Thursday, October 31, 2013

Simon Kooper (ǃGomxab), The Captain in the Striped Coat

Leuntant Weiss, flanked by Simon Kooper and Henrick Witbooi
 There are several images taken together of German and Nama leaders when they were still allies that include a man with a white mustache and a vertically striped coat.  He appears at left with a Leutnant Weiss and below with Karl Henning Conrad von. Burgsdorff, as well as in a third image previously posted here.  His name was Simon Kooper, and he was one of the greatest of the Nama leaders during their 1904-1908 war with the Germans in Southwest Africa.

Bezirksamtmann v. Burgsdorff with Hendrick Witbooi and Simon Kooper
Simon Koper or Kooper, whose Nama name is !Gomxab, was part of the Fransman or ǃKharakhoen Nama who emigrated to Southwest Africa in the mid-19th century from the Northern Cape region of South Africa.  Kooper assumed the leadership of this group in 1863.  The clan was closely allied at this time to the Oorlam at Windhoek under Jonker Afrikaner.  In 1889 Kooper's people formed their main settlement at Gochas t east of Mariental.

Longtime allies of Hendrick Witbooi, Simon Kooper's Nama fought against the Germans with the Witbooi in the 1890s, and joined with the Witboois once again in the war against the Germans in 1904-1908.  In the photographs,  Kooper wears the imperial armband of Germany's native auxiliaries, but was quick to side with the Witboois when they rose up in October, 1904.

Despite his advanced age, Simon Kooper proved a tenacious are resilient guerrilla leader.  Among his reported extraordinary accomplishments, he is said not only to have survived imprisonment on the notorious Shark Island, where there was a 90% death rate, but to have actually escaped from it and returned to the field.  Although this claim requires further substantiation, there is no doubt that he fought the Germans in numerous battles alongside both the Witboois and the forces of Jakob Morenga, and that he lead the very last Nama resistance group in the field well into 1908.  The Germans actually attached him in the Bechuanaland Protectorate where he had taken refuge, and he was ultimately given a pension by the British in 1909.  He died in 1913 and is buried near Kaartle pan in Botswana.  His grave is inscribed both in German and in Damara/Nama.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cone Mounted Naval 37mm Hotchkiss Revolver Cannon from HLBSC

The Landsungkorps from S.M.S HABICHT had three artillery pieces with them when they fought at Lieuwenberg and Gross-Barmen in February, 1904.  One was a C73 Krupps field gun from the Kamerun-Schutztruppe.  One was a machine gun (and this was not the most effective as it was difficult to elevate sufficiently to attack Hereros on the heights above Groß-Barmen). The last was a revolverkanone, a 37mm Hotchkiss gun likely very much like the one shown manned by the sailor in an archival photograph below.

Tabletop wargamers in 25mm / 28mm scale are in luck if they are looking for a revolver cannon for the German Herero War of 1904, perhaps to play S-233 Assault at Liewenberg: The Main Line from the upcoming Sword and Flame based rules and scenario book by Roy Jones and Eric Alvarado.
Here it is in 28mm scale in all its cone-mounted glory from the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company.   All it needs is a Brigade Games, Great War in Africa German sailor or two to man it, for unfortunately the HLBSC German SW Africa Colonial Line is no longer produced (and I'm not certain that it ever had German sailors even when it was).  I have ordered this revolver cannon [as well as a smaller caliber variety], and look forward to its eventual addition to the lead pile arsenal.

Update (Nov 4th, 2013):  Here is another option for a 3lb 37mm  Hotchkiss gun, revolving cannon, but  in resin, from Grandmanner.

Archival Images

In researching the German = Herero War of 1904, I sometime come across period images of those involved in this conflict that are not commonly found elsewhere on the web.  I do not have the provenance for the image of the horseman, at right.  This rider of the Schutztruppe is an outstanding portrait, clearly showing his Schutztruppe saddlebag and the carbine housed in its leather pouch in front of the right leg.  He wears the standard harness with its ammunition pouches, and what looks like the 1896 khaki tropical uniform.  I dearly wish a manufacturer in 25 mm / 28mm would produce properly accoutered mounted Shutztruppen, in kord uniforms as well as khaki.

