German Infantryman, 1914
This Unteroffizier (junior sergeant) of Infanterie-Regiment "Herwarth von Bittenfeld" (1. Westphalisches) Nr. 13 represents the classic World War One German soldier of popular imagination. Although he has recently been equipped with a modern uniform of neutral feldgrau (field grey) color, he retains certain elements handed down through a long military tradition, which still recalls the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.
The spiked helmet and the knee-length marching boots which had been in use for generations in the Preußen (Prussian) and then later the new German Army, and had an old-fashioned look in the second decade of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the iron discipline of the Kaiser's army, and its excellent equipment particularly the MG-08 machine gun, which decimated the French army of 1914 quickly dispelled any illusions about Germany's readiness for war.
1. M.1895 Pickelhaube helmet, the latest in a series of similar helmets stretching back to 1842. Made of formed, boiled leather, with brass spike and fittings, the Pickelhaube offered little protection. On campaign, the M.1892 helmet cover with a simple cloth applique regimental number in red, concealed the helmet's frontal plate--which varied according to the regiment and state--and the side cockades, of which one was in the National colors of red, white and black and the other consisting of the colors of the Land or state of origin for the unit.
2. M.1907/10 Feldbluse (field jacket) in feldgrau cloth, fastening with a single row of eight buttons whose type of metal and design varied according to the regiment. Most infantry regiments had the turned-down collar, the front edge, and the simulated three-button pocket flaps in the tails were piped red. Even the cuff flaps varied in design according to unit, but often, as here, were of the "Brandenburg" shape, and ornamented with three buttons. This NCO's rank is shown by the gold Treße (braid) around the collar and cuffs. The feldgrau Achselklappen (shoulder straps) which were detachable and piped in a color that identified the army corps to which the regiment belonged, also bore a red number or monogram identifying the regiment.
3. M.1895 Koppel (belt) in natural-colored leather, flesh-side out; the Koppelschloß (buckle) varied according to the Land--here it is Preußen (Prussian), in brass with a white metal central cartouche bearing the Preußen crown and motto "Gott Mit Uns"
4. M.1909 Patronentaschen (cartridge pouches) in pebbled-finish brown leather. Each of the six pouches, in two sets of three, holds three five-round clips of 7.92x57mm cartridges, giving a total of 90 rounds. The weight is distributed by means of a ring mounted behind each triple pouch, hooking to the front shoulder-strap of the Tornister pack.
5. M.1895 Tornister (pack) made out of unshaven cow hide; the pack has an internal frame made of wood. The Tornister accommodated changes of clothes, a work uniform, off-duty footwear, reserve rations, extra ammo, etc. The outer stowage comprised the steingrau (stone grey) M.1907 Mantel (greatcoat) and the M.1892 Zeltbahn (tent/shelter-quarter) made of ochre-colored canvas. The M.1910 Kochgeschirr (mess kit) in black-painted aluminum was fixed to the Tornister flap by two brown Kochgeschirrriemen (messkit straps).
6. M.1887 Brotbeutel (breadbag or haversack) made of ochre-colored cloth; it looped to the belt by two buttoned cloth straps and a central metal hook. Two rings on the inner face allowed the attachment of a sling so that it could also be worn slung round the body. The breadbag accommodated rations and eating utensils as well as small personal effects.
8. M.1887 Schanzzeug (entrenching tool), looped to the left of the belt by a leather carrier; the lower straps also secured the bayonet scabbard to the spade handle--this scabbard is the M.1898 in steel-reinforced leather. The Troddel (bayonet knot) is woven in the Prussian NCO's black and white. Other states had different NCO Troddel color combinations.
9. M.1907/10 Hosen (trousers) in field grey, with red piping down the outer seams; these had two diagonal side slash pockets and small frontal watch pocket, and an integral rear half-belt for waist adjustment.