The Minute Book
Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Soldiers Load (Canadian Militia, 1870)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Soldiers Load (Canadian Militia, 1870)

The prime necessities of a soldier on service, supposing him to be otherwise properly equipped, are food and ammunition.

Regulations and Orders for the Active Militia of the Dominion of Canada, 1870

When a Corps of Active Militia is ordered to be placed on actual service, the officer commanding ... will, at the first muster parade, personally ascertain that each man is in possession of the articles of equipment below enumerated, and will immediately report any deficiences to the district staff officer.

  • 1 rifle with small stores complete.
  • 1 set of accoutrements capable of carrying at least 60 rounds.
  • 1 knapsack and straps complete, with canteen, or great coat straps in knapsacks have not been issued.
  • 1 haversack.
  • Sixty rounds of ball ammunition.
  • 1 water bottle or canteen.

The following should be in every man's knapsack, provided by the men themselves:

  • 1 change shirt, flannel or cotton.
  • 1 change pair socks.
  • 1 change boots or shoes.
  • Needle and thread.
  • Knife.
  • Piece of soap.
  • Towel.

When a corps placed on actual service is ordered away from its permanent headquarters, if the men be furnished with knapsacks, the Commanding Officer will not allow any of him men to take with them any article of baggage beyond their knapsacks. The prime necessities of a soldier on service, supposing him to be otherwise properly equipped, are food and ammunition.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 19 May 2017

Commando Arms and Equipment
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Commando Arms and Equipment

British Commandos; Special Series No. 1, Prepared by the Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, August 1942

Every man who joins the commandos brings his own rifle or pistol, and he is also provided with a fighting knife, which is used by the commandos with particular effectiveness.

In choosing the kinds of arms and equipment suitable for commandos, the determining factor was the type of operations in which they would engage. In the summer of 1940 the Germans were in positions along the coast line of Europe, from Narvik in northern Norway to Biarritz in southwestern France. Any part of this coast was within reasonable striking distance from the British Isles. In view of the Royal Navy's superiority at sea, the raiding opportunities for commando units seemed unlimited. The task was essentially one for an amphibious force…a sort of super-marines…who would fight only with equipment which could be carried on their backs from a boat to the beach. They would also need the guerrilla's traditional mobility on any terrain, which meant that vehicles larger than bicycles, and perhaps than a handcart, were not practicable. Any better means of transport would have to be captured at the scene of operations.

Consequently, regulation requirements for the number an allocation of weapons are not prescribed, but in every case distribution is made according to the tactical requirements of the particular mission to be performed. Every man who joins the commandos brings his own rifle or pistol, and he is also provided with a fighting knife, which is used by the commandos with particular effectiveness. Each commando headquarters has a separate store of extra weapons so that extreme flexibility in armament is assured. A typical store contains: Bren guns; Thompson submachine guns; calibre .50 antitank rifles; 2-inch and 3-inch mortars with a supply of both smoke and high-explosive shells; defensive (fragmentation) Mills hand grenades; offensive (plastic body, concussion type) hand grenades; smoke pots; Very pistols; "knuckle dusters"; (brass knuckles); "Limpets" (magnetic, acid, high-explosive mines), one type suitable for use against ships and another for use against tanks; and demolitions of all types. Each troops is equipped with Bren guns, Thompson submachine guns, an anti-tank rifle, and a 2-inch mortar; normally each sub-section is allocated one Bren gun and a submachine gun, the allocation of the anti-tank rifle and the mortar being left to the discretion of the troops commander.

The clothing and equipment furnished commandos includes a variety of types. Normal clothing is "battle dress," a two-piece woolen garment, stout shoes, and leggings. In colder weather a sleeveless button-up leather jacket which reaches the hips is worn over or under battle dress; a two-piece denim dungaree is also provided for wear over battle dress in damp or rainy weather. The men are further equipped with cliff-climbing and with hauling materials, such as rubber soled shoes and toggle-and-eye ropes. A wool undervest and a heavy-ribbed wool cardigan with long sleeves and turtle neck are also available for cold-weather wear. All clothing is designed and worn solely with a view to comfort and utility under actual operating conditions. No leather belts are worn either by officers or enlisted men; a fabric waist-belt is provided. In addition to his weapons, the individual soldier generally receives such items as these: Tommy (individual) cooker; lensatic compass; skis and poles; individual waist life-bet ("Mae West"); Primus stove; 1-gallon thermal food-container; gas cape; wristlets. Troops are equipped with two-man rubber boats; plywood (sectionalized) canoes; collapsible canvas canoes; bamboo and canvas stretchers; 2-inch scaling ropes; 1-inch-mesh heavy wire in rolls for crossing entanglements; and toggle ropes. Transportation equipment for each commando includes Hillman pick-up 1,500-pound trucks, motorcycles, and one 3-ton truck. Communication equipment for each troops includes a number of portable radio sets, voice-and-key type, weighing 36 pounds with a voice range of 5 miles; semaphore flags; blinker guns; Very pistols and flares.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Soldier's Load, Canadian Militia (1868)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldier's Load, Canadian Militia (1868)

Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, compiled by Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C. V. M., 1868

On assembling his men the officer commanding should personally inspect each man, and ascertain that he has proper articles of clothing under his uniform, and that he is provided with suitable boots for marching.

He will also, at the first muster-parade, personally ascertain that each man is in possession of the articles of equipment below enumerated, and will immediately report any deficiencies to the commanding officer of his battalion, who will report to the district staff officer:—

  • 1 rifle with small stores complete.
  • 1 set of accoutrements capable of carrying 60 rounds.
  • 1 knapsack and straps complete, with canteen if supplied.
  • 1 haversack.
  • 60 rounds of ball ammunition.
  • 1 water bottle or canteen.
  • 1 great coat.
  • [The Following] should be in every man's knapsack, or haversack; provided by the men themselves.
    • 1 change shirt, flannel or cotton.
    • 1 do. pair socks.
    • Needle and thread,
    • Knife, fork, spoon, tin plate.
    • Piece of soft soap,
    • Towel, brush, and comb.
  • 1 pint tin mug with handle, if no knapsacks are supplied.
  • 1 day's rations bread and cooked meat.
  • 1 small packet of salt.

Where a corps placed on actual service is ordered away from its permanent head quarters, if the men be furnished with knapsacks, the commanding officer will not allow any of his men to take with them any other article of baggage.

When any volunteer corps placed on actual service is sent away from its permanent head quarters, every man will be supplied with a good pair of boots, on application being made by the commanding officer to the district staff officer; for which a stoppage will be made from his pay of 25 cents per week for short boots (price $1.50) or 35 cents per week for long boots (price     ) until the cost price be made good." (Regulations respecting Volunteer Militia)

Forage caps should be worn. The haversack should be put on first, and hang in the hollow of the left side; the pouch-belt next, so arranged that the pouch may lie well in the centre of the small of the back: the waist-belt above, and confining the pouch-belt, rather tightly than otherwise; the water-bottle in the hollow of the right side, as close under the armpit as possible; the great-coat folded flat 20x16 inches; strapped well up on the shoulder, if great-coat straps are used, with the slides of the straps protecting the arms; the right upper-strap passed through the handle of the tin cup. Stocks should be worn.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 25 October 2016

With a 70-Pound Pack (US Army, 1925)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.

With a 70-Pound Pack (US Army, 1925)

Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, Kansas, 16 October 1925

Whenever a regular army man opens his mouth these days he must expect to have a critic pounce upon his words and show him where he is wrong. The Ottawa herald's military critic is inclined to be severe with General Summerall for saying recently that the main reliance of this country for the defence must be placed in infantry soldiers.

This, the Herald says, is just the traditional view—meaning that it is old-fashioned and behind the times. The Herald doubtless has learned that from the brilliant young aviators, some of whom were in training during the world war, who recently have been giving the country the benefit of their opinions on defence.

One of the curious things about General Summerall's statement, when carefully considered, is that it seems to be true. It would be an easy matter to blow the "traditional view" sky-high by producing some means of defence that would dispense with the lowly infantry man "with the dust behind his ears." This all the inventors have conspicuously failed to do.

