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We know that infantry wound their puttees bottom to top, and that cavalry went top to bottom.

But why ? Was there a rationale, or was it just one of those things ? A trip to the moon, on gossamer wings ?

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I can't suggest an answer for the infantry but I know that when I had Quarter Horses the fetlock bandages were always wound top to bottom, and maybe the same thinking applied to the cavalrymen, so their own 'fetlock' wraps were done the same way.

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On the few occasions I've worn puttees we wrapped from bottom to top to make sure we covered the top of our boots to keep sand, dirt, stones etc out of the boot. if we'd started from the top we might not have reached the boot; depending on leg length and calf size.

Garth

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I have heard it said that the reason is that for the infantry the tie in the tape would be at the top, out of the muck. For mounted troops it would be at the bottom where it would be less likely to rub against the side of the horse or saddle, and possibly undo.

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I have heard it said that the reason is that for the infantry the tie in the tape would be at the top, out of the muck. For mounted troops it would be at the bottom where it would be less likely to rub against the side of the horse or saddle, and possibly undo.

T8Hants is correct. It should be remembered that the British Home Forces only adopted puttees with service dress in 1902 (although mounted infantry sections, alone, wore them before), but they had been worn for much, much longer by British troops in India before that. The rationale for methods of tieing date from the pre-1902 Indian practice.

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OK, that makes sense, I guess, but the puttees which stayed in service until, oh, 1990 (?) were short and "in the muck" and it wasn't a problem.

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OK, that makes sense, I guess, but the puttees which stayed in service until, oh, 1990 (?) were short and "in the muck" and it wasn't a problem.

They were still being worn by some people in the very late 80s but Boots Combat High were on full issue to the Regular Army by 1986 (possibly earlier).

The last post: they were called gaiters not puttees :hypocrite:

Um, no, they were definitely puttees which replaced gaiters in the 1960s. Mr Drill knows his ankle coverings.

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OK, that makes sense, I guess, but the puttees which stayed in service until, oh, 1990 (?) were short and "in the muck" and it wasn't a problem.

Yes, I wore them too. They were half the length and most importantly were essentially wrapped around the same spot (the ankle) with (as I recall it) just three very slight overlaps or folds showing. As such they came under nothing like as much chafing and disturbance as the full length puttees wound between ankle and just below the knee. There was no question for us of riding in such a way that the puttee rubbed against the midriff of a horse, nor the same degree of physical graft while wearing them (very occasional trench digging during the Cold War notwithstanding).

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nor the same degree of physical graft while wearing them (very occasional trench digging during the Cold War notwithstanding).

Happy days. I actually quite liked them and managed to keep a set with my Boots, DMS when I left the TA.

I do remember my old dad, who wore proper puttees when he first signed-on (in 1938) telling me that they caused varicose veins. Any truth in that?

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I thought that people wore surgical support hose because they had varicose veins rather than them being caused by restrictive garments.

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I thought that people wore surgical support hose because they had varicose veins rather than them being caused by restrictive garments.

Yes, in general I would agree with that, albeit that with puttees an overenthusiastic tight winding around the calf would undoubtedly cut off the circulation and I suspect that is what Steven's father meant.

In fact part of first aid training was to show how they could be used for bandaging (which of course is what the Hindustani word 'puttees' actually meant), specifically for fracture splinting using an SMLE (outer leg), or pick helve (inner leg).

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They were still being worn by some people in the very late 80s but Boots Combat High were on full issue to the Regular Army by 1986 (possibly earlier).

Um, no, they were definitely puttees which replaced gaiters in the 1960s. Mr Drill knows his ankle coverings.

Well, we had high Jungle boots from the 1940s onwards*, and high Northern Ireland Patrol Boots from mid-70s, but as you say, boots combat high from late 80s. I simply couldn't remember quite when.

* They were part fabric, and green, but with a good coating of black polish when you RHE'd they looked like black leather.

pmaasz - the things you are thinking of were correctly called anklets; Anklets Web 1937 Pattern. One would be rebuked for calling them "gaiters".

"Bishops wear gaiters, Sir me lad - them's Anklets, Web, and don't you forget it !"

"Yes, Q, sorry Q"

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Yes, in general I would agree with that, albeit that with puttees an overenthusiastic tight winding around the calf would undoubtedly cut off the circulation and I suspect that is what Steven's father meant.

In fact part of first aid training was to show how they could be used for bandaging (which of course is what the Hindustani word 'puttees' actually meant), specifically for fracture splinting using an SMLE (outer leg), or pick helve (inner leg).

Makes sense to me as ligatures can be used in first aid to restrict venous flow by tightly wrapping a limb to reduce blood flow rather than using a (now frowned upon) tourniquet method.

Varicose veins are cause by the valves in the leg veins weakening and the flow backs up and pools in the veins, further weakening the walls of the veins and resulting in the veins' bulged appearance under the surface of the skin. I can see that a long lasting 'ligature effect' like an over-tight puttee could certainly make trouble with the veins in the legs.

