Medical NCO of the South West African Schutztruppe


Photo © George Wylie Collection

This photo taken at the studio of R Schubert of Berlin is marked on the reverse as a "Schutztruppe Deutsch-Südwest Afrika - Sanitäts - Feldwebel" (German South West African Schutztruppe Medical Senior Sergeant). The words "Auf Wiedersehn!" are embossed in gold below the photo indicating that this medic was leaving his family for service and the marker on the left says "Veste Windhoek", showing that he was destined for the capital of German South West Africa. Thousands of similar photos were made by servicemen volunteering for the Schutztruppe to fight in the Herero Rebellion 1904-07.

His uniform is the 1896 Schutztruppe Kord Waffenrock, in this case with the distinctions of a medical NCO- dark blue collar and cuffs (without Litzen), red piping, yellow metal crowned buttons and yellow NCO lace on the collar ands cuffs. The cuff does not have a second bar of lace indicarting that despite the caption this medic's rank is actually Vize-Feldwebel (see NCO Rank Insignia). The collar also has the large yellow metal eagle button of a senior NCO. He wears matching corduroy trousers and Schutztruppe riding boots with spurs.

He has the Schutztruppe grey felt Südwester hat held up on the right hand side with a large imperial cockade. The hatband and edging would be dark blue to match the medic's collar and cuffs.

He has two medals on his left breast, a Saxon Military Long Service Medal and the China Campaign Medal which tell us that he was a regular of the Saxon Army who had previously served in the Boxer Rebellion 1900-01.

He wears standard South West African Schutztruppe equipment consisting of ammunition pouches around the waist and up each shoulder strap. These are of the second pattern, later Schutztruppe reinforcements in the Herero Rebellion carried the third pattern equipment which had small stud buttons holding each pouch. This medic was therefore most likely one of the earliest volunteers to reinforce the Schutztruppe in 1904.

He is armed with a Gew88 rifle and S71 bayonet. As with other similar photos taken in Germany these may well be studio owned props rather his standard issue. In his left hand he proudly holds the 1889 NCO sword with Portapee knot to distinguish himself from junior NCO who were not authorised to carry swords and sword knots.

Thanks to George Wylie of the Commission Rifle website for sharing this photo with us and to Karsten Herzogenrath for identifying the medals. This photo was originally shown and discussed on the Pickelhaubes Forum




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.

Back to Main Menu for German Colonial Uniforms