Original Imperial German WWI Named Kaiserliche Marine Navy “Fore and Aft” Bicorn Officer’s Dress Cap with Box - Reserve Lieutenant Eduard Schmidt, SMS G197 Watch Officer
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic, well preserved example of a WWI Imperial German Kaiserliche Marine Naval Officer’s Bicorn dress cap, affectionately called a “fore and aft”. The cap is nicely named on the inside sweatband with Eduard Schmidt, and with a little research, combined with the handwritten note, we were able to discover what Torpedo Boat he served with as a Watch Officer.
Watchkeeping or watchstanding is the assignment of sailors to specific roles on a ship to operate it continuously. These assignments, also known at sea as watches, are constantly active as they are considered essential to the safe operation of the vessel and also allow the ship to respond to emergencies and other situations quickly. These watches are divided into work periods to ensure that the roles are always occupied at all times, while those members of the crew who are assigned to work during a watch are known as watchkeepers.
On a typical seafaring vessel, be it naval or merchant, personnel "keep a watch" in various locations and duties across the ship, such as the bridge and engine room. Typical bridge watchkeepers include a lookout and a deck officer who is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship; whereas in the engine room, an engine officer ensures that running machinery continues to operate within tolerances.
With all that being said, a Watch Officer is a rather important role to have while serving aboard a Naval vessel! This Watch Officer, Reserve Lieutenant Eduard Schmidt, served with the 1st Escort Flotilla, 2nd Half Flotilla, aboard the S-138-class large torpedo boat, SMS G197. SMS G197 was a S-138-class large torpedo boat of the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Germaniawerft shipyard at Kiel between 1910 and 1911, and was launched on 23 June 1911, entering service later that year.
G197 served throughout the First World War, taking part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914 and the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915. After the war, she was surrendered as a war reparation, and was scrapped in 1921. G197 joined an escort flotilla in 1918 and on 22 February 1918, was renamed T197, in order to free her number for new construction, in this case the destroyer H197 which was ordered from Howaldswerke, but was canceled at the end of the war. She remained a member of the 1st Half-flotilla of the 1st Escort Flotilla at the end of the war.
The overall condition of this black beaver pelt bicorn is in wonderful condition. It features a lovely tricolor cockage on the right side with a gold wire braid, secured on the front with a flawless Kaiserliche Marine button. The interior has a white silk skullcap lining with a completely legible manufacturer’s stamp on the top for Berlin based maker J. Robrecht, a known supplier of high quality German caps.
The included leatherette and pressed paper storage box is in wonderful condition and served its purpose faithfully in protecting the cap. The leatherette is mostly complete with some loss at the top where the retaining cloth runs through. The construction is sound and retains the original top brass carry handle. The case measures about 18"L x 7 1/2"W x 5 1/2"H.
This is an incredible piece of history, ready for further research and display.
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs were steam-powered craft dedicated to ramming enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes. Later evolutions launched variants of self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes.
These were inshore craft created to counter both the threat of battleships and other slow and heavily armed ships by using speed, agility, and powerful torpedoes, and the overwhelming expense of building a like number of capital ships to counter an enemy's. A swarm of expendable torpedo boats attacking en masse could overwhelm a larger ship's ability to fight them off using its large but cumbersome guns. A fleet of torpedo boats could pose a similar threat to an adversary's capital ships, albeit only in the coastal areas to which their small size and limited fuel load restricted them.
The introduction of fast torpedo boats in the late 19th century was a serious concern to the era's naval strategists, introducing the concept of tactical asymmetric warfare. In response, navies operating large ships introduced firstly batteries of small-calibre quick-firing guns on board large warships for 'anti-torpedo' defence, before developing small but seaworthy ships, mounting light quick-firing guns, to accompany the fleet and counter torpedo boats. These small ships, which came to be called "torpedo boat destroyers" (and later simply "destroyers"), initially were largely defensive, primarily meeting the torpedo boat threat with their own guns outside of the range at which battleships would be vulnerable. In time they became larger and took on more roles, including making their own torpedo attacks on valuable enemy ships as well as defending against submarines and aircraft. Later yet they were armed with guided missiles and eventually became the predominant type of surface warship in modern era.
Today, the old concept of a very small, fast, and cheap surface combatant with powerful offensive weapons is taken up by the "fast attack craft".
SMS G197 was a S-138-class large torpedo boat of the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Germaniawerft shipyard at Kiel between 1910 and 1911, and was launched on 23 June 1911, entering service later that year.
G197 served throughout the First World War, taking part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914 and the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915. After the war, she was surrendered as a war reparation, and was scrapped in 1921.
Construction and Design
The Imperial German Navy ordered 12 large torpedo boats (Große Torpedoboote) as part of the fiscal year 1910 shipbuilding programme, with one half-flotilla of six ships ordered from Germaniawerft and the other six ships from AG Vulcan. The two groups of torpedo boats were of basically similar layout but differed slightly in detailed design, with a gradual evolution of design and increase in displacement with each year's orders.