The image at left comes from Aus der Geschichte der Schutztruppe für Südwestafrika, a German account by Alexander Cormans published in 1914.  It shows the German District Officer for Gibeon, Karl Henning Conrad von. Burgsdorff, who was killed in October, 1904 at the outbreak of hostilities with the Nama.  He is accompanied by several native auxiliaries, almost certainly from the Nama, as the individual in the striped coat also appears in another image with von Burgsdorff and is identified as the Fransman Nama Kaptein Simon Kooper.  The other man seated to the left of him is wearing the imperial colored armband signifying his allied status. This image illustrates the range of fabrics and shades of color that can be used for European civilian clothing worn by the Nama during this period.

Another image from Cormans' book depicts the Seebataillon at Omaruru, presumably the 3rd Marine Infantry Company that was part of Major Estorff's West Section that operated in this sector during the latter part of February, 1904.  Estorff's men fought a 10-hour engagement at Otjihihamaparerero before rejoining the Main Section under Governor Leutwein and participating in the aborted campaign that included fighting at Ongandjira and Owiumbo.  The marine at right wears an NCO's braid on his uniform collar, and his boots are a decidedly lighter color than his black marine ammunition harness. 

It is hard to tell whether the marine emblems have been removed from their cork sun helmets, but the cloth covering appears to be a light khaki, or perhaps it was stained a darker color.  There is documentation in an account by Obermatrosen G. Auer that he and his fellow sailors in the landungskorps from the S.M.S. "Habicht" dyed their tropical white uniforms with coffee and tobacco.

The traditional Herero village homestead or "werft" included domed, round houses with low entries, walls that had been daubed with mud and cow manure, and a thatched roof covering.  The image at left shows one such "pontok" below the Waterberg.  I am looking forward to modelling scenic elements for my German = Herero War gaming table, and huts like these will certainly be among them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mustering the Troops: Germans and Allies

The lead pile at my house representing the German colonial forces in the Herero War of 1904 is even larger than the one discussed in a prior post for their Herero adversaries.  This is due, in part, to a greater variety of troops in the field, as well as more options for depicting them than are available representing armed Africans in European clothing and appropriate uniforms for this period.  The Order of Battle for the Germans, as of now, includes the following figures and sets:


Askari Miniatures –   4 German Shutztruppe command
                                -    10 German Shutztruppe infantry
                               -     4  German Shutztruppe field artillery crew
                                -    Krupp 77mm field gun
                                -    4 German shutztruppe mountain artillery crew
                                     Krupp 75 mm mountain gun
                                -    4 mules
                                -    limber

Tiger Miniatures – 5 German Shutztruppen advancing at trail
                              -   5 German Shutztruppen advancing at high port
                               -  5 German Gun Crew in Slouch Hats
                              -   75mm Krupp Mountain Gun (EX-13)
                              -   75mm Krupp Field Gun (EX-010)
                              -  2 German Camel riders in Slouch Hats (sans camels)
                                  on horses from a set with riders in pith helmets

Pulp Miniatures    - 5 German Colonial officers and NCOs
                                - 5  German Colonial Rifles
                                 - 4 German Hvy and Lht. Maxim Gun teams
                                -  5  German Seebattalion troops in field caps (to be painted as Schutztruppen)

Matchlock            - 1  German S.W. Africa Field Force Wounded
  (in transit)          -1 German S.W. Africa Field Force Mounted Officer
                               - 2 German S.W. Africa Field Force Mounted Rifleman
                               -2 GERMAN S.W. AFRICA FIELD FORCE   TWO WALKING WOUNDED
                               -1 GERMAN S.W. AFRICA FIELD FORCE   SITTING WOUNDED)

Brigade Games       - 4 (2) German Shutztruppe Command
                                 - (4 German sailor command
                                - 8 German sailors I
                               -8 German sailors II
                              - 3 Hvy Maxim gun sailor crew

Northstar Miniatures – 2 Boer wagon driver and voorloper
                                        - 4oxen

4Ground                      - Boer Jawbone wagon

Copplestone Castings:- 2(5) German officers
                                        -10 German marines

Foundry                    - 3 Native Horse (DA 15/6)
Total: 46 infantry, 5 mounted cavalry, 3 native horse, 7  machine gunners (3 of them sailors), 13 artillery, 2 noncombatants, 11 marines, 20 sailors = 107

Comments:  Some of these sets came with figures in sun helmets or fez that are not appropriate for Southwest Africa.  I have not yet seen the Matchlock figures, which I believe are the same as Falcon miniatures in the US but seem to have a different selection that does not completely overlap.  I understand from a personal communication with Roy Jones, a longtime champion of tabletop wargaming in this period and the author of the excellent Herero Wars blog, that a number of the Falcon miniatures offerings were designed to fill needed gaps and he recommends them highly.

