Parts 1 and 2 of this post starting below the line of crosses come directly from the web site, 151st Line Infantry Regiment, http://www.151ril.com/content/gear/1914. The extensive explanatory text and photos are superbly done. Thanks to the author and the unit! The quote below, explaining their purpose, comes from the home page of their web site. "The 151e Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (151e RIL or 151 RI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit living-history organization dedicated to the remembrance and perpetuation of the Great War of 1914-1918. Through educational living-histories, reenactments, and online publishings, we portray and interpret for the public the infantrymen of the French army of the period." The original material and all photos come from back issues of two French militaria magazines, Armes Militaria and Gazette des Uniformes. Both of these are excellent references for most conflicts in which the French army or its colonial forces participated. Unfortunately the Gazette des Uniformes has ceased publication. Back issues of each magazine are frequently offered on e-Bay.fr, e-Bay.com in the USA, abebooks.com and elsewhere. I will add some additional photos at the end of Part 2. Part 1 of 2 +++++++++ Uniform and Equipment of 1914 Note: All images used without permission. Original sources are cited at bottom of page. Soldier's Kit Officer's Kit: August 1914 August-December 1914 September-December 1914 The Defining Features: red trousers, dark blue double-breasted greatcoat, red kepi (with dark blue cover), black leather accoutrements. The year of naivety, sacrificial zeal and blind obedience. Hundreds of thousands of men sacrifice themselves with "Pour la France!" on their lips. An antiquated mentality carried over from the previous century transfixed the minds of the French military leaders. The "doctrine of the offensive" held the belief that through sheer élan (the spirit of the highly-motivated individual soldier) any obstacle could be overcome - man or material. By this thinking, the bayonet could defeat the machine-gun when wielded in the hands of the charging soldier; a rushing, determined infantry charge could overcome even the most deeply entrenched enemy. To stop the advance of the German army, French soldiers were hurled across open fields toward the enemy. Waves of advancing infantry were simply mowed down by storms of bullets and shrapnel fire. The uniform of the pioupiou ("young soldier") as the French soldier of '14 was called, reflects the mentality of 'attaque à outrance' ("all-out attack"). Bold and brilliant in color, it is another relic suited more for the battlefields of the 19th century and the age before smokeless powder. The men wore as their primary garment a greatcoat made of iron blue wool, officially called "gris de fer bleuté" ("bluish iron gray"). It was constituted of 90% indigo-dyed and 10% raw (undyed) wool. The trousers of the men were made of garance, or "madder" wool: a striking red that was intended to instill a sense of boldness in the soldier. Ironically enough, the original natural madder culture had been abandoned in France in the late 19th century, and it was necessary to turn to Germany for a chemical dye (alarizine) which replicated the color. The primary headgear of the French soldier, the képi, was also made from madder wool (although covers were made for these in a modest concession to reducing the soldier's visibility). The rank and regimental insignia on the greatcoat also utilized the madder wool. The highly conspicuous uniform would doubtlessly contribute to the staggering losses suffered by the French army in 1914. Even before the war had begun, it was conceded that dramatic measures had to be taken to reduce the visibility of the men's uniforms. Though four previous attempts had already been made in the pre-war years, all had failed. In July 1914, it was finally decided to use the cloth termed "tricolor" (composed of 60% blue, 30% red and 10% white wool). But when it was discovered that the red used in its construction was produced by the German chemical dye alarizine, it was decided to proceed without this component. The resulting shade was officially called bleu clair ("light blue"). The first runs utilized dyes that proved unstable, fading into a light bluish-gray after continued exposure to the elements. Once the dye was better regulated