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Identification help: Egyptian/ German East African Colonial Group

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The recruiting offer to move families as well is news to me and suggests why we now find the purely German ribbons on this lovingly cared for group. Chances are he remained in German East Africa for the rest of his-- or its-- lifetime. Some British soldier may have lifted this in 1914... or perhaps it turned up in a stall some tourist brought home in the 1920s. There wasn't any "back story" on this when it appeared as an anonymous bar almost 30 years ago.

Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya is the second largest slum in Africa, the largest being Soweto in South Africa, and has a population of perhaps one million[citation needed]. The name "Kibera" is derived from kibra, a Nubian word meaning "forest" or "jungle." [1]

The slum originated in 1918 as a Nubian soldiers' settlement in a forest outside Nairobi, with plots allotted to soldiers as a reward for service in the First World War and earlier wars [2].

The British colonial government of the time allowed the settlement to grow informally, primarily because of the Nubians' status as former servants of the British crown that put the colonial regime in their debt. Furthermore the Nubians, being "Detribalized Natives" had no claim on Land in "Native Reserves".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibera

last year I read a newspaper article about this, the nubian familys are big land lords there and not like very much, the locals see them as strangers - in 2007 _

Edited by xxx

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You could very well be right about the uniform! I dismissed the possibility of it being an Egyptian uniform because of the squared-off epaulettes but if they wore the Turkish pattern then that would make sense. I didn't think it was a Turkish uniform tunic because the uniform colour appears to be the same colour as the plastron and the Ottoman Lancers favoured a facing colour that was different to the tunic itself. More food for thought!

Mark

Is this a variation similar to the KHEDIVE's Personel Guard Uniform. And the Shoulder boards are Turkish M1876 pattern for the Cavalry Grendermerie/ Hassa Cavalry.

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.... was wondering if it might be German? The double-breasted pattern with plastron often indicates cavalry status in European armies of the 19th century but I'll leave it to someone more knowledgeable to make a final judgement.....

I first thought it might be German, but on closer examination, the tops of the plastron frojnt should be scalloped on a German Ulan tunic. So I'm preferring the Egyptian option.

Cheers

Chris

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Hi Chris;

If he's in Egyptian uniform then he has been promoted from Captain to Saghkolaghasi, a unique Ottoman rank that is variously translated as " Adjutant-Major " or " Battalion Staff Officer. " He would have been the senior Captain in the regiment and been responsible for many of the same duties as the Adjutant in a British or Commonwealth unit, but with greater authority and clout. I must admit, however, that I'm still a little unsure about his epaulettes, although if a member of the Khedivial Guard he may have worn a different pattern, as suggested by a previous writer. Any Egyptian uniform experts out there?

Cheers,

Mark

I first thought it might be German, but on closer examination, the tops of the plastron frojnt should be scalloped on a German Ulan tunic. So I'm preferring the Egyptian option.

Cheers

Chris

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Mark

Totally correct. The Commadant rank still exists in the modern turkish army, and plays exactly the role you discribe. Pinning down Egyptian uniforms is a bit more problematic. There seems to have been quite a bit of mix of British, Turkish (which the Khedivial army was actually still a part), as well as some local Egyptian characteristics. I think we are looking at a mixed uniform.

Edited by jj08

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Example of the 1880s - 1900s Egyptian Khedivial army Guard Uniforms. The plastron (acording to my notes) should be detachable reveilling blue base piped red. Same pattern tunic copied from the Sultan Infantry.

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Yes, a very similar uniform, although the photo of Youbashi Miram suggests a white collar with white piping on a plastron of the same colour as the body of the tunic. As you say, there was a lot of " crossover " between the Turkish and Egyptian uniform, even down to the identical buttons. The picture you posted, which I suspect is from the Cairo Military Museum (?) depicts a uniform that is almost identical to that of the 1st Lancers Regt. of the pre-Republican Turkish Army. The Turkish uniform was also blue with red collar, cuffs and plastron, but with German-style litzen on the collar. The trousers and stripe were also the same. European-style shoulder boards were worn in daily dress while full fringed epaulettes were worn on formal occasions and in Friday Dress ( Cumalik elbise ) depending on the event.

