Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source9
British soldier in full kit, 1915
(Catalogue ref: ZPER 34/146, reproduced by permission of the Illustrated London News Picture Library)
  • This photograph shows the full kit of a British Tommy in the early stages of the war. It gives a sense of the range of equipment he had to carry, sometimes on long marches or even when attacking enemy trenches.
  • The picture was published on 27 February 1915. This soldier is not carrying a metal helmet. These were introduced in 1915 because of the large number of head wounds being caused by enemy shrapnel shells.
  • The other equipment the Tommy has gives several clues about trench warfare. The Lee Enfield rifle was fast and accurate. Well-trained British troops could set up a stunning field of fire against an advancing enemy.
  • The bayonet was for hand-to-hand combat in trenches.
  • Clean water was a constant problem in the trenches, which explains the water bottle.
  • The entrenching tool was another vital piece of kit for digging, repairing and improving defensive positions.
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