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East Front Summary
with illustrated maps

Troops of the Eastern Front
soldier's photo gallery

Troops of the Eastern Front
The images below show just a few of the many different types of uniforms and styles which were used during the course of the war. Russian experiences fighting the Japanese had resulted in a number of reforms and improvements, but typical line troops began the war relatively unprepared for the enormous tasks before them. The ravages of the fighting quickly transformed clothing and equipment. By the end of the war, the uniforms and weapons carried by troops were far different than those used a few years earlier, although this was more applicable to the Germans than the Russians, who did not vary their existing methods such a large degree. This was partially because of existing Russo-Japanese War era reforms and partially because of advances in German methods.
These Austrian infantrymen display typical uniforms of the Dual Monarchy. Additional winter clothing would include fur caps, wool overcoats and and sheepskin lined jackets. The first year of war saw over 40% of officers killed, an event from which the army never really recovered. After 1915, some regiments made up of Slavic troops surrendered wholesale to Russian forces.
The Russian soldier of World War One was much like his stereotypical predecessors; simply trained, stolid and available in apparently unlimited numbers. This last fact was to be sorely abused in this war, and the appalling consumption of Russian lives brought the country to a state of open revolt. The uniforms shown here are normal for the period, with cloth cap and loose fitting trousers and tunic.
A classic image of the standard Russian soldier. His gear includes two brown leather ammunition pouches, each holding 30 rounds of rifle ammunition. Another 30 rounds of reserve ammunition are carried in the bandolier seen over his left shoulder. As is usual, the ammo pouches at his waist are dragging down under the weight of the ammunition. No bayonet scabbard was supplied for active service, so his bayonet is semi-permanently attached.
The appearance of the early war German uniform is apparent in this image of troops marching in the field. As the war progressed, the soft "picklehaub" helmets shown here gave way to steel helmets which offered protection against artillery shrapnel. These troops are wearing covers over their helmets. The early war leather boots were replaced by hob-nailed boots and puttee leg-wrappings. The tunics also were eventually stripped of unnecessary ornaments and buttons were either removed or covered with cloth flaps.
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