in 1915, a more uniform shade was reached and it was this cloth that would be called bleu horizon ("horizon blue"). Yet French stocks alone could not support the needs of the army, and calls were made to Spain, the U.S. and especially Britain to supply additional cloth that was similar in nuance. These ranged from violet blue to gray, and all shades in between. Despite the different countries of origin, all imported cloth was universally referred to as gris bleuté d'Angleterre ("English bluish-gray") -- though true British wool was normally a dark blue-gray. While the new uniform gradually began distribution, temporary measures would be taken to help reduce the visibility of the old uniform. Soldier's Kit: August 1914 French infantryman uniform, Aug. 1914. From the left to right: greatcoat m. 1877, kepi m. 1884 with cover, jacket m. 1870, tunic m. 1897, trousers m. 1867/93, gaiters m. 1913. Uniform: le Képi ("kepi"): model 1884, wool; dark blue band, madder turban and cap, black leather visor, dark blue piping. Two aeration vents are fitted on either side of the cap. The regimental patch (the digits in madder) is sewn onto a rectangular dark blue patch which itself is sewn onto the front of the cap. The interior lining is of coated linen with a rough black leather sweat band. Many men would retain their original red kepis into the spring and summer of 1915. Kepi m. 1884 with kepi cover m. 1913 (top) and a kepi with a private purchase kepi cover showing signs of fading from exposure to the elements. le Couvre-Képi ("kepi-cover"): model 1912, iron blue (dyed) cotton; the cover was secured to the kepi using a cinching cord and two button holes on either side. There were also three rear loops on the cover that were intended to receive the hooks of the detachable neck-cover (rarely seen in 1914). It was this model that was most common in August 1914. Model 1913, impermeable cotton, manufactured in dark blue cloth; the three loops on the rear of the cover are replaced by three blackened iron buttons, and the three hooks on the neck-cover are replaced with three button holes. Simplified model (1914), impermeable cotton, manufactured in iron blue cloth. As a exigent measure, the simplified model is produced (beginning in August 1914) only in the cap component (i.e. with no neck-cover nor means of attaching one). In principal, this model was intended for distribution among the reserve and territorial units. A feature shared by every model of kepi-cover was the rapidity at which they became discolored after continual exposure to the elements. Under the August sun, they first faded to an ash blue. Through the months, the look of the covers will be for the less disparate, turning every possible shade of blue: faded out, whitened by dust, stained by mud, greened by moisture. Additionally, private purchase kepi-covers in a similar shade to the regulation issue or in oiled canvas were also procured. la Capote ("greatcoat"): model 1877, iron blue wool ("technically, bluish iron-gray -- 90% indigo-dyed, 10% unbleached white); double-breasted with two rows of six buttons (model 1871) in brass with flaming grenade in relief; button-back capes; standing collar; linen lining. The collar patches consist of the regimental numerals in iron blue, sewn onto a madder patch. The shoulder strap is either the model 1908 (consisting of a single roll) or the model 1913 (a stacked double roll). It was a common practice to wear only the right shoulder strap, or to wear neither. A belt loop is located on the left side of the greatcoat, which fastens via a small button. The cuff facings are closed by way of a small button as well. It is the model 1877 greatcoat that by far will be the most common in 1914. Although it will be completely replaced by the spring of 1915, the model 1877 greatcoat will continue to be worn up to the end of the war by new recruits during their training period, often receiving their horizon-blue uniforms just before departing to the front. Greatcoat model 1877. A rare example of a m. 1877 greatcoat which has a fall-down collar in place of the regulation stand-up one. Contrary to regulations, the regimental numbers have been sewn directly onto the collar. Model 1877/14, light blue wool; double-breasted with two rows of six buttons. The buttons, collar patches, martingale, belt loop, shoulder straps and shoulder loops are the same as those on the model 