The WW1 Tommy – Kit Lesson 1 (1914)

1914 Tommy's Kit (2)

Here’s the first mini tutorial on the equipment of the WW1 Tommy from our Quartermaster, Carl Mitchely.

Starting at the beginning in 1914, we are going the highlightt he differences in kit for each year as the as the war progresses.

So here we have a Soldiers equipment from the 2nd Battalion the Essex Regiment in the late summer of 1914.

The 2nd Battalion were part 12th Brigade, 4th Division, 3rd Corps. The 2nd Battalion just missed the opening battle at Mons but saw heavy fighting during the battle at Le Cateau.

1914 Tommy's Kit (1)
1914 Tommy’s Kit (1)

Basic kit issue for a standard infantryman in 1914.

His equipment is the 1908 pattern webbing equipment in Full Service Marching Order. On his back he carries his large Valise with groundsheet under the top flap.

The ammunition pouches are the second pattern without retaining straps, these were ordered to be added in October 1914 to prevent the loss of ammunition.

On the left hip is carried the bayonet, the intrenching tool handle and haversack to carry personal sundries.

On the right hip is the intrenching tool head and two pint water bottle.

On top of the Valise is the 1905 pattern Service Dress cap.

1914 Tommy's Kit (2)
1914 Tommy’s Kit (2)

Firstly we have the standard 1902 service dress jacket badged up for a Lance Corporal of the 2nd Essex.
On top lies the Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifle , this example has its Long range volley sights and Magazine cut off, both were omitted in 1915.
Also shown with the rifle are a bandolier of 50 rounds of small arms ammunition, the ammunition on top is the early mk VII ammunition with Nickle plated bullet heads, shown in their slotted charger clips.
To the left of the rifle is the Soldiers small book and the early type of paybook issued to all soldiers. Just visible is a metal ID disk worn around the neck on a leather lace.

1914 Tommy's Kit (3)
1914 Tommy’s Kit (3)

In this picture we can clearly see the profile of the B2 boot. The B2 was the standard issue boot from 1913-1915.
We then see the issue kit/wash roll issued to every soldier.
This one has been correctly stamped with the service number and regiment of the soldier it was issued to.
This one contains a Knife, fork and spoon, shaving brush, folding razor and strop, toothbrush, button stick, excelsior shaving mirror and spare laces. A comb should also be included.
Below this we can see the early 1907 pattern bayonet with Hooked Quillon, these were ordered to be removed by unit armourers in 1915.
This sits on top of a Hussif containing spare cotton, a spool of wool for darning socks, spare needles of various sizes and spare buttons.
Directly below the kit/wash roll is the Iron ration in it’s jappaned cloth cover.
The Iron ration contained a 1lb tin of preserved meat, 12oz of biscuits, 3oz’s of cheese, 2 cubes of meat extract, a small tin containing 5/8 Oz of loose tea, 2 oz’s sugar and 1/3 Oz of salt.
The Iron ration should not be confused with the emergency ration.
Also seen are a set of dismounted soldiers D shaped mess tins in their protective cloth cover.

1914 Tommy's Kit (4)
1914 Tommy’s Kit (4)

In this picture we can see the standard army issue shirt known as the Greyback by the troops.
Above this is the official pattern issue cardigan, many types were issued throughout the war in various styles and colours but the official type for early war was the waistcoat cardigan as seen here.
On top is the 1909 Pattern greatcoat for dismounted troops. Easily distinguishable by its rifle patches on the shoulders, turned back cuffs and small ticket pocket on the front.