Three One Year Volunteers in the South West African Schutztruppe



Photo © Private Collection

This photograph shows three One Year Volunteers in the South West African Schutztruppe. It was taken by O Ziegler in Omaruru South West Africa in 1907. Two of the men in the photograph are unknown but the one on the left is Reiter Walter Sobtzick.

The soldiers wear the 1896 khaki uniform piped in blue, grey felt Südwester hat and corduroy trousers with riding boots. The man in the centre is a lance corporal ("Gefreiter") as can be seen from the buttons on his collar (see close up photos below). Their status as one year volunteers is shown by the cord in striped imperial colours around the shoulder strap (see Specialist Insignia Page) and also by the Troddel bayonet knots which are again in Imperial colours as opposed to the company coloured bayonet knots worn by most other ranks (see Bayonet Knots) on their kS98 bayonets.

One Year Volunteers had a curious position within the German armed forces. Whereas as most Germans were subject to three years conscription in the regular armed forces followed by part time participation in the the Reserve, Landwehr and Landsturm, a one year volunteer could elect to serve only one year before going onto the reserves or straight to officer training. Only the wealthy could choose to become a one year volunteer for they had to pay for their own uniform, equipment and rations. Because of this many one year volunteers' uniforms were tailor made and of superior quality, their only other distinction being the twisted cord in imperial colours around the shoulder strap. One year volunteers were added as surplus to the strength of a unit and as well as in the regular army they also served in the Seebatallione and Schutztruppe.

Walter Sobtzick

An Unknown Gefreiter



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 photographs and am always happy to try to assist in identifying uniforms, units, places and dates for family history research.

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