For the second of our mini tutorials showing the equipment of the British Tommy during ww1, we shall be looking at some of the equipment used by a soldier of the 1/5th Durham Light Infantry during 1915.
The 1/5th DLI, a battalion of the Territorial Force were sent to France in April 1915 and became part of 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. They fought at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and spent the whole of 1915 in the Ypres salient.
Here we see some of the equipment used by the Territorial Force in 1915.
The British army has just spent its first winter in trenches and realised its cold weather equipment is inadequate.
Many items of cold weather kit were quickly knitted by the women back in Blighty and items such as Goat skin jerkins were issued to keep the men in the trenches warm. Most of the wool used in jerkins was bought from Australia and these are often seen in pictures from the first winters of the war, however they were still being used when the war ended.
Here we have the standard 02 service dress jacket correctly badged for a Private of the 1/5th Durham Light Infantry.
A tin of corned beef and some hard tack biscuits are sat on the Mk2 Iron ration bag which replaced the jappanned Mk1 bag in 1915.
Also seen is an early round tin of OXO cubes.
Below this are some early war bibles and prayer books as were printed and handed out as a free issue to any soldier who wanted them. Religious text was printed for all denominations serving with the British empire armies.
Below the religious booklets are a Princess Mary Christmas tin.
Each soldier and Sailor serving overseas during Christmas 1914 was supposed to be issued one as a gift from a greatful nation.
Not all were issued in time for Christmas so the scheme was rolled over into 1915, they contained a pack of Tobacco, a pack of 20 cigarettes, various pictures of the Royal family as well as a Christmas card dated 1914 or 1915. Non smokers and Empire troops were issued tins containing sweets and spices amongst other small items.
Below this is currency both British and French. Although Ypres is in Flanders, Belgium, French currency was often used.
The 07 Bayonet is now missing it’s Hooked Quillon which were ordered to be ground off from May 1915. The left ammunition pouch now has the retaining straps to prevent ammunition accidentally falling out into the mud.
At top is the infamous Winter Service Dress cap known as the “Gor Blimey”, loathed by many it omitted the strengthening wire seen in the 1905 SD cap and had flaps which could pull down over the ears and tuck under the chin for warmth.
Poison gas was first used in April 1915 by the Germans at the 2nd battle of Ypres hence the gas rattle and the Hypo smoke hood with its protective first pattern satchel.
Also visible are a jam tin improvised bomb as used to great effect at Gallipoli and a No 5 Mills bomb introduced just in time for the battle of Loos in September 1915.
A close up of the 3rd pattern pouch showing the retaining straps.
Also shown is the individual First field dressing issued to every soldier from 1911 to present day.
A close up of the Hypo smoke hood and to its right a medicated respirator and on top of this, protective goggles to counter the effects of tear gas.
On top of the valise is a mk vi webley .455 revolver.
First issued in 1915 the mk vi would become the most issued side arm to British and Empire troops of the war.
Also visible is a early war green “On active service” envelope and a “On active service” postcard.
Post was vital to keep up morale and soldiers were encouraged to write home as often as possible.
A letter placed into the mail bag would normally be delivered back in Blighty within 24 hrs.
At the top we can see the 10 pocket Bombers vest originally designed to hold the No 15 “Lemon” bomb they were still used by some specialist bombers to hold the No 5 Mills bomb.
By 1916 however they are rarely seen in period pictures as bomb buckets were preferred.
On top of the Goatskin jerkin are a balaclava helmet and some woollen fingerless gloves as knitted by the women of Britain as comfort items for the troops.