Infantryman from the 103rd line infantry regiment - Musée de la Grande Guerre

Infantryman from the 103rd line infantry regiment, France, 1914.

Infantryman from the 103rd line infantry regiment

When the war broke out in 1914, the French infantryman’s uniform was highly unsuited to modern warfare. The soldiers were heavily burdened, carrying more than 25 kg, and all year round wore a heavy, uncomfortable greatcoat of blue-grey serge (1877 model), and madder serge trousers, a colour that was too eye-catching, whereas the armed forces of other main belligerents chose less conspicuous shades. They looked very much like their forefathers from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. They also wore a kepi (flat-topped hat), which, when in the field, was covered with a blue canvas cuff; a blue cotton tie, knotted in front; and black leather gaiters and ankle boots. The equipment comprised a set of three cartridge pouches, braces, a bayonet frog, a haversack, a satchel with daily provisions and a canteen.

French infantrymen in 1914 were armed with a 1886/93 model rifle, known as a Lebel rifle, 8 mm calibre. This repeating rifle that needed reloading after each cartridge was obsolete compared to the rifles of the other belligerents’ armies, which had stripper clip loaders, a much faster system.

 

Infantryman from the 103rd line infantry regiment
Un fantassin français, septembre 1914
Infantryman from the 103rd line infantry regiment
Un fantassin français, septembre 1914