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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The Teddy Bears: Goatskin, Sheepskin and Dogskin....

Derek Black


As winter 1914 approached it was deemed necessary to provide additional clothing to the men in the trenches to protect against the cold.

200,000 fur coats of various animals, including dog, were sent out from late November. Woollen garments of various kinds were also provided, such as: woolen helmets, balaclavas, mufflers, body belts, gloves and socks.



(illustrated war news - 9th Dec.1914)


17th Nov, 1914 - Hansard


asked what arrangements have been made for the winter clothing of our troops at the front; and when these will take effect?


Cardigan jackets and warm underclothing have already been supplied and mufflers and body belts are being sent out as required. Large quantities of fur-lined coats and fur under-jackets are being sent overseas weekly. Warm gloves and warm turned-down hats are also being prepared.


18th Nov, 1914 - Hansard


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if any provision has been made for supplying our troops at the front with sheepskin or other fur or skin jackets for the winter?


Yes, sir. As I stated yesterday, in reply to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, large quantities of fur greatcoats and jackets have been and are being sent to the troops.


Is there a sufficient number for the troops now at the front?


You cannot send 200,000 fur-lined coats all at once. Those in greatest need are first supplied, and we hope eventually to be able to supply them all.


5th Dec, 1914 - Rochdale Observer


The Fur Trade

With regard to manufacturing furriers, of which there are a very large number, seeing that any man with a knowledge of the trade and a capital of £5 can set up in business for himself, are in many cases overwhelmed with sub-contracting work in the turning out of the first order for 200,000 fur coats for the British Expeditionary Force.

There is a good deal of misapprehension in the public mind as to these fur coats, and none more than one of the large daily papers has described them as fur-lined coats. as a matter of fact the cats are being made solely from sheepskins, goatskins and dogskins form China, and the process of manufacture consists simply of sewing the skins together in coat form with the hairy or woolly side inside. A few buttons or other fastenings complete the garment."


3rd Dec, 1914 - Sheffield Daily Telegraph

"A Sheffield Hussar at the front writes: ".... The government are looking after us very well. We have had woollen pants, vests. gloves, socks, etc. issued out, and yesterday we got a special goatskin jacket.
We are fit for anything now - North Pole, South Pole, or Berlin.

We get good food, tobacco, and cigars, and want for nothing. In fighting costume, we look like Teddy Bears. I wonder what our enemy think of us.


4th Dec, 1914, Yorkshire Evening Post


An interesting series of letter have been received from the front by his wife, from Private H. A. Street, a motor-lorry driver serving with the Army Service Corps at the front, whose home is at 52, Rowland Place, Dewsbury Road, Leeds.

"Nov. 26. - They have been issuing some sheepskin or goatskin coats, and I hope one will come my way. They are very cosy, and the men wearing them look like Teddy-bears walking about."


8th Dec, 1914 - Penrith Observer

"Last night Lieut. T. H. Dawell, , third son of Mr George Darwell, Bongate Hall, Appleby, left the borough to return to the front.

Lt. Darwell, who is serving with the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment, received seven days' furlough, and he arrived at Appleby on Thursday morning. He was wearing one of the goat-skin jackets, which are now almost a necessity at the front owing to the wintry weather recently experienced."


11 Dec, 1914 - Dundee Evening Telegraph

"Second-Lieutenant L. A. Elgood, of the 5th Black Watch, gives an interesting account of the work being done by his regiment in a letter to his father, Mr W. A. Elgood, 2 Cliftonbank, Dalkeith Road, Dundee.

"You have no idea of our clothes.
We have been served out with coats lined with 'fur', and they are jolly warm. I may add the 'fur' is goatskin, or at least that is nearer it. What with scarves, helmets, hose-tops, etc., you look rather funny.
These 'fur' coats can be worn with either the 'fur' inside or outside just as you prefer it. They are of course called "Teddy Bears


12 Dec, 1914 - Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette

"Mrs Hammal, of 6, Church Walk, has received a letter from her husband at the front.

He says: "I am glad to say things are looking a bit better out here now, but it is very cold and we have felt it very much. But you should see us now; we are just like Robinson Crusoe, we have got long goatskin coats, and, mind, they are warm. You would think we were going to the North Pole.

I think if we charged the Germans in them they would think we were a lot of teddy bears instead of soldiers."

Edited by Derek Black


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