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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Soldier and His Clothes

The Soldier and His Clothes.

Two factors worked a change in the Army's clothing. The first was the Turk. His snipers picked out anyone wearing distinctions, with the result that officers cut off their conspicuous badges of rank and sewed small worsted stars or crowns on the shoulder-straps; otherwise, ranks were indicated page 180 on the shoulders of the shirts by indelible ink pencil. The N.C.O.'s and men took off their metal badges, the ink pencil being again in request to draw the badge and unit indications on the cap.

The heat was responsible for other modifications. Tunics were the first to go, and bit by bit the soldier shed his garments until he stood only in his boots, his shortened trousers, a shirt, and a cap. Riding breeches, cut well above the knee, made a most roomy pair of shorts. While no two men wore their trousers the same
Black and white photograph of dugouts.

Dugouts on Wellington Terrace.

length, each one seemed to pride himself on having the ends as raggedly and unevenly cut as possible. The hot sun burned the exposed parts of the body a rich brown; so, when men went in bathing, it was easy to deduce by the amount of white skin exactly what garments had been preserved. On brown backs it was amusing to see a white V, testimony that the soldier still sported a pair of braces!

For some unknown reason, slouch hats, which would have been invaluable were left behind at the base. Many of the Mounted Rifles arrived with the brims of their felt hats cut off, leaving only a little peak fore and aft, like the old-time policeman's shako. New Zealanders were forbidden to wear helmets in Egypt, but the soldier of understanding smuggled his away with him, and a very proud man he was who sported one on the Peninsula. The sailor men were very keen on getting slouch hats; many a bearded face was shaded by the broad brim of a Colonial hat.

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If three was one thing the soldier had enough of, and to spare, it was socks. The good people at home put a pair into every parcel. The Ordnance issued them as well. It is hard to say what socks were not used for. The soldier who wrote, “Thanks for the socks—they will come in useful,” doubtless spoke the truth.

Some things the men always craved for. Good Virginian tobacco and cigarettes were always welcome—the ration was of very inferior quality; sweets were always in great demand; owing to living under such primitive conditions, most watches went wrong, and were very difficult to replace; a “salt water soap” that would lather in salt water was looked for almost in vain; while tinned milk was worth any trouble and risk to procure. These were the days before the Y.M.C.A. made its welcome appearance.

About this time the Intelligence Department discovered that the Turk might use gas, so primitive gas helmets were procured from England. Woe betide any luckless soldier caught without his respirator. It is not suggested that the Turk was too humane to use gas, but luckily the masks were never needed, principally because the ground was so broken, and the “prevailing” winds could not be depended on. As our front line was so closely involved with that of the enemy, the enemy certainly would have received a fair share of the poisonous fumes intended for the infidels.