Chasseur Light Infantry
1917 - 1918


Uniform Regs

HEADGEAR

1) Tarte (beret) with jonquille "hunting horn" insignia.

M1889 Alpine beret, in very dark blue wool, with a bugle-horn badge cut out of yellow cloth on the right front

1) Mle.1915 Casque Adrian (Model 1915 "Adrian" pattern steel helmet):

The Mle.1915 Casque Adrian helmet was officially adopted on May 21,1915 and its supply was an impressive feat -- more than three million were made and distributed before the end of 1915. Unfortunately, the protection the Adrian offered was inferior to that of the slightly later, and heavier, British and German models; the Adrian weighed only .765kg (1lb.11oz.) and was made of mild steel.

The complex shape of the Adrian Helmet was inspired by the protective helmet worn by French firemen of the day; it consisted of a skull, a two-part brim and an applied raised crest, with a pressed metal badge on the front, which resembled a "hunting horn" badge.

 

TUNIC & TROUSERS

1) Mle.1914/15 Capote (Greatcoat):

The Capote is made of a heavy wool cloth, in a shade known as "horizon blue." The greatcoats had hardly changed since the days of the Second Empire, in which this model of greatcoat had the traditional cut with two rows of six buttons. The Mle 1914/15 Capotes were distributed to Metropolitan Infantry Regiments in 1917 only after they had exhausted the stocks of the simplified version of the Mle.1914/15 called the "Poiret," a single row button greatcoat used as in interim.

The Mle. 1914/15 greatcoat has 12 half-ball buttons of white metal bearing a hunting horn button, painted dark flat blue. Some coats had two breast pockets with buttoned flaps. There was an integral rear half-belt for waist adjustment, two rear pockets with access via the long central vent and belt loop on the left side. The skirts could be buttoned back on campaign, and buttoned rear vents allowed the cuffs to be turned up. At the end of 1915, to allow the carrying of a further reserve of ammunition, a large reinforced pocket with a two-button flap was added to each side. This modification was made to already existing coat stocks, and there was often a contrast between the shades of cloth used.

On the shoulders are the detachable Mle.1908 Épaulettes, either the single roll shoulder straps or Mle.1913 Épaulettes double roll shoulder straps. These rolls were used to stop the soldier's equipment slings from slipping off his shoulders.

1) pair of Pattes de Collet de Troupe (collar patch insignia):

The collar insignia was piped in green.

1) Fouragerre in Croix de Guerre (red + green) color.

The collective citation lanyard or "fourragère" introduced in 1916. For two or three citations in Army orders units received this in green and red of the ribbon of the Croix de Guerre.

1) pair of Mle.1914/1915 Pantalon-Culotte (trousers):

These are made loose in the thigh and tight from the knee down, these were meant to be worn with leg wraps. Made in Navy blue wool and since April 1915, were piped in yellow down the outer seams.

Also allowed are navy blue wool or brown corduroy trousers cut to this pattern.

1) pair of Bretelles de Pantalon (trouser suspenders):

These suspenders are adjustable and made of natural cotton with two leather tabs in the front and one in the rear, that match the suspender buttons on the pants.

1 or 2) Chemise (shirt):

The issue Chemise is made of cotton and usually they are of the collarless and pocket less variety, with 3 or 4 button front and were made in either plain white or white and gray pinstripes.

The Poilu carried a second shirt in his pack.

1) pair of Bandes Molletières (leg wraps):

The issue leg wraps are 2.60 meters long and 12 cm wide, they were issued not only in navy blue wool, but also in any neutral drab colors of cloth that could be procured. These had long been the mark of the Chasseurs Alpins, who had worn them since 1889, being introduced at a time when they were considered `athletic and hygienic.' Leg wraps became general issue for regular foot troops in October of 1914.

1) pair of Mle.1893/1912/16 Brodequins (ankle boots):

These boots had 7 irregular spaced eyelets and were made in black or brown leather. The Mle.1912/16 boots had a single rivet on each side of the boot that reinforced the front half with the rear half, so they would not separate from each other during hard usage. The bottom of the shoes had hobnails to help keep the soles of shoes from wearing out. A spare pair of shoes was sometimes carried on the exterior of the pack.

1) Cravate (neck cloth):

The Cravate is made of navy blue cotton, size 150 cm x 21 cm, which was folded several times and tied around the neck with a simple flat knot. The scarf helped prevent the wool from the overcoat from chaffing the neck.

 

FIELD EQUIPMENT

1) Set of leather gear M1892/1914 consisting of :

1 each) - Mle.1903/14 Ceinturon (waist belt):

The Ceinturon is made in both black and brown leather, with the brown being adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The belt was made with either a double or single-prong metal buckle.

