A Great War Soldier's Kit


In the field, the standard dress for all ranks was khaki clothing known as 'service dress'. This consisted of a peaked cap, jacket and patch pockets, and breeches with puttees (leather leggings for officers), ankle boots, and spurs for mounted men. Dismounted men had no spurs and wore trousers instead of breeches.

A spare pair of boots, spare suit of service dress (excluding the peak cap) and spare set of underwear for each man was stored in his kitbag and left at the base in the care of the company, squadron or battery storeman. For officer these items were packed in a leather valise carried in the transport vehicles of the divisional train. The soldier also had with him a further spare pair of socks and a knitted woollen head dress known as a 'cap, comforter', and a greatcoat.

Arms & Personal Equipment

Officers were armed with a sword and a pistol. The choice of the latter was left to the officer, the only requirement being that it had to carry Government ammunition.

Officers equipment consisted of a 'Sam Browne' belt, with a haversack, water bottle and mess tin, a pair of wire cutters, and either binoculars or a telescope. They were also expected to carry a compass.

Personal weapons carried by warrant officers, NCOs and men varied according to the arm of service.

The equipment for the other ranks of infantry consisted of the 1908 pattern web equipment. The 1908 equipment consisted principally of a three-inch-wide belt and two two-inch shoulder braces, worn vertically in the front and crossed over the back like an ordinary pair of men's braces. Both belt and braces were fitted with various buckles and end-tags so the could be fitted together in several different ways. The webbing was treated to be waterproof.

The constituent parts of the 1908 pattern equipment, in addition to those mentioned above, were:

(i) A pair of ammunition carriers, each carrying 75 rounds (bullets).
(ii) A haversack worn on the left hip.
(iii) A bayonet frog worn on the left side of the belt.
(iv) A water bottle worn in a sling on the right hip.
(v) An entrenching tool, which was a combination pick and shovel.
(vi) A pack worn on the back. This contained a greatcoat, mess tin, washing kit, some spare clothes and a groundsheet.

The total weight of the kit was 61lbs.
If the pack was discarded an extra 100 rounds of ammunition was carried and the kit then weighed 55lbs.

Martin Hornby with acknowledgement of Ron Clifton

Further details of the equipment worn and used can be obtained buy purchasing WFA Military Fact Sheet No.5

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