Tanks, trench mortars, long range guns such as were never seen before, poison gas and combat aircraft were used for the first time in the world war. But no ground was gained and held by any of these means. The infantry had to occupy and consolidate positions. He was always at the finish of every job, no matter who began it. All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.

The Herald makes us think of some of the fiction turned out in the early days of the war when imaginative American shrank somewhat from what they saw ahead. Innumerable stories were printed that featured some imaginary invention which mowed the enemy down without loss or hard work on our side.

All these fancies belong in the category of things that haven't happened yet. Let us imagine all we please a war confined to the air, the men who will win the next one probably will do a lot of foot-slogging, just as has been done in the past.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Soldier's Kit (1932)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldier's Kit (1932)

The Glasgow Herald, 19 January 1932

It is unlikely that radical alterations in the pattern of the infantry soldier's uniform will result from its condemnation by the Director-General of the Army Medical Services. Apart from the natural conservatism of the War Office and the Commands who would have to be satisfied that there is good cause for a change, the experience of dress reformers in the sphere of mufti has not been encouraging.

Perhaps the reformers have attempted too much and that too suddenly. There seems little disposition anywhere to "dress by the Left," and the Army is not likely to be found in the van of a "health and aesthetics" movement. Therefore nobody need be surprised if the infantry jib at "a new jacket with a turned-down collar open at the neck in front," and fail to accept, even for health's sake, "a drab Angora shirt of tennis shirt pattern to be worn with a tie." A tie is admittedly lacking in ferocity, but why should it be felt to be unsoldierly it is difficult to say. Officers of the line performed heroic deed with ties immaculately adjusted round their necks in the War, yet that is probably no passport to popularity for neckwear on the Queen's Parade at Aldershot or in the Maryhill Road.

Descending to trousers, it must be admitted that rugged efficiency rather than elegance has hitherto clothed the Army leg. It is proposed to replace the current useful and enduring garments by "something in the nature of plus fours." Most people connect plus fours with golf and country life, but they were developed, so far as is known, from a dressy adjustment of the puttees of the Guards—a withdrawal, as it were, of the skirts of chivalry from contamination with Flanders mud. If they now appear in infantry service kit, Wellington Barracks rather than Walton Heath should be given credit for the inspiration.

Working downwards from the neck to the extremities we come to an item that should have come first under critical fire—puttees. Granted that at the sound of the word "gaiters" no man will hear the bugle and a roll of drums, but peaceful associations ought not to obscure the fact that they do have a real respect for a soldier's veins. Puttees, even when adjust with precision in the best of conditions, look (and often feel) like the makeshifts they are. Given canvas or soft leather, a little steady thinking should produce something better for the parade ground and the campaign.

We look now at the very foundations of the fighting soldier—his boots and the feet within them. Not even a "fu' wame" will keep a linesman in spirit while every step is a pain and an anxiety. The British boot has been justly praised by thousands of "tenderfoot" soldiers who were happily fitted during the war, but those who had to refit on the catch-as-catch-can principle during the course of the campaign will be able to recall their twinges even to-day. They will feel that concentration on the puttee and boot question to the point of fastidiousness is the first duty of the reformers.

A kindred matter is having the attention, we believe, of the Army Council. An attempt is being made to reduce the weight of the infantry soldier's equipment, and while there is an irreducible minimum of gear which must be carried into action and which the men must get the feel of on the march and in manoeuvre, it should be remembered that every ounce that comes off the back will go into the heart. The whole question is governed by present economies, but it is not unlikely that a close kit inspection would reveal adjustments that would in themselves bring savings. An industrial psychologist might serve very usefully in any investigations undertaken. Mechanisation, which is putting more and more spanners into military hands, touches infantry only indirectly. While the remainder of the Army seems to move slowly but surely towards mechanical skills and seats on waggons (wheeled or winged), the soldier on foot remains more or less as he was in the older wars. He therefore deserves all the creature and fighting comforts the wits of Whitehall can provide for him.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 3 October 2016

[US] Army Tries to Reduce Pack Weight (1963)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

[US] Army Tries to Reduce Pack Weight (1963)

The Bulletin, Serving Bend and Central Oregon, 11 June 1963

Washington—(UPI)—the Army is doing its best to reduce the pack of the foot-slogging soldier, but progress has been slow, the Defence Department reported today,.

The fully armed infantry man now carries a total of 90 pounds of clothing, weapon and pack.

This compares with just over 100 pounds when the GI's surged over the beaches on D-Day in World War II, and with 92 pounds in the frigid cold of Korea.

Scientific studies have shown that, ideally, the infantryman should not carry more than 50 pounds, preferably by hand—or not more than 40 pounds in a shoulder pack. So there still is a long way to go.

Asks for Study

According to the independent Army-Navy-Air Force Journal, Defence Secretary Robert S. McNamara has asked for a study of the weight of the soldier's pack. The publication said that the study was included on a list of projects not yet made public.

But the Journal noted that every previous defense secretary has asked for similar studies, with little noticeable result.

The Army said the World War II and Korea packs were almost the same, except the latter was "lightened by using a bed roll instead of blankets."

Somewhat lighter packaging and thinner cartridge cases have helped trim off another two pounds wince the Korean War.

Makup of Load

The current distribution of the soldier's weight-load was given as follows:

  • Clothing, including a nine-pound armored vest, 23 pounds.
  • Battle load, including a rifle, grenades, ammunition, and so forth, 31 pounds.
  • The pack, called the "existence and comfort load" and including bed roll, gas mask, toilet articles, rations and such, 36 pounds.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Soldier's Kit in South Africa
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Soldier's Kit in South Africa

The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment, from 1684 to 1902, By Lieut.-Col. G. le M. Gretton, Late 3rd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, 1911

Extract from Regimental Orders of 4th of January 1900:—

S.S. Gascon.

"The valise equipment will be drawn to-morrow. The valises will be packed with the following articles: Clothes' brush; field cap (to be carried in haversack on moving); hold-all, with knife, fork, spoon, shaving brush, razor and case, and comb; Housewife; flannel shirt; socks (2 pair); one suit drab serge; towel and soap; worsted cap; canvas shoes; boot-laces (spare); small-book; tin of grease; flannel belt.

Articles worn or carried by the Soldier:

"Full dress: head dress and cover; frock; flannel shirt; trousers; braces; socks; flannel belt; ankle boots; putties; haversack, with balance of day's ration; valise packed, straps and braces; waistbelt and frog; pouches; pocket-knife and lanyard; water-bottle (full), with strap; mess tin and strap; Field dressing and description (i.e., identity) card; rifle, with sling, pull-through, full oil-bottle, and sight protector; bayonet and scabbard; greatcoat and straps; entrenching tools (if in possession, 16 picks and 33 shovels in each company).

Articles to be packed in the sea kit-bags:

"1 frock (H.P.); 1 pair ankle boots; 1 pair trousers (H.P.); 1 black kit-bag."

By Regimental Order dated April 19, 1900, the weight was reduced:—

"The following articles only will be carried on the person of the soldier when the battalion moves (viz.): Khaki serge (trousers and jacket); flannel shirt; flannel belt; putties; socks and boots; helmet; drawers (if in possession); waistbelt; braces; two pouches with 50 rounds of ammunition in each; bayonet and frog; rifle and sling; haver-sack on back; mess tin; water-bottle; one blanket rolled on belt; jersey, either worn on person or rolled on the blanket; woollen cap (if in possession) in the haversack.

"If rations are carried, meat in mess tins, biscuit in haversack.

"All small kit must be carried in the haversack.

"In company waggon the following will be carried, viz.: greatcoat with one shirt and one pair of socks in the pockets; one blanket; one waterproof sheet."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 4 July 2016

Heaviest Laden Pack Animal in American Army
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Doughboy is Heaviest Laden Pack Animal in American Army

Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine, 22 February 1923

Washington, Feb. 22. (By the Associated Press)—The heaviest laden pack animal of the army is the doughboy himself. Inch for inch or pound for pound of his own weight, the buck private of infantry carries on his back into battle double the burden handled by horses or mules or motor trucks.

And he is expected to jog cheerfully along through the ooze beside the road, leaving the good going to the gas and animal transport.

