Seesoldat Werner Schlotte of the I. Seebataillon



Photo © Robert Schlotte




This is a posed studio photograph probably taken in Germany sometime around 1904. It shows Seesoldat Werner Schlotte of the I. Seebataillon.

He wears the Seebataillon Dark Blue Home Uniform (see right) with collar, cuffs and piping in white with yellow Litzen on the collar and cuffs. The insignia on the shoulder straps is also yellow and shows an imperial crown above two crossed anchors above the battalion numeral II. The tunic has plain domed brass buttons on the front, cuffs and rear skirts and smaller brass buttons with the company number holding the shoulder straps.

Of interest and only barely visible in the original photograph due to the nature of orthochromatic film (see the lightened close up to the left) is the specialist insignia of a telegraphist worn on the lower left sleeve. It takes the form of a dark blue oval patch with two crossed yellow metallic lightening bolts (see Specialist Insignia Page).

His trousers are matching dark blue with white piping.

Notice the curious way in which old orthochromatic film shows yellow (on the Litzen and shoulder strap insignia) as a very dark colour, much darker than natural. This was caused by the inferior photographic techniques of the time. See the Pickelhaubes Forum for more information on orthochromatic film.

On a table to his right is his shako. The shako of the Seebataillone was of the design as for the army's light infantry, the "Jäger". It was of black leather, with front and rear peaks. The Seebataillone wore a brass imperial eagle superimposed over a naval anchor on the front with an oval imperial cockade at the top (see below right). Note also the brass chinscales worn across the helmets' front peak.

He wears a black leather belt with an other ranks naval belt buckle (brass with a white metal centre bearing the imperial crown inside a wreathed motto "Gott mit uns" - see Belt Buckle Details Page). From the left side of the belt is hung a bayonet, although the exact model cannot be clearly seen.

He carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand. This curious addition is commonly seen in posed photographs of the period. It is believed the practice was started by the Kaiser Wilhelm II to make his noticeably smaller left arm appear longer. It then became the fashion amongst the German armed forces to carry a pair of gloves in one's left hand.



  Werner Schlotte had quite a distinguished career in South West Africa serving in the Marine Expeditionskorps, the Landespolizei and the Schutztruppe. As a member of the I. Seebataillon he first came to South West Africa during the Herero War. After the war he served in the Landespolizei as a Polizei-Sergeant. During the First World War he was called up as a reserve staff sergeant ("Vize-Feldwebel der Landwehr") in the Schutztruppe. He served in Leutnant Fricke's radio/telegeraph troop ("Funkentelegraphentrupp") which accompanied the Schutztruppe commander, Major Franke. Schlotte earned the Iron Cross second class for his part in the campaign.

Seebataillon Tunic
(See Seebataillon Uniform Details Page)
© Doppler Collection

Close up of the Telegraphist Insignia
Photo © Robert Schlotte

Seebataillon Shako
Musée Royale de l'Armée Collection, Brussels

Please respect the generosity of Werner Schlotte's nephew Robert Schlotte in sharing this photograph with us by not reproducing it without prior permission. 

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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