Lethal Military Uniform Patterns That Ultimately Killed Soldiers
There have been a number of times when fashion has trumped function when it comes to military uniforms, sometimes leading to deadly results. The shortcomings that occurred were often known, but, in some cases, the issues that plagued them were a complete mystery. Below, we explore six uniform items that have caused many servicemen to perish on the battlefield.
The collar size was a removable element of the uniforms of European soldiers in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were made of horsehair, whalebone, or stiff leather and wrapped around the neck and under the chin. Its ability to be easily replaced made it a suitable addition to uniforms, and the stiffness of the piece forced a soldier’s chin up, improving posture.
Unfortunately, the stiffness of the neck butt has also been its demise. It dug into a soldier’s neck and chin, making him uncomfortable. Additionally, it caused a loss of agility and awareness, and made it nearly impossible to look down a musket – these are all things you don’t want to happen in the middle of a battle.
For this reason, the choker was one of the deadliest aspects of a soldier’s military uniform and was later dropped.
Burlap head covering
The Hessians were German soldiers engaged by the British as an auxiliary force during the the american revolution. Despite fighting alongside the British, who traditionally wore reading coats (more on that in a minute), they wore their traditional uniforms, including large medal-adorned headgear.
Although these have helped distinguish Hessians from the British, they also attracted a lot of attention. The gold and silver plaques positioned along the fronts of the headdresses were easily spotted by American soldiers, and their height often caused them to cling to the branches of trees. While the latter was more of an inconvenience than anything else, the former could prove deadly.
British soldiers during the Revolutionary War could be easily identified by their bright red coats, which they wore as part of their uniform (hence the nickname “Redcoats”). The hue helped comrades identify through the smoke of the gunfire and was meant to make the Britons look intimidating, complimenting their perceived power.
While their red military uniforms made it easier for soldiers to identify friend of foe, they also made the British easier to spot, which proved deadly in encounters with the Continental Army. They were unable to hide or launch surprise attacks, and the cloaks themselves were made of a thick woolen material, which was itchy and uncomfortable.
Wartime often means rationing, with supplies becoming scarce as they are earmarked for the war effort. When the necessary elements are exhausted, adjustments must be made. It’s like that cardboard shoes was issued to soldiers in Napoleon Bonaparteof the Grand Army.
To make up for the lack of supplies needed to make service boots, French soldiers were issued leatherette boots with cardboard soles used instead of genuine leather. Not only impractical, this part of their military uniform was also deadly, as the shoes were not properly insulated, leading to severe cases of frostbite in the freezing outside temperatures.
First World War headgear
As soon as the First World War, the idea of death by shrapnel was far from anticipated. Unaware of what they would encounter during the trench warfare who came to define the western frontBritish soldiers were deployed with soft caps. While the trenches might protect them from enemy fire, the caps they wore did next to nothing to protect them from shrapnel.
It took only a year for the British War Office to develop a new type of military headgear that would reduce the number of head injuries sustained. The “Brodie” helmet replaced the soft cap, and the soldiers started to receive it in the summer of 1916. Although made of steel, it was still not the safest, as it left a soldier’s neck and the lower part of the head exposed. In addition, the metal reflected light, which played tricks on the eye.
The Red Pants
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The French army had worn red trousers as early as 1829, and while a number of countries had abandoned the color in favor of something less distinctive, the French continued to wear their red dress. until 1914.
At the start of World War I, the French army suffered many casualties, as it was unable to mount surprise attacks or hide with its bright red trousers, which stuck against the mud of the battlefield. However, when Minister of War Adolphe Messimy suggested that the trousers were the problem, he was met with intense resistance.
It took thousands more deadly encounters for the military to change uniforms and allow soldiers to wear blue stockings.