The German Caucasian Expedition
Georgia 1918


Background to the Caucasian Expedition
As the Russian Empire descended into chaos and revolution, Georgia declared herself an independent republic on 26th May 1918. Meanwhile Bolshevik, White Russian, British and Ottoman armies all headed for Georgia with the hopes of capturing her rich oilfields.

Germany also sent an army (known as the Caucasian Expedition or the Military Mission in the Caucasus), consisting of 3,000 mostly Bavarian troops under the command of Generalmajor Kress von Kressenstein. Soon after their arrival in Georgia, they fought skirmishes with local tribesmen and Ottoman army units. They arrived in Tiflis, the Georgian capital, in June 1918 where they were welcomed as defenders against the Bolsheviks. The revolution in Germany and the end of the war finally caused their mission to be aborted.

Field Grey Uniforms of the Caucasian Expedition
The majority of photographs I have seen of the Caucasian Expedition show them wearing standard field grey German army uniforms as worn on European Fronts. Many of the units of the Expedition were deployed directly from service on the Eastern Front and kept the same uniforms. These uniforms consisted mostly of field grey modified 1910 or 1915 tunics, field caps and steel helmets (see German Uniforms on Ottoman Fronts Page).

The Illustration on the Right is based on a photograph of a Storm Trooper of the 10th Assault Battalion ("Sturm-Batallion Nr. 10") taken in Georgia in 1918. He is dressed and equipped exactly as he would have been on the Western Front at this late stage in the war. He wears the 1918 steel helmet painted with angular camouflage pattern. His tunic is the 1915 "Bluse" simplified tunic in field grey with field grey shoulder straps piped in white with the battalion number in red. His trousers are slate grey with red piping. Both the tunic and trousers have the leather reinforcement patches worn by the Assault Battalions. He wears field grey puttees and blackened leather ankle boots. His equipment is blackened leather with 1909 ammunition pouches supplemented by additional canvas ammunition pouches carried around his neck. He is armed with a Mauser K98az carbine and a trench knife.


Storm Trooper
10th Assault Battalion
Georgia 1918


Tropical Uniforms of the Caucasian Expedition
The Caucasian Expedition were authorised as of 13th June 1918 to wear the same Tropical Uniforms as the Asienkorps. I have been able to find very few photographs to prove the wide scale use of tropical uniforms in Georgia.

One photograph (published in "Tropenhelme der kaiserliche Marine, der Ostasiatischen Truppen und der Schutztruppen" by U Schiers) is captioned as a soldier from the Caucasus Expedition taken in the "Limburg Mountains". He is wearing an Asienkorps 1917 tropical uniform with a peacetime white leather parade belt and a 1900 Bortfeldt tropical helmet. He is the only figure in the photograph. It cannot be confirmed for certain if this is indeed a soldier from the Caucasian Expedition (I have so far been unable to locate the Limburg Mountains on a map of the Caucasus. The only reference I can find to them is a range of hills in the South of the Netherlands). If this photograph does indeed show a member of the Caucasian Expedition it does not prove the widespread use of tropical uniforms.

At least one photograph clearly shows a German officer wearing a privately purchased white tropical uniform as worn by German army officers on several fronts (such as Palestine, China and those Seconded to the Colonies).

Some other photographs of Caucasus Expedition are not so clear and may possibly be either field grey or khaki. So as to the question of whether not not khaki uniforms were issued in quantity to the troops in Georgia, I would invite the reader to examine the period photographs below and decide for yourself. The problem is of course that it is very difficult to differentiate between field grey and khaki in monochrome photos so we must rely on other clues. The most telling of which would be that peaked field caps had arm-of-service coloured hatbands on the field grey version but khaki hatbands on the khaki cap. Peakless caps were only issued in field grey. The second most visible clue in monochrome photographs is that khaki tunics usually had six buttons down the front, while the field grey 1910 tunic had eight buttons and the 1915 other ranks tunic had concealed buttons.




Period Photographs
from "Grosser Bilderatlas des Weltkrieges" F Bruckmann, Munich 1919
at University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and


German troops on the March in Georgia
These soldiers appear to be wearing field grey 1915 uniforms with steel helmets. The driver of the wagon on the left has an other ranks peakless field grey cap, he can also clearly be seen to wear puttees with short ankle boots.


German Officers and NCOs talking with local Tartars
The bareheaded NCO in the centre clearly wears a 1915 field grey tunic with lace denoting his NCO rank on the collar. His trousers have leather reinforcement patches, a distinction usually only worn by Storm Troops, showing him (and probably the other figures in the group) to be a member of the 10th Assault Battalion. The Germans all appear to be wearing puttees and short ankle boots.

The officers to the left of the photograph wear peaked field caps. Note the dark hatband of the officer nearest the centre (possibly the Storm Troops black hatband piped in red). This difference between the hatband and cap colour would seem to indicate that the cap is a field grey one. The shade of the cap also matches that of the tunic and trousers, indicating that they are all field grey. The cut of the officers tunics (with both breast and hip pockets) could be seen on either khaki or field grey uniforms.

