See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

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See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby A1Coyote » 23 Jan 2011 17:02

I originally posted this photo here on AHF back in the summer of 2009, hoping for some leads at identifying the unit in the photo. The following is a thread posted for Group Commission Rifle at multiply.com.

For your enjoyment a photo I acquired in 2009. It is a photo that had been removed from a German language book by the seller of the photo. The book title is: "Der Krieg in China", authored by M. Schröder, published in 1901 in Berlin.

My knowledge of Imperial German Naval uniforms is quite limited, and any help & or information to better identify it will be greatly appreciated.

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Initially the title at the bottom of this photo was a tough translation for me, not knowing much about the boxer rebellion. I had some help with this translation (Thanks Anna!). She believes that the Thor is actually an older spelling for Tor. Here goes auf Englisch:

"In front of the Door of the Yamen* of the German Legation in Peking."

* Yamen is not a German word, but Chinese, meaning something like "walled palace". In 1900 it was used for the extraterritorial quarters of foreigners in China.

I am inclined to think that these men are those men sent for the reinforcement by one platoon from S.B. III of the German Legation compound before the siege began during the Boxer Rebellion. There being a lack of visible damage to the building, and no obvious wounded men adds to that opinion.

In the spring of 1900 with the growing number of attacks by Boxers in the region of Peking, a messenger was sent from the German Legation to request Schutzdetachements for the protection of legation personnel and property. In response to that request a detachment of the III. See Battalion of 5 officers and 45 enlisted men led by Oberleutnant Alfred Graf von Soden, (later to be known as Der Held von Peking / The Hero of Peking) departed their base at Tsingtao on 29 May 1900 aboard the SMS Kaiserin Augusta, landed at Taku on 01 June 1900.The detachment arrived in Peking on the evening of 03 June 1900 after linking up with a special train from the city of Tientsin on the road from Taku.

What an immense surprise! Gew 88 rifles with fixed S71 sword bayonets. Although Gewehr 88 saw use in the Colonies, China was the first true "Baptism by Fire" in major engagement for Rifle 88.

These men appear to have the shoulder boards of Seebatallion III. A detachment of 5 officers and 45 enlisted men arrived in Peking on the evening of 03 June 1900, to re-enforce the German Legation. These fifty troops were to see action as part of the allied defence when the legations came under siege. In this photo are 34 mannschaften and 2 NCO's with blue/white visored service hats, 1 Seebatallion officer with white summer service hat (Oberleutnant von Soden?), and a single Naval officer with white summer service hat.

All rifles are Gew 88 with S71 bayonets, not a Mauser in sight. I would have thought German Naval troops in 1900 would be armed with Gew 71/84 rifles and fixed S71 Hirshfanger bayonets, as the Imperial German Navy is not supposed to have bought the Gew 88. The first major formations armed with the then new Mauser Gewehr 98 were those attached to the Ostasiatische Expeditionskorps. The Ostasiatische Expeditionskorps arrived in China between September and October 1900 and too late to take part in any of the major actions during the Boxer Rebellion, seeing action only in several smaller battles against remaining pockets of resistance by Boxers. Upon defeat of the Boxer Rebellion, the Korps was disbanded and mostly recalled to Germany in 1901.

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Ammo pouches appear to be M95. The men at the outside edges of the group wear the white tropical helmet with a white metal Imperial Seebatallion wappen. Their khaki uniforms were adopted on 13 June 1898 and authorised for the III. Seebatallion to wear in China during the Summer months. Again every rifle a Gew 88, bayonets in view are brass handled S71, not the Hirschfänger 71. To date I have not been able to find any archives to explain the presence of the Gew 88 rifles in possession of these men. This photo should pre-date the arrival of the Marine-Expeditions-Korps to China, which departed Wilhelmshaven in July and did not reach Tsingtao until 13 August 1900.

