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Boots boots German boots


centurion
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According to Louis Guichard (attached to the French Historical section of the French Ministry Of Marine in the 1920s) 1,100 out of 1,600 boot factories closed due the shortage of leather in Germany in February 1917 and production fell in that year from 120,000,000 pairs of boots to 12,000,000. The German army was doubtless the biggest user of boots at the time - how did they cope?

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According to Louis Guichard (attached to the French Historical section of the French Ministry Of Marine in the 1920s) 1,100 out of 1,600 boot factories closed due the shortage of leather in Germany in February 1917 and production fell in that year from 120,000,000 pairs of boots to 12,000,000. The German army was doubtless the biggest user of boots at the time - how did they cope?

Last year I read Neil Hanson's 'Unknown Soldier' the personal accounts of the German from the book stated (as I recall) they took from the dead of both sides. Sometimes they sent some home because they were wearing footwear made of cardboard because of the shortages of shoe leather in order to supply soldiers at the front.

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Germany it seems had stock piled sufficient tanning and curing materials to last until sometime in 1916. It began to run out at the end of 1915. There are so many similar examples that it seems very clear that the high command had assumed that the war would not last much more than 18 months to 2 years. It seems that Russia was supplying quantities of tanning materials in 1918 but because of the chaos there these were inadequate.

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I am not sure that it is directly related to the topic here... but I have this picture in my collection and I have always wondered about it.

What do you think is going on here? Are these boots to be supplied? (they don't look to me to be French style - more like the longer German ones? so perhaps captured? or? Can they be identified by the hobnail pattern(s)?)

They also seem to be stacked up in a rather impressive room (with a statue of Napoleon on the fireplace perhaps?) -- so a store in a requisitioned chateau perhaps?

post-14525-0-97393300-1378661562_thumb.j

Chris

Edit: it has just struck me as I posted this and viewed it here....are they just boots? or perhaps artificial limbs for amputees? I had never thought of that until I looked at the picture on here.

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I am not sure that it is directly related to the topic here... but I have this picture in my collection and I have always wondered about it.

What do you think is going on here? Are these boots to be supplied? (they don't look to me to be French style - more like the longer German ones? so perhaps captured? or? Can they be identified by the hobnail pattern(s)?)

They also seem to be stacked up in a rather impressive room (with a statue of Napoleon on the fireplace perhaps?) -- so a store in a requisitioned chateau perhaps?

attachicon.gifboots.jpg

Chris

Edit: it has just struck me as I posted this and viewed it here....are they just boots? or perhaps artificial limbs for amputees? I had never thought of that until I looked at the picture on here.

I think the statue is St Crispin ( A Faversham man) patron saint of shoemakers and the man is French Army (even though St Crispin's day may be deemed somewhat inauspicious for the French cavalry!)

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Edit: it has just struck me as I posted this and viewed it here....are they just boots? or perhaps artificial limbs for amputees? I had never thought of that until I looked at the picture on here.

Chris.

The chap looks to me to have a prosthetic right hand, so maybe the footwear was artificial limb related?

David

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Chris.

The chap looks to me to have a prosthetic right hand, so maybe the footwear was artificial limb related?

David

Tempting though to think it might be Le Roehampton a 1918 closer examination shows that they are tied together in pairs left and right feet and are all the same length (and the appearance of length is in part due to several pairs end to end) which is in itself unlikely for artificial limbs and it is normal for prosthetics not to have shoes or boots already on a flexible foot (thus allowing the wearer to choose footwear themselves)

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An extract from Neil Hanson's 'Unknown Soldier' from spring 1918. I also noted on another page that the Germans started to issue men with two vouchers to get boots and these were expected to last a year. This was introduced in January 1918. Also, at another point he forwards home some 'strong English canvas' and rubber soles which I think they cut and made from abandoned rubber tyres. This was so his brother could make himself some shoes.

post-70679-0-63987200-1378677154_thumb.j

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Centurion

The figures you quote, especially the first of 120 million seems like an awful lot of boots produced in one year for a German population of about 60 million, that is a pair a year for every man, woman and child.

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Possibly not excessive for a Nation at war which would have a higher turn over of boots and also which supplied boots to the KuK

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Having worn clogs in my youth (in Preston and on an uncle's farm in the Trough of Bowland ) I can testify that such wooden soles become useless in mud and/or snow as the lack of flexibiity means that mud or snow just builds up in compressed form under the foot until it becomes impossible to walk.

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I once had a pair of ersatz German ankle boots dating to 1918, complete with a period tag describing them and giving the date. The uppers were made almost entirely of woven paper, of the type also employed later in WW1 on German field equipment, with only minimal use of leather reinforcement at stress points and where the lace eyelets were fitted. The soles were of wood in clog form, attached by nails to the uppers, the join covered by a thin leather strip.

Whilst I have seen these mentioned in books which implied they were for field use, this was clearly not the case. I would imagine they were intended for use by rear area and static troops, whose function did not require them to be issued increasingly precious and scarce leather service footwear. In any case, I doubt many were ever used for their intended purpose.

