Regulation Equipment

When a British Army soldier was ordered to attack the enemy on the Western Front he carried a total of 30 kilograms (66 lbs) of equipment. This included a rifle, two mills grenades, 220 rounds of ammunition, a steel helmet, wire cutters, field dressing, entrenching tool, greatcoat, two sandbags, rolled ground sheet, water bottle, haversack, mess tin, towel, shaving kit, extra socks, message book and preserved food rations. The weight of the equipment made it difficult to move very fast across No Man's Land.

Primary Sources

(1) Private Kenneth Garry, letter to mother (January, 1916)

We had two days' rations to take, and the 150 rounds of ammunition we always carry. I only took an extra pair of socks, but I wished before I got back that I had taken three extra pairs. We wore our great coats, with full equipment on top of this. Our mack we put on top of the pack. Our water bottle was full and of course we carried our mess tin, also mug and cutlery. The one blanket we were allowed to take was rolled in the ground sheet, and slung like a horse collar round our necks. I carried in addition my pocket primus, and a tin of paraffin, two small tins of Heinz baked beans, vaseline, a tommy's cooker and a tin of re-fill; a pair of gloves, mittens and a muffler. Beside this, we carried our rifle. I wish you could have seen us. We looked like animated old clothes shops.

(2) John Raws, letter to his father (27th May 1916)

We whistled and sang the Marseillaise as we tramped. I was loaded with a pack (blanket, waterproof sheet, overcoat, two singlets, two underpants, six handkerchiefs, two towels and several books) a haversack (food, shaving tackle, soap, tooth paste, pocket field dressing materials and odds and ends) entrenching tool and handle for digging in; a large water bottle full of cold tea and my field glasses. And my word it was heavy walking! This is marching order.