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Kitchener blue uniform


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#1 Wainfleet

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 02:42 PM

There is not much surviving "Kitchener blue", the emergency blue uniform issued to recruits before enough khaki became available and widely derided as making them look like postmen. I consider myself lucky to have this cap, which has had a lugged badge. It's blue cotton drill and of what you might call "perfunctory" manufacture - look how roughly the buttons are attached. I've seen numerous photos clearly showing K Blue caps of similar material; there may be some in the S Chambers book but I don't have that readily to hand so can't be sure.

Do any other Pals have items of Kitchener blue uniform? It would be wonderful to see some other than in a period photo.

W.

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#2 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 02:21 AM

W.

This is sort of related to Kitchener's uniforms.

It's a "Coat, Great, Blue Emergency".

These came-out in late 1914 but not dissappear but became normal issue for SANLC, CLC, ELC etc.

Take care

Joe Sweeney

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#3 Wainfleet

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 02:23 PM

Joe

If this pattern was used by Kitchener's Army in place of khaki, I reckon it qualifies as a piece of "Kitchener Blue".

Hopefully now someone will post a tunic. One must survive somewhere!

W.

#4 centurion

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 04:11 PM

QUOTE (tocemma @ Jan 24 2010, 03:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wainfleet,

You may remember I once had a blue SD jacket in my collection with a brown band let into the sleeve. It had been issued to a POW. It always struck me that it was probably converted from an earlier Kitchener blue jacket, rather than a specifically made item. The jacket was worn but the brown band was obviously newer. It was identical to a standard SD tunic, including a dressing pocket, which I doubt would be required on a dedicated POW jacket. I suspect this alternate use and conversion might account for the scarcity of original blue Kitchener today.

Almost certainly a Kitchener Blue re issued as they were all collected and issued for POWs as soon as Kahki replacements arrived.

#5 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 09:03 PM

TE,

Thanks for the photos--That Gordon looks very interesting and would be very interesting to find out who he was.

I seem to recall coming across patterns for Kitchener uniforms in my searches through the RACD Pattern books. One IIFC was a Blue SD Jacket. None of these showed up in the PVCN except the Great Coat.

I did not record as I was collecting. A little bit different on the Blue emergency coat because those did show-up in France.

Take care,

Joe Sweeney



#6 Ghost

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:07 PM

I read that due to the shortageof uniforms, Kitchener blues were issued to recruits during basic training, but were replaced when training was over and the physique of the man would probably have changed.

If the above Gordons photo is of recycled Kitchener blues, high collars and shiny buttons, what is the uniform this man is wearing with 5 plain buttons and low collar?

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Alan

#7 wanderingqa

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 06:52 PM

Just been thinking about posting a question about this very thing! My aunt has just sent me this photo of my Gt Uncle Bert (seated, KRRC) and a mate. We've been trying to date it and I think I now know when it was taken as we know he was a PoW in Berlin from early 1918 to repat in early 1919. I have a couple of other group photos where he is wearing a white stand-up collar uniform but he was in the PoW Hospital at the time. He has his wound stripe on his arm in this one. Anyone know if this would have been taken at home or in Germany? There are no clues on the card at all! Would they have still worn this uniform on being repatriated?

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#8 Andrew Upton

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 02:02 AM

Bringing this back to the top - just how dark a blue could the Kitchener blue be?

I recently acquired the following sidecap. This was ex-Angels kit, and mixed in with a lot of French sidecaps. It is an incredibly dark blue (almost black) - the second picture gives a better indicator as to how it actually appears, the first with high flash shows how it is actually blue. In terms of style and construction it is almost identical to the one posted by Wainfleet to start the thread - even down to the (identical and matching maker marked) Kings crown GS buttons which don't actually function held in place with four stitches onto the front. It differs slightly in the material used (wool) and lining (black cotton like the original, but with a brown moleskin type band). It has been pierced for a cap badge at some stage, although this could have been done by Angels at some point in its life. There are no military marks on it at all to help.