Army experts are racking their brains for ways to cut down the doughboy's load. Exhaustive study has been given to war experience for that purpose. Through the American legion and similar organizations, efforts have been made to get the men who carried the infantry packs in France to suggest changes. But as yet it has been possible, it was said today at the war department, to get only a few ounces of weight off the backs of the trudging infantry.

Carry 133 Pounds

Experts figure that the average load for a foot soldier should not exceed 61 pounds. Yet under the present organization tables, "No. 3 rear rank" (who is the automatic rifleman in the infantry) must stagger along under about 133 pounds when fully equipped. All of the machine gun personnel is burdened almost as heavily, carrying from 115 to 123 pounds per man; and the machine gunners since the war make up about one-fourth of the strength of an infantry outfit.

The bulk of the doughboy's load is fighting equipment. What he carries for his own bodily comfort has always been stripped down to the absolute minimum. Aside from his "iron rations," his blanket, overcoat, extra shoes, mess kit, canteen and his few essential toilet articles, the weight the infantryman packs has a grim purpose/ The whole intricate business of war revolves around the doughboy and his rifle and bayonet.

The American army rifle is still about the last word in efficient, light weight fighting tools. There is no prospect that its weight can be further reduced. So the experts are wondering over each other article in the infantry pack to see what can be eliminated or sent back to the wagon trains until needed.

Lighten Rations

Since the war ended, plans have been worked out to lighten the emergency rations, the two days' supply each hiking soldier carries with him. Several ounces can be taken out of the container weights and a few more out of the mess kits, and ounces feel like tons towards the end of a forced march. It now seems probable, also, that the "pup" tents carried heretofore may be abandoned or at least greatly reduced in weight, and that the extra shoes will go back to the escort wagons. Still another development is in experiments with new water proofing methods to make rain coats and, perhaps, overcoats, unnecessary and also to save the doughboy from having to carry pounds of water in his soaking equipment after a march in the rain.

If all of the individual fighting and defensive equipment that is provided for him was loaded on the doughboy's back, he probably would not be able to lift his feet off the ground and if he did succeed in moving, he would clatter and rattle like an old cook stove. In addition to his arms, ammunition, food and clothing, modern war requires that the infantryman should have available as he comes to grips with the enemy hand grenades, rifle bombs, trench knife, day and night fire works for signalling his position, sandbags for quick entrenching, picks and shovels for digging himself in, gas mask, helmet, first aid kit, and a dozen other things he might need. But there is no possibility that he could carry it all and move, so the experts are weighing the probabilities and article by article reasoning out just how far back it would be safe to send it along the supply line so that it could be brought up when the call came.

Mule Close at Heels

An army mule is a mighty weight carrier and in rough going 'cross country, the long eared friend of the soldier probably always will be closer at the doughboy's heels than any other element of the army. But the maximum load for an 800 pound pack mule is 250 pounds and the lighter the mule, the lighter the load under army regulations. Loads for wagons and artillery teams are similarly distributed according to the weight and capacity of the animals.

There is no such adjustment of burden possible for the doughboy, however. He carries the same weight whether he is a six-foot, 200 pounder from the first squad or a five-foot-four, hundred and forty pound runt from the "pickaninny" squad at the left of the company. And that weight will more often than not be more than half of his own heft.

There has been a lot of experimenting, both in the army and the marine Corps since the war, with types of hand carts to carry part of the doughboy's load. They are still at it, but results thus far are not promising except where the March is over good roads. Off the roads, the doughboys, after due trial, show a tendency to prefer taking the load on their own shoulders.

Down at Fort Benning, the infantry school of the army, the carts were tried out scientifically. Student officers volunteered for the tests, trudging all day 'cross country hauling carts after them. Each night they underwent a minute physical examination in comparison with comrades who had packed similar loads on their shoulders over the same route. In each case the doctors noted a distinctly greater degree of exhaustion among the men who hauled the carts.

The possibility of light motor wheel carts are still to be explored. Various types are to be used, particularly to take some of the machine gun load. But it is now the judgment of experienced officers that the brawny back of the doughboy will continue to be the main reliance of armies for front line operations.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 24 June 2016

Japanese Soldier's Load (1910)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Japanese Soldier's Load (1910)

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 21 August 1910

In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity.

Interview of their experience in the Manchurian campaign the Japanese, like most of the other nations, have adopted a khaki field uniform made of cloth for winter gear and of linen for summer use. In general appearance it resembles our own service uniform, but the shade of color is slightly different. The material of the uniform is manufactured in Tokio, in a factory under control of the war department. Thus the Japanese follow the example of the European nations which generally desire to have all factories for making material for the army under government control.

The new equipment of the Japanese army, being the direct result of war experience by a nation of but little conservation or affection for old forms, is naturally of interest to armies in general. The knapsack is retained, which seems a little remarkable to us, who gave it up long ago in its old form. The new form of it resembles the French knapsack, and is of tanned hide, with the hairy side out, and weighs empty about 4.4 pounds. It contains a shirt, sewing material, brushes, etc., two days rations (composed of six small packages of rice, two cans of canned meat, together with the rations of sugar and tea), and 80 rounds of ammunition.

Blanket and Shelter Tent

Around the knapsack the blanket for field use is laid, and on either side a shoe. The overcoat, rolled in the shelter tent, is laid over the blanket. The intrenching implements are carried on the sides of the knapsack and on top of it. When the knapsack is taken off and laid aside temporarily the intrenching tools are carried like sabre scabbards on the belt. The large cooking utensil, made of aluminum, with a capacity of about two quarts, is carried packed on top of the knapsack. The latter, fully packed, including intrenching tools, weighs 30.8 pounds.

Besides the knapsack the soldier carries a canteen on aluminum and a haversack, containing an aluminum dish, a ration of hardtack, a toothbrush, tooth powder, a napkin, paper, a pipe, tobacco, etc., a first aid package, and two little wicker baskets, each containing one day's rations. In three little pouches on the belt 120 rounds of ammunition are carried.

Since the field equipment is very heavy the knapsack, whenever this is possible, is left behind, and transported as opportunity offers on wagons. The soldiers carries into action only the absolutely essential, rolled in a khaki-colored cotton bag, resembling a valise or holdall, called seolsukur. This bag or roll is carried from right to left and contains rations, ammunition, reserve parts and certain necessary materials like soap, etc. The large cooking utensil is hung to it, and the intrenching tools are fastened to the belt. The overcoat is carried on a roll from left to right. The soldier carries only a part of his intrenching tools, either the spade or the pickaxe or hatchet and the saw.

Wire Cutting Tools

The extended use of wire entanglements by the Russians indicated the necessity for carrying wire cutters (a fact which we had already experienced at Santiago), and in every company therefore about 30 men are provided with this implement. The importance of intrenching tools has been more and more emphasized by every campaign since the civil war, where our common soldiers first introduced the subject of their own volition and initiative, but particularly in the Manchurian campaign, Consequently they are generously provided for the Japanese army. The field train carries for each habitation 73 such tools, packed on two horses; every cavalry squadron carries packed on the horses, 12 to 16 hammer hatchets with saws; every engineer company has 215 intrenching tools; the company trains carries 148 such tools, the field battery 85.

The Japanese soldier carries the following weights:

  • In heavy marching order in winter, 69 pounds;
    • in summer, 66 pounds;
  • Without full ammunition supply, in winter, 65.9 pounds;
    • in summer, 62.5 pounds;
  • When the knapsack is laid aside, but with full ammunition supply, in winter, 55.5 pounds;
    • in summer, 52.3 pounds.

Large Cooking Outfits

All kitchen utensils and materials for cooking are carried on pack animals in the regimental train; every company has a field cooking arrangement and a meat pot holding 53 litres and weighting 34.5 pounds, every infantry battalion has five such cooking stoves, one for each company and one in reserve, packed on horses; every squadron and field battery has one packed on two pack animals. These cooking arrangements can also be loaded on wagons, every wagon carrying two.

