“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
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.
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
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).
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).
DOUGHBOY EQUIPMENT 1916-1919
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.
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.
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).
Special thanks to O’Ryans Roughnecks for assistance and use of uniform and equipment photos.