As has been noted, there doesn't seem to be a lot of reference material on these armies that is available in English, mores the pity!

Mark

Example of the 1880s - 1900s Egyptian Khedivial army Guard Uniforms. The plastron (acording to my notes) should be detachable reveilling blue base piped red. Same pattern tunic copied from the Sultan Infantry.

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Mark,

Good analysis. That is something I had not considered, which was the facings could be white - I hope not - because then we are "all at sea" as to what this uniform actually is. You are correct - the photo is from the Cairo Military Museum.

I suspect/ my research indicates that the Khedivial staff were likely to wear standard Turkish uniforms, and the photo of KHEDIVE Abbas Hilmi II of Egypt (attached) very much demonstrates this. However, note his shoulder boards - here is wearing a M1879 Ottoman Turkish summer Marshal?s uniform (three large Silver shoulder board stars) including British Marshal?s crossed battons.

I have found an interesting set of references to the Egyptian army uniform, in Sidney Low, "Egypt in Transition" . The London Daily Chronicle. Reprinted in New York Times (2nd May, 1915). "The British Officers in the native regiments were merely ?lent? to the Egyptian War Office for the service of the Khedival Army, which was technically a branch of the Turkish forces, with Turkish badges and Turkish insignia?. Paintings in the National Army Museum (london) from the 1890s clearly show Egypian soldiers in British summer uniforms but with Turkish insignia, and this does explain the number of british made Turkish buttons that seem to be about.

As to the Khedivial guard regiments of horse and foot, these clerely wore copies of the Sultan personnel Infantry and Cavalry, which were the again similar in pattern to the 1st Lancers, and the Ertugrul Cavalry regt.

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Thanks for the additional information, certainly goes a long way towards explaining some questions. It would make perfect sense that the Khedive's personal staff would wear correct Turkish uniforms as they were subjects of the Sultan, at least until 1914. The service dress worn by the Egyptian Army after about 1885, when they adopted khaki, followed that of the British Army, including rank insignia for NCO's, although the Khedivial crown was substituted for the Imperial crown for Staff Sergeants, etc. All officers, including British ones, wore Egyptian rank insignia consisting of the Khedivial crown and five-pointed stars. I suspect that the old Turkish insignia for NCO's, the elongated cuff ornamentation, disappeared with the white uniforms in 1885. Photos of Egyptian NCO's from the 1880's and 1890's show them sporting British-pattern rank. Certainly the photos taken during the 1896-98 campaigns show them wearing these exclusively.

You have probably seen that well-known photo that depicts an Egyptian Military Policeman c. 1898 wearing a bilingual brassard bearing the Arabic letters A ( for Askari, or military ) and N ( ( for Following the rules ) Drawn or painted below the Arabic letters are the letters "MP" so that no one could claim ignorance, I suppose!

I am intrigued by your mention of Egyptian/Turkish buttons made in the UK! I have a few examples and they were all made in France or in Turkey. Hmmm, you learn something new every day!

Yes, the nearly 1200 British officers who served in the Egyptian Army between 1883 and 1925 signed a contract with the Khedive for a minimum of two years service, although a great many seemed to have extended the term many times. Wingate, for example, joined in 1883 and served the Khedive for something like 35 years, including a term as Sirdar. Service was dependant on passing an exam in Arabic after 6 months service but I've never read of anyone being dismissed for this reason. 1200 seems an enormous number but most of these served 1914-18 so that the peacetime strength was actually quite small. When the Egyptian Army was re-formed in 1883 there were only 25 Britsi officers attached.

Anyway, good to hear that there is some interest in this subject.

Cheers,

Mark

Mark,

Good analysis. That is something I had not considered, which was the facings could be white - I hope not - because then we are "all at sea" as to what this uniform actually is. You are correct - the photo is from the Cairo Military Museum.

I suspect/ my research indicates that the Khedivial staff were likely to wear standard Turkish uniforms, and the photo of KHEDIVE Abbas Hilmi II of Egypt (attached) very much demonstrates this. However, note his shoulder boards - here is wearing a M1879 Ottoman Turkish summer Marshal's uniform (three large Silver shoulder board stars) including British Marshal's crossed battons.

