Required Uniforms & Equipment Items

Unlike Soldiers in a real military, in reenacting, we are not issued our kit: uniforms and equipment, instead each man provides his own uniform and equipment. The following is a list of the items each soldier is expected to have.

There are many various pieces of uniform, equipment and personal effects that the poilu used and carried on his person or pack. The carry of which will enhance your impression but they are just too numerous to list here -- you may wish to procure some of these items after you have acquired all the necessary required uniform and equipment items as you go along, you will find that you will easily pick up a lot of the optional items.

Note: As this is an on-going project, please understand that things will change as we better understand them and as we get better photos up here to show you how these items look. Also, we will be breaking the uniforms and equipment up into separate pages, just give us time...

Uniform Items

le Kepi
1 -- Mle.1914 Képi (Kepi Hat) The WWI French military hat, the Képi is made out of horizon blue wool with a rounded brim, the Mle. 1914 Képi was a simplified version of the traditional rounded Mle.1884 Képi. Also allowed is the Mle.1891/15 Bonnet de Police made in horizon blue wool the Bonnet was a simple garrison cap -- if you know what a modern U.S. Army garrison cap looks like, it was copied from the French Bonnet de Police.
bonnet de police
M.1915 casque Adrian

M.1915 casque Adrian
M.1915 casque Adrian

1 -- Mle.1915 Casque Adrian (Model 1915 "Adrian" pattern steel helmet) -- The Mle.1915 Casque Adrian helmet was officially adopted on May 21,1915 and its supply was an impressive feat -- more than three million were made and distributed before the end of 1915. Unfortunately, the protection the Adrian offered was inferior to that of the slightly later, and heavier, British and German models; the Adrian weighed only .765kg (1lb.11oz.) and was made of mild steel.

The complex shape of the Adrian Helmet was inspired by the protective helmet worn by French firemen of the day; it consisted of a skull, a two-part brim and an applied raised crest, with a pressed metal badge on the front, which Infantry Helmet Insigniadiffered with arm of service (for us, this needs to be the "flaming bomb" with the "RF" (République Française) in the center). These were originally issued with a glossy blue-gray paint finish, which was found to reflect the sun's light, which gave away the soldiers position and so, in late 1915, it was issued with a more concealing fabric cover made in light blue or khaki. Sometime in 1916, it was decided to change the color of the helmet to a matt dark blue-gray finish, as this helped reduce the helmet's glare in the sun and did away with the fabric covers which, because they got very dirty, tended to infect head wounds. The later matte dark blue-gray finish remained in service until the end of the war. (for us, this is the color of helmet we should use)

The Adrian helmets were sized to the shell itself and ranged from small to extra large. They had a one piece leather chinstrap with adjustable buckle and a one piece wool-backed, leather liner with aluminum spacers.

M.1915 casque Adrian (inside view)

1 -- Mle.1914/15 Capote (greatcoat) The Capote is made of a heavy wool cloth, in a shade known as "horizon blue." The greatcoats had hardly changed since the days of the Second Empire, in which this model of greatcoat had the traditional cut with two rows of six buttons. The Mle 1914/15 Capotes were distributed to Metropolitan Infantry Regiments in 1917 only after they had exhausted the stocks of the simplified version of the Mle.1914/15 called the "Poiret," a single row button greatcoat used as in interim.

The Mle 1914/15 greatcoat has 12 half-ball buttons of white metal bearing a grenade device, painted blue-gray. Some coats had two breast pockets with buttoned flaps. There was an integral rear half-belt for waist adjustment, two rear pockets with access via the long central vent and belt loop on the left side. The skirts could be buttoned back on campaign, and buttoned rear vents allowed the cuffs to be turned up. At the end of 1915, to allow the carrying of a further reserve of ammunition, a large reinforced pocket with a two-button flap was added to each side. This modification was made to already existing coat stocks, and there was often a contrast between the shades of cloth used.·

On the shoulders are either the detachable Mle.1908 Épaulettes, single roll shoulder straps or Mle.1913 Épaulettes double roll shoulder straps. These rolls at the end of the straps was meant to stop the soldier's equipment slings from slipping off his shoulders.·

151 Collar Insignia1 pair of Pattes de Collet de Troupe (collar patch insignia) -- These patches were originally yellow, with the numbers "151" and soutaches ( 2 braid lines) piped in dark blue. These yellow arm-of-service collar patches were briefly worn by infantry in the winter of 1914/15, were judged to be too visible and from April 1915, they were replaced by horizon blue patches with the dark blue soutaches and regimental numbers. This was also the color selected for various rank, service and trade insignia worn on the uniform.