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The shoulder boards appear to be those of See Batallion III. These men wear the Other Ranks Khaki tunics six plain brass buttons and plain cuffs with stand and fall collars and white shoulder boards with yellow insignia showing an imperial crown above two crossed anchors with the Roman numeral three below it. The trousers are also khaki, marching boots appear blackened.

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Diagram of S.B. III shoulder boards courtesy of liongules (Thank You!).
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Some interesting information I picked up from Wikipedia & the website: marine-infanterie.de, regarding See Batallions:

The Seebatallione were naval infantry troops or marines serving in the Prussian navy. Albrecht von Stosch (20 April 1818 - 29 February 1896) was a German Generalleutnant der Infanterie and Admiral who served as first Chief of the newly created Imperial German admiralty from 1872 to 1883. Stosch ended the practice of placing marines aboard warships. Instead he adopted a concept that became known as Infanterieismus. He would train seamen as naval infantry, qualified in using small arms and competent in infantry tactics and amphibious operations. Scheduled exchanges of officers from the Prussian army brought current tactical thinking to the sea battalion. Enlargement of the battalion to six companies allowed a reorganization of the unit and the transfer of half of the battalion from Kiel to Wilhelmshaven to form the II. Seebatallion. Both battalions were then increased in size to four companies.

The German East Asia Squadron (Ostasiengeschwader) was a German Naval Cruiser Squadron being Imperial Germany’s only major “blue water” (overseas) naval formation independent of home ports in Germany. In 1897 the squadron was commanded by Rear Admiral Otto von Diederichs (who replaced Tirpitz). As Commander of the Ostasiengeswader, he was committed to establishing a German Naval base, and set his sights on Kiautschou (Jiaozhou) on the Shandong Peninsula. German government offers to buy land for the site were refused by the Chinese government.

The brutal murder of two German Roman Catholic priests by a Big Swords Society (a traditional Chinese peasant group comprised of smallholders and tenant farmers organized for self-defence of villages) in Shandong on 1 November 1897, provided the provocation for Rear Admiral von Diederichs to land troops. The flawless demonstration of Infanterieismus on 14 November 1897 by troops of the navy’s East Asia Squadron, was followed by the successful occupation of Jiaozhou Bay region in China.

Meanwhile in Germany on 03 December 1897, by direction of an AKO, a new See Batallion was ordered to be formed, the Ist & 2nd Kompanies comprised of men from See Batallion I. and the 3rd & 4th Kompanies of men from See Batallion II. This new battalion arrived at Tsingtao on 26 January 1898, and the 1,200 Marines disembarked from the steamer Darmstadt to garrison the East Asian Station of the Imperial Navy.

Negotiations with the Chinese government began and on 6 March 1898 the German Empire retreated from outright cession of the area and accepted instead a leasehold of the bay for 99 years. This was known as the Kiautschou Bay Concession, and in actuality existed from 1898 to 1914 (when on 23 August 1914 the Republic of China canceled the lease). One month later the Reichstag ratified the treaty on 8 April 1898. Kiautschou Bay was officially placed under German protection by imperial decree on 27 April 1898.

Actual photo of an exquisite example of S.B.III. shoulder board.

Image
http://commissionrifle.multiply.com/

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Chris Dale
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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Chris Dale » 24 Jan 2011 12:17

Thanks for that informative post. I agree with all you're saying about this lot probably being the reinforcement for Peking. I think the G88 was quite common amongst the SB and Navy in China... I'll try to find some more photos...

Cheers
Chris

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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby A1Coyote » 25 Jan 2011 03:58

I an seriously looking forward to seeing them! And thanks for the encouraging words, it is appreciated to know I am on the right track.

Geo
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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby A1Coyote » 07 Mar 2011 00:58

Chris Dale wrote:Thanks for that informative post. I agree with all you're saying about this lot probably being the reinforcement for Peking. I think the G88 was quite common amongst the SB and Navy in China... I'll try to find some more photos...

Cheers
Chris


Chris

Have you been able to to find any more photos?

