Assembling the Infantryman’s Kit
Clothing and Equipment Guidelines
Our goal as a living history organization is to re-create the men of the 80th Division, and the Doughboy in general, during the last months of the First World War. In addition to learning the drill and mannerisms of the American soldier, it is very important to purchase the appropriate clothing and equipment to achieve the look as well.
To achieve that look, we believe that it’s important to understand that we are not attempting to create a cookie-cutter organization where every soldier was equipped exactly the same. The American army that went to France was never a cookie-cutter army. Specifications and model nomenclature was important when dealing with contractors manufacturing materials for the army. But once received by the army the blouse was a blouse and all that was issued to the soldier was a blouse, without regard to whether it was made according to specifications issued in 1912, 1917 or 1918. Our guiding principle is to only use those items that are historically accurate to a particular time and place; for our impression the clothing and equipment generally available to the 80th Division and the AEF in the summer and fall of 1918.
The Basic Kit
Assembling the basic kit is pretty simple and takes most individuals no more than a year and almost as quickly as six months. Figure that the initial cost of assembling the basic kit will be at least $2500. For the new member starting to purchase their kit, priority should be placed on acquiring clothing items first as they are the most difficult to loan out, while weapons, web gear and equipment are the easiest to loan out. The overcoat is very last item that one will need. The following items are those that will be necessary to complete only the basic kit – other items such as knitted clothing, paperwork, personal effects and items of comfort will be covered in another guide.
- Blouse (M1912 or wartime variants)
- Breeches (M1912 or wartime variants)
- M1917 Boots
- Overseas Cap
- M1904 Waist Belt
- Dog Tags (pair)
- Helmet (M1917 or British “Brodie”)
- Ammunition Belt (M1910 dismounted Mills belt or wartime variants)
- Canteen, Cup and Cover
- M1910 First Aid Pouch
- First Aid Tin
- M1910 Dismounted Haversack
- Pack Carrier
- Entrenching Tool (M1910 Shovel or Pick/mattock) and carrier
- Meatcan Pouch
- Meatcan (m1910 OR 1918), and knife, fork, and spoon
- Condiment Can
- M1910 Shelter Half
- Shelter Tent Pole
- Shelter Tent Pins (5)
- Tent Rope
- Small Box Respirator Gas Mask (British or American)
- Rifle (M1917)
- Bayonet (M1917)
- Bayonet Scabbard (M1917)
- Rifle Oiler
- Stripper Clips
The purpose of this vendor list is to match up our members with the appropriate clothing and equipment from those proven vendors who make or sell authentic, quality reproductions of clothing and equipment carried by the Doughboy during the Great War. Following this guide will ensure that new members purchase correct and appropriate items. Please keep in mind that we have provided a number of sources and while one source may offer an item that is correct, authentic, and perfectly acceptable for use, that same vendor may offer another item that is neither correct nor acceptable. Please only purchase items from the vendors listed for that item.
blouse, breeches, shirt, overseas cap, puttees, collar disks, and waist belt. Overcoat.
1) Great War Militaria www.greatwar.com
2) Ebay www.ebay.com (for collar disks)
Great War Militaria offers a reproduction of a war-time 1917 variation of the blouse and breeches created to take advantage of production shortcuts. They also have available the shirt, overseas cap, and puttees. However, they do not offer a package deal so each item needs to be ordered individually.
Collar Disk Notes: Each member needs a total of three collar disks. These include the “US” collar disk worn on the right collar and the infantry’s crossed rifle collar disk (or branch of service) worn on the left collar. The third disk is worn on the overseas cap. Regulations stated that the disk on the cap would be the same as that worn on the left collar. However, photographic evidence shows a variety of disks were actually worn on the cap. As a result the disk worn on the cap may either be the “US” or infantry disk.
The “US” disk may be the block-lettered “US” or the script lettered “USNA” disk, or the block-lettered “USNA” disk. The “US” with the regimental number “318” disk, when found, is also acceptable.
The infantry crossed rifles disk may be either the plain crossed rifles, or crossed rifles with the letter “F”, or crossed rifles with both the regimental number “318” and the letter “F.”
1) What Price Glory www.onlinemilitaria.com
2) Mattimore Harness www.civilwarboots.com
Between boots manufactured in the United States for the US army and those purchased by the army from the French and the British, there are a number of boot models available for use. The M1917 trench boot is the preferred boot followed by the M1904 marching shoe, M1918 trench boot and French army boots (mle 93 and wartime variants). For a good review of boots visit: Little Tanks The Development of the American Field Shoe [Boot] During the World War.