Regards

Tocemma

What you describe are "National Boots" introduced in 1917 - there were also "National Shoes" The Nationals came in two types - the most common had leather vamps legs made of either paper fabric or recycled cloth and wooden soles. This is what you appear to have. The second, rarer, type were made of felt impregnated with either silicate or a natural resin. they were issued to both civilian and military and made up a good proportion of the total (reduced) footwear production. However you are right in that frontline troops got issued real leather boots whenever possible but it would seem that it wasn't always possible.

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What do you think is going on here? Are these boots to be supplied? (they don't look to me to be French style - more like the longer German ones? so perhaps captured? or? Can they be identified by the hobnail pattern(s)?)

The hobnailing appears to be the standard French style, with the "blank" space left by the toes.

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At risk of going right out of court; a shortage of leather may have been a German problem in both World Wars. I have just read Rick Atkinson's excellent book on the US Army in Europe in WW2 which includes a photo of German soldiers removing boots fro dead Americans. I recall similar pictures elswhere.

Old Tom

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At risk of going right out of court; a shortage of leather may have been a German problem in both World Wars. I have just read Rick Atkinson's excellent book on the US Army in Europe in WW2 which includes a photo of German soldiers removing boots fro dead Americans. I recall similar pictures elswhere.

Old Tom

In WW1 it was less a shortage of leather as a shortage of the materials necessary for curing and tanning mainly quebracho wood - Colorado and Argentina being the main pre war sources. It had been stock piled before war broke out but only enough to last until the beginning of 1916. Bulgarian sumac proved an inadequate substitute (and also lacked an interesting property quebracho wood also provides some effective aphrodisiacs - a sort of WW1 Viagra - could give rise to some inappropriate but interesting speculation).

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Are you a member of SATRA?

Kate, 40 yrs ago I was a trainee manager in a shoe shop if this helps??

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Are you a member of SATRA?

No (its probably just a load of cobblers ^_^ ) but as a one time economist I do have an interest in the economic aspects of the war and the effect of various Allied embargoes on trade with Germany. BTW despite commonly held perceptions there was no official naval blockade of Germany as under the terms of international agreements (ratified in 1908) it was not legally possible to declare one.* The cumulative effect of ever tightening embargoes effectively added up to one but there were all sorts of odd wormholes in it. Germany appears to have anticipated it quite well but with one huge fatal error - an assumption that the war would be over by sometime in 1916 at the latest.

* although Germany was able to declare one against Britain!

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4th Gordons,

An excellent photo. As you have identified, there are several different models to be seen. Although I cannot be positive, after all we can't see the uppers, I think I can identify the French Model 1893 and the Model 1912 modified 1915. Many years ago Militaria Magazine published a two part article on French boots. There was a photo included not dissimilar to yours of "Le magasin de chaussures de l'Entrepot de Lyon" taken on the 13th October 1915. Although there are many more boots shown in that photo they appear to be parcelled in the same way as those in your photo.

Given the several models of boot shown my guess is that your photo is of boots that have been repaired in a small(ish) workshop and are awaiting despatch.

Anyway, thanks for sharing the photo.

Regards,

Michael H.

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"The figures you quote, especially the first of 120 million seems like an awful lot of boots produced in one year for a German population of about 60 million, that is a pair a year for every man, woman and child." some perspective

British boot issue figures provide an interesting comparison

Total Boots, ankle, issued between 1st August 1914 - 2nd June 1919: 40,020,074. Nrmal peacetime issue was 145,000 apparently a year according to Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War 1914-1920

I once read that the best boots were considered this made from Roan Leather - anyone know what this was/is?

Perhaps the Germans always boiled boots and eat them!

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4th Gordons,

An excellent photo. As you have identified, there are several different models to be seen. Although I cannot be positive, after all we can't see the uppers, I think I can identify the French Model 1893 and the Model 1912 modified 1915. Many years ago Militaria Magazine published a two part article on French boots. There was a photo included not dissimilar to yours of "Le magasin de chaussures de l'Entrepot de Lyon" taken on the 13th October 1915. Although there are many more boots shown in that photo they appear to be parcelled in the same way as those in your photo.

Given the several models of boot shown my guess is that your photo is of boots that have been repaired in a small(ish) workshop and are awaiting despatch.

Anyway, thanks for sharing the photo.

Regards,

Michael H.

Michael

I had a feeling there was something on the back of this so I dug it out - it would seem to support what you are saying (and also date the pic to July 1916?)

post-14525-0-28032900-1379792617_thumb.j

Chris

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"

I once read that the best boots were considered this made from Roan Leather - anyone know what this was/is?

I believe Roan is a colour for a horse, a sort of light brown, lighter than Bay

Was horse skin used in the Tanning industry?

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According to Louis Guichard (attached to the French Historical section of the French Ministry Of Marine in the 1920s) 1,100 out of 1,600 boot factories closed due the shortage of leather in Germany in February 1917 and production fell in that year from 120,000,000 pairs of boots to 12,000,000. The German army was doubtless the biggest user of boots at the time - how did they cope?

Based upon those figures the German Army must have issued each soldier a new pair of boots every couple of months. Is this feasible or credible?

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Based upon those figures the German Army must have issued each soldier a new pair of boots every couple of months. Is this feasible or credible?

I'm sure I've seen on the forum before that a British pair of boots was supposed to last a soldier something like 6 weeks under Active Service conditions during the war - so a few months is not much of a stretch in comparison.

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