|This is a
posed photograph taken South West Africa, sometime between 1905
and 1915, but most likely at the earlier end of that scale. It
shows a Schutztruppe Maxim machine gun crew cleaning and oiling
their weapon. Maxim machine guns were first issued to the
Schutztruppe of South West Africa during the Herero Rebellion
The crew all wear corduroy peaked caps (with black leather
peaks and hatbands and piping in blue for South West Africa and a
small imperial cockade at the front - see right) and some wear
1900 Corduroy Litewkas
(with stand and fall collars, concealed buttons down the front and on
the four pockets, with braided shoulder straps in the imperial
colours- see right) and matching corduroy trousers. Although at
first glance the group appear to be similarly dressed they all
have very slight variations of issue uniforms along with some
unofficial additions that seem to have been typical of the
Schutztruppe on active service. These variations can be seen more
clearly when examining the close up photographs below.
The first figure standing on the left, wears shirt
sleeve order. Note that his trousers are held up with a leather belt
and that his gaiters fasten on the side with a short strap.
figure, sitting is dressed the same.
The third figure wears the 1900
corduroy Litewka tunic in a shade of brown/grey matching his peaked
cap. He wears riding boots rather than gaiters.
The fourth figure,
oiling the machine gun, wears shirtsleeves too, but notice his
trousers are held up with braces rather than a belt and that his
gaiters are of a different pattern with a longer fastening strap going
right around them.
The fifth figure also wears a
1900 corduroy Litewka (dotted with oil stains) but
of a noticeably lighter shade than his comrade and than his peaked cap.
Manufacturing differences meant that corduroy uniforms in South
West Africa did vary greatly in shade from grey/brown to pale
khaki. Once issued, the African sun then bleached uniforms further
off colour. This fifth figure wears riding boots.
The sixth figure in the group,
kneeling at the right hand side is dressed most irregularly. He is
wearing a woollen jumper, almost certainly privately purchased and
not of regulation issue. His corduroy uniform trousers are tucked
into woollen socks above his ankle boots.