1 pair of Mle.1914/1915 Pantalon-Culotte (trousers) -- These are made loose in the thigh and tight from the knee down, these were meant to be worn with leg wraps. Made in horizon blue wool and since April 1915, were piped in yellow down the outer seams. Also allowed are navy blue wool or brown corduroy trousers cut to this pattern.
1 pair of Bandes Molletières (leg wraps) The issue leg wraps are 2.60 meters long and 12 cm wide, they were issued not only in horizon blue wool, but also in any neutral drab colors of cloth that could be procured. These had long been the mark of the Chasseurs Alpins, who had worn them since 1889, being introduced at a time when they were considered `athletic and hygienic.' Leg wraps became general issue for regular foot troops in October of 1914.
brodequins 1 pair of Mle.1893/1912/16 Brodequins (ankle boots) -- These boots had 7 irregular spaced eyelets and were made in black or brown leather. The Mle.1912/16 boots had a single rivet on each side of the boot that reinforced the front half with the rear half, so they would not separate from each other during hard usage. The bottom of the shoes had hobnails to help keep the soles of shoes from wearing out. A spare pair of shoes was sometimes carried on the exterior of the pack.
chemise 1 -- Chemise (shirt) -- The issue Chemise is made of cotton and usually they are of the collarless and pocket less variety, with 3 or 4 button front and were made in either plain white or white and gray pinstripes. The poilu carried a second shirt in his pack
cravate 1 -- Cravate (neck cloth) The Cravate is made of blue cotton, size 150 cm x 21 cm, which was folded several times and tied around the neck with a simple flat knot. The scarf helped prevent the wool from the overcoat from chaffing the neck.
bretelles 1 pair of Bretelles de Pantalon (trouser suspenders) -- These suspenders are adjustable and made of cotton with two leather tabs in the front and one in the rear, that match the suspender buttons on the pants.

 The Grand Équipement:

ceinturon 1 -- Mle.1903/14 Ceinturon (waist belt) The Ceinturon is made in both black and brown leather, with the brown being adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The belt was made with either a double or single-prong metal buckle.
cartouchières 3 -- Mle.1888 or Mle.1905/14 Cartouchières (cartridge pouches) The cartridge pouches were made in both black and brown leather, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The Mle.1888 cartridge pouches had two rear belt loops and was modified in 1892 with the addition of a twisted metal loop on the top rear of the pouch so they could be used with the J-Hooks on the Y-Straps. The Mle.1905 cartridge pouches used a trapezoidal-shaped flat belt loop on the rear of the pouch with the twisted metal loop on the flap itself. In 1916, the flap was modified with a longer slide on the metal loop, so that it extended beyond the upper horizontal loop, thus preventing the metal loop from accidentally slipping out of the upper horizontal loop.

The theoretical ammunition issue for the poilu carrying the Lebel Rifle was four packets of eight rounds in each of the front pouches, three packets in the rear pouch and an extra four packets that was carried in either the pack or in the pockets of the overcoat, making a total of 120 rounds.

bretelles 1 -- Mle.1892/14 Bretelles de Suspension (Y-Straps) The equipment suspenders were made in both black and brown leather, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The Y-Straps had three metal Mle.1845 Crochets de Cuivre (J-Hooks) that fixed to the twisted metal loops on each of the three cartridge pouches.
porte-baïonnette 1 -- Mle.1888/14 Porte-Baïonnette (bayonet frog) The bayonet frog can be made in both black and brown leather just like the other leather gear, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. These frogs were made for the Mle.1886 Épée Baïonnette. The left side of the flap is extended so that the quillion of the bayonet rests on the leather instead of the overcoat. The "Y" shape of the bayonet frog allowed its use with the overcoat and/or tunic tab, which buttoned upwards between its branches and over the belt to help support the weight of the bayonet -- a feature of French military jackets and coats since the later 19th century.
1 -- Mle.1886 Épée Baïonnette avec Fourreau (Model 1886 bayonet with scabbard) This bayonet is 52 cm long and has a four-edged cruciform blade, affectionately called "Rosalie" by the poilu. There are two different versions of this bayonet that may be used, the first version has a hooked quillion while the second version does not have the quillion. Both of these versions had grip handles that were made of various different metals, with the most common being a nickel/aluminum alloy (white metal) or brass. The scabbard is tubular in shape with a rounded tip.
1 -- Fusil (rifle) -- Fusils d'Infanterie Mle.1886 dit "Lebel", Mle.1907/15 "Berthier", and Mle.M.16 "Berthier". For weapons allowed, click here.

