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West Front Summary
with Flash animated maps

Troops of the Western Front
soldier's photo gallery

Troops of the Western Front
The images below show just a few of the many different types of uniforms and styles which were used during the course of the war on the western front. Despite pre-war experiments with camoflage and other modern ideas, typical line troops began the war wearing an almost Victorian era style of uniform. The ravages of the fighting quickly transformed everything, from clothing and boots to grenades and helmets. By the end of the war, the uniforms and weapons carried by troops were far different than those used a mere four years earlier when the war began.
Click here to view imageAn excellent photo of the standard early war French infantry uniform. The dark blue jacket and kepi (cloth cap) contrasted sharply with the red trousers, which were kept mostly due to tradition and political conflicts. This outdated uniform made an excellent target on the modern battlefield, and thousands were killed before this unfortunate color combination was changed.
A few years later and the scene has changed completely. The blue jacket has given way to a single-breasted blue-grey tunic, the same material being used for the trousers. The deadly rains of artillery shrapnel have mandated steel helmets in place of the light cloth caps of 1914. Note the trench scene surrounding these men. In the background can be seen barbed wire entanglements anchored in place by metal posts, some of which can be seen piled against a wall immediately behind the man of the right.
This close-up shows a German officer and one of his men wearing the early war tunic. This tunic pattern was later replaced by a simpler "bluse" tunic which had a cloth fly over the buttons and deep, buttonless cuffs. The garrison cap worn by the enlisted man on the right is the common style worn by most troops while not in combat. As the war progressed, the heavy leather boots shown here were replaced by puttee leg wrappings and hobnailed shoes.
An excellent view of typical early-war German line infantry. These troops are wearing the famous picklehaub helmets, which were later replaced by the shrapnel-resistant steel stahlhelm. Also note their early war style boots and tunics. Also clearly visible are the bayonets and entrenching tools slung at their left sides, their rifles and their heavy packs.
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