Sunday, November 23, 2014

Images of the Landsungskorps from S.M.S. "Habicht" in DSWA in 1904

A detachment of sailors from SMS "Habicht" was the first reenforcement to arrive in German Southwest Africa at the outbreak of the 1904 war with the Herero.   Landungskorps "Habitcht" guarded railway stations along the narrow gauge line between Swakopmund and Okahandja and fought several sharp actions at Liewenberg at Groß-Barmen.  Sailors from "Habicht" helped serve in a Machinenkanonen section with Ludwig von Estorff's Westabteilung.  Dr. Belden and two sailors from "Habicht" were killed, and Oberleutnant zur See Friedrich Hermann, was wounded at Owikokorero with the Ostabteilung. Several more died of typhus.

Several sailors visible, in both blue and white uniforms, 2 with the 1902 Bordtfeld Tropenhelm
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)

Images of sailors from Landungskorps "Habicht" are few and far between.  Those that I have been able to discover show a mix of uniforms (the white Arbeitsbluse, winter blues and perhaps even work shirts stained khaki with a dye of coffee and tobacco) and head wear (naval caps, Bordtfeld tropenhelms and even a Sudwester or two).  If there is a unifying feature it is the blue, removable naval collar, with or without a black neckerchief , and an open, V necked blouse.

Here is an image of Waldau station on the railway line a few kilometers west of Okahandja before the war began, followed by one after it had been burned and was reoccupied and fortified by Schutztruppen and sailors from the Landungskorps.  You can see two sailors in the second image, one in a Sudwester hat, and the corrugated sheet metal used to make the burned out station defensible.

Waldau Station, 1903
(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)

Many of the sailors in the Landungskorps served automatic artillery pieces, including machine cannon (maschinenkanonen), revolver cannons (revolverkanonen) and machine guns (maschinenegewehre).  The following image from Okasise station on the railway line on June 30, 1904 includes a revolverkanone crew and gun platform, and includes a significant number of sailors from the Landungskorps (and one or more officers).

(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)

A close up of the gun crew in this photograph (from the digital library of Goethe Universität, Frankfort am Main, which has a wealth of period images), reveals soldiers in their winter blues - appropriate for this time of year in the southern Hemisphere - and summer whites or work blouses.  The officer in front strikes a jaunty pose.

Small detachments of Sailors from the Landungskorps also served machine guns and other automatic cannons with Estorff's Westabteilung at Omaruru and with Glasenapp's Ostabteilung.  One of the former is shown, below, at the grave of  Leutnant Erich Georg Kuno Freiherr von Woellwarth-Lauterburg who died of wounds received during the siege of Omaruru on February 14th, 1904.

(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)

Another sailor stands at a pair of graves, unfortunately just too pixelated for me to determine their names, in the image below. His collar is darker than his blouse but the shirt is no longer white.  It may be an example of one of the sailor uniforms that was stained khaki with coffee and tobacco.  It is just possible that the same sailor, in different clothing, appears in this photograph as the one above.  Hard to tell, but there is a resemblance...

(Photo from database maintained by Goethe Universität Frankfort am Main)

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