Views On Colonial Expeditions
All operations for colonial expeditions can be undertaken successfully
because of the small forces necessary to transport over the sea to
make war upon a country which does not possess modern equipment and
trained troops. Just such an expedition was unostentatiously carried
out in China before our own eyes.
The sending of an expedition to East Asia affords an interesting
example of what can be done. Witho
t resistance we have set up
governments at a distance from the home country. It is possible with
the aid of the fleet to secure similar results. However, there are
many obstacles to be overcome. It is imperative that in time of peace
we should prepare in every possible way for war in foreign lands
which have any commercial value for us. Inasmuch as the German army
has determined upon larger divisions of troops, the problems of
operations on the distant sea falls to the navy. In the future the
conducting of such operations will rest with the General Staff. It
will be necessary to continue the preparations, described fully in the
forepart of this book, for the carrying out of operations against such
countries as Asia, Africa and South America. Good judgment must be
used in the selection of methods. The execution of the first
operations would require the constantly combined efforts of the
General Staff and the Admiral Staff.
Our excellent knowledge of East Asia has given us the necessary
technical preparation in the way of equipment. The chartering of
transport ships for service to China should not be difficult in
consequence of the large size of the expedition. The expedition corps
would require eighteen ships, material and supplies would take five.
The greater part of this number would be amply supplied by our two
large steamship companies, the North German Lloyd and the
Hamburg-American Line. The charter of these steamship companies
provides for their use as transports if needed for expeditions of this
sort. The disadvantages of this arrangement once appeared in the delay
through a labor strike, when it was necessary to transport part of the
unfinished ships to Wilhelmshaven. Another drawback is that not enough
room is provided in these ships. On the steamers of the
Hamburg-American Line, for example, only sixty-five per cent. of their
normal passenger capacity can be utilized for troops which means at
the most an approximate displacement of three net tons, so that only
one man instead of two can be carried. An adjustment should be reached
to the end that the entire freight capacity of the steamers could be
The interior arrangements of a steamer to be used for troop transport
must be planned according to law. Fire-extinguishers, life-saving
apparatus and other necessities must be provided for; numerous tables
and benches which can be drawn up to the ceiling should be in the
troops rooms, and should also be found up on deck. Hospital
arrangements for two and one-half per cent. of the transport strength
should be provided.
The active troops of the expedition corps are at present drawn from
volunteers, the reserve and the militia, and grouped in new
formations. Through this the home defenses may be benefited, but the
expedition corps would not be up to standard, even though the newly
formed troops would have sufficient time to concentrate. It is
advisable for such an expedition to employ active, well-trained
soldiers for the main part, while the balance could be made up of
reserves. It is also to be recommended that in the near future we form
a fixed body of troops trained for hospital service. Such a formation
would have great intrinsic worth.
A few words should be said about the organizing of a Colonial army,
which would be called upon to play an essential part in German
military operations over the sea. It would be of extraordinary value
in preserving order in our colonies and would also be of assistance in
commercial aims. The Colonial army would constitute a picked body of
men, suitable for service in hot climates and uncivilized countries,
who would be able to fight effectively against colonies with which we
might be at war.
There would still remain, however, the need of preparation of our home
forces for colonial expeditions. We are not assured at present of the
assembling of the necessary number of qualified troops without drawing
on our regular army.
It requires a good deal of time to procure the equipment for an
expedition to East Asia. Therefore, contracts with capable firms
should be made, to make delivery in the shortest possible time.
While the equipment of the infantry with up-to-date weapons is easily
accomplished, it is noteworthy that only about thirty horses can be
loaded by the English system. Some effort should be made to solve the
horse problem. The purchasing of horses in Australia, America and
South China has ceased, in consequence of the knowledge that only a
small percentage can withstand the change of climate.
It would be impossible to employ joint cavalry forces, due to lack of
mounts. It is imperative to find the means for forming a mounted
infantry, for there is an insufficient number of advanced cavalry
troops to meet an emergency. It would be advantageous if large
brigades now idle could be moved for operations in Eastern China. Past
experience in China has emphasized the great importance of cavalry for
operations in large countries.
