1915

1915 uniform The Defining Features: diverse makes and appearances of uniforms and equipment, ersatz items, primitive gas protection, introduction of the 'Horizon-Blue' cloth and the Adrian helmet, and the gradual transition to the single-breasted 'Poiret' greatcoat, wool leg wraps, canvas knapsack, brown leather accoutrements, and 2-liter canteen.

The year of ill-fated offensives and senseless reprisal attacks. The marginal shift in strategy from 'attaque à outrance' to the idea of the 'percée' ("breakthrough") attack seemed to fly in the face of the present realities of trench warfare. The French army launched a series of massive yet fruitless assaults against the well-fortified German lines. The aim was to achieve a breakthrough. The result was only slaughter. In between these massive offensives, the French High Command adopted the strategy of 'grignotage', wherein the goal was to "nibble away" at the German army through constant small-scale attacks and raids. This set in motion a series of bloody reprisal attacks with very limited or even nonexistent objectives. For the French, 1915 would prove the bloodiest year of the entire war with roughly 400,000 dead and many more wounded besides. The mythic identity of the quintessential poilu was established in '15 -- ragged, unshaven, hardened.

The uniform of '15 is a discordant mix of old and new, temporary and permanent, improvisational and regulation. For the first months of the year, many '14 items linger on. The appearance of the new (but temporary) "light blue" uniform in the winter of '14-'15 gradually gains dominance as the '14 uniform is completely faded out. In the summer, the "Adrian" helmet makes its debut. By the fall, the official "blue horizon" wool replaces the "light blue" and establishes itself as the French uniform's sole color for the duration of the war. But throughout all of 1915 there is an assortment of temporary measures and in-the-field improvisations evident.

Photos and specs coming soon!