So just how dark a blue could Kitchener blue be? Is this another rare surviving piece of it, or some other original item that just happens to be similar?

http://s2.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg



http://s1.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg



http://s2.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg



#9 JOVE23

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 08:37 PM

Hello Tocemma,

Interesting photo you have there! Allow me to make a guess as to the type of rifle these men have. I think they are Lee-Metford rifles. I say that because the Arisaka had a straight bolt and no external magazine, while these rifles have both. The barrel is protruding quite a bit from the stock, which SMLEs did not do. I'm going to guess that since everything else was in such short supply, they pulled a bunch of Lee-Metfords from the Boer War out of storage and handed them out to the K Blue men.

QUOTE (tocemma @ Jan 24 2010, 01:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hello all,

Joe, these three riflemen seem to be wearing Kitchener blue greatcoats. Note the lucky chap on the left who has managed to bag a pair of khaki puttees! The others are entirely clad in blue.

Rifles are Arisaka's I think, but I'm out of my depth on random identification of rifles I'm afraid (TonyE please come in)

Shame there are no cap badges to identify the unit, but note the obviously black chin straps and rifles buttons. Also note the differing lengths of these coats only the chap on the right seems to have the regulation length. Our semi khaki clad chap on the left is wearing one so short it could be a sports jacket! Look at the collar of the coat in the middle, much smaller than the other two which are regulation size.

On a note of collecting caution, the Red Cross wore an almost identical single breasted greatcoat in dark blue. I had one of these once, which I believed was K Blue, and for the life of me I can't remember how it was eventually identified as RC.

Regards

Tocemma



#10 Chief_Chum

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 10:14 PM

I agree Jove.

The sling swivel in front of the magazine and at the muzzle, and the early magazine, definitely say Lee Metford, not Arisaka - or even Long Lee.



#11 Arnhem44

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 11:14 PM

There's an interesting four page article in the Jan/Feb issue of the Armourer magazine about the uniforms of the early war and a lot of it deals with Kitchener's Blues.

#12 Chief_Chum

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 01:21 AM

"Three are wearing the kitchener blue type jackets, but the black Gordon Highlander on the left (I wonder how many black GH's there were in WW1) seems to be wearing a jacket with pointed pocket flaps, it doesn't appear to have rifle patches however"

This photo of two POWs show them in another variation with a short stand collar and no rifle patches. The pockets on the tunic of the seated POW are very deep too - more like those on a simplified jacket but with pleats.

Presumably, as the numbers of POWs in captivity started to exceed the number of suits of Kitchener Blue issued and subsequently withdrawn (about 200,000 if my theory on Paul's Kitchener Blue SD thread is correct), new uniforms would have to be made for POWs from scratch. This may explain the wide variety seen later in the war.
.

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#13 GRANVILLE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:55 PM

Can anyone explain how or why 'blue' was the chosen colour? I hear suggestions it had something to do with a surplus of material normally used for postal workers uniform. Any truth in this?

Dave

#14 centurion

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:16 PM

Possibly an Imperial connection. Artificial Indigo was available from Germany (Beyer) and France (Bohn I think) but Britain had access to vast amounts of natural Indigo from India. Cheap and readily available if not quite as fast as the artificial products.

#15 FROGSMILE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 09:05 PM

Bringing this back to the top - just how dark a blue could the Kitchener blue be?

I recently acquired the following sidecap. This was ex-Angels kit, and mixed in with a lot of French sidecaps. It is an incredibly dark blue (almost black) - the second picture gives a better indicator as to how it actually appears, the first with high flash shows how it is actually blue. In terms of style and construction it is almost identical to the one posted by Wainfleet to start the thread - even down to the (identical and matching maker marked) Kings crown GS buttons which don't actually function held in place with four stitches onto the front. It differs slightly in the material used (wool) and lining (black cotton like the original, but with a brown moleskin type band). It has been pierced for a cap badge at some stage, although this could have been done by Angels at some point in its life. There are no military marks on it at all to help.

So just how dark a blue could Kitchener blue be? Is this another rare surviving piece of it, or some other original item that just happens to be similar?

http://s2.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg

Posted Image

http://s1.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg

Posted Image

http://s2.postimage....8a37b5d335c.jpg

Posted Image


I think your woollen cap with cotton lining is an ORs 1898 pattern FSC. They were plain dark blue (almost black) and of rough quality wool. At first they were worn with a collar badge, but soon after proper regimental badges were designed, and 2 small GS buttons were used to secure the flap. As you might know they were replaced by the Brodrick cap after 1902, but I imagine there were some still in store in WW1.

