Thursday, July 14, 2011

Infantry Uniforms Book Two

When man first joined together with his fellows to fight in groups, either to hold his territory against others or to gain more for himself, he fought dismounted and with close combat weapons. Since that time, the brunt of all fighting has been borne by the man on foot, the infantryman. Despite the sophistication of modern warfare, it is still the foot soldier who is in the forefront of the battle and finally gets to grips with his opposite number. The main changes that have taken place in the infantry battle are those that concern not only the uniform and weapons but also the mode of arrival in the fighting zone. Originally, the footslogger, as he came to be known, marched into battle carrying everything he needed on his person and then, with the advent of horse-drawn transport, his heavier equipment was brought up behind him in the wagons. Later still towards the end of the nineteenth century, there came into being the Mounted Infantry, who rode their horses to the battle area and then dismounted to fight in the traditional role of the foot soldier. The First World War introduced motor transport, but due to the type of terrain this was not of much practical use, and the Infantryman was back on his feet again, carrying on his broad back all the necessities of life, as on the Somme in 1916, when the assaulting troops went into battle carrying their rifles and bayonets, 200 rounds of ammunition, a valise, small pack, water-bottle, grenades, pick or shovel, blanket and rations with a total weight of nearly three-quarters of a hundredweight.