What Price Glory offers reproductions of the M1904 marching shoe, M1917 trench boot, and the M1918 trench boot. These are available ready-made in standard sizes.
Mattimore Harness offers reproductions of the M904 marching shoe, M1917 trench boot, and French boots. These are custom made and accurate measurements are important. Allow at least 12 weeks for delivery.
Socks – there is no immediate commercial source for reproduction WW1 era socks. The best commercial socks available are those that are 100% wool, plain in grays, browns, dark blue, olive drab or other similar colors. The most accurate option is a pair of hand knitted socks based on period patters (such as those from the Red Cross). The unit leadership can provide up-to-date sources for hand knitted socks.
2) HJS Studio – http://www.hjsstudio.com/redsocks.html
3) S & S Sutler of Gettysburg – http://www.ss-sutler.com/
T-shirt and boxer shorts
1) At The Front www.atthefront.com
2) Brooks Brothers www.brooksbrothers.com
There is no immediate source for a correct WW1 era t-shirt. A modern crew neck t-shirt will suffice, though we realize it is not the most accurate option. However, At The Front offers a reproduction WW2 era white t-shirt, that is close enough to the early 20th-century style and much more acceptable than a modern t-shirt or no t-shirt at all. It can be found on their website under “personal items.”
Amazingly the classic clothier Brooks Brothers offer for sale a pair of boxers that is an accurate early 20th-century style in cut and construction. They are offered as “French Back Boxers” in white cotton, with a three button front and adjustable back. Look on the Brooks Brothers’ website for item #009B.
ID or Dog Tags
1) World War Ration Technologies www.ww2rationtechnologies.com
WW2 Ration Technologies also offers a pair of blank WW1 ID tags as well as stamping services.
US M1917 helmet or the British “Brodie” helmet
Vendor: Prairie Flower Leather Company www.pflco.com
The helmet is one of the few original items that we still use. Sources for restored helmets are often short-term and inconsistent and it is best to check with unit leadership for up-to-date sources. The best option is to purchase a helmet shell on E-bay and a reproduction helmet liner from Prairie Flower Leather Company and have the helmet restored by a member of the unit. Again the unit leadership can provide the necessary guidance for getting a helmet restored within the unit.
M1910 Dismounted Ammunition belt or war-time M1917 variant.
1) What Price Glory www.onlinemilitaria.com
The M1910 Dismounted Mills belt was an adjustable woven cotton web belt with ten “puckered” pockets and “lift-dot” fasteners for .30-06 ammunition, carrying in each pocket 2 five round stripper clips for a total of 100 rounds in the belt. The belt also included eyelets for attaching various pieces of equipment such as the first aid packet, canteen, and haversack. The M1917 ammunition belt made of sewn canvas rather than woven webbing with the same eyelets for attaching points. The sewn canvas construction was developed as a time-saving manufacturing process.
What Price Glory offers a reproduction of the M1910 dismounted ammunition belt.
Canteen, Cup and Cover
What Price Glory www.onlinemilitaria.com
What Price Glory offers a reproduction of the M1910 canteen, cup and cover. These are reproduced for both the WW2 and WW1 reenactor, with a choice of the WW1 era metal canteen cap or the WW2 era plastic canteen cap. Be sure to select the correct WW1 era metal cap when placing an order. The canteen and cup are sold as a set, and the M1910 canteen cover is sold separately.
First Aid Pouch and Tin
1) Great War Militaria http://www.greatwar.com/ (for tins)
2) Ebay https://www.ebay.com/ (for original tins)
M1910 Haversack/Pack System
M1910 dismounted haversack, pack tail, and meatcan pouch.
The pack system was made up of the M1910 dismounted haversack, pack tail & coupling strap and the meatcan pouch.
M1910 Entrenching Tool and carrier
1) No man’s Land Militaria http://www.nomanslandmilitaria.com/
Schipperfabrik offers a reproduction of the M1910 entrenching tool and carrier.
Meatcan and Utensils
M1910 or M1918 styles
What Price Glory www.onlinemilitaria.com
What we today would call a mess kit, was the “meatcan” during WW1. There are no reproductions available, though What Price Glory offers original 1917 and 1918 dated M1910 and M1918 meatcans. Probably the next best source is to check out meatcans on E-bay. Millions were manufactured during the war and they are pretty common and inexpensive today.
Currently, there is no regular supplier of knives, forks or spoons. We find that the best sources tend to be E-bay, followed up by small vendors at WW1 and WW2 reenactments or at local militaria and gun shows. Members of the unit can also offer up-to-date sources. Like meatcans utensils were manufactured by the millions and today are easy to find.