The losses in newly purchased horses would be greater than if we would
send trained horses accustomed to military service. The great loss in
transporting horses is no longer to be feared. The experience of the
English in transporting horses to Cape Town proves the worth of their
loading system. And it should be pointed out that the Prussian
horses, through their training, can endure climatic changes and the
hardships of sea transportation much better than the English horses.
The thirty horses on the transport must be well taken care of to reach
East Asia. The ships should be fitted out with this aim in view.
Accidents usually occur in crossing the equator. The Red Sea and the
Indian Ocean are especially difficult to cross. This could be overcome
by sending the transport by way of Cape Town, where a part of the trip
could be made south through the Tropic of Cancer. It has been
demonstrated that horses not older than from ten to sixteen years
should be selected for service abroad. No fear need be felt as to the
feeding of the horses, for our horses are accustomed to little corn.
Sometimes feedings of soaked rice with molasses added have given
A possible help for the outfitting of the artillery would be the
purchasing in Italy of native mules and loading them at Genoa. In
English sea-transporting these animals have demonstrated their
exceptional powers of resistance. They are preferable to horses
because they can endure hardships better and can more easily be
accustomed to conditions in East Asia.
While we have a large variety of artillery, our expedition corps must
be equipped with mountain guns which can be carried by beasts of
burden. This is often necessary in colonial expeditions. Experience
shows that it is difficult to move the heavy artillery of the field
army over bad roads, and the large guns would not get very far. This
is true also of the steel-boat bridge trains. It is surprising that
our collapsible boats, universally approved as superior, are not
Our military arrangements have not included a suitable hospital
service, because the ambulances are too heavy and unwieldy. The French
seem to have been afforded very good service by the so-called
cacolets--saddle horses with pack saddles for the sick and wounded.
These are excellent for use in colonial countries. A light wagon model
is generally recommended for supplies, for despite the condition of
the roads they must be able to follow the troops.
It is a question how the unfavorable conditions of communication with
our men-of-war can be improved. Once the forces and supplies are in
Bremen and Bremerhaven no difficulties would be found in embarking.
For the future a central place is recommended from which the
expedition corps can sail.
If thorough preparations are made the loading of the transports can
be accomplished in two or three days; by the old method of loading it
took two days for each ship. To facilitate the work, the loading
should be done simultaneously on both sides of the steamer. The
greater part of the supplies can be brought by tugs from Bremen to
Bremerhaven. The troops can consequently embark at Quai in about four
hours. The vessels, which have been arranged to utilize all available
space, can also carry all accouterments, ammunition and supplies.
Great delay and inconvenience might be caused by not accurately
calculating the massive proportions of the military shipment. It is
therefore above all argument that the military authorities and not the
steamship company should oversee the loading so that it would be done
properly from a military standpoint. Through a haphazard loading, the
detached troops might not go in the same boat with their belongings,
and they might not even know where their individual effects were
stowed. Disembarking would be difficult and delayed, causing the
forces to wait a long time for the unloading of their guns and
With regard to the sea voyage, it is very advantageous for us that the
sailing of the joint fleet is not required. The trip by transport
would take from forty-two to fifty-seven days. The trip from Shanghai
to Taku can be made successfully with the aid of our battle fleet. The
transports should sail without artillery equipment, so that no
difficulty would be experienced in getting letters-of-marque; but if
they could have on deck even a small amount of the guns which they
have on board, they would have nothing to fear from privateers or
auxiliary cruisers. Upon arrival at Taku, considerable difficulties
might be encountered, for it is reported that it is practically
impossible to procure the extra help needed.
Considering a landing at Tsingtau, it should be noted that there has
not been provided a sufficient number of disembarking boats. This
situation proves that under all circumstances the troop transport must
be equipped independently to land its troops and supplies.
Experience has taught us that a great deal of preparation is necessary
to undertake colonial expeditions and it behooves us now to lay a
foundation for future operations over the sea.