In the background can be seen another two German soldiers, one to the left has a field grey other ranks peakless cap. The 10th Assault Battalion was a Prussian unit and the cap cockades would therefore be the imperial cockade above the Prussian one (black/white/black). The other soldier in the background further to the right has a steel helmet and badge on the left breast of his 1915 field grey tunic which may be a wound badge or possibly an Iron Cross, first class. He appears to have an NCOs rank button on his collar.


German Troops in Tiflis
These soldiers appear to be wearing field grey 1915 uniforms with steel helmets. Most of the men wear backpacks with tent quarters wrapped around them and canteens hung on the back, some have additional ammunition bandoliers around their necks and one clearly has a red cross armband.


German Troops above Tiflis using what looks like a Movie Camera
From this photograph it is very difficult to be certain if they are wearing field grey or khaki. They both wear peaked field caps, though each looks quite different. The one on the right in the foreground had a dark arm of service hatband, polished leather peak and appears to have a wire retaining loop to hold the top of the cap in place. This would indicate that it is a field grey NCOs cap. The one behind has no retaining loop, giving it a more shapeless appearance, no reflective peak and the hatband appears to be lighter shade, more similar to the cap itself, possibly but not certainly the same colour. The other ranks 1917 field grey cap had a grey leather peak and no retaining loop as did the Asienkorps khaki cap for other ranks. This photograph could show either. Note also the cap of the man in the background has two cockades, the imperial cockade above a state cockade. The state cockade appears quite light in the photograph and is probably the white/blue/white Bavarian cockade rather than the black/white/black Prussian cockade.

Their uniforms cannot be seen very clearly. From the folds in their sleeves it would appear that they are lightweight tunics. Possibly lightweight field grey uniforms as worn in Macedonia. The figure in the background appears to have his tunic buttons quite closely together, indicating that they may be on an eight buttoned field grey 1910 tunic (or a lightweight modified version of the 1910 tunic with plain cuffs) rather than an Asienkorps six buttoned khaki tunic. Note the NCOs rank button on the collar of the foreground figure.


Georgian and German Troops
The Georgians are on the left wearing a mixture of Tsarist Russian uniforms and civilian attire. On the right are some German officers in peaked field caps (and one soldier in a peakless cap) note their state and imperial cockades. The German officers seem to be wearing field grey 1915 tunics with pockets one has Litzen from an elite unit. The figure with the lighter tunic may be wearing an officers Litewka in pale grey with arm of service collar patches. Tropical uniforms did not normally have collar patches or Litzen.


Funeral in Georgia
This is possibly the funeral of Oberjäger Alois Hitzler of the 2nd Company of the 1st Bavarian Reserve Jäger Battalion who died on 8th July 1918). A local undertaker in white leads the funeral carriage.

The German troops behind him wear peaked field caps, the funeral escort would presumably be from the same unit at the deceased and would therefore have both imperial and Bavarian cockades on their caps. As mentioned above peaked field caps for other ranks were made in both khaki and field grey by 1918.

The soldier marching at the front appears to wear a six buttoned tunic, which seems to be lighter than that of the soldier behind him (though that could simply be how the sunlight is falling). Although from the quality of the photograph it is impossible to be certain, this is the strongest evidence I have so far seen for the six-buttoned Asienkorps style khaki uniforms being issued to the soldiers of the Caucasian Expedition. German field grey uniforms did not have six buttons, the 1910 uniform having eight and the 1915 uniform having a concealed front. There is a chance it might be an 1895 cotton fatigue uniform, which had five buttons, but these usually had shorter skirts without pockets (see German Army in Macedonia).

The soldier behind him has a darker uniform with what looks like eight buttons. This probably a field grey modified 1910 tunic.



Rittmeister Jenö von Egan-Krieger, chief of General Staff of the German Mission in Georgia, 1918
He wears a privately purchased white tropical uniform as was often worn by German army officers on overseas postings. It was of the same cut as the Schutztruppe 1896 White Uniform but without the Schutztruppe blue piping. Although privately purchased uniforms varied in cut, it generally had a stand and fall collar, plain turn back cuffs, four buttoned and pleated pockets and six buttons down the front. The buttons were the same as worn by the home regiment (in this case Prussian crown buttons) as were the officers shoulder straps (in this case in Prussian white metallic lace with threads of black and with two pips for the rank of cavalry captain or "Rittmeister"). He wears an Iron Cross first class on his left breast pocket, an Iron Cross second class ribbon in his second buttonhole and another medal that cannot quite be identified from this photograph at his throat.