Didn't know about puttees being the Hindustani word for bandage. Thanks for that.

Interesting stuff. :thumbsup:

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Well, we had high Jungle boots from the 1940s onwards*, and high Northern Ireland Patrol Boots from mid-70s, but as you say, boots combat high from late 80s. I simply couldn't remember quite when.

* They were part fabric, and green, but with a good coating of black polish when you RHE'd they looked like black leather.

pmaasz - the things you are thinking of were correctly called anklets; Anklets Web 1937 Pattern. One would be rebuked for calling them "gaiters".

"Bishops wear gaiters, Sir me lad - them's Anklets, Web, and don't you forget it !"

"Yes, Q, sorry Q"

Crikey, distant memories of an old 60s/70's sitcom called 'All Gas and Gaiters'. Never thought of the connection with 'Anklets, web'!

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Crikey, distant memories of an old 60s/70's sitcom called 'All Gas and Gaiters'. Never thought of the connection with 'Anklets, web'!

The British Army had previously used the terms 'leggings' (officers Dress Regs) and 'gaiters' (soldiers Clothing Regs) for the leather laced covering for the lower leg that preceded puttees for marching order before 1902. 'Anklet' is a term that was introduced with 37 Pattern web equipment and would not have been familiar to WW1 soldiers. The gaiters effectively made the ankle boot into a high boot.

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bandaging (which of course is what the Hindustani word 'puttees' actually meant),

Dare I suggest the Hindustani word puttee doesn't mean bandage in the British sense. It means 'binding'. There is a subtle difference. I had the misfortune to join the Barmy in 1987 (SGC 87/3 to be precise) where almost every Officer Cadet had spent years in OTC (not me) with Boots DMS and puttees and the SLR, only to be confronted with Guardsmen instructors struggling with the new Boot combat high, no puttees and the SA80 at Sandhurst. 7 months later in the Gurkhas I had to be shown how to undo my learning and revert to 'old style' -something I had not learned in the first place, 'Puttee' in Gurkhali (a derivative of Sanskrit and close relative of Hindustani) does not accommodate the (British) medical sense of 'bangade'. Puttee derives from the Sanskrit word patta (cloth) and the -ee part simply means a smaller part. In practical terms this means a small piece (srtip) of cloth or ribbon. It simply is a leg binding that was conveniently adapted as an immediate tourniquet when necessary, hence the understandable confusion between the two interpretations. Essentially it was a piece of practical India Army kit that could be used for other things.

References:

1. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive. Yule and Burnell 1886.

2. A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language by Ralph Lilley Turner MC pub 1931

3. Basic Gurkhali Grammar. Meerendonk 1960.

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Top post Martin. Fascinating stuff. :thumbsup:

...shame you were in the Army though. I won't hold it against you.

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Dare I suggest the Hindustani word puttee doesn't mean bandage in the British sense. It means 'binding'. There is a subtle difference. I had the misfortune to join the Barmy in 1987 (SGC 87/3 to be precise) where almost every Officer Cadet had spent years in OTC (not me) with Boots DMS and puttees and the SLR, only to be confronted with Guardsmen instructors struggling with the new Boot combat high, no puttees and the SA80 at Sandhurst. 7 months later in the Gurkhas I had to be shown how to undo my learning and revert to 'old style' -something I had not learned in the first place, 'Puttee' in Gurkhali (a derivative of Sanskrit and close relative of Hindustani) does not accommodate the (British) medical sense of 'bangade'. Puttee derives from the Sanskrit word patta (cloth) and the -ee part simply means a smaller part. In practical terms this means a small piece (srtip) of cloth or ribbon. It simply is a leg binding that was conveniently adapted as an immediate tourniquet when necessary, hence the understandable confusion between the two interpretations. Essentially it was a piece of practical India Army kit that could be used for other things.

References:

1. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive. Yule and Burnell 1886.

2. A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language by Ralph Lilley Turner MC pub 1931

3. Basic Gurkhali Grammar. Meerendonk 1960.

Yes I can well believe what you say Martin. The words binding and bandaging would be largely translated from Hindustani to English as the same word, as the vocabulary is nothing like as extensive, but binding would undoubtedly be the more literal as a direct interpretation, as you have explained.

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In my own defence..................when I did my National Service (in the RAF) they were called gaiters.

I'd agree that they were commonly called that. But the correct terminology was, as has been said.

The short puttee survived for wear in KD and OG's, either in longs or shorts/hose top rig. The lads liked to wear them in UK with combat kit and denims as a bit of "old soldier" kit, but I think that the anklet really started to die out as the issue of the related 1937 Pattern web equipment gradually disappeared. In the Far East the issue webbing was 1944 Pattern which was a sort of hybrid between British 37 Patt and