The Petit Équipement which consists of:

musette 1 -- Mle.1892 Musette (bread bag) -- The Musette bags are made of a linen canvas that can range in color from tan to brown -- Green French bread bags were post-war issue, so we don't use them. The Musette was closed secure with two buttons, marked Équipements Militaires -- soldiers often carried two of these when going to the front.
1 -- Masques à gaz (gas masks) -- The use of poison gas quickly added this item to the Poilu's burden. Numerous masks were tried and issued, but here are the main ones:
Le Masque ARS: ("ARS" [appareil respiratoire spécial] gas mask and can) -- The ARS canister, a fluted cylinder, was originally issued painted horizon blue, but during 1918, it was issued in a khaki finish. The ARS was issued from November 1917 and was a copy of the German "Lederschutzmaske" (gasmask) which featured a filter cartridge that could be changed easily, it being attached simply by screwing it in to the front of the face mask.
M2 masques Le M2: The M2 mask was a one-piece compress type mask that covered the face completely. The piece of material had the same function as the filter cartridge which neutralized the effects of the poison gas. This mask was used from April 1916 until August 1918. The M2 mask was initially worn in a small tissue bag, which closed by one button. It was worn around the neck with a strap. Later in the war, the tissue bag was replaced with a rectangular metal can that was painted horizon blue or khaki.
Le Tampon "T": The Tampon "T" masks are based on the "Compress" C2/C3 style gas mask used by both the British and French in early 1915. This mask was made in a separate pieces which consisting of a compress "bandage" which was soaked in an anti-gas solution and wool/celluloid goggles (lunettes). The mask was carried in a small tissue bag.
2.L Bidon 1 -- Mle.1877 Bidon (canteen) The Bidon is either a 2-liter or 1-liter canteen, covered with horizon blue or later khaki wool cloth. Both types had two spouts, a large and small, that were stopped with either wood or cork which was secured to the canteen itself with string. The double-sized 2-liter canteen was originally reserved for issue to troops in Africa, but the difficulty of supplying clean water to men in close combat was considerable and it prompted the introduction of the double-sized water bottle to all troops in the summer of 1915. Often two bidons were worn; in the assault, one bottle typically contained wine (pinard) mixed with water, the other coffee and tafia spirit.
quart 1 -- Quart Réglementaire (regulation cup) The Quart is used for drinking the issued pinard, they were made of tin and usually hung from the cork-string of one of the double spouts on the bidon.
gamelle 1 -- Mle.1852 Gamelle Individuelle (individual mess kit) The Gamelle is the issue mess kit, made of tinned metal, they are round with a lid and chain. These normally had, on the inside of the pot itself, a small individual plate and handle to allow the poilu to cook his own meal, most of the time though, these got lost in the trenches.
fourchette and cuillère 1 of each Fourchette (fork) and Cuillère (spoon) These issue utensils were made of tin, with the fork being of a four-tined variety. The fork was usually not carried on campaign, it was reserved for garrison duty only, but most poilu carried one anyway. These utensils were carried in the bread bag.

Optional Equipment

1 -- Mle.1915 Vareuse/Tunique (tunic) The Vareuse is made (like the Capote) of a heavy horizon blue wool cloth and is worn underneath the overcoat in cold weather. This model of tunic had a single row of 5 half-ball white metal buttons bearing a grenade device, painted blue-gray. It has two pockets without buttoned flaps in the skirt, double rear vents, a belt loop on the left and a stand-up collar. The collar bears the same type collar patch insignia as the capote.
1 -- Mle.1893 Havresac (pack) -- Called by the French poilu, the As de Carreau ("Ace of Spades") due to the design of the pack. These packs were officially adopted in 1893 and had followed the design of the earlier packs of the Second Empire which was made from black canvas over a rigid wooden frame, with black leather straps. In late 1914 the packs were made in variety of colors ranging from tan to a greenish-gray, with the leather straps being made in brown. The Courroies (straps) consist of the following:
1 -- Courroie de charge (load strap) -- This strap is 172 cm long and was used to secure the individual mess tin and one of the squad mess utensils to the pack.