1877. Made with both a standing collar and a large half-chevallière, or fall-down, collar. The modified '14 no longer has facings or buttons on the cuffs. As the first stocks of new light blue cloth arrived in August, certain manufacturers produce items that, in the absence of official directives from the War Ministry, integrally preserve the pre-war uniform cut. It isn't until the end of September that the description of the new uniform (model 1914) is sent out. It was in this short lapse of time that a significant amount of the model 1877/14 greatcoats were produced using the new wool. However, once the army had released the description of the much more simplified model 1914, it became immediately clear that it would be less costly and time-consuming to produce. Thus, after only a month of production, manufacturers quickly switched to making the regulation model. Greatcoat m. 1877/14. Three men in this photo, including the NCO, are fitted out in m. 1877/14 greatcoats (double-breasted). The others wear the m. 1914. Fall of 1914. la Veste ("jacket"): model 1870, dark blue wool (100% indigo-dyed) of a finer cloth than that used in the greatcoat; single-breasted with one row of nine small buttons (model 1871) in brass with flaming grenade in relief; white canvas lining. Commonly referred to by the soldiers as the ras-cul ("short-ass") due to its short length, the jacket was only to be worn at barracks or bivouacs at off-duty wear. In cold weather, it was also allowed to be worn under the greatcoat. At all other times it was to be stowed in the pack. At mobilization, theoretically soldiers were not issued jackets as they were not part of the field dress. Jacket m. 1870. la Tunique ("tunic"): model 1897, dark blue wool (100% indigo-dyed); single-breasted with one row of seven large buttons (model 1871) in brass with flaming grenade in relief; epaulette loops with small button on either shoulder; vertical madder cuff patches with three small buttons. The tunic was worn by NCOs. (See image above) la Pantalon/Garance ("trousers/madders"): model 1867/93, madder wool; two side pockets; steel crochet with cloth strap on the back waist; zinc buttons stamped "Equipement Militaire." The interior of the cuffs are lined with a narrow band of white linen. (See image below) les Jambières ("gaiters"): model 1913, blackened leather; 17 cm high. On one side there are three hooks and an eyelet at the bottom; on the other, two hooks with one eyelet at the top and two at the bottom. There is a notch on the bottom rear of the gaiter in order to better conform to the boot. There were also several different models of private purchase gaiters in use. Gaiters m. 1913. la Chaussure ("boots"): model 1893, blackened leather; Ankle height 16-18 cm, with 6 eyelets; hobnailed on sole (88-98 hobnails, depending on the size of the boot); leather laces. This model is distributed in its natural color and blackened by the soldier. This was the dominant model worn in 1914. Model 1912, blackened leather; Ankle height 13-14.8 cm, with 7 eyelets (blackened brass); hobnailed on sole but less so than the model '93 (only 57-88 hobnails, depending on the size of the boot); fabric fiber laces (theoretically). The curve up the instep is increased in this model of boot. It is distributed already blackened until December 1914, after which it is given out in its natural color. (See image below) For more information on boots and leggings, please see the 'Footwear' page. la Cravate ("neck tie"): cotton; marine blue; 150 cm x 21 cm. It is folded in thirds and tied with a flat knot. (See image below) la Chemise ("shirt"): model 1878, flannel cotton with collar, either pin-striped (red, black or blue), blue checkered or plain white; closed with three bone buttons; shirt-tails on both front and rear. Each man was issued two. A lighter weight cretonne cotton shirt (plain or with blue stripes) was also issued in warmer weather. le Caleçon ("underdrawers"): cotton; either pin-striped or plain white. Each man is only issued one pair, though private purschases could be made. The prevailing notion was that the shirt, with its long tails, acted as the primary undergarment and was to be washed more frequently. In cold weather, flannel cotton underdrawers were issued. les Bretelles ("suspenders"): Cotton thread; white with a border on each edge of a "sharp color" (e.g. pink). These were comprised of two