen. Hutter appears to wear a khaki uniform with a wide brimmed hat while the Bali soldiers may be wearing red lion cloths.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

Carolines Polizeitruppe
The two German police NCOs wear white (or possibly khaki) tropical uniforms without insignia but with casual civilian flat caps. The other ranks have no headdress but wear the naval style top with three blue bars across the chest and dark red sarongs. The pouches they carry may be locally made as they do not appear to be similar to anything of German issue.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

West Carolines Polizeitruppe
This photograph shows Polizeitruppe on the Island of Jap. All wear the dark red sarong, some wear the white naval style top
with blue stripes on the chest and only one on the right (possibly the NCO) wears a khaki field cap.
Photo © Mark Skurka see For Sale Page

Pacific Polizeitruppe
This photograph shows the German Pacific Polizeitruppe. It was sent as a postcard from Yap in the German Carolines but written in Angaur a German island off Palau on 16th September 1911. As such it most likely shows the German garrison on Angaur, an important phosphate mining base.

The German NCOs wear white tropical uniforms with no visible insignia. The man on the left wears a white tropical helmet that is most likely privately purchased. Then man on the left wears a white peaked cap with what may be a red Polizeitruppe hatband.

The Pacific other ranks wear two different styles of uniform and seem to be from different garrisons. Note also the different facial features of each group being from different ethnicities.

One half of them wear red sarongs, white naval style tops with three blue stripes across the chest and no headdress. They are armed with the JB71 rifle and what appears to be the S71 bayonet. They carry a single ammunition pouch on a brown leather belt with a plain buckle. These are probably the local Angaur Micronesian soldiers.

The other half wear a khaki naval style uniform with field cap. The edging on the uniform and the hatband of the cap would have been red. They also carry a single ammunition pouch on a brown leather belt with a plain buckle. Note the water bottle carried by one. Their rifles are the Gew88 but their bayonets cannot be identified. These soldiers in khaki are probably from the mainland New Guinea Melanesian Polizeitruppe.
Photo © Karsten Herzogenrath - see close up details of this photograph here



Locally Recruited Auxiliary Soldiers
Unlike in the African colonies, Pacific Islanders were not regularly used as auxiliary soldiers by the German forces. Local tribesmen were sometimes employed as scouts, and porters were locally recruited for German expeditions but not usually as combatants. However when the Sokehs Rebellion broke out on Ponape in 1910, the District Officer was compelled to hire warriors from other local tribes to defend German lives and possessions. These Ponapean warriors do not appear from photographs to wear any German uniform or insignia, simply wearing their own clothing. They appear bare headed with roughly cut hair, often bare chested or wearing a simple loose shirt and having a grass skirt around the waist. It is unlikely that the District Officer would have had many German weapons to spare for them, but many Ponapeans still retained their own stocks of firearms before the rebellion.

Figure 4 is based on a photograph of a Ponapean Auxiliary Soldier taken while in German service on Ponape in 1910. He wears a loose fitting white shirt and a grass skirt. The rifle is not clearly identifiable in the original photograph upon which this illustration s based but is probably his own and of an obsolete pattern.

Recommended External Links-
Axis History Forum Discussions on World War I in the Pacific and When Germany lost the Marshall Islands
Südsee Polizeitruppe at
The Photo albums on the Micronesia Over the Years website

Recommended Published Sources-
"Rebellion in der Südsee"
by Thomas Morlang
(Published by CH Links)
"Askari und Fitafita - Farbiger Söldner in den deutschen Kolonien" by Thomas Morlang (Published by CH Links)
"Die Deutsche Schutztruppe 1889/1918" by Werner Haupt (Published by Dörfler)
"Rivals Of The Raj: Non-British Colonial Armies in Asia 1497-1941" written and illustrated by Peter Abbott (Published by Foundry)
"Uniforms of the German Soldier - 1870 to the End of World War One" by Alejandro M. De Quesada (Published by Greenhill)

Special thanks to Bruce Swanton, Thomas Morlang, Per Finsted and "Scarlet" on the Axis History Forum for their help in researching this page.



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

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