In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity; consequently every new equipment adopted by the armies of the world is studied with much care by the military authorities everywhere, and that of Japan, a nation ready to break away from old forms and without sentiment for obsolete uniforms or methods, is particularly interesting to the rest of the world.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Burden the Soldier Boy Carries (1918)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Burden the Soldier Boy Carries

What the 70-Pound Load Means in Comfort, Security and Living

The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 13 January 1918
By Clive Marshall

According to a statement issued by the War Department, it costs Uncle Sam $156.71 to equip an infantryman for service in France. Clothing costs $101.62; eating utensils, etc., $7.73, and fighting equipment, $47.86.

War is a burden, all the way around, any way you take it, up, down and around, over and over and all together, war is a burden—and the burden begins with the individual man.

The man who stays at borne burdened with war taxes, and the man who goes to the front is burdened with a soldier's field kit. which, while it is probably heavier than the kit carried by the soldier in any other war in modern history, is, nevertheless, the most complete, serviceable, compactly built and carefully figured out kit in point of greatest serviceability with least weight that has ever been designed for a nation's fighter.

The American soldier, today, in active service is expected to carry as much as possible, but he must carry nothing that is not absolutely necessary to the best service in the ordinary, to-be-expected experiences of war, and necessary, too, in emergencies. That "much as possible" must be figured with a careful regard to weight and an ever clear, designing eye to compactness of parts and precision of distribution so that the kit will work a minimum of hindrance to the movements of the fighting man carrying it. Therefore the field kit of the soldier must have all that it should have, even to the call of emergency, weighing the least that all can weigh, assembled as compactly as possible and put upon the body of the fighter in a way designed to render it the least likely to impede his action on the march or in battle.

Load of 70 Pounds Carried

The total load earned by the American soldier in the present war, counting in the weight of the clothes which he wears, approximates 70 pounds. The field kit, which includes the rifle and other fighting equipment, together with eating utensils, weighs 54 pounds, and Army officials have figured it down to ounces in metal, cotton, wool, leather and wood, and have said thus far and no farther; it can weigh no less and be serviceable; it is serviceable and must weigh no more.

The chief fighting tool of course, is the rifle. The official title, of the American Army rifle today is "303 pattern '17." It is a mixture of Springfield and Enfield rifles, but because the name Enfield has been popularly attached to the rifle and because Enfield seems to belong with Lee as naturally as Krag with Jorgenson, the man on the street has decided forthwith that the rifle is the old Lee-Enfield. In fact, however, the British-designed rifle being manufactured here for our Army is of a pattern of 1914 and has little in common with the old British Lee-Enfield. This rifle complete with bayonet weighs 11 pounds, and on this point the arm has met with some criticism. It takes a pretty husky man to handle the present Army rifle dexterously in the bayonet fighting now in style on the European battlefields, and the critics contend that rifle weighing nine or nine and one-half pounds with bayonet fixed would give a great advantage.

Modem warfare also compels the soldier to carry a shovel for trench digging. This shovel is a short-handled, round-pointed spade, somewhat of the "common garden variety," and has been made to weigh 25 ounces in iron and steel and four ounces in wood. The equipment of every American soldier contains this small shovel, but on the European battle field the trench tools of tho soldiers are divided among the members of a squad—eight men—as follows: four shovels, two pick mattocks, one polo or hand ax and one wire cutter. So it seems that in what ever re-equipping of the fighters on arrival on the firing line, four out of every eight soldiers are given either pick mattocks, hand axes or wire cutters in place of their shovels. Every American fighter, however, is sent away with a shovel which is reduced to the minimum of weight and strapped snugly to his back in such a way that he may march, run at double-quick, engage in hand-to-hand combat, or drop on his stomach in position of firing without feeling inconvenienced or hindered by the presence of the trench tool.

The rifle, bayonet, trench tool and cartridges complete the soldier's fighting equipment. Every soldier carries 100 cartridges, distributed in pockets attached to a belt, five cartridges to a clip. These 100 cartridges have, a combined weight of 47.4 ounces in brass, 36.4 ounces in metal in bullets and 12 ounces in explosives. The cartridge belt itself weighs ten ounces in brass and 14.1 ounces in cotton.

The actual fighting equipment of the up-to-date soldier makes up less than half of the total load he carries; the remainder is made up of what he carries for his own bodily needs, protection and comfort.

Contents of the "Kit"

Every soldier in the American Army today carries with him sufficient food, water, clothing and means of protection and shelter to take care of himself for a short period in case he should become separated from his company. The number of articles making up this part of the kit is surprisingly large. Each kit carried contains, besides extra clothing, a blanket, rubber pouches, a canteen, a mess kit, including meat can, knife, fork, spoon and cup, toilet articles, a first aid package, gas mask, steel helmet and shelter tent.

One of the most useful things a soldier carries is this shelter tent, commonly called a "dog-tent." Each man carries one tent cover, one tent pole and five tent pins, which make one-half of a shelter tent, and two men can combine their halves and set up a "dog" in a few minutes. This tent, of course, is used only in temporary camps on forced marches.

According to a statement issued by the War Department, it costs Uncle Sam $156.71 to equip an infantryman for service in France. Clothing costs $101.62; eating utensils, etc., $7.73, and fighting equipment, $47.86.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 5 June 2016

What a Soldier Carries
Topic: Soldiers' Load

What a Soldier Carries

The Average Pack Weighs 62.41 Pounds
Continual Efforts to Make Equipment Lighter

Boston Evening Transcript, 23 May 1908

Washington, May 23.—The problem of the soldier's field equipment is one that is continually before the military authorities. On the one hand every effort is made to lighten his pack in order that he may be able to march and to fight better; on the other hand, the improvements in material and the changes in conditions of warfare constantly demand additions to his pack; intrenching tools, range finders, cooking utensils, tools for removing obstructions (wire entanglements, etc.), and others too numerous to mention. The weight of the arms, ammunition and equipments carried by the infantry soldier of the different armies of the world is as follows:

Germany60.71 pounds
France57.48 pounds
France (Alpine troops)70.61 pounds
Italy64.10 pounds
Italy (Alpine troops)63.02 pounds
Japan (summer)62.40 pounds
Austria-Hungary58.55 pounds
Russia64.25 pounds
Switzerland (old pack)66.41 pounds
Switzerland (experimental pack, 1907)56.96 pounds

The French infantryman therefore carries the lightest pack and the French Alpine chasseur the heaviest. The average pack weighs 62.41 pounds. The United States soldier marches very light, but then he has no prescribed intrenching tools or individual cooking implements (other than his mess kit) to carry, so that it is not possible to compare his equipment directly with that of the European soldier.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 26 May 2016

Exhaustible Infantry
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Exhaustible Infantry

Commentarty of Infantry Operations and Weapons Usage in Korea, Winter of 1950-51, S.L.A. Marshall, October 1951

In the Korean fighting, the average combat soldier, when his total load is somewhere between 38 and 45 pounds (including clothing), gets along fairly well and can march a reasonable distance, engage, and still remain relatively mobile. When the load goes above 50 pounds, he becomes a drag upon the company.

Fighting Load

In the attack, the infantryman carries his weapons, ammunition, intrenching tool, filled canteen, and first-aid pack. This is the shake-down infantry load in Eighth Army operations. Because of the steepness of the ridges, and the fatigue which comes of climbing prior to engagement, such things as rations and bedding, usually regarded as "necessities" for the fighting man, are not carried forward by the attack force. Where the developments in the situation and the availability of support personnel permit it, food and bedrolls are got up to the attack force by supply parties somewhere along the course of the fight.

But often as not these arrangements are frustrated by an untoward course in the fighting. In consequence men go hungry and miss out on sleep. Neither shortage is regarded by the infantry within Eighth Army as a cruel and unusual hardship. The men take these things in stride, and when the pressure is eased and conditions are nearer normal again, they boast about what they have undergone. During the winter fighting, when the night temperatures were ranging between 5º and 20º, companies in the attack were not infrequently committed without overcoats or bedrolls, and minus rations, despite the tactical prospects being that supply in these things might not get up to them until the following morning.

They commonly appeared far more willing to risk a proportion of loss from frostbite than an endangering of the unit as a whole through failure of ammunition supply. The length of the approach march and the nature of the terrain occasionally permitted wearing either the overcoat or parka, or carrying the sleeping bag, but rarely both. Which it was to be was a matter for company decision. The battalion commands usually strove to get food and bedrolls forward to companies in the attack prior to darkness, though in fact the detail of this work would frequently fall upon the rear echelon of the company directly concerned. As often as not these efforts were thwarted by circumstances beyond anyone's control.