separate braces reinforced at each end by a piece of leather where a button-hole was located. The length was adjusted by way of a metal crimp. Soldiers often replaced these with the more advantageous single-piece civilian models also of cotton. les Chausettes ("socks"): jean-wool in summer, wool in winter; normally white but there was no regulation color. Each man received two pairs. Many peasant soldiers opted to wear "Russian socks" (i.e. cloth foot-wraps). These were about 6 inches in width and 3 feet in length. la Plaque d'Identité ("ID plaque"): model Oct. 12, 1881, nickel. In 1914, only one plaque was worn around the neck, normally suspended from a black (fabric) shoelace or a leather lace. (See image below) For more information on ID plaques, please see the ID Plaques and Soldier Booklets page. French infantryman kit, Aug. 1914. From left to right: trousers m. 1867/93, kepi m. 1884 with cover, greatcoat m. 1877, ID plaques m. 1881, neck tie, 1-liter canteen m. 1877, cup m. 1852, suspension braces m. 1892 with cartridge pouches mo. 1888, frog m. 1888, Lebel m. 1886/93, gaiters m. 1913, boots m. 1912/16 (not worn in 1914), haversack m. 1892 . Equipment: le Ceinturon ("belt"): model 1873, blackened leather; flat brass buckle. (See image below) Model 1903, blackened leather; 2 pronged buckle. This model is seldom seen outside of zouave regiments in 1914. les Cartouchières ("cartridge pouches"): model 1888, blackened leather; 2 vertical belt-loops. (See image below) Model 1905, blackened leather; single trapezoidal loop. This model cannot be worn solely on the belt and requires the suspension braces. (See image below) les Bretelles de Suspension ("suspension braces"): model 1892, blackened leather; with three model 1845 brass 'j-hooks'. With the introduction of the model '05 cartridge pouches, the model 1905 's-hooks' were created in order to keep them from becoming unhooked from the pouches. However, in 1914 the earlier 'j-hooks' were more dominant. (see image below) Two m. 1888 cartridge pouches (left), two m. 1905s (right), belt m. 1873. le Porte-Épée Baïonnette ("bayonet frog"): model 1888, blackened leather; sewn. le Bidon ("canteen"): model 1877, tinned metal; 1-liter; canteen-cover of iron blue wool. le Étui Musette ("haversack"): model 1892, either linen or hemp; cachou color. It is closed with two zinc buttons stamped "Equipement Militaire." Each man was issue two, one of which held his pair of rest shoes and was carried on the backpack. la Gamelle Individuelle ("mess-kit"): model 1852, tinned metal; distributed with interior plate (aluminum) and grappling handle. These were normally left behind in the barracks for use in the mess hall. le Quart ("cup"): model 1852, tinned metal, 25 cl. Aluminum was also used. l'Havresac ("backpack"): model 1893, blackened canvas, fully lined with white linen cloth and interior wooden frame. There were six removable straps that attached to the pack via metal loops and buckles: two courroies de capote ("greatcoat straps" -- 75 cm x 5 cm) fixed onto the top of the pack (one on each side); two courroies de côté ("side straps" -- 52 cm x 5 cm) fixed onto the lower sides; one grande courroie de charge ("large load strap" - 1.72 m x 5 cm) that ran along the center; and one courroie de sautoir ("cross strap" -- 35 cm x 5 cm). For details on how the backpack was arranged, see the knapsack arrangement page. Model 1893 backpacks. les Outils Portatif ("portable e-tools"): model 1906 or model 1909. Each man was issued one of the following tools: spade-shovel, pick, shovel-pick, hatchet (corporals), billhook, wire-cutters, or articulated saw. Each tool was issued with a blackened leather carrying case. For specific allotment, see the e-tools distribution page. les Ustensiles de Campement ("camping implements"): Each soldier was issued one or more of the following on the squad-level: camp mess-tin (a.k.a. "dish-for-four"), camp stew-pot (a.k.a. "bottle"), canvas bucket, distribution bag, model 1896 Klepper coffee grinder or model 1910 Montjardet camping lantern (corporals). For specific allotment, see the camping implements distribution page. Weapons: le Fusil ("rifle"): Lebel model 1886/93. Leather sling with single-pronged buckle. Less common in 1914, was the model 1909 sling with simple sliding buckle. l'Épée-Baïonnette ("blade-bayonet"): model 1886, steel; with quillon ("catcher"). The hilt is made of nickel.