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Gildwiller1918

WW1 US Troops in France

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Here is a nice WW1 Picture of US troops overseas in France. On the reverse there is an inscription: " A halt of American Troops during the march to the Meuse Front, interesting as showing the immense kit each man had to carry". Each soldier appears to be in full pack configuration, using the M1910 Haversack, extra pairs of boots and blanket rolls attached as well. These troops are wearing the Montana style peaked felt hats, which were removed once troops reached their areas and replaced with the overseas side cap. Additionally they are also equipped with the M1903 Springfield rifles, which is rare as most troops were issued the M1917 Enfield rifles. The soldiers are also wearing the early style khaki canvas lace up leggings, not the puttees, and the gas mask bags are being worn over the shoulder, which indicates they are not in a combat area, in which they would be worn on the front of the chest in the ready position. Overall a good display of gear, to show the weight and amount carried. Once these troops got to the front, the packs would have been left behind and only essential gear worn. 

Scan_20190930.png

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I had always thought they used the Springfield rifle, the Enfield type being supplied to Britain. Neither the lace up legging nor the hats were practical,  relics from the Indian wars.

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When the war started there were only around 600,000 Springfield rifles in stock, however the US was making the Pattern 14 rifles for England, we adopted these as the M1917 Enfield rifles in 1917 as production ended in July of 1917 for the British. With some minor retooling these rifles were made available in large numbers, for example some of the factory workers could turn out 250-280 rifles per day at a cost of $26 to the government. It is estimated the M1917 made up about 75% of rifles used by American Troops in WW1. 

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Yes the wide brim felt hats were very good out in the western plains of America, but in Europe they outdated. The canvas lace up leggings were mostly replaced with puttees, however some rear echelon troops still wore the lace up types. Interestingly the US forces went back to the lace up type after the war and used them into WW2.

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