I continue to hope that German figures will be produced in kord waffenrock or kord litewka uniforms, some of them in field caps.  I also would like to see a heliograph unit, and if one does not appear soon, I may be compelled to decapitate the excellent set from Perry's Sudan range and replace the heads with Germans in slouch hats.  More mounted troops, and better choices for native auxiliaries, are also needed.  If a German personality set is contemplated by any manufacturer for this period, my votes would go for Maj Estorff in his short beard and long mustaches, Governor Leutwein in his gray home uniform and field cap, Maj. von Glasenapp of the Seebataillon in a field cap, and Lt. General Lothar von Trotha as he appears in an historic photograph taken in Windhoek with Leutwein in 1904.  Herero and Nama command figures are also needed (Samuel Maharero, Hendrick Witbooi, Assa Riarua and Jakob Morenga would be my choices).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mustering the Troops: Hereros

There is a very large lead pile now at my house, and four more shipments expected soon to fill up the ranks. I discussed options for Herero figures in a previous post.  Here, then, is the current, unpainted Order of Battle for my Herero forces in either 25mm or 28mm scale:.


Askari Miniatures       – 10 Hereros skirmishing

Tiger Miniatures         – 5 Hereros skirmishing

Northstar Miniatures   – 4 Matabele warriors firing rifles
                                 - 8 Matabele Rebels firing muskets
                                 - 8 Matabele Rebels firing rifles
                                 - Native Cattle
Brigade Games           – 8 Shutztruppe askaris in slouch hats

Foundry                    – 7 tribal musketmen in hats and coats
                                 - 8 African villagers

Perry (Mafeking)        - 6 Black armed civilians firing, standing and
                                     standing ready
                                 -6 Black armed civilians (mostly separate weapons)

Redoubt (in transit)      - 1 NNC Kneeling Firing Carbine In Jacket
                                  -1 Mounted Edendale Horse, NNH Contingent,
                                       Boot Holding Carbine
                                  -    Small Native Pony For NNH Figures
                                  -1 Sikali Horse Native On Foot Firing Carbine

Empress Miniatures      -2 Native Horse mounted (head variation)
(in transit)                    -2 Native Horse mounted (head variation
                                   -1 Native Horse horse holder and horses (4)
                                  - 4 Native Horse skirmishing

Total:  62 infantry, 5 mounted / 7 dismounted cavalry, 8 noncombatants, 3 cattle

Comments:  The Foundry tribal musketmen set (DA038) arrived with 7 figures instead of the listed 8.  The Empress native horse sets (ZWB 44, 45, 46 & 47) will stand in nicely either as Herero or Nama cavalry, but will need to have the spears removed from the quivers that are slung across their backs.  I gave the Foundry 3 rider Natal Native Horse set to the Germans to serve as native auxiliaries from the Witbooi Nama.  I will continue to add figures from Askari Miniatures to my Herero forces as they are produced.

I will share the German Colonial figures in my army in a subsequent post.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

25mm / 28mm Scale Choices for Herero War Seebataillon, Landungskorp, Native Auxilleries and Civilians

In addition to the Schutztruppe - both the "old Africans" and their hastily assembled reinforcements - the German Colonial forces in the Herero war included marine and naval troops, along with native auxiliaries, armed settlers and non-combatant teamsters.  This post examines figure options available to tabletop wargamers for this conflict in 25mm / 28mm scales.

As mentioned in a prior post, among the very first reinforcements to come ashore at Swakopmund
Brigade Games BG-WIAG17 German Sailor Command
were a landing party of sailors from the gunboat "Habitcht", followed shortly thereafter by Marine-Infanterie-Kompagnien made up of detachments from four Imperial "Seebataillon" units, along with machine gun sections that appear to have been served by elements of each of these branches of service.