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#16 GRANVILLE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 09:09 PM

Possibly an Imperial connection. Artificial Indigo was available from Germany (Beyer) and France (Bohn I think) but Britain had access to vast amounts of natural Indigo from India. Cheap and readily available if not quite as fast as the artificial products.



This sounds very feasible, cheers.

Dave

#17 FROGSMILE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 09:14 PM

Can anyone explain how or why 'blue' was the chosen colour? I hear suggestions it had something to do with a surplus of material normally used for postal workers uniform. Any truth in this?

Dave


I recently read that it was because blue was the cheapest dye at that time and also available in the large quantities that were needed.

#18 GRANVILLE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 09:45 PM

I recently read that it was because blue was the cheapest dye at that time and also available in the large quantities that were needed.


This is the impression I'm getting, and I assume the same applies to the Hospital Blues?

Dave

#19 FROGSMILE

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 10:15 PM

This is the impression I'm getting, and I assume the same applies to the Hospital Blues?

Dave


Yes. I believe so and I think that Centurion's point about access to indigo dyes from India is especially relevant.

#20 centurion

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 11:21 PM

This is the impression I'm getting, and I assume the same applies to the Hospital Blues?

Dave

Although hospital blues date from the Crimean War but cheapness would still have been an issue even then. Indigo was beginning to overtake opium as one of India's main agricultural exports (alongside tea) at that time.

#21 Terry Carter

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 06:38 AM

Some young Lads of the 3rd Birmingham Pals wearing their Kitchener Blue.

Terry

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#22 a.richardson

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 10:46 PM

it appears that on both these tunics, on the right arm (just above the elbow) seems to be either an armband or a band of different material. what would this be for????

This is an interesting shot
This picture was taken by F.W. Putsch, 'Ateller Bavaria', Lager Lechfeld. (anyone know anything about the camp?)

The 4 POWs are wearing K Blue. Note the SD caps in blue with brown bands. Three are wearing the kitchener blue type jackets, but the black Gordon Highlander on the left (I wonder how many black GH's there were in WW1) seems to be wearing a jacket with pointed pocket flaps, it doesn't appear to have rifle patches however. The Seaforth soldier seated right has shoulder titles on the collar of his tunic.

An intriguing image, which seems to show where all the K Blue went.

Regards

Tocemma






#23 FROGSMILE

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 11:07 PM

it appears that on both these tunics, on the right arm (just above the elbow) seems to be either an armband or a band of different material. what would this be for????





It's to mark them clearly as Kriegies (Kriegs Gegangener - or Prisoners of War) rather like stripes or crows feet on civilian prison clothing. The coloured section in the arm (rather than arm band) also made it more difficult for them to turn the jacket inside out, or in other ways convert it to look 'civilian' if trying to escape.

#24 John Thorne

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 11:20 PM

Hello all,

Joe, these three riflemen seem to be wearing Kitchener blue greatcoats. Note the lucky chap on the left who has managed to bag a pair of khaki puttees! The others are entirely clad in blue.

Rifles are Arisaka's I think, but I'm out of my depth on random identification of rifles I'm afraid (TonyE please come in)

Shame there are no cap badges to identify the unit, but note the obviously black chin straps and rifles buttons. Also note the differing lengths of these coats only the chap on the right seems to have the regulation length. Our semi khaki clad chap on the left is wearing one so short it could be a sports jacket! Look at the collar of the coat in the middle, much smaller than the other two which are regulation size.

On a note of collecting caution, the Red Cross wore an almost identical single breasted greatcoat in dark blue. I had one of these once, which I believed was K Blue, and for the life of me I can't remember how it was eventually identified as RC.

Regards

Tocemma


Definitely Lee-Metford Mk. I* rifles.

#25 133.R

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 04:47 PM

How long was the blue patrol uniform and glengarry worn from officers? Also after 1918? Or was this kind of uniform only worn until 1918?

Regards Sven