I have found an interesting set of references to the Egyptian army uniform, in Sidney Low, "Egypt in Transition" . The London Daily Chronicle. Reprinted in New York Times (2nd May, 1915). "The British Officers in the native regiments were merely 'lent' to the Egyptian War Office for the service of the Khedival Army, which was technically a branch of the Turkish forces, with Turkish badges and Turkish insignia". Paintings in the National Army Museum (london) from the 1890s clearly show Egypian soldiers in British summer uniforms but with Turkish insignia, and this does explain the number of british made Turkish buttons that seem to be about.

As to the Khedivial guard regiments of horse and foot, these clerely wore copies of the Sultan personnel Infantry and Cavalry, which were the again similar in pattern to the 1st Lancers, and the Ertugrul Cavalry regt.

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Thanks for the good work and photos on the Egyptian army of the period. The really odd thing now is why this offcier would still be wearing his old Egyptian/Ottoman uniform after he'd already been in German service long enough to win a German medal?

There are several unidentified parts of early Sudanese askari uniforms that I cannot find a German source for. Maybe one you you might recognise them as Egyptian/Ottoman.

I've attached a close up of the two chaps on the right of the first photo I posted on this thread. This uniform is usually described as being khaki, five buttoned and no pockets. This later became the standard design for Schutztruppe askari uniforms. I'm wondering if it had it's origins in the Khedive's army? Likewise the grey turban wrapped around a red fez. Would this have been worn in the Khedive's army? Also notice the NCO with the sword has some kind of looped lace on his cuff. This isn't like any German rank insignia I've seen. Could this be from the Khedive's army too? And if so does anyone have a better pic of it?

Oh... and a very merry Christmas to you all....

Cheers

Chris

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Hi Chris and jj08;

Great pictures of the buttons! I had no idea that Ottoman buttons were produced in the UK but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, Birmingham and Manchester produced consumables for most of the world a hundred years ago. My examples are made in Paris and Constantinople but are exactly the same pattern, except a Turkish-made pair that have a beaded edge. These are identified as Officers' Frockcoat buttons in a Turkish Military Museum publication.

Chris, I'll try and take a stab at some of your questions, again reiterating that I am no expert. I have acquired/studied a number of photos of the 1880's Egyptian Army ( EA ) and am just finishing a text about them but claim no special knowledge;

UNIFORM - Before the 1883 reformation of the EA, they wore a full dress uniform of dark blue, modelled very closely after the Turkish pattern, red tarboosh, blue tunic with various facings, matching trousers, white spats, black boots and equipment. Summer uniform consisted of an all white tunic with matching trousers, with spats, etc. as above. Rank insignia for officers followed the French pattern, with ornate braid on the cuff, culminating in an elaborate loop above the elbow. NCO's wore pointed braid on the cuff as well but of less involved pattern and of non-metallic material. Officers favoured full-length frock coats and short, heavily-braided tunics patterned after the French Army.

When the Army was reborn in 1883, with British assistance, it retained most of these features. although a slightly modified Full Dress in medium blue, with various facings to denote arm of service, was gradually introduced. White was used as the arm of service colour for the Infantry, with red for the Artillery, etc. Rank followed that of the British Army, with chevrons/crowns being worn on the upper arm for NCO's. Officer's full dress still retained the elaborate cuff ornamentation, gold in Full Dress and dark braid on Patrol Dress, or Blues. In early 1883 the Khedive asked the attached British officers to adopt the tarboosh for daily wear, like their troops, and this practice was followed except on active service when the Foreign Service Helmet was favoured by some British officers.

White uniforms continued to be worn during the Nile Campaign of 1884-85 but khaki uniforms were introduced to the EA shortly afterwards. I have never seen the old pre-1883 NCO rank insignia on khaki uniforms and would speculate that they had been completely replaced by then. The khaki uniforms closely followed the British pattern, with 5 x 20 ligne buttons down the front, no pockets, matching trousers and blue puttees, etc. NCO rank insignia was in red fabric. Officers wore Sam Browne belts and carried their rank insignia on their shoulder straps, brass Khedivial crowns and 5-pointed brass stars. By the late 1880's a woollen jersey ( !! ) was worn in Marching Order, dark blue for the Sudanese battalions and brown for the Egyptian battalions. I suppose it gets cold at night in the desert but the Battle of Toski was fought in a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit!