Ranks understood the problem and were not demoralized by the lack of food and warmth. They blamed no one; frequently they praised the earnest, but negative, effort of the supply parties which had failed them.

In the course of all of the critiques of Eighth Army infantry, though this situation was many times repeated, there was not one single instance in which troops took a bitter or complaining attitude when speaking of their comfort shortages during engagement. The universal reaction was: "That was how it happened. There was no help for it. We weren't hurt by it and we'll probably have to do the same thing again."

The Natural Load

The Korean research indicated that there is a natural limit imposed on what the average infantry soldier carries in fighting supply by what he has discovered about his own physical resources under varying conditions of stress. This is best judged by what happens within the average infantry company after it has been through repeated engagements, has shaken out all excess material, and has got down to fighting weight.

The infantry soldier will not carry more than two grenades, even though his senses tell him he is heading into a fight where grenades will be needed. In fact, though Korean operations are a grenade-using type of warfare, there was not found one infantry soldier in the whole of the Eighth Army who consistently carried more than two grenades. The average was slightly under two per man, since some individuals carried only one. The fatigue of the march was the determinant in this requirement. Decision as to what munitionment should be carried rested usually with the company commander, and after he became broken in he did not press men to carry more than they thought they could handle without risking exhaustion. It remained for the unit to take care of the reserve through company supply.

For men with carbines, the natural load was four clips; for men with Mls, between 94 and 120 rounds. These averages were general throughout all commands, and there was no marked deviation in any company unit. What loads were carried forward for the mortars and machine guns, etc., depended altogether upon the general circumstances, including how far the supply vehicles could drive forward and the availability of extra carriers. However, in the average circumstance the machine guns had 3 to 4 boxes of ammunition per gun, and the 60-mm mortars were supplied with between 50 and 100 rounds. BAR men averaged between 6 and 8 clips. Riflemen in the squad were markedly willing to carry extra ammunition for the BAR man.

Burden Limit

Weighing out this load of ammunition, along with the weapon, full canteen, uniform, etc., means that the average infantry fighter in Korea was carrying a handicap of approximately 40 pounds. This weight was sustainable, that is to say men so weighted could preserve tactical unity during an average march into enemy country, when fire was imminent. (A tabular discussion of march limits under fire conditions was included in Chapter IV.)

But it was also observed that among the men who were carrying weights in excess of 50 pounds there was an onset of straggling before the march was half completed. This served as a drag upon the general movement as other files peeled off to provide them with greater security. Solely because of the disproportionate weights, in an extended march it would sometimes be from 30 to 40 minutes after the head of the column had arrived on the objective when the tail closed in. These last to arrive would also be in the greatest state of fatigue. They included radio men, mortar ammunition carriers, mortar crews in general, and the flamethrower, though the latter's burden would have to be shifted from man to man in the course of the march because of its weight. The recoilless crews also did heavy labor, and were late in closing, if the march was extended.

Because mortar positions are characteristically in defilade, on low ground, to the rear of the defended ridgeline, this was not a frequent cause of tactical disarrangement in short marches. Its penalties became obvious only when infantry was put far across country over which organic transport could not follow because the country was unroaded.

Operations in Korea prove that Department of the Army and Office of Chief of Army Field Forces concern over the problem of the infantry burden is wholly justified, and that present staff processes and logistical arrangements fall seriously short of the standards requisite to providing our main fighting arm with an optimum mobility.

This problem has only a marginal solution. It cannot be solved in total. Infantry, by nature of its role in combat, must remain heavily burdened. The best that may be hoped for is that through re-examining our staff processes and reappraising our material and human resources, we can insure a system whereby the fighting load is made tolerable in the main.

When Korean operations began, we were no better prepared to initiate a sound economy within the infantry force than we were prior to World War I, despite the wealth of experience gathered meanwhile. The record shows that the expeditionary troops carried personal loads under which they could not fight and which they were in no position to store. Many of the items which they were compelled to carry were unsuited to the season; others were unsuited to fighting operations within the peninsula; still others were of questionable value at any time in any situation. Furthermore, during the winter operations, there was no sign that the supply staff within the replacement system had adjusted itself to the needs of the Korean fighting. Men struggled, and wore themselves down, carrying into the Theater items of equipment which were never used by the combat units. This applied especially to clothing issues. There was no indication that anyone had gone forward, studied what was being done on the ground, and then revised &pply procedures to conform with needs. The net result was that tactical commanders had to shake down the replacements, take away all of the unnecessary gear, and then either jettison it or find a place to store it. As invariably happens, whenever there is an impractical issue of equipment, time and personnel are wasted right down the line.

Most of this excess was thrown away a waste to the Army and to the American people. This wastage cannot be called the consequence of a bad supply discipline within the troops; it was due to faulty staff work and inadequate survey of the supply requirement by the command. Into the discard of items not really needed went also other items for which there was a genuine requirement a little later.

This is the invariable extra penalty which comes of serious overloading. Green troops do not have the ability to recognize what material is essential under the conditions of the fight. In the hour of emergency, they react only to what is needed for survival in the immediate situation. Therefore excessive loading will always lead to an undiscriminating shucking-off of the weight which presses them down. There is no safeguard against this except to load them properly in the first place.

Outfit by Popular Demand

As the Eighth Army became acclimated to its problem, the troops became knowing about their own main needs. Personal decision is probably the main influence in what the American infantry fighter carries along into battle of the multifarious supply in clothing, living and survival gear, and carrying equipment which are available to him. That may not be the way it should be, but that's how it works out in practice. If the majority of men don't want shelter halves, see no use in the light pack, and won't carry blankets when they see a chance to get sleeping bags, their feelings pretty much dictate how the unit ultimately is equipped. So it is that how the Army becomes outfitted after it has been long afield is pretty much a popular verdict on the utilitarian value of all equipage. And that verdict cannot be disregarded!

Under the stress of combat, such stock items as the meat can and the pack (the pack has proved highly useful in other wars but didn't meet the particular need in Korea) are found to be surplus weight, and so troops will not carry them forward. Too late the practical need for yet other items which had been thrown away in the early stages becomes recognized; they then have to be re-requisitioned.

In these particulars, Korea differs hardly at all from American experience in other wars of this century. But since it followed World War II by only five years, its main lesson might well be that an Army loses its "know-how" almost at the speed of light, and that the task of keeping staff procedures keyed up in the interim is far more complex than we think.

As the Eighth Army moved into the winter, its infantry forces did not remain overburdened; they were in fact traveling too light for the exigencies of the winter situation. Heavy weapons in the infantry line could not be assured a sufficient supply of ammunition. Troops in line often went hungry. The hilltop defenses had to get along without wire, mines, and tripflares. And so on.

Command Load

It must be said of the average regimental and battalion commander of infantry in Korea that he tends to carry along an excessive and extravagant load of personal equipment, and that any effort he may make toward encouraging his troops to lighten themselves for the furthering of mobility is therefore invariably at odds with his personal example. It is not enough that he must carry along a cot and sleeping bag; usually, he also carries an air mattress, pillow, spare bag, and several extra blankets. The quota is seldom one wash basin, one jerry can, one light, etc.; there will be several of each item. The same applies to trunk lockers and other dunnage. What the unit packs along for the comfort and convenience of the commander will probably be in average weight somewhere between 200 and 300 pounds. So long as one commander does it, and the excess is not reduced by any stricture from higher command, the others can be expected to follow suit. For social reasons there is a considerable rivalry about these things; one of the seeming satisfactions in command is the feeling of being relatively better off than one's fellows working at the same level. That is a human failing, but it is a failing none the less, when in field operations the services of more than one vehicle and the work of two or three men are required to shift the living gear of one officer every time that there is a displacement of the CP. With some of our commanders this was not necessary. They kept their gear at a minimum and had little more comfort than their troops. Still, this was not the common practice.

