The Doughboy’s Uniform and Equipment

“Inspection this morning with packs, and drill this after noon with full pack helmits and gass masks… I just drew two more siuts of under wear an O.D. uniform, two pairs of #11 trench shoes and another blanket this morning. In this pack that I carry around at drill is 1 shelter half (or half a tent), 1 tent pole, 5 metal pins, two heavy blankets, a siut of heavy underwear, two very heavy pairs of socks, one towel, 1 cake of soap, 1 tooth brush, and paste. 1 bacon can filled with bull durham makings, a condiment can filled with matches and perfections (thanks to you folks at home), a can of shaving soap and three O.D. hankercheifs. Add a gass mask bag one on each hip, slung from the shoulder, a round about, canteen first aid pouch cartridge clip carrier, and pistol, and beleive me Em I must be a picture of war days proper.” -Letter from Sam Avery 12/22/17

American Doughboy, 1916-1919

The uniform and equipment used by the American soldier during the time of the Great War was unique to the early 20th Century and also adapted to the rapid changes required by modern warfare at that time. In his writings home, Sam Avery often referred to elements of the uniform and equipment that he used in the field which are now part of military history.

SoldiersKit

Photo courtesy of Brennan Gauthier

Here is a guide to help readers envision and understand those items which the American infantryman was issued by the Army and relied upon for comfort and function both South on the Border and Over There in France from 1916-1919.

DOUGHBOY UNIFORM 1916-1919

HEAD COVERS:

Sam’s uniform headwear consisted of the Campaign Hat (originally worn during duty in the United States and on the Mexican Border), the Overseas Cap (issued after he had arrived in France), and the Helmet (also issued after arriving in France at the time of advanced training).

Campaign Hat

Overseas Cap

U.S. M1917 Helmet

CLOTHING:

Sam’s uniform clothing was made of either cotton or wool depending on the season, and consisted of underwear and socks, olive drab “O.D.” Shirt and Trousers, Puttees or “Leggings”, hobnailed Trench Shoes, the Service Coat or “Blouse”, and a Trench Coat (for winter weather).

O.D. Shirt

O.D. Trousers

Puttees or Leggings

Trench Shoes

Blouse Coat

Trench Coat

 

DOUGHBOY EQUIPMENT 1916-1919

Assembled U.S. Army Field Pack, 1917

 

PERSONAL EFFECTS:

Sam Avery carried his personal effects on the march in a Roll and a Condiment Can which contained individual compartments and were folded into the Haversack as part of the assembled Field Pack. The condiment can was used to store a soldier’s three-day ration of salt, sugar, coffee and tobacco. The meat or bacon can was used to store meat rations. Other personal effects included the Shaving Kit, Sewing Kit, and Mess Kit.

Personal Items Roll

Meat or Bacon Can

Condiment Can

Sewing Kit

Shaving Kit

Soap Dish

Mess Kit

 

FIELD GEAR:

The Haversack formed the core of the assembled “Field Pack” and carried all of a soldier’s gear including including personal effects, extra socks, underwear and rations. An attachment called the “pack carrier” connected the Shelter Half with its pegs and poles, a poncho and a blanket to the bottom of the haversack. Attaching grommets held the Entrenching Tool and Bayonet on the flap. The shoulder straps then attached to the Rifle Belt or “roundabout” containing the load of rifle ammunition (120 rounds of .30 ball ammunition in 5-round clips). The First Aid Kit, Wire Cutters and the Canteen were also attached either to the bottom of the haversack or the rifle belt. The Gas Mask was carried in a separate bag slung over the shoulder while on the march or on the chest in the “Ready” position while in the trenches.

Haversack

Shelter Half with Pegs

Entrenching Tool

Wire Cutters

Canteen and Cup

Gas Mask and Bag, Outside View

Gas Mask, Inside View (note nose clips and mouthpiece)

 

WEAPONS:

As a First Sergeant in the infantry, Sam also carried both the Model 1903 Springfield .30 caliber rifle and bayonet along with the Model 1911 Colt .45 caliber pistol. Each 2-pocket magazine pouch for the pistol held 28 rounds of .45 ball ammunition in four 7-round magazines (2 per pocket).

Rifle Belt or “Roundabout” with Cartridge Pouches

Bayonet for Springfield M1903 Rifle

Springfield M1903 .30 Caliber Rifle

M1911 .45 Caliber Pistol Belt with holster and magazine pouch

Detail of button, 1916-1919

Special thanks to O’Ryans Roughnecks for assistance and use of uniform and equipment photos.

Published on February 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. I would like very much to see the shelter half unfolded & opened up. I’ve been told the WWI shelter half only had a fly on one end so that when paired with another to make a pup tent, only one end of the tent could be closed up. I notice the M1903 Springfield rifle is in the M1903A1 configuration with the quite uncommon type C stock so highly valued by collectors. This stock has a full pistol grip and no finger grooves on the sides of the stock. My authorities state the C stock first appeared in 1929 for use on National Match rifles. They were so well received that they were used on service rifles in the 1930s. Also. you show an early scabbard with a leather sheath – a M1905 modified from Birnie hanger to the 1910 hook & eye system. The M1910 scabbard usually encountered has an outer web sheath with a leather tip. The left side of the ammo belt has oval rather than round eyelets which is unusual; early snaps with eagles (rather than the later “push the dot” snaps); and the individual pouches have puckered bottoms typical of the woven Mills belt. Later mass produced belts had flat bottoms simply stitched into place. Interesting that in two photos you show two types of shaving kits: the Gilette “kakhi” model in it’s hard shell box and another type in a cloth or canvas wrap. Altogether a terrific series of photos of a great collection of individual gear and equipment. regards, Frank

  2. I was curious…we have four kids invited to represent the WWI Doughboys in the National Memorial Day parade in Washington DC in May of 2014. Is there anywhere we can obtain (purchase or lease) authentice looking uniforms to wear in the parade?

  3. My father had a keepsake in his belongings from his father , my grandfather apparently used in WW1 by soldiers. I have no clue & am seeking help. It appears to be brass; two brass tube clipped together. One tube has two unique twist caps on either end. The second tube is permanently capped on one end and other end bent tubing as cap which is screwed into tube ( 5 inches long) with a wick of some attached to it and stuffed with tube. Can send pictures with email address. Do u have any idea what this might be ? Thanks George Sayre


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