HEADGEAR - The universal headgear of the EA was the tarboosh, also called a fez in North Africa. Although a traditional Ottoman item that immediately identified the wearer as a servant or representative of the Sultan, it was ill-suited to the African sun. To provide some sort of additional protection from the weather, a number of additions were added to the tarboosh in the EA;

Cloth Imma or Turban - White cloth was wrapped around the tarboosh, providing protection from the overhead sun. Before 1883 it could be quite bulky but the style used in the late 1880's had evolved into really nothing more than a strip wrapped around the lower portion of the tarboosh and then allowed to hang down at the back to protect the wearer's neck. Photographs of the Xth Sudanese Bn. taken by their CO, Kaimakam Donne, show these to be quite standardised within the battalion. The cloth was always white, never grey like your German askaris are wearing.

Khaki Imma - This appeared in the 1890's and consisted of a cloth cover for the tarboosh with both front and back flaps. The front part could be folded up or in upon itself to act as a brim to shade the eyes. The rear flap protected the neck against sunstroke. There are good photos of this in the National Army Museum Library, as well as in journals like the Illustrated London News and The Graphic from the 1896-98 campaigns.

Straw Imma - This consisted of plaited straw that was wrapped around the tarboosh, but leaving the top bare. This looked surprisingly smart and also afforded the wearer a little extra protection against sword cuts, I would imagine. I believe that this pattern was only worn by Sudanese battalions.

Sorry if there are few definitive answers here, Chris, but I don't want to draw any wrong conclusions and lead people astray. My own view is that the white cloth wrapped around the tarboosh was simply common practice amongst people in the Middle East, and was worn by soldiers, traders and anyone else who wanted some protection from the sun whilst still retaining the headgear that symbolised authority. Grey fabric seems to have been favoured by the Germans so perhaps this was their way of stamping a Teutonic flavour on their African troops? The cuff rank worn by the fellow in the photo is similar to the old Egyptian pattern but not elongated up the lower arm enough to be a straight copy from the Khedive's Army. Egyptian NCO rank was generally in the arm of service colour whilst this askari seems to wear gold braid/

Anyway, let's see if anyone can clarify some of these points. Hope you all have a great Christmas holiday.

Mark

Thanks for the good work and photos on the Egyptian army of the period. The really odd thing now is why this offcier would still be wearing his old Egyptian/Ottoman uniform after he'd already been in German service long enough to win a German medal?

There are several unidentified parts of early Sudanese askari uniforms that I cannot find a German source for. Maybe one you you might recognise them as Egyptian/Ottoman.

I've attached a close up of the two chaps on the right of the first photo I posted on this thread. This uniform is usually described as being khaki, five buttoned and no pockets. This later became the standard design for Schutztruppe askari uniforms. I'm wondering if it had it's origins in the Khedive's army? Likewise the grey turban wrapped around a red fez. Would this have been worn in the Khedive's army? Also notice the NCO with the sword has some kind of looped lace on his cuff. This isn't like any German rank insignia I've seen. Could this be from the Khedive's army too? And if so does anyone have a better pic of it?

Oh... and a very merry Christmas to you all....

Cheers

Chris

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All I can add, is that prior to 1908, the Ottoman Turkish troops do have a white cotton or linen uniform of this type worn in the 5th, 6th, 7th armies in summer. The Turban was worn by the zouave and by troops from Africa (libya), which also incorporated the badge from the Order or Orta (see attached). The "French" brade on the cuff is typical of the Gendermerie. The large plain square brass buckle is the same pattern (and manufacture) as the French equipment buckle.

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Thanks JJ and especially Mark for the essay on Egyptian uniforms! Great reading and all new to me, and I'm sure many other readers.

It does sound from your descriptions that these Sudanese askaris recruited into German service in 1889 took their old Egyptian uniforms with them or at least the basics of them. These uniforms then formed the basic design of future uniforms worn by the askaris of German East Africa up until the First World War. This is great news for to be be able to trace their evolution back to its roots.