The best choice for figures representing the German landing party is those offered by Brigade Games from their Great War in Africa line.  These sailors in tropical dress are 28mm figures include a 4 figure command set, two 8 figure sets in 4 poses each, and a 3 figure heavy machine gun Maxim team.  With 23 figures you have nearly half the total force of the initial landing party and may not be able to bring them all into play in most gaming scenarios, but you will be able to put forward an excellent showing of these Imperial sailors.

Copplestone Castings AFU-1 German Marines
For Seesoldaten, there are two good possibilities.  Mark Copplestone's Copplestone Castings has a Darkest Africa line that includes German marines advancing at port.  There is also a marine officer included in Copplestone's German officers pack, as well as another officer in a field cap who would paint up well for the Schutztruppe (the other three are of less value for a Herero War scenario, with two in fez and one in a non military pith helmet).  I have both sets and intend to paint the marine officer to stand in for Major von Glasenapp, the overall commander of the Marine-Infanterie in Southwest Africa who fought with the Eastern section of the Colonial forces at Owikokorero and Okaharui.

The other choice is to go with Pulp Figures.  I have several of their colonial troop sets in slouch
Pulp Figures PGS-2 German Seebataillon NCOs

hats, as well as their seebataillon set in field caps which I am intending to paint as Schutztruppe because primary sources indicate they were issued sun helmets for Southwest Africa service. The other Seebataillon from Pulp Miniatures include a four figure Maxim gun crew with officer that I intend to purchase.  They also offer a five figure Seebataillon officer set, an NCO set and a set of troops in sun helmets.  The later is dynamic and looks fun to paint, but I am not sure how they will look alongside the slimmer Copplestone figures.  As for the others, there is something a bit to cartoonish in the officer set for my taste, but I might get the NCO set if the Seesoldaten in sun helmets end up working for my layout.

There were no Askaris in Southwest Africa, and no African Auxiliaries in fez.  The Germans had three units of native allies in the Herero war.  The Wilbooi Nama sent about 80 men, mostly distinguished by armbands in Imperial colors.  Any of the limited options for mounted Hereros discussed in a prior article could serve for Witbooi Nama if armbands were added and their hats painted to appear to be covered in white cloth, with or without Imperial colored hat bands.  There were also Bethany Nama, though I can find very little about them except that the nephew of the overall commander von Trotha may have commanded them in the Waterberg campaign.  At need, either Nama group could be represented by Brigade Games Schutztruppe Askaris in slouch hats, distinguished  by painting armbands, handbands and hat covers as described above  .As for the Rehoboth "Basters", it would take some significant conversion to make a uniformed unit of these troops and I have not seen suitable figures on the market that would work for them.

There were both German and Boer settlers who fought the Herero during 1904.  The former were

North Star Africa NSA6001 - Boer Riflemen I
largely reservists in Schutztruppe uniforms.  As for the Boer, there are any number of manufacturers who offer both mounted and dismounted figures for South African boers as the appears between 1879 and 1902.  I am partial to Wargames Foundry Miniatures' sets from their Boer War range (DA-18/7 and 18/8), but also like those provided by Empress Miniatures for their Anglo-Zulu War Line and by North Star Africa
North Star also offers a boer wagon driver and native voorloper as teamsters for several authentic Boer wagons provided as laser cut wooden models by 4Ground, along with the oxen needed to pull them.  As the heavy sands of the Southwest African veld often required 18-20 oxen for a single wagon, you will want more than a two ox team to give the right impression.  I have at six on a jawbone wagon at the moment and may add two more.

Miniatures in 25mm / 28mm Scale to Represent the Schutztruppe in Southwest Africa in 1904

There are a number of manufacturers offering German Colonial troops in 25mm or 28mm scale.  Not all off them are appropriate for war gaming the Herero war of 1904, however, and not all of them are still in production.  This post deals only with options for the Schutztruppe (seebataillon, naval landing parties and native auxiliaries will be addressed in subsequent posts).

