Notes on this website


A Seebatallion NCO in Litewka and Litzen
(See language note below)


Accuracy - Every attempt is made to present accurate information, however I do make mistakes on occasion. Please let me know if you spot any. I am always happy to discuss points of interest and correct errors. I look on this website as a continual work in progress with pages always ready for revision in the light of new facts.

Also if you are thinking of using information on this website as source material for your own researches, I'd recommend you contact me first to check my sources for accuracy.

You can contact me here.


The Illustrations
are all based directly on photographs from the period with colours and details taken from contemporary illustrations and surviving items of militaria. Every attempt has been made to show the soldiers as they appeared on duty or in combat. However due to scarcity of source material there are still gaps in my knowledge of the subject. Please either email me here if you know something I don't or if you spot any mistakes on my part.

Colours used in the illustrations may appear lighter or darker on different computer screens and should only be used a rough guide as they often varied in the field due to manufacture differences and wear and tear in hot climates.

Colours of Metal Buttons- in the text I have often tried to keep to the phrases "yellow metal" and "white metal" when referring to buttons, helmet plates, shoulder strap braid and suchlike. Many source materials refer to specific metals such as gold or silver. While some officers insignia was gold plated, most medals and buttons described as gold were made from alloys such as bronze, brass ("Messing") or a brass variant known as Tombac or Rich Low Brass. In a similar way most other ranks medals buttons described as silver were made of polished steel or gilt (a silver coloured brass). In fact many variations of metals and alloys were used in the making of buttons, insignia and medals in Imperial Germany, particularly later in the First World War due the shortages of raw materials.

Language - For the benefit of the English speakers I have tried to use as little German as possible in writing this site. German uniform titles and unit names are given in italics after English translations.

The main exceptions to this are the German words "Schutztruppe" and "Seebatallion". Schutztruppe is used to describe Germany's regular Colonial Forces. The word itself literally means "protectorate troops" but has no direct suitable equivalent in English so I have used the German word throughout. Seebatallion literally means "sea battalion" of course. It would perhaps be better translated as "marine infantry battalion", although that would cause confusion with the separate German naval "Marine Infanterie". As neither English phrase sits comfortably in context so I have stuck to the German.

There are two other terms of uniformology I have commonly left untranslated in German. They are "Litewka" and "Litzen". Litewka is word of Lithuanian origin used to describe a plain tunic worn off duty or for light work, there is no direct English Translation. Litzen are the collar and cuff lace bars worn by some German elite units (including both the Schutztruppe and Seebatallione). "Collar and cuff lace bars" is an ungainly phrase so I have stuck with Litzen throughout.


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

Back to Main Menu for German Colonial Uniforms