It should also be noted that the other African troops recruited for German service in East Africa at this time (the Zulu and Swahilli askaris mentioned earlier in this thread) did not wear khaki uniforms at least initially. This would again lead me to think that Germany did not provide an all new khaki uniform for it's first African soldiers, they probably wore whatever they already wore or what could be found locally or easily. In the case of the Sudanese, their old uniforms.

The tunic worn by the Sudanese askaris in German service looks exactly like the khaki uniforms you describe being introduced shortly after 1883-4, as does their trousers and their puttees being dark blue.

They also wore the same red fez. Possibly the grey turban was a German addition, though grey was not generally associated with German uniforms until long after. Most German troops back home still wore Prussian dark blue at this point. I'd guess it was a coincidence and locally bought. What was German and is not seen in this photo is that they are described as wearing an imperial eagle badge on the front of the turban, possibly added after this phot was taken.

Of great interest is your description of the straw Imma around the fez and covers for it with neckshades. In around 1891 the Germans introduced what they called the Tarbusche to replace the red fez on active duty. The Tarbusche was wicker frame in the shape of the fez, with a khaki cover including a neckshade. This sounds like a direct descendent of the variations of Egyptian headdress.

The mystery still remaining is the rank insignia of the NCO, that cuff braiding... it surely can only be the old French style still in use? I've not seen anything like it on other German uniforms of the period.

Another question, can anyone identify the rifles carried by this group? The German askaris were issued Mauser Jaegerbusche 71 rifles for service in East Africa. I'm no firearms expert but these shown in the photo don't look like Mausers. Possibly their old Egyptian rifles still?

Cheers

Chris

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Another question, can anyone identify the rifles carried by this group? The German askaris were issued Mauser Jaegerbusche 71 rifles for service in East Africa. I'm no firearms expert but these shown in the photo don't look like Mausers. Possibly their old Egyptian rifles still?

Cheers

Chris

bad picture but looks more like a remington rolling block than a jaegerbuechse 71

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Hi All;

The Egyptian Army was armed with American-made Remington rolling-block rifles until the late 1880's when they were re-equipped with the Martini-Henry. There must have been a good few Remingtons appearing on the market at that time and it would make perfect sense for former Egyptian soldiers to have preferred their " old " weapons. No doubt Remingtom ammunition was also still in ready supply, making it an attractive option for anyone, or any country, considering forming a new military or police force.

Mark

bad picture but looks more like a remington rolling block than a jaegerbuechse 71

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Thanks XXX and MReid for the rifle identification. It looks on this page to be the same-

http://www.angelfire.com/vt/milsurp/rrb.html

I've updated the page on my website ( www.germancolonialuniforms.co.uk ) about Wissmanntruppe Askaris with the information you chaps have supplied (and of course given credit at the bottom of the page). Also updated my page on East African Effendis, with my illustrations medal bars being more accuratley coloured. Thanks so much again for all you help.

Cheers

Chris

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Thanks Chris. The second last picture on the attachment clearly shows a Khedivial crown stamped on the middle band of the rifle.

By the way, I asked a friend to translate the write-up that accompanied the two photos of the Egyptian officers wearing medals and, apparently, Captain Miram, on the left, " fell in battle " while both men are described as earning important decorations for fighting in the Sudan whilst in British service. Perhaps a bit of artistic licence there but, still, a certain element of truth in the claim nonetheless. It also states that, serving with the Schutztruppe, they were not considered as Europenas ( ! ) Maybe a German linguist can provide a better or more accurate translation of this?

All the Best,

Mark

Thanks XXX and MReid for the rifle identification. It looks on this page to be the same-

http://www.angelfire.com/vt/milsurp/rrb.html

I've updated the page on my website ( www.germancolonialuniforms.co.uk ) about Wissmanntruppe Askaris with the information you chaps have supplied (and of course given credit at the bottom of the page). Also updated my page on East African Effendis, with my illustrations medal bars being more accuratley coloured. Thanks so much again for all you help.

Cheers

Chris

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Gentlemen

Thanks to Per Finsted of Denmark who has just sent me a copy of this Richard Knotel plate we can see more uniform detail of the various components of the first German East African Force.

Harry

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