Captured German East African Schutztruppe Askaris 1916
Photo Chris Wood

This photograph shows German East African Schutztruppe askaris captured by British Rhodesian troops during the First World War at Ilembula, December 1916.

In the centre foreground is an Askari Officer or Effendi. He is distinguished by wearing a pocketed tunic with turn back cuffs. It is the |Schutztruppe 1896 khaki uniform usually worn only by German officers and NCOs but worn by Effendi without the blue piping or shoulder straps. This particular tunic seems too big for the wearer. It is possible that he inherited it from a fallen Effendi when he was promoted.

Behind the Effendi are four NCOs (only three of whom can be clearly seen from this angle). They all wear NCO rank chevrons in red on the upper left sleeve. The  on the right also has marksmanship award bars on his cuffs.

Behind them are the rank and file askaris. Similar to the NCOs, most still have their original khaki uniforms and tarbushes although some are in battered shape and none wear the eagle on their tarbushes anymore. Some wear uniforms with pockets or of a darker shade which may have been made in the colony or captured.

The askaris have been disarmed and some of their equipment lies scatted on the ground, including ammunition pouches on the left and knapsacks on the right. They most still wear waist belts with plain askari belt buckles although the Effendi has an officers open buckle.

The Rhodesian troops on the far left wear a mixture of British khaki tropical uniform and Wolseley tropical helmets. As can be seen it would be very hard to tell them from Schutztruppe officers of the period. The soldier on the edge of the photograph has a Lee Metford or Long Lee Enfield rifle with its 1888 pattern bayonet.

The handwritten caption on the back of the photograph

Please contact me here if you have other photographs of the German colonies or the soldiers and sailors that served there. I am especially keen to hear from people with family photograph collections and am always happy to try to assist in identifying uniforms, units, places and dates for family history research.

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