Markus Bodeux

In the beginning of 1884 more and more complains came up regarding black tribe members attacking the German population. The chiefs were bribed by the other colonial forces, seeing their power decreasing, to break the old contracts with Germany. 
Therefore the "Reichsregierung" German senate took the colony Kamerun under the protection of the German Reich. Issued on September 27, 1884, the so called "Westafrikanische Geschwader" (West African Squadron) was formed and set under power of Admiral Eduard Knorr.

Eduard von Knorr
8.3.1840 –17.2.1920

Received his tittle by Army Order January 18, 1896. June 15, 1898, he was awarded the Order of the Black Eagle. 

On the picture he is wearing the Iron Cross 2nd class, that he was awarded being the commander of the gun boat "Kanonenbootes METEOR" for the fight with the France boat "Aviso BOUVET" at Havana. He is also wearing the Red Eagle Order that he was awarded for the duty in Kamerun 1884 (He got the crown for this order June 24, 1894).

The order Eduard von Knorr received from the Kaiser enables him to use military force:

"......should there be a violation of German rights of persons implemented by tribes in Kamerun or Kamerun coastal areas, you have to solve these problems. If this isn't possible on a peaceful way, you have to use military force."

On the other hand the Kaiser was aware of the problems that could result using military forces in an area of common interest of the other colonial countries:

".......always try to not get into conflicts with ships of the other European Nations. If you get involved, try to get out if in a peaceful and passive way."

The ships left Wilhelmshaven Germany October 30, 1884.  The squadron was set together of Kreuzerfregatten BISMARCK, Knorrs Flaggschiff, and GNEISENAU, as well as Kreuzerkorvetten OLGA and ARIADNE. In Porto Grande on the "kapverdischen" islands the GNEISENAU and ARIADNE was redirected to fulfill different orders.

BISMARCK and OLGA reached the African coast the beginning of December and stopped December 17 in the delta of the Kamerun river. December 20 the landing corps was shipped to the land, while OLGA went up the river to take some tribe villages under artillery fire.
The corps, 18 officers, 2 medical doctors and 287 soldiers, were able to beat the revolting tribe members and pushed them back into the forests.
The following night, December 21, most of the revolting leaders were arrested. The Germans had one total los of men and 8 wounded.
Admiral Knorr implemented a barricade on the coastal line. The piece was brought back and the German settlers were protected.

While Admiral Knorr was send of for other challenges in the Pacific Ocean, the OLGA went back into Kiel, Germany, May 25, 1885.

The Kaiser was so impressed with their military work, that he ordered one NCO (Obermaat) and 8 soldiers to Berlin to honor them on June 1885 in front of the Berlin's chateau. They were the first members of the Imperial German Navy that experienced this honor.


Already before their arrival in Kiel, Germany, the members the so called "Westafrikanische Geschwader" (West African Squadron) were awarded the following orders and medals within order from May 5, 1885 for their merit:

Marineverordnungsblatt 1885, Nr. 10, S. 99


Korvettenkapitän Louis Riedel, s. Zt. 1. Offizier S.M.S. OLGA, wearing the Red Eagle Order 4th class with swords

Furthermore the Korvettenkapitän Bendemann was awarded with the Commanders Cross 2nd class with swords, the Leutnant zur See von Hoepner and the Unterleutnant zur See von Ernsthausen the knights cross 1st class with swords of the Kings Württemberg Frederick Order.  (A.K.O. vom 18. Juli 1885)

June 4, 1885, it was stated that the time in Kamerun would be counted as war time and therefor counted towards retirement:

„.........Für den Stab des Westafrikanischen Geschwaders und die Besatzungen Meiner Kreuzerfregatte „Bismarck“ und Meiner Kreuzerkorvette „Olga“ ist die im Dezember des Jahres 1884 ausgeführte militärische Aktion in und bei Kamerun als ein Feldzug im Sinne des §.23 des Gesetzes, betreffend die Pensionierung und Versorgung der Militärpersonen des Reichsheeres und der Kaiserlichen Marine vom 27. Juni 1871, anzusehen.“

Bar KAMERUN 1884 for the Colonial Commemorative Medal

In its issue document the bar for KAMERUN 1884 is stated. The crew of the ships BISMARCK and OLGA, contained approx. 690 soldiers, including the following officers, Navy Engineers and Navy doctors:

 Bachmann Unterleutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Bartz Marinezahlmeister BISMARCK
 Basse, von Leutnant zur See OLGA
 Bendemann Korvettenkapitän OLGA, Kommandant
 Bethge Kapitänleutnant OLGA
 Bugge, Dr. Marinestabsarzt BISMARCK
 Buschmann Maschinenunteringenieur OLGA
 Dammann, Dr. Marineassistenzarzt 2. Kl. BISMARCK
 Ernsthausen, von Unterleutnant zur See OLGA
 Etzel, von Secondelieutenant OLGA, kdt. vom Seebataillon
 Fischer, Dr. Marinestabsarzt OLGA
 Garbe Maschinenunteringenieur OLGA
 Gildemeister Leutnant zur See OLGA
 Gotzhein Seekadett OLGA
 Hoffmann Unterleutnant zur See OLGA
 Holtzendorff, von Leutnant zur See Westafrikanisches Geschwader, Flaggleutnant
 Höpner Leutnant zur See OLGA
 Karcher Kapitän zur See BISMARCK, Kommandant
 Kölle Unterleutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Knorr Konteradmiral Westafrikanischer Geschwader, Chef
 Meier III. Unterleutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Meyer II. Leutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Mießner Unterleutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Moltke, Graf von I. Leutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Riedel Kapitänleutnant OLGA, 1. Offizier
 Roeske Maschinenunteringenieur BISMARCK
 Scheer Unterleutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Schmidt II. Unterzahlmeister OLGA
 Schnars Leutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Stiege Leutnant zur See BISMARCK
 Wilm Kapitänleutnant BISMARCK, 1. Offizier

© A. Schulze Ising, I/00