What Might Be Done

Toward the affording of partial relief to the troops in line, and the over-all strengthening of the defensive situation, there were two lines of approach which might have been taken by the staff, without looking beyond resources already at hand. They were:

  • Organization of Korean porterage on a semimilitary basis, and
  • Total coordination of all supplementary carrying resources within the Division structure to put them at the service of the battalions in the attack.

Neither of these approaches was immediately subjected to study and then The first was neglected despite its obviousness, probably given systematic application. because our Army is not colonially experienced and does not have an instinct for primitive methods. The second broad avenue was overlooked, perhaps because its prerequisite is a radical overhaul in American staff thinking. We bend over backwards in respecting the integrity of small-unit command and process within any larger component, seldom stopping to question whether the safety of all units might not depend finally on seeing the Division as a whole, and using its other parts to the utmost in an effort to get its fighting elements forward relatively fit and ready for the fight. The Regiment sweats to get its two battalions of the attack into the right ground, supplied with all that they need to fight and to endure. Meanwhile, at the rear, there are QM, Ordnance, and other service elements, with broad backs and many vehicles, and on that particular day they have no truly critical chores. To what extent better interior organization can improve the economy will never be known until it is put to the test. We make it work when confronted by a great emergency such as the Ardennes surprise. But we never attempt to apply the same principle in routine operations with the major purpose of conserving the fighting elements.

As a first step toward reform of the infantry supply problem, it is suggested that Logistics, basing upon the Korean supply studies, should proceed to categorize all infantry equipment as follows:

1.     Equipment which must move with the infantry soldier in any fighting situation, such as his arm, canteen, aid pouch, ammunition belt, pants, boots, etc.

2.     Equipment which he will have to carry personally in the interests of survival when subjected to extremes in climate, weather change, etc. These are kept in organizational supply and issued to him when required by the immediate conditions. They affect his personal responsibility and organizational logistics in that as his load increases; other means must be found for transporting the unit's residual weight.

3.     Equipment composing the residual weight within the company (Mortar ammo in excess of a definite figure, mines, wire, etc.), which, while required in the fighting situation, cannot be manhandled by the company without excessive impairment of its fighting powers. The estimating of residual weights should be based upon the muscular potential in summer heat, or extreme winter cold, when the soldier is heavily weighted with his own clothing, and not upon what troops can do in temperate weather under the most favorable conditions. Once the residual weights are analyzed and described, all further procedure should be based on the assumption that when these materials cannot be moved to the scene of action by organic transport, it is the responsibility of higher command to make the arrangements by which they will be got forward for the benefit of the company.

4.     Equipment which has proved impractical or of little utility under the stress of field conditions and should therefore be eliminated.

5.     Equipment which has a practical purpose (such as the web cartridge belt) but is imperfectly suited to that purpose and should therefore be modified.

In the Korean fighting, the average combat soldier, when his total load is somewhere between 38 and 45 pounds (including clothing), gets along fairly well and can march a reasonable distance, engage, and still remain relatively mobile. When the load goes above 50 pounds, he becomes a drag upon the company. That was what was anticipated in theory and it has proved itself in practice. The calculating of the residual weight should assume an average 40-pound carry for the soldier. If, when that is done, such personal items as blankets, bedrolls, etc., cannot be fitted into the individual load, they should be classified as residual weight and it should be the duty of This was how it was handled many higher authority to arrange for their porterage. times during the winter fighting, except that already overburdened battalion and company commanders had to organize the makeshift arrangements.

Reform must begin at the top. Providing greater mobility to troops in the attack is primarily a problem for the division. The coordination of all division resources toward that end can be achieved only through the commander's staff. At first glance, it might be questioned whether this is a responsibility of G-3 or G-4. The best solution would require that they approach it jointly, with G-3 having the ultimate responsibility because of his closer tie-in with the daily progress of fighting operations and the peculiar authority which he exercises in this field. There is the capital risk that the experiment might be regarded as just another problem in transportation, routinely assigned to the division MT officer, and thereby die a sudden death.

As for the need that we do a better job in the analysis and use of all indigenous transport resources, our Korean failure is an example which commends itself to General Staff attention. The subject needs to be given continuing emphasis at Leavenworth, Benning, and at all other points where staff thinking is shaped. The same problem will certainly arise wherever we may engage in future. To be outnumbered on the fighting side in war becomes an insuperable handicap unless extreme ingenuity is used in the organization of all resources in meeting the logistical problem.

That we have exceeded all others in motorization but makes it more difficult for us to think about what can be done with animals and people. But the effort must be made, lest another opportunity be missed.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 18 May 2016

To Test New Equipment (US Army, 1911)
Topic: Soldiers' Load

To Test New Equipment (US Army, 1911)

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 27 March 1911

The maneuvres of the United States army along the Mexican border will afford an opportunity to try out the more modern and lighter personal equipment for the individual soldier. Ever since military experts began a real study of conditions with the intention, if possible, of lightening the infantryman's burden, the one foremost idea has been in lessening the number of pounds of accoutrements necessarily carried when under full field equipment. Full field equipment is the new and official term used in place of the old heavy marching order.

Under the present army regulations the full field equipment for active service, including rifle and ninety rounds of ammunition, weighs fifty-four pounds. Although some reports of the mobilization have said that each man received 200 rounds, it was pointed out by an expert that while the particular organization of troops carried such a supply with them, only the prescribed ninety rounds were doled out to each soldier. Only in extreme cases—that is, when a body of men are to be immediately engaged in actual battle—are the extra cartridges supplied.

With fifty-four pounds as the present weight of the individual equipment for an infantryman, it is the hope of the military experts to reduce that from fifteen to seventeen pounds; but the ever present idea remains in their mind, namely, that an equal efficiency must be obtained from the lighter articles. The use of aluminum plates, knives, forks and spoons, together with haversacks, tent halves, ponchos, tent poles, etc., of lesser weight, it is thought will bring down the total number of pounds per man.

Under the present ruling a soldier carries besides hi piece, a Springfield magazine rifle which weighs nine and a half pounds, and ninety rounds of cartridges which weigh four and a half pounds, a bayonet, bayonet scabbard, a rifle sling, cartridge belt, a pair of cartridge belt suspenders which tend to lessen the weight by help from the shoulders, a first aid packet, a canteen and strap, a set of blanket roll straps, a haversack, a meat can, once cup, one plate, one knife, one fork, one spoon, half a shelter tent, one tent pole and five tent pegs. Then in addition to that comes his field kit, the weight of which is included in the total fifty-four pounds; consisting of a blanket, a poncho and personal effects, such as a comb, toothbrush, towel, extra underclothing, soap, etc.

But besides the soldier's individual load there are intrenching tools which are given out and carried by company and squad. A full company is made up of 108 men and officers in time of war and sixty men and officers in time of peace. A squad, the second unit of a company, consists of eight men. The intrenching tools are four hand picks, to be carried by company, a pick mattock per squad, three shovels per squad, three wire cutters per company and a two foot folding rule per company. These tools are an addition to the fifty-four pounds and the soldiers take turns in carrying them.

Most of the troops in the Mexican border war game are equipped with the fifty-four pound outfit; but enough are using the lighter articles to insure a thorough tryout.. Tin plates, meat cans, etc., instead of aluminum ones are the staple mess equipment carried by the majority of these soldiers.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 11 March 2016

Sending Men to Death by Overloading
Topic: Soldiers' Load

U.S. Said Sending Men to Death by Overloading Them in Battle

The Montreal Gazette, 5 March 1951

Washington, March 4.—(AP)—Out of the United States Army's studies of the Second World War has come a long overdue disclosure that some military commanders sent soldiers to certain death by piling too much weight on their backs.

"In fact," the report says, "we have always done better by a mule than a man."

And there is a warning that overloading of combat troops has cut down the striking power of the American Army in the firing line—while the Russians are stripping weight off their fighting men to give them more mobility in battle.

This report, gleaned from the battlefields of the last war, says:

1.     Men were killed unnecessarily because staff officers failed to realize that overloading a soldier cuts down his chances for survival.

2.     Too much weight probably caused more deaths on bloody "Omaha Beach" in Normandy than enemy fire.

3.     Men have been called before a firing squad for cowardice when perhaps they were guilty of nothing more than extreme fatigue which could have been cured by a few salt tablets.