2 -- Courroies de capote (greatcoat straps) -- This strap is 75.5 cm long and was used to secure the greatcoat when not worn to the top of the pack, these also held the individual shelter half and tent poles on the top of the pack.

2 -- Courroies de cote (side straps) -- This strap is 52 cm long and was used to secure the blanket that was rolled around the frame of the pack, extra pair of ankle boots and tent stakes on the side of the pack.

For an article of how to set up this pack, click here

The pack carried a variety of personal and squad equipments, such as the following:

Couverture 1 -- Couverture (blanket) -- The issue wool blankets, depending on the years they were made, varied in size and color ranging from brown to gray. (green blankets were post-war issue). These blankets were marked with the Quartermaster letters "CM" on two of the corners and a number on the other corners of the blanket, showing the last two digits of the year it was made -- also, you might encounter some issue blankets with the full date on them.
Mle.1897/14 Toile de Tente Individuelle 1 -- Mle.1897/14 Toile de Tente Individuelle (individual shelter half) -- The shelter half is made of a waterproof tan canvas with metal Équipements Militaires buttons and grommets. It takes two of these shelters to make one tent.
Mle.1908 Moitiés de Demi-Support 2 -- Mle.1908 Moitiés de Demi-Support (tent poles) The issue tent poles are simple wooden poles with hollow metal ends which allow them to be mated together to support the tent upright. It takes four of the poles to complete one tent.
Piquets de Tente 3 -- Piquets de Tente (tent stakes) The issue tent stakes are made of wood cut in a "sardine" shape, that along with the guide ropes secured the tent to the ground. It takes six of these to complete one tent.

Squad Camp Utensils

Untensiles de Campement (squad camp utensils) -- Each member of the squad was issued 1 of the following different types of squad camp utensils (the whole of which consisted of 2 plates of four, 4 marmite pots, 2 canvas buckets, 1 collapsible lantern and 1 coffee grinder for every two squads). This was modified later some during the war.
Gamelle de Campement dit Plat à Quatre (plate of four) -- This is large rounded metal plate that was used to cook the issued rations for four men. These plates had a tan canvas cover that helped keep the plate from being so visible on the pack.
Marmite dit Bouthéon Marmite dit Bouthéon (marmite pot) -- This is a large liver shaped metal pot with carry handle that was used to transport the cooked rations to the trenches.
Mle.1896 Moulin à Café "Klepper" (coffee grinder) -- This coffee grinder was of the same metal, size and shape as the individual mess kit except that the lid contained the hand cranked grinder mechanism. The handle to the grinder was stored on the inside of the pot itself.
Mle.1881 Seau en Toile (canvas bucket) -- This is a collapsible, waterproof canvas, tan in color bucket that was used to transport water in the trenches.
Mle.1910 Lanterne à Bougie "Montjardet" (lantern) -- This is a collapsible, three sided tinned metal lantern that was easily transportable.

Company E-Tool

e-tools thumbnail photo
click on thumbnail above to see larger photo with
captions. Photo courtesy C. Guillon

1 of the following -- L'Outil Individuel (company E-tool) -- Sometimes called Outil Individuel d'Escouade (individual squad E-tool), these tools however, were issued by the company, not the squad. Each member of the company was issued a different type of E-tool. In 1914, each company was supposed to be issued 80 shovels, 40 double-headed pickaxes, 40 single-headed picks, 8 axes, 1 folding saw, 4 pair of wire cutters, and 12 serpes for a total of 185 tools. Later during the war, some of this was modified with other specialty tools also being added. And of course, each one of these tools had its own canvas or leather cases that protected the tools when it was not being used.

The shovels are called Pelles-Bêches or officially, the Mle.1879 Pelle Portative and Mle.1879 Bêche Portative; another type of portable shovel is the small round one called the Mle.1916 Pelle Ronde Portative
The single-headed pick is called Mle.1909 Pelle-Pioche · The double-headed pick is called Mle.1916 Pioche Portative
The axe is called Hache Portative· The saw is called Mle.1879 Scie Articulée
The small wire cutters are called Mle.1905 Petite Cisaille; with the larger ones being called either the Mle.1888 or Mle.1915 Grande Cisaille
Another tool issued is called a Serpe... which looks a lot like a big knife.

Original artwork from Field Equipment of the
European Foot Soldier 1900-1914
published in 1902 and then updated later in 1906
and again later on.

This page last updated: samedi 18 septembre 2004 -- 9:59:50 AM

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