Unteroffizier Bursig, a South West African Schutztruppe NCO



Photo © Karsten Herzogenrath


This is a posed studio photograph taken in Germany. It shows Unteroffizier Fritz Bursig of the South West African Schutztruppe and his wife.

He wears a standard 1897 Schutztruppe Home Uniform in pale grey with the collar, Swedish style cuffs and piping down the front and rear skirts in blue for South West Africa. The shoulder straps are twisted cords in the imperial colours. It has white Litzen on the collar and cuffs and white metal buttons bearing the imperial crown. His rank as Unteroffizier is shown by the use of a single strip of white metallic lace around the collar and cuffs. Under his collar he wears a regulation black cravat. The trousers are matching pale grey with blue piping down the edge.

His headdress, carried in his left hand, is the peaked field cap in matching grey with hatband and piping in blue for South West Africa with a small imperial cockade and a black leather peak. In his right hand are a pair of white gloves. He wears a polished black leather belt with an other ranks imperial belt buckle.

He wears three medals in the form of their ribbons only on his left breast. The most senior is the top left ribbon in black and white for the Prussian Military Honour Award, second class, next to it is probably the South West Africa Campaign Medal with several clasps, though it is impossible to be sure from the photograph. Below them is his Long Service Award, third class. The certificates for Fritz Bursig's medals are shown below.

Long Service Award, Third Class    
  The certificate confirming  Gefreiter Bursig's Long Service Award ("Dienstauszeichnung"), third class for 9 years service on 18th January 1908. It gives his age as 25. He had probably served only half this length of time less as colonial service counted for double years. Note that the award is an imperial one for Schutztruppe service headed by an imperial crown and eagle, rather than a Prussian (Bavarian, Saxon or Württemberg) one for army service.


Military Honour Decoration, Second Class    
  The certificate confirming Unteroffizier Bursig's Prussian Military Honour Decoration ("Militärehrenzeichen"), second class on 11th July 1908. Note that this is a Prussian award on behalf of Wilhelm II as King of Prussia rather than Emperor of Germany.



Long Service Award, Second Class    
  The certificate for Sergeant Bursig's Long Service Award, second class for 15 years service on 18th January 1911. Note that this is only three years after his nine year award. As mentioned above colonial service counted for double years. Note again that the award is an imperial one for Schutztruppe service.

Thanks very much to Karsten Herzogenrath for sharing this photograph and these documents with us. Please respect his generosity by not reproducing them without prior permission. See also Photo of Fritz Bursig in Landespolizei Uniform.

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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