4.     The Army has become so engrossed with machines of war that it has neglected the human machine—the weary old infantryman who carries the real burden of combat.

5.     The Army must strip down its supply services—because oversupply can bog down an Army as surely as shortages of gasoline and ammunition.

This expert study of the American Army in action comes from Col. S.L.A. Marshall, a First World War veteran who did battlefield research in the last war and then became a theatre historian on the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In peacetime, Marshall is an editorial writer for the Detroit News. But he is now in Korea making other battlefield studies for the Army.

Marshall has condensed part of his studies in a booklet "The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a nation" published by the Combat Forces press of Washington.

Marshall's main argument is that the army may move swiftly on wheels—but true mobility in battle is the key to winning, and this can be achieved only by having strong troops who can move swiftly.

The accepted theory for years has been that 65 pounds on a soldier's back is a fair weight for marches and for combat. That's about what the Roman legionaries carried 2,000 years ago.

But Marshall contends from first-hand study that fear and fatigue make it impossible for most soldiers to carry such weights into a fight.

He thinks the weight limit should be about 40 pounds.

elipsis graphic

Canadian Load Lighter

Ottawa, March 4.—CP—An army official said today Canadian infantrymen are "stripped to the essentials" in combat.

"I believe we don't load our men as heavy as the Americans," he said.

The spokesman said Canadians carry ":nothing like 65 pounds_—a weight considered for years a "fair" soldier's carry. The Army didn't enforce any standard load.

A commanding officer decided what a Canadian soldier wore and it depended on the type of operation. There would be heavier gear in an approach to a battle area than in an attack.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 3 March 2016

Burden Put on Doughboy
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Burden Put on Doughboy

Army Experts Seeking a Method by Which Soldier's Load May Be Enlightened

The Woodville Republican, Woodville, Mississippi, 3 March 1923

Washington.—The heaviest laden pack animal of the army is the doughboy himself. Inch for inch for size or pound for pound for weight, the buck private of infantry carries on his back into battle double the burden handled by horses or mules or motor truck.

He is expected to jog cheerfully along through the ooze beside the road, leaving the good going to the gas and animal transport.

Army experts are racking their brains for ways to cut down the doughboy's load. Exhaustive study has been given to war experience for that purpose. Through the American legion and similar organizations efforts have been made to get the men who carried the infantry packs in France to suggest changes. As yet, however, it was said at the War Department, to get only a few ounces of weight off the backs of the trudging infantry.

Experts figure that the average load for a foot soldier should not exceed 61 pounds. Yet under the present organization tables, "No. 3 rear rank" (who is the automatic rifleman in the infantry), must stagger along under about 133 pounds when fully equipped. All of the machine gun personnel is burdened almost as heavily as the infantry, carrying 115 to 125 pounds per man.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Soldiers' Load - US Army - 1916
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Soldiers' Load – US Army – 1916

Regulars and the Militia Uniformed, Equipped Alike

Toledo Blade, 6 July 1916

The United States soldier, regular or militiaman, on dress parade looks natty. In actual service much of this jauntiness vanishes and you think of a pack mule when you see him on the march. He carries his bed and dining room outfit with him, and his entire wardrobe as well. The soldier on the march is a concrete example of preparedness.

What Each Soldier Carries

All enlisted men of companies or battalions, except first sergeants and musicians, and all dismounted men of mounted orderly sections of headquarters companies, dismounted men of supply companies except drivers, and every member of the militia will be fitted out with a full complement of these articles as they are accepted for federal service and each individual will be held responsible for them:

  • 1 United States rifle, calibre .30
  • 1 front sight cover
  • 1 brush and thong
  • 1 oiler and thong case
  • 1 gun sling
  • 1 bayonet
  • 1 bayonet scabbard
  • 1 cartridge belt, calibre .30, infantry
  • 1 pair cartridge belt suspenders
  • 1 first aid package
  • 90 ball cartridges, calibre .30
  • 1 canteen, infantry
  • 1 haversack
  • 1 meat can
  • 1 cup
  • 1 knife
  • 1 fork
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 shelter tent, half
  • 5 shelter tent pins
  • 1 poncho
  • 1 blanket
  • 1 cake of soap (furnished by man)
  • 1 toothbrush (furnished by man)
  • 1 pair of socks (furnished by man)
  • 1 comb (furnished by man)
  • 1 towel (furnished by man)
  • 1 whistle (for quartermaster-sergeants and sergeants only)
  • 1 identification tag with tape

Pack Weighs Twenty Pounds

Officers and non-commissioned officers, in addition, carry pistols, sabres and other implements, the average weight of a full infantry equipment being about 20 pounds.

The horse equipment for each enlisted man consists of one feed and grain bag, one halter headstall, one halter strap, one horse brush, one lariat, one lariat strap, one link, one picket pin, one cavalry saddle, one pair saddlebags, one saddle blanket, one surcingle, two horseshoes—one fore and one hind, twelve horseshoe nails.

The field uniform of an enlisted man consists of the following articles:

  • 1 waist belt
  • 1 pair of woolen breeches and 1 pair of khaki breeches
  • 1 woolen and 1 khaki service coat
  • 1 hat cord
  • 1 tying cord for service hat
  • 1 service hat
  • 1 pair of leather riding gloves (for mounted men only)
  • 1 pair of canvas leggings
  • 2 flannel shirts
  • 1 pair of marching shoes

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Soldier's Load in Vietnam
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldier's Load in Vietnam

Men at War; True Stories of Heroism and Honor, Robert Barr Smith, 1997

The jungle-covered limestone ridges [of the Dak To] took a physical toll even with-out the lung-busting effort of combat. A load for an American soldier on the move might weigh as much as fifty pounds all told. Typically, he lugged at least five hundred rounds for his M-16, loaded eighteen or nineteen to a magazine. He was issued belt pouches to carry his magazines, but he often packed some of them in canteen covers or in a cloth claymore mine bag for easier access.

He carried three or four quart canteens of water, four or more fragmentation grenades and a couple of smoke grenades, a knife or bayonet or machete, and usually a belt for one of the M-60 machine guns or a LAW antitank rocket for busting NVA bunkers. He often carried one or two claymores as well. He sometimes packed as much as three days' C rations—in tin cans—although on short patrols he might carry only a single meal in a bootsock tied to his harness. Add in the weight of his steel helmet, tack on more pounds for his M-16 or M-79 grenade launcher or M-60 machine gun, and the soldier had plenty to sweat about before anybody fired a round.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Soldiers Load; Australia
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldiers Load; Australia

A Review of the Soldier's Equipment Burden, Chris Brady, Derrek Lush and Tom Chapman; Land Operations Division, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, 2011

Content of Load Carriage Ensemble (LCE)

All infantrymen were asked to describe the total number and volume of different items in their LCE. Some of these items were not present during the interview but the soldiers said there was little variation between missions for these items. As is typical, all soldiers had equipment packed for 72 hour operations.

It should be noted that since this data collection was carried out in 2006 some items that were not on SOP lists are now Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) and are issued to soldiers.

2.5.1 Amount of Water

The majority of soldiers carried two litres of water in their webbing (or Camelback™) and eight litres in their packs. There was some variation in this, with some carrying more. The total weight of 10 litres of water is 10 kilograms, plus the weight of the various water storage containers.

2.5.2 Amount of Ammunition

Typically F89 Gunners carried 800 linked rounds, of which 500 was carried on their webbing, the rest given to another soldier to carry or (occasionally) in their packs. Total weight of 800 linked rounds is 10.8 kilograms.

The most common volume of rounds carried by those using the F88 rifle was 210 rounds (seven magazines). A few Section Commanders plus others carried from one to seven additional magazines. All ammunition (except perhaps those carrying large additions) was carried in webbing. Total weight of 210 rounds is 3.5 kilograms.

2.5.3 Amount of Rations

The average amount of rations carried was 3 days' worth. The majority of soldiers broke down their ration packs. Typically only one meal and/or snacks was stored in the soldier's webbing, the rest was in the pack. When the ration packs are broken down some items are normally discarded (Forbes-Ewan, 2001). The items discarded are usually done so because the soldier did not want to eat them, and not specifically because they were considered too heavy. Combat rations typically weighs 1.8 kg per soldier per day when complete. Patrol rations (a.k.a. 'dehyd' rations) typically weigh 1.1 kg per soldier per day when complete.

