Polizei-Sergeant Wilhelmi of the South West African Landespolizei



Photo © S Schepp originally printed in Unter dem Kreuz des Südens

This is a posed studio photograph of Polizei-Sergeant Wihelmi of the South West African Landespolizei taken in his home town of Hanover.

Sergeant Wilhelmi wears the 1907 Landespolizei Dark Khaki Uniform with green collar and shoulder straps and yellow metal buttons bearing the imperial crown. Note the Sergeant's single rank pip on the collar. He wears two medals on his left breast, the more senior closest to his buttons is the South West Africa Campaign Medal with three clasps the other is presumably the 2nd Class Landwehr Service Award (see below for a full list of Wilhelmi's awards).

His trousers are matching dark khaki and their green piping can just be made out down the outside edge.

He carries a pair of white gloves, although only brown leather ones were authorised to be worn by the Landespolizei.

The sword is standard for the Landespolizei, based on the Prussian light cavalry sabre. The sword knot is more curious. The uniform regulations authorise a Faustriemen fringed knot in the green style of an army Oberjäger for the Polizei-Sergeant, unless he previously held Portepee rank in former service. As far as records show, Wilhelmi had not achieved Portepee rank (Vize-Feldwebel and above) in the Schutztruppe yet in this photograph he carries a Portepee closed knot in what appears to be white metallic thread with green threads in the upper part.

Although Sergeant Wilhelmi is bare headed in this photograph, he would usually have worn  either a Landespolizei Südwester hat in khaki felt with an imperial cockade at the front and a yellow metal imperial crown badge holding up the right hand side, or a Landespolizei field cap in dark khaki with a green hatband and piping, a small imperial cockade on the front and a black leather peak.

Friedrich Wilhelm Wilhelmi (1883-1941) was born in Hanover and joined the 73rd Hanoverian Fusilier Regt ("Füsilier-Regiment Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (1.Hannoversches) Nr.73") as a two year volunteer in 1902. From there he volunteered for the Schutztruppe in 1904, being promoted through the NCO ranks to Sergeant by 1908 when he transferred into the Landespolizei retaining the rank of Sergeant. During the First World War he served again in the Schutztruppe as Sergeant der Landwehr, was wounded and received the Iron Cross, second class. After the war he returned to Germany to work in finance, then returned to South West Africa in the 1920s to work as a hospital administrator near Lüderitzbucht and eventually moved to Argentina in 1931 where he settled on a plantation until his retirement.


Detail of the Collar and Medals

Detail of the Sword and Knot


List of Polizei-Sergeant Wilhelmi's Medals and Awards

Awarded Before 1914
Marksman Award, First Class - Schützenabzeichen 1. Schiessklasse
South West Africa Capmaign Medal for Combatants with three clasps - Südwestafrika-Denkmünze in Bronze mit Gefechtsspangen Hereroland, Groß-Namaland, Oranje, Kalahari 1908
Landwehr Service Award, Second Class - Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung II. Klasse

Awarded After 1914
Iron Cross, Second Class - Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse
Black Wound Badge - Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz
Hanoverian Veterans Organisation Honour Cross - Ehrenkreuz des Hannoverschen-Landes-Kriegerverbandes
Hanoverian Veterans Organisation Honour Medals - Ehrenmedaille des Hannoverschen Landes-Kriegerverbandes
Frontline Fighter's Honour Cross - Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
Elephant Order and Lion Order of the Colonial War Veterans Society - Kolonialauszeichnung des Deutschen Kolonial-Kriegerbundes ("Elefantenordern" und "Löwenorden")

  The photograph on this page originally appeared in "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens: Auf Spuren der Kaiserlichen Landespolizei von Deutsch-Südwestafrika" by S Schepp. It is one of hundreds of previously unpublished photographs and illustrations in the book. Thanks to the author for giving permission for us to use this photograph.

The book itself is the definitive study of the Landespolizei in German South West Africa. As you would expect it covers the history, organisation, uniforms and equipment of the Landespolizei but what it also does is bring these extensively researched facts and figures to life by winding it around the life stories of many of the policemen themselves. The author has travelled the world to find descendants of the Landespolizei to find their own personal stories. This touch, as well as the hundreds of previously unpublished facts, photographs and illustrations makes this book a must for all those interested in the German colonies. Available from This Link

Please contact me here if you have other photographs of the German colonies or the soldiers and sailors that served there. I am especially keen to hear from people with family photograph collections and am always happy to try to assist in identifying uniforms, units, places and dates for family history research.

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