The colonial force for German East Africa was established by an act of the Reichstag on March 22, 1891, the colonial forces for German West Africa and German Southwest Africa on June 9, 1895. The Schutztruppe was not a part of the Reichsheer or the Kaiserliche Marine. Till 1896 the force was administered by the Reichsmarineamt, then a supreme command was formed: the Oberkommando der Schutztruppen. It was accommodated in the Mauerstr. 45/46, Berlin in direct proximity to the German Colonial Office. German military laws and the German military discipline applied to the Schutztruppe.
In 1914 there were three Schutztruppe commands, one in each of the German colonies in East-, West-, and Southwest-Africa.
At the Outbreak of World War I the Schutztruppe in German East Africa consisted of 14 companies totalling 2,500 men with its headquarters in Dar es Salaam and reached 14,000 personnel and many more porters and laborers. They were commanded by Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck and went on to become the last German unit to surrender in World War I.
Each of the 14 field companies (feldkompagnien) consisted of 160 (expandable to 200) men on three Zuge (platoons) of 50 to 60 men each, plus a band. Each Kompagnie also had a 250 man porter corps attached to it plus a civilian auxiliary called Ruga-ruga, who were native irregulars.
Additionally in Daressalam: a recruitment depot, a signal department and quartermaster.
Overall strength was 68 officers, 42 physicians, 150 German officials, ammunition technicians and NCOs and 2472 African soldiers.
During the war companies 15 to 30 were added plus A through H temporary companies, 1st through 8th reserve companies, and 1st through 8th Schutzenkompagnie (rifle companies), These last were originally formed of white settlers but became racially mixed units as the war went on. Additionally numerous small detachments were also formed.
The colonial forces for German Southwest Africa consisted of soldiers of the Army and the Navy (and also Austrians), which had announced themselves voluntarily from their regiments for the troop. Before the shipment to Africa the volunteers were prepared on German training bases for their special tasks. Such a base was for example in Karlsruhe. Because of the often damp-hot conditions on the upper Rhine one provided here for an early acclimatization.
The structure of the Southwest African detachment was as following:
German Southwest Africa command at Windhuk with court, intendantur (administration & headquarters), medical office and Vermessungstrupp (surveying and mapping)
North district command: Windhuk
South district command: Keetmanshoop
At the outbreak of World War I the force had a total strength of 90 officers, 22 physicians, 9 veterinarians, 59 officials, ammunition technician, 342 NCOs and 1444 German soldiers.
In Cameroon in 1914 there were 12 companies stationed totalling 1,600 men with its headquarters in Soppo. The troop was estblished in 1894 out of the police force formed three years prior.
The structure of the Cameroon detachment was as following:
Central Command: Soppo
Total strength of 61 officers, 17 physicians, 23 officials, ammunition technician, 98 German NCOs, 1550 African soldiers
In Togoland there were no forces of the Schutztruppe stationed before World War I. However, 1,000 or so were raised during the war. By the end of August 1914, all had surrendered to invading French and British forces. In the pre-war era a police force controled the country.
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