Geo
http://commissionrifle.multiply.com/

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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Peter H » 07 Mar 2011 05:11

From: http://www.kopfwelten.org/kp/personen/kessler/

Ostasiatisches Regiment photo---thats an 88 on the right,stacked?
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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Chris Dale » 07 Mar 2011 10:51

Wow, Peter!!!!! I don't know if you realise the gold mine you've just struck (at least from my point of view)...

I'd never seen the East Asian Expeditionary Corps wearing the cover on their Pickelhauben before in photos. I knew it was issued and seen illustrations, but never photos. As a bonus these chaps have their regimental number on the front. This is the earliest photo I've ever seen for unit numbers on covers... brilliant!

As for the rifle... this is the 5th East Asian Infantry Regiment rather than the III. Seebatallion, and I'm not sure that's their rifle on the right. Notice it's got a hat on top which looks like the famous Italian Bersaglieri feathered hat. Could the rifle also be the similar Italian Carcano 1891? Both the Carcano and G88 had copied their design from the Mannlicher by the looks of it. What do other readers think?

All photos I've so far seen of the East Asian Infantry show them with the G98 rifle, rather than the G88. Then again up until half an hour ago, I'd have told you Pickelhaube covers may have been issued in China but I've never seen them in photos...

Thanks again Peter for these photos you keep finding!

Cheers
Chris

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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby A1Coyote » 08 Mar 2011 03:02

Peter H wrote:From: http://www.kopfwelten.org/kp/personen/kessler/

Ostasiatisches Regiment photo---thats an 88 on the right,stacked?


Very good photo. Are these weapons captured from Boxers?

Thanks for posting this!
http://commissionrifle.multiply.com/

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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby A1Coyote » 08 Mar 2011 03:09

Chris Dale wrote:Wow, Peter!!!!! I don't know if you realise the gold mine you've just struck (at least from my point of view)...

I'd never seen the East Asian Expeditionary Corps wearing the cover on their Pickelhauben before in photos. I knew it was issued and seen illustrations, but never photos. As a bonus these chaps have their regimental number on the front. This is the earliest photo I've ever seen for unit numbers on covers... brilliant!

As for the rifle... this is the 5th East Asian Infantry Regiment rather than the III. Seebatallion, and I'm not sure that's their rifle on the right. Notice it's got a hat on top which looks like the famous Italian Bersaglieri feathered hat. Could the rifle also be the similar Italian Carcano 1891? Both the Carcano and G88 had copied their design from the Mannlicher by the looks of it. What do other readers think?

All photos I've so far seen of the East Asian Infantry show them with the G98 rifle, rather than the G88. Then again up until half an hour ago, I'd have told you Pickelhaube covers may have been issued in China but I've never seen them in photos...

Thanks again Peter for these photos you keep finding!

Cheers
Chris


Chris

East Asian Expeditionary Corps as you say, were the first German troops to be armed with Gewehr 98. Gew 98 was intended originally as a replacement for Ge 88 rifles that were no longer serviceable. This all changed after The Boxer Rebellion. I as a slow transformation that took serveral years to complete for the existing line units. I believe most of the reserve infantry regiments were equipt by 1912.

Geo
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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Chris Dale » 08 Mar 2011 10:44

Thanks for that Geo,

But (and please correct me if I'm wrong) the East Asian troops were never issued the G88 or its Carbine equivilent... at least I've not seen photos of them (yet!)...

Cheers
Chris

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Peter H
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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Peter H » 08 Mar 2011 12:07

Chris

I think your right about it being an Italian rifle.I can see the Bersaglieri hat on the top of the stack.

Details here of the Italians in China in 1900:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BVMS/message/6901

619 Bersaglieri remained at Tientsin until 1905.

Peter

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Re: See Battalion III Schutzdetachment - June 1900

Postby Chris Dale » 08 Mar 2011 12:51

Thanks for that link Peter, I'd not read much on the Italians in China before. Then I noticed that link you gave, was a quote from our good friend Mike Blake here on the AHF viewtopic.php?t=83104 . The searching has come full circle!

Cheers
Chris


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