First the bad news:  Back at the turn of the millennium, the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBSC) introduced an excellent German colonial range that included infantry in slouch hats and mounted troops.  These have not been produced for a number of years, however, and after contacting the manufacturer I received the sad news that the molds for these figures are worn and no longer useable.  This is very unfortunate, because there are virtually no other sources available in these scales for accurately portrayed mounted Schutztruppen.  If you find any of these for sale, grab them.

Falcon Miniatures (also produced in Britain as Matchlock Miniatures) also have a German Colonial Southwest Africa Line in 25mm scale.  I have been only been able to find two somewhat different listings of the Matchlock line and no good images of the Matchlock or Falcon Figures, though have been able to order through them successfully.  I am worried by both the inclusion of Askaris, including lancers, which were not used in Southwest Africa, and by some of the slouch hats that I can just make out in the picture gallery on the Falcon site that seem to show Germans in hats turned up across the forehead. Falcon has not returned my email request for more information.  They do have mounted troops, however, and I would very much like to examine them further.

Brigade Games Great War in Africa Line has a number of figures representing German Colonial Troops, and some of these are in Slouch Hats.  Unfortunately, they are wearing puttees instead of cavalry boots.  I did pick up the Command Set and will use two of the four figures (the ones that have slouch hats), but passed on the four infantry in slouch hats because of their leg wrappings.  Brigade Games is a great source, however, for German naval forces.

Falcon and Tiger Miniatures offer German Schutztruppen mounted on both camels and horses.
Unfortunately, the Southwest Africa cavalry troop mounted on Camels was established after the Herero revolt.  I purchased two figure sets from Tiger (troopers in slouch hats on camels and troopers in pith
Tiger Miniatures GC 03 German Schutztruppen Advancing at High Port
helmets on horses) and switched their mounts.  They are very nice figures and I am only sorry that the sun helmeted troopers will have to sit this one out. 

Recreational Conflict is the American distributor for Tiger Miniatures and a joy to order from.  In addition to the mounted figures referenced above, I have two sets of 28 mm German colonial infantry in slouch hats (5 pieces in each advancing at high port or at trail) and a 5 piece artillery crew with a mountain gun.  I did not order the Command set because three of the figures are in sun helmets which were not issued to the Schutztruppe in Southwest Africa.

Pulp Miniatures PGS 17 German Colonial Maxim Guns
The bulk of my Schutztruppe figures are from Tiger, Pulp Miniatures and Askari.  The Pulp Figures are robust 28mm scale and dynamically sculpted.  They are not quite as scrupulously authentic with regard to uniform details and accouterments as are the 25mm Askari offerings, but they are still excellent.  I picked up the 4 figure, 28mm heavy and light machine gun teams from Pulp Figures, which as far as I know are the only Schutztruppe ones available, and they are outstanding.   I also have both the 5 piece German Colonial Rifles set and the 5 piece German Colonial officers and NCOs set, and I also picked up the five piece PGS 04 German Seebattailon Troops 2 which are in peaked feld caps and which I indent to paint in Schutztruppe colors.  There are many period images showing German Schutztruppe wearing these caps as alternatives to Slouch Hats, while the Seebatallion companies that did serve in Southwest Africa were in khaki colored sun helmets.

Askari Miniatures in 28mm are a new line and have the most accurate depictions of Schutztruppe that
Askari Miniatures GE-3 German Schutztrupe Field Artillery Crew
are suitable for the Herero conflict.  I have their entire line and intend to purchase whatever new offerings are subsequently produced.  These now include a 4 piece command set, 10 figures in five poses of Schutztruppe infantry, and 4 piece sets of gunners for both field and mountain artillery.  I have the 77 mm Krupp field gun and 75mm Krupp mountain gun that Askari produces for these figures, as well as a limber with a four mule team. 

The uniforms worn by these figures are various interpretations of the 1896 "Feldrock" khaki tunic.  It would be great to see other figures made wearing the Kord Waffenrock and Litewka as well, given how common these were in Southwest African service, and field caps.  Here's hoping some of these find their way to market soon, along with more cavalry and poses of infantry lying prone and maybe a heliograph section.  Nonetheless, there are ample choices to a respectable dismounted infantry and artillery force, further supplemented by seesoldaten, naval landing parties, boers and native auxiliaries which we shall cover in the an upcoming post.