Jenö Edward Jakob Ernst von Egan-Krieger (1886-1965) was born in Scloß Bernstein in Burgenland, a largely German speaking area then part of Hungary (now in the Republic of Austria) but joined the German army in 1904. He was commissioned into the 1st Prussian Life Hussar Regt ("Leib-Husaren Regiment Nr.1") and rose through the ranks to Oberleutnant by the outbreak of war and then to Rittmeister in December 1914. He served in various staff and supply commands with the cavalry and flying corps during the war and was chief of staff to the Military Mission in Georgia until August 1918. He was severely wounded on the Western Front as battalion commander in the 51st Lower Silesia Infantry Regt ("4. Niederschlesisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.51") less than a month before the armistice. In 1920 he retired from the army and soon after became involved in the Stahlhelm veterans organisation and later the German National People's Party (DNVP), a Conservative-Nationalist political party. For a short while in 1933-34 he was the flight adjutant to the Kaiser in exile. After the Nazis came to power the DNVP was abolished and in 1934 Egan-Krieger was arrested as part of the "Röhm-Putsch" clamp down on political activists. He was released from Potsdam prison a week later and soon after joined the newly formed Luftwaffe serving on the staff of the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. He was promoted through Oberst in 1939, Generalmajor in 1940 and Generalleutnant in 1942. He finally retired from active service in 1944. After the war he was detained by American authorities until 1947. He died in Cologne at the age of 78.

Recommended External Link -
Jenö von Egan-Krieger Biography
on the Axis Biographical Research Website


Photo © Matjaz Voglar

The Georgian Order of St Tamara Medal
A final mention on this page has to be given to the Order of St Tamara. This was a medal awarded to members of the German Caucasus Expedition by the fledgling Georgian Government on 4th November 1918.

It was named after the 12th-13th Century Sainted Queen of Georgia. It consisted of an image of Queen Tamara within a circle containing Georgian lettering and the date 1915 on an eight pointed Brunswick star badge worn on the left breast. It could also be worn as a medal ribbon without the medal (such as on miniature bars). The medal ribbon was dark red with black horizontal bars in the centre.

Less than 5,000 of these medals (some say as few as 1,400) were awarded in total, most of the existing medals were privately made in Germany after the First World War for veterans of the Georgian Campaign.

Recommended External Links- Sections on the Order of St Tamara at The Orders and Medals Society of America, The Gentlemen's Military Interest Club and Wehrmacht Awards and Wikipedia


Organisation of the Caucasus Expedition 1918
from "Imperial German Army 1914-18" by H Cron and "The Caucasus Expedition" at the AHF

    29th Bavarian Jäger Regt ("29. Königlich Bayerisches Jäger-Regiment")
      7th Bavarian Reserve Jäger Btn ("7. Königlich Bayerisches Reserve Jäger-Batallion")
      9th Bavarian Reserve Jäger Btn ("9. Königlich Bayerisches Reserve Jäger-Batallion")
    15th Bavarian Jäger Regt ("15. Königlich Bayerisches Jäger-Regiment")- raised August 1918
      1st Bavarian Reserve Jäger Btn  ("1. Königlich Bayerisches Reserve Jäger-Batallion")- from the 29th Bavarian Jäger Regt
      Caucasian Railway Protection Btn - raised from former German Prisoners of War
    10th Assault Btn ("10. Sturmbattalion")
      Assault Company
      Machine Gun Company (with 12 machine guns)
      Trench Mortar/Mine Thrower Company (with 8 mortars)
      Garrison Company - raised from former German Prisoners of War
    7th Bavarian Cavalry Brigade  ("7. Königlich Bayerische Kavallerie-Brigade")
      5th Bavarian Light Horse Regt  ("5. Königlich Bayerisches Chevaulegers-Regiment "Erzherzog Friedrich von Österreich"")
      4th Bavarian Light Horse Regt  ("4. Königlich Bayerisches Chevaulegers-Regiment "König"")- deployed September 1918
  Other Armed Units
    176th Mortar Company ("176. Mörser Kompanie")
    2nd Motorised Battalion, 65th Reserve Field Artillery Regt ("II. Batallion, Reserve Feld Artillerie Regiment Nr 65")
    Armoured Car Machine Gun Unit ("Panzer-Kraftwagen-MG-Abteilung")
      1 x Daimler/15 Armoured Car (modernised in 1917)
1 x Ehrhardt/15 Armoured Car (modernised in 1917)
1 x Ehrhardt/17 Armoured Car
1 x Minerva Armoured Car (modified captured Belgian car)
1 x Daimler Machine Gun Carrier
Possibly 2 x Austin Armoured Cars (captured Russian cars)
Miscellaneous softskin vehicles
    28th Aviation Detachment
  Non-Combatant Units
1750th Signal Section

Sources and Recommended Reading-
"Like Hidden Fire" by Peter Hopkirk (see Book Reviews Page)
Discussion on the Caucasus Expedition at the Axis History Forum
"An Iron Cross For Friendly Fire" at the Wehrmacht Awards Forum
Wikipedia Page on the German Caucasus Expedition

"Grosser Bilderatlas des Weltkrieges" by F Bruckmann, Munich 1919 at University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
"Imperial German Army 1914-18" by Hermann Cron
"Die feldgraue Uniformierung des deutschen Heeres 1907-1918" by J Kraus W Hanne (Verlag Militaria 2009)
"Tropenhelme der kaiserliche Marine, der Ostasiatischen Truppen und der Schutztruppen" by Ulrich Schiers (see Book Reviews Page)
"The German Army in World War One (3)" N Thomas and R Bujiero
Wikipedia Page on the Caucasus Campaign
"Meine Mission im Kaukasus" by Kress von Kressentein


Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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