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Friday, 30 August 2013

Colours of World War I: Soldiers' Uniforms


British Soldiers

British soldiers wore khahi or "service drab". The tunic of coarse serge was buttoned to the neck. Above black leather boots, puttees (cloth strips wound round the legs) extended from ankle to knee.
At the start of the war soft forage caps were worn, but in in 1916, the famous round steel helmets appeared. British infantrymen were expected to carry equipment which totalled a third of their own weight. In fact, they usually carried around 35 kilos and were greatly overloaded.

French Soldiers

At the beginning of the war French soldiers were very smartly dressed. Over their red trousers they wore dark blue capotes (long cloaks) and their headgear was a red or blue flat-topped forage cap or "kepi".
Before the end of 1914, this had been repaced by a more modest blue-grey uniform. French troops carried an awesome 39 kilos of equipment and this included a long unwieldy bayonet.

German Soldiers

The pikel-haube or spiked helment was the best-known feature of the uniform of the German soldier. His uniform was "field grey" worn with knee-length "jack boots". It was not until 1916 that stahlhelms, helmets which gave added protection to the neck, were first used.

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