The few German civilians on Samoa were not officially called up as reservists at
the outbreak of the First World War, but about 50 German traders, planters and
officials formed a citizens force ("Bürgerwehr"). This was organised into
three detachments - one guarded the wireless station and the other two took
turns serving as coastal guards.
As German Samoa surrendered to the New Zealand
invasion of 1914 without a struggle, the Bürgerwehr saw no action and were
disbanded shortly afterwards.
Uniforms of the German Citizens
I have so far only seen one small photograph of the Citizens
Force ("Bürgerwehr"). From it, it seems that like reservists
in New Guinea, East Africa and Cameroon they wore a mixture of khaki
military style uniforms in this case probably from their own sources.
variations are shown within the small unit in the original
photograph, with no two dressed the same. Their tunics are all of
different designs and shades. Most wear slouch hats while some wear
white tropical helmets, or civilian trilby hats. Some wear their
trousers loose while others are tucked into high boots or gaiters.
What unites them is that most wear the old 1871 single ammunition pouch
worn at the front centre of the belt, as used by the Samoan
Polizeitruppe. At least some also wore armbands in the imperial
Erich Scheurmann is described as wearing just such an armband.
is based on a photograph of an Officer or NCO of the Bürgerwehr. Like the
other soldiers in the photograph he wears a khaki tunic. He has matching
khaki trousers a, civilian white tropical helmet and short boots with
gaiters. Most if not all is probably privately purchased.
is based on a photograph of a Soldier of the Bürgerwehr. Like the other
soldiers in the photograph he wears a rough khaki tunic, non-matching trousers
and a form of slouch hat. He carries a single 1871 ammunition pouch hung below
his naval other ranks belt buckle.
It is difficult to tell for
certain if marks of the right arms of the men in the one blurred photograph of
the Bürgerwehr are imperial armbands or just creases in the sleeves.
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