Note that water must be carried in addition to the patrol rations to re-hydrate them. Total weight for three days of combat rations is 5.4 kilograms.

2.5.4 Issued but not Carried

All soldiers' loads are determined by a unit SOP list. Soldiers in this study were asked if there was any equipment on their SOP list that they regularly did not carry with them, and why. There was only a small amount of kit from the SOP list not packed (Table 6). The bayonet cannot be used by soldiers with the underslung GLA, so they do not carry it with them. Many soldiers do not carry their mess kit, since most rationed food can been prepared and eaten without it. Quite a number of soldiers reported not carrying their issued sleeping bag. If the weather is warm then no cold weather kit was packed. Often no spare uniform is packed if the soldier is to be away for only 72 hours.

2.5.5 Alternative Version of Issued Kit

Soldiers were asked if they replaced GFE with their own personally procured items. Table 7 has a list of all reported non-GFE carried. Many soldiers did not carry the issued sleeping bag because it was considered bulky and heavy. The preferred alternative was the Merlin Softie™ series of sleeping bags, which was considerably smaller and lighter, and reportedly offered the same (if not better) heat insulation.

Some used non-issued versions of the raincoats, though no reason was given for this. Many soldiers also used a Maglite™-brand torch instead of the issued utility torch. The Maglite was supposedly brighter, lighter and smaller than the issued torch. Many soldiers carried a Leatherman™ or some other utility knife. Ka-bar™ knives were often carried also.

2.5.6 Additional Kit Carried

Many infantrymen carried additional equipment; kit that is not on the SOP list. The most common was the bivvy bag, which is a weather-proof outer to the sleeping bag. Camelbacks were also used by the majority of soldiers. Some also carried umbrellas, gas bottles and burners for added comfort when in the bush.

Table 6: List of reported equipment not carried (left), replaced (middle), and in-addition to the SOP list (right)

Issued but not CarriedAlternative Version of GFEAdditional Kit Carried
BayonetCam cream (alt type)Bivvy bag
Cold Weather UniformGun oil bottle (larger)Caribena
Pan Mess KitKnife (combat)Gas bottle & burner
Sleeping BagKnife (utility)Pegs
Spare uniformMozzie RepellentTorch (head light)
Softie sleeping bag (Merlin)Plastic Entrenching Tool

Some items were listed by soldiers as personal equipment but are now (or are soon to be) issued items. These include the Camelback and any additional water bladders, the Silva compass, the large (2 litre) water bottles and Maglite torches.

2.5.7 The Current Load

This report is not aiming to prove there is a soldier load carriage problem. The problem is so prevalent that no further proof is considered necessary; and previous studies have addressed this issue sufficiently (Knapik 2004; Allen & Vanderpeer 2007). Whilst there is no need to exhaustively list measured weights, and since the load distribution varies between Battalions, Platoons, and even soldiers, it will be useful to determine the average current weight for issues discussed in this report.

The weight of the equipment the infantryman must carry often exceeds 50 kg, but this has not always been the case. Knapik et al. (2004) reviewed data on the weights carried by soldiers throughout history. It is clear that the modern dismounted infantryman must carry a weight greater than soldiers in past conflicts. Part of this increased weight is because there is reduced auxiliary transport so the soldier must carry their own equipment. In fact, a key advantage of the dismounted infantry is that they can penetrate where support vehicles can't follow.

Load weight has also increased as the capability of the soldier has increased; the soldier can now do more by utilising new equipment previous generations of soldiers did not have access to. However, it is likely that the equipment burden has now increased to the point where capability is compromised. As Paulson (2006 p.81) notes; 'the weights carried at the moment are incongruent with the notion of manoeuvre warfare'.

Numerous studies have reported the weight carried by soldiers from various countries in different conflicts. The results of this survey are compared to previous studies in Table 7. It is important to acknowledge that the weights carried changes over time as food is consumed, water drunk and ammunition used (especially during training). As such a full load does not remain full for long and weights quoted are often full loads.

Table 7: The Weight (in kg) of Soldier Equipment by survey

Load-outDescriptionDuration wornSOP (2)Land 125 SOP (3)Survey (4)
Light PatrolWebbing Only8 hr24.938.3
Patrol OrderWebbing & Day Pack8-24 hr37.734.748.1
Marching OrderWebbing & Field Pack24-72 hr60.2.9.346.057.0

*averaged over the section
(2) – 2 litres of water for patrol order. 4 litres of Marching order (though 3 days rations and ammo).
(3) – 8 litres of water for marching order. 4 litres for patrol order. 2 litres for light patrol order. From the Land 125-01-02 (MAR 02).
(4) – Includes typical load: Pack webbing and contents. 10 litres water, 3 days rations, front line ammo & weapon Excludes section and platoon level equipment: radios, med kits, batteries, GPS, binoculars & NVG.

In summary, although there is some difference between soldier roles and operations, in general it is likely that 55 kg is typical.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 29 August 2015 10:21 PM EDT
Saturday, 5 September 2015

Factors Causing Soldiers' Overload
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Factors Causing Soldiers' Overload

The Factors of Soldiers' Load; A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; Master of Military Art and Science, by Stephen J. Townsend, Major, USA, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1994

1.     Lack of Appreciation for the Problem.

  • lack of awareness of doctrine, management techniques, etc.
  • unwillingness to take action to correct

2.     Fear and Fatigue.

  • Fear-Fatigue-Fear cycle
  • magnified by uncertainty over threat, mission, support

3.     Fear of Risk.

  • desire to plan for every contingency
  • fears of the staff: unit failure, soldier discomfort

4.     The Fire Load.

  • false beliefs: ammo = high morale, out of ammo = defeat
  • lack of reasonable SOPs or lack of enforcement

5.     Drag of Orthodoxy.

  • tradition and the conservative military mindset
  • tyranny of the SOP: worst-case, total uniformity

6.     Discipline and the Enforcement of Standards.

  • Failure to establish or enforce/inspect packing lists

7.     Nature of the Soldier: "from hoarding to ditching".

8.     The Lack of Transport (strategic and tactical).

9.     The Myths of Training.

  • misconception that training capabilities = wartime
  • problems created by the way we train: structure of exercises, funding, tooth vs. tail focus
  • simulations don't necessarily help

10.     The Failure of Technology.

  • new capabilities = more weight
  • increasing requirements can kill weight savings
  • "load creep:" excessive durability, isolation of decisions, multi-purpose items, "close enough"

11.     Terrain and Weather.

  • special equipment needs
  • effects on mobility: heat, gradient, soil conditions

12.     Physical Conditioning: the APFT vs. the foot march.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Soldier's Load; Vietnam
Topic: Soldiers' Load

The Soldier's Load; Vietnam

Achilles in Vietnam; Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., 1994

We carried enough firepower to act like a company. Six people—that's hard to believe, but we did. We had a small arsenal with us.

I carried six frags, four Willie Peters, two LAWs--that's like a bazooka, a rocket--two belts of [M-]60 machine gun, thirty clips of sub-Thompson ammo, plus two boxes of .45 ammo. I had a thirtyought-six with two boxes of ammo, my knives, and a .357 pistol. Everybody carried two belts of ammo, and the Sixty [the M 60 machine gunner] would carry, he'd carry two full cases of ammo, plus two belts hooked, and just about everything I was carrying. 'Cept like we all had different weapons. ____ had a 16 [M 16]. 1 don't know why he walked around with a 16. ____ had the 60. ____ was carrying a grease gun, it's like a Thompson, called a burp gun, German, shot .45 ammo…

I carried a sawed-off shotgun, too. For brush. When I got into thick, thick shit, and the shit was hitting the fan, that's how I blew my hole through. Depending on what area you're working, that's what you took… [The team had] one 60, one Thompson, one burp gun, an M-16, an M-79 thumper, a BAR. Actually we had like two machine guns, because the BAR was just like it. And we all carried Claymores and trip flares and flashlights, three of us carried two LAWs, and a belt of M-79. YOU carried what you wanted to carry. We had more weapons than the company did.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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