M1910 Condiment Can
Currently, there is no regular supplier of condiment cans. We find that the best sources tend to be E-bay, followed up by small vendors at WW1 and WW2 reenactments or at local militaria and gun shows. Members of the unit can also offer up-to-date sources.
1) What Price Glory www.onlinemilitaria.com
2) Advanced Guard Militaria http://www.advanceguardmilitaria.com/
What Price Glory offers a reproduction of a blanket based on Quartermaster specifications issued in 1906. A good quality reproduction, it is also the only reproduction available. One blanket will get you started, two to three are better.
shelter half, rope, shelter pole and shelter pins
1) What Price Glory http://www.onlinemilitaria.com
Together two soldiers are able to set up a single shelter tent, with the two halves being buttoned together.
What Price Glory does not offer a reproduction WW1 shelter half, but they do offer an “accessory package” which includes the tent pole, pegs, and rope.
British or American variations of the small box respirator (SBR).
1) Tommy’s Pack Fillers www.tommyspackfillers.com
Both the British and American small box respirator (SBR) gas mask. Both are correct for our use, with the British mask first being issued in June 1918 and American masks eventually coming later.
For the SBR masks, Tommy’s Pack Fillers has available the anti-dimming compound and the “gas diary and repair kit.” The anti-dimming compound was used to keep the eyepieces from fogging up when the mask was in use and the diary and repair kit was used to track the use of the mask and repair and tears to the hood. These two items were to be found in every gas mask, and yet today are often missing.
M1917 Rifle, M1917 Bayonet (and scabbard), Oiler, Stripper Clips, and Sling.
Keep in mind that there are no reproductions of the M1917 rifle available and finding one will require a little more legwork. The best sources for rifles and weapons-related items are local gun shops and gun shows, through online sources can work out as well. The firearms and militaria markets are always changing and evolving and its best to seek out the advice of the unit leadership for up-to-date information regarding potential sources for the rifle, bayonet, and other accouterments.
The most sought-after M1917 rifles are those manufactured by Winchester and Remington and are the more expensive models. Those rifles manufactured by Eddystone are more common and more affordable. Expect to pay between $400-$550 for an Eddystone and $600 or more for Remingtons and Winchesters. Make sure that an M1917 in .30-06 is what you are purchasing and not the British model P1914 rifle in .303 British.
M1917 Bayonet (and scabbard)
The M1917 bayonet and scabbard is also required and should be able to be purchased from the same source as the rifle, if possible, in addition, M1917 bayonets can also be purchased at local gun shows and from local private sellers. Note that the American M1917 bayonet and the British P1913 (not to be confused with the P1907 bayonet for the British SMLE rifle) bayonet are the same bayonets, and Remington manufactured both. In fact, the British government sold many P1913 bayonets to the US and these bayonets can be identified because the British markings are “x” out and American markings stamped on the blade. While the M1917 is preferred the P1913 is acceptable. E-bay proves to be a good source along with Guns America and Gun Broker for bayonets and it is not difficult to find the M1917 bayonet with the M1917 scabbard. However what is also often seen is the M1917 without scabbard, or with a British scabbard. In that case, a replacement/reproduction scabbard needs to be purchased.
A rifle sling will be needed. Either one of the following models are acceptable:
M1907 leather sling w/brass fittings
M1917 Kerr web/canvas sling
Turner Saddlery is another source for reproduction M1907 rifle sling. He offers both WW2 and WW1 sling so make sure you order the WW1 era M1907 sling with brass fittings. What Price Glory offers a reproduction of the M1917 “Kerr No-Buckle” sling for the M1917 rifle. It can be found on their website under “American” items and then under the listing for “weapons-related” items.
A rifle oiler and pull through thong will also be necessary for maintaining the rifle in the field. The best places to find the oiler and thong are at your local gun shop, gun show, or on E-bay. The correct oiler is the brass and nickel plated model.
Each member will need at minimum 20, but preferably 32 brass (WW1 era) .30-06 stripper clips (20 for 100 rounds in the ammunition belt and 12 to hold 60 rounds to fill out a bandoleer). The use of post-war steel stripper clips are permitted for battle reenactments, where the loss of stripper clips are bound to happen, but brass wartime stripper clips are a must for living histories and public events.
4) International Military Antiques- https://www.ima-usa.com/ (for scabbard)
5) Turner Saddlery – http://turnersling.com (for sling)
6) What Price Glory- http://whatpriceglory.com
7) Ebay – https://www.ebay.com/ (for oiler)
8) Gary’s Guns – http://www.garysguns.com/
For a selection, items visit this link