3 each) - Mle.1888 or Mle.1905/14 Cartouchières (cartridge pouches):

The cartridge pouches were made in both black and brown leather, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The Mle.1888 cartridge pouches had two rear belt loops and were modified in 1892 with the addition of a twisted metal loop on the top rear of the pouch so they could be used with the J-Hooks on the Y-Straps. The Mle.1905 cartridge pouches used a trapezoidal-shaped flat belt loop on the rear of the pouch with the twisted metal loop on the flap itself. In 1916, the flap was modified with a longer slide on the metal loop, so that it extended beyond the upper horizontal loop, thus preventing the metal loop from accidentally slipping out of the upper horizontal loop.

The theoretical ammunition issue for the Poilu carrying the Lebel Rifle was four packets of eight rounds in each of the front pouches, three packets in the rear pouch and an extra four packets that was carried in either the pack or in the pockets of the overcoat, making a total of 120 rounds.

1 each) - Mle.1892/14 Bretelles de Suspension (Y-Straps):

The equipment suspenders were made in both black and brown leather, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. The Y-Straps had three metal Mle.1845 Crochets de Cuivre (J-Hooks) that fixed to the twisted metal loops on each of the three cartridge pouches.

1) - Mle.1888/14 Porte-Baïonnette (bayonet frog):

The bayonet frog can be made in both black and brown leather just like the other leather gear, with the brown having been adopted in 1914 as a cost-saving measure. These frogs were made for the Mle.1886 Épée Baïonnette. The left side of the flap is extended so that the quillion of the bayonet rests on the leather instead of the overcoat. The "Y" shape of the bayonet frog allowed its use with the overcoat and/or tunic tab, which buttoned upwards between its branches and over the belt to help support the weight of the bayonet -- a feature of French military jackets and coats since the later 19th century.

1) - Mle.1877 Bidon (canteen):

The Bidon is either a 2-liter or 1-liter canteen, covered with horizon blue or later khaki wool cloth. Both types had two spouts, a large and small, that were stopped with either wood or cork which was secured to the canteen itself with string. The double-sized 2-liter canteen was originally reserved for issue to troops in Africa, but the difficulty of supplying clean water to men in close combat was considerable and it prompted the introduction of the double-sized water bottle to all troops in the summer of 1915. Often two bidons were worn; in the assault, one bottle typically contained wine (pinard) mixed with water, the other coffee and tafia spirit.

1) - Mle.1892 Musette (bread bag):

The Musette bags are made of a linen canvas that can range in color from tan to brown -- Green French bread bags were post-war issue, so we don't use them. The Musette was closed secure with two buttons, marked Équipements Militaires -- soldiers often carried two of these when going to the front.

1) - Masques àgaz (gas masks):

The use of poison gas quickly added this item to the Poilu's burden. Numerous masks were tried and issued, but here are the main ones:

  • Le Masque ARS: ("ARS" [appareil respiratoire spécial] gas mask and can):
  • The ARS canister, a fluted cylinder, was originally issued painted horizon blue, but during 1918, it was issued in a khaki finish. The ARS was issued from November 1917 and was a copy of the German "Lederschutzmaske" (gasmask) which featured a filter cartridge that could be changed easily, it being attached simply by screwing it in to the front of the face mask.

  • Le M2:
  • The M2 mask was a one-piece compress type mask that covered the face completely. The piece of material had the same function as the filter cartridge which neutralized the effects of the poison gas. This mask was used from April 1916 until August 1918. The M2 mask was initially worn in a small tissue bag, which closed by one button. It was worn around the neck with a strap. Later in the war, the tissue bag was replaced with a rectangular metal can that was painted horizon blue or khaki.

  • Le Tampon "T":
  • The Tampon "T" masks are based on the "Compress" C2/C3 style gas mask used by both the British and French in early 1915. This mask was made in a separate pieces which consisting of a compress "bandage" which was soaked in an anti-gas solution and wool/celluloid goggles (lunettes). The mask was carried in a small tissue bag.

1) - Mle.1852 Gamelle Individuelle (individual mess kit):

The Gamelle is the issue mess kit, made of tinned metal, they are round with a lid and chain. These normally had, on the inside of the pot itself, a small individual plate and handle to allow the poilu to cook his own meal, most of the time though, these got lost in the trenches.

1 each) Fourchette (fork) and Cuillère (spoon):

These issue utensils were made of tin, with the fork being of a four-tined variety. The fork was usually not carried on campaign, it was reserved for garrison duty only, but most poilu carried one anyway. These utensils were carried in the bread bag.

1) - Quart Réglementaire (regulation cup):

The Quart is used for drinking the issued pinard, they were made of tin and usually hung from the cork-string of one of the double spouts on the bidon.

 

WEAPON

1) - Fusil d'Infanterie Mle.1886 dit "Lebel" (Rifle):

Order of preference: M1886 Lebel, M1907/15 Berthier, M1916 Berthier.

1) - Pistolet Automatique de 7 millim.65 genre "Ruby" (Pistol):

A pistol may be carried but not openly for enlisted personnel. MG teams carried 1915 Ruby Automatics.

1) - Epée-Baïonnette Mle.1886 (Bayonet):

Note: The quillions were often ground off. Bayonets must be of the full length.