G197 was 74.0 metres (242 ft 9 in) long overall and 73.6 metres (241 ft 6 in) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 7.06 metres (23 ft 2 in) and a draught of 3.1 metres (10 ft 2 in). The ship displaced 660 tonnes (650 long tons) design and 810 tonnes (800 long tons) deep load.
Three coal-fired and one oil-fired water-tube boiler fed steam at a pressure of 18.5 standard atmospheres (272 psi) to two sets of direct-drive steam turbines. The ship's machinery was rated at 18,200 PS (18,000 shp; 13,400 kW) giving a design speed of 32 knots (37 mph; 59 km/h), with members of the class reaching a speed of 33.5 knots (38.6 mph; 62.0 km/h) during sea trials. 145 tons of coal and 76 tons of oil fuel were carried, giving an endurance of 2,590 nautical miles (2,980 mi; 4,800 km) at 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h), 1,150 nautical miles (1,320 mi; 2,130 km) at 17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h) or 420 nautical miles (480 mi; 780 km) at 30 knots (35 mph; 56 km/h).
The ship was armed with two 8.8 cm L/45 guns, one on the forecastle and one aft. Four single 50 cm (19.7 in) torpedo tubes were fitted, with two on the ship's beam in the gap between the forecastle and the ship's bridge which were capable of firing straight ahead, one between the ship's two funnels, and one aft of the funnels. The ship had a crew of 84 officers and men.
G197 was laid down at Germaniawerft's Kiel shipyard as Yard number 157 and was launched on 23 June 1911 and completed on 10 November 1911.
First World War
G197 remained part of the 1st Half Flotilla of the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla on 10 August 1914. On 28 August 1914, the British Harwich Force, supported by light cruisers and battlecruisers of the Grand Fleet, carried out a raid towards Heligoland with the intention of destroying patrolling German torpedo boats. The German defensive patrols around Heligoland consisted of the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla of 12 torpedo boats forming an outer patrol line about 25 nautical miles (29 mi; 46 km) North and West of Heligoland, with an inner line of older torpedo boats of the 3rd Minesweeping Division at about 12 nautical miles (14 mi; 22 km). Four German light cruisers and another flotilla of modern torpedo boats (5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla) was in the vicinity of Heligoland. V197 formed part of the outer screen of torpedo boats. At about 06:00 on 28 August, G194, another member of the outer screen reported spotting the periscope of a submarine. As a result, the 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla was ordered out to hunt the hostile submarine. At 07:57 G194 was fired on by British warships, and was soon retreating towards Heligoland, pursued by four British destroyers. V Flotilla and the old torpedo boats of the 3rd Minesweeping Division also came under British fire, and were only saved by the intervention of the German cruisers Stettin and Frauenlob, with the torpedo boats V1, D8 and T33 damaged. G197 managed to successfully avoid the British ships and returned to base. However, sister ship V187, leader of I Flotilla, ran into the midst of the Harwich force when trying to return to Heligoland and was sunk. The intervention of the supporting British forces resulted in the sinking of the German cruisers Mainz, Cöln and Ariadne. The British light cruiser Arethusa and destroyers Laurel, Laertes and Liberty were badly damaged but safely returned to base.
On the evening of 12 April 1915, the German airship L7 sighted a British light cruiser and five surfaced submarines in the Heligoland Bight. I Flotilla was ordered out to attack the submarines, but G197, V188 and V189 collided in thick fog, disabling the three ships and causing the sortie to be aborted. In August 1915 the Germans detached a large portion of the High Seas Fleet for operations in the Gulf of Riga in support of the advance of German troops. It was planned to enter the Gulf via the Irben Strait, defeating any Russian naval forces and mining the entrance to Moon Sound. G197 took part in these operations, opening fire at what was believed to be a periscope of an enemy submarine when escorting the battlecruiser Seydlitz on 10 August. The operation was not a success, with Germany losing the torpedo boats S31 and V99 and the minesweeper T46, while failing to destroy any major Russian warships or lay the planned minefield.
G197, still part of the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla, was part of the High Seas Fleet when it sailed to cover the Lowestoft Raid on 24–25 April 1916. She did not take part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May–1 June 1916, with seven older torpedo boats of the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla being left behind. G197 remained part of the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla on 19 August 1916, when the High Seas Fleet sailed to cover a sortie of the battlecruisers of the 1st Scouting Group in the inconclusive Action of 19 August 1916.
G197 joined an escort flotilla in 1918 and on 22 February 1918, was renamed T197, in order to free her number for new construction, in this case the destroyer H197 which was ordered from Howaldswerke, but was cancelled at the end of the war. She remained a member of the 1st Half-flotilla of the 1st Escort Flotilla at the end of the war.
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