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German Camel Corps

The colony of German South West Africa The colony of German South West Africa The colony of German South West Africa (modern Namibia) was founded in 1883 by Adolf Lüderitz and was recognized as a German Protectorate in 1884. Its borders were fixed by the addition of the Caprivi Strip in 1890.
The first capital at Otjimbingwe was changed in 1891 to Windhuk (or Windhoek). Its mostly arid farming land had attracted 13,000 German settlers by 1910, the recent discovery of diamonds adding to the potential of the colony.
The history of German South West Africa was marred by three major rebellions and the harsh way in which they were crushed.
After Germany's defeat in the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 stripped Germany of all her colonies and overseas possessions. German South West Africa was awarded to the Dominion of South Africa.

 

The German colonies The German colonies The German colonies were unprepared for a war against their neighbouring colonies. The general way of thinking was that the war would be won or lost in Europe and that any colonies lost would be instantly re-gained after a German victory on the Western Front. The only strategic aims of the colonies in the event of a war was to try to protect their radio transmitters for the benefit of the Imperial navy and to possibly draw away enemy troops and resources from the European theatre of war.

 

Schutztruppe of German East Africa Schutztruppe of German East AfricaWhen war broke out in the Summer of 1914 the colonies were left to their own meagre devices to defend themselves with no hope of such reinforcements from Germany due the to blockade enforced by the Entente navies. One by one, each of the colonies surrendered to vastly superior Entente forces- Togo, New Guinea, Tsingtao and Samoa in 1914, German South West Africa in 1915 and Cameroon in 1916. It was only the Schutztruppe of German East Africa that were still fighting at the time of the Armistice in November 1918/

 

Schutztruppe SchutztruppeThe larger German colonies (German South West Africa, German East Africa and Cameroon) had their own regular colonial troops known as "Schutztruppe". A colony was referred to in German as a "Schutzgebeit" (or literally a Protectorate), so the soldiers stationed there were referred to as "Schutztruppe" (literally meaning Protection-troop). The Schutztruppe were the backbone of defense and counter-rebellion forces of the three main African colonies. In German East Africa and Cameroon the Schutztruppe consisted of German Officers and NCOs with African other ranks. The Schutztruppe of German South West Africa consisted exclusively of German officers and other ranks

 

The First World War in German South West Africa The First World War in German South West AfricaEast Africa and Cameroon the Schutztruppe consisted of German Officers and NCOs with African other ranks. The Schutztruppe of German South West Africa consisted exclusively of German officers and other ranks.

 

Schutztruppe of German East Africa and Cameroon Schutztruppe of German East Africa and CameroonThe initial intended South African invasion of German territory was delayed by an internal Boer insurrection against the South African Dominion Government (the "Maritz Rebellion"), destruction of South African railway and communication lines by German troops and an early German victory over South African forces at Sandfontien in September 1914. The outnumbered Germans under Oberstleutnant von Heydebreck (who was killed in an accidental explosion during the campaign) and later Oberstleutnant Franke, were however forced to gradually withdraw to the Northern interior of the country, fighting several actions along the way. Here they tried to call a truce based on a partition of the country but were forced by allied refusal, to fight on until faced with an invasion of over 50,000 mainly South African troops under General Botha. The Schutztruppe finally surrendered at Khorab on July 9th 1915, although some small groups remained on the loose and evaded South African autho! rities until as late as 1919. Unlike the Schutztruppe of German East Africa and Cameroon, which relied on large numbers of Africans for the ranks and file, the Schutztruppe of German South West Africa consisted entirely of German troops, employed as elite mounted infantry. All the officers and NCOs and most of the other ranks had previous experience in the regular German army and had usually volunteered for overseas service. During the Herero Rebellion the Schutztruppe were vastly expanded under General Lothar von Trotha by the addition of almost 15,000 new troops from Germany.

 

German Officers German Officers German Officers German Officers German Officers German Officers

Once peace was restored most of these troops returned home. The 1914 peacetime strength of the South West African Schutztruppe was approximately 90 German Officers with 1,800 German other ranks formed into 9 mounted infantry companies ("Feldkompagnien"), the 7th of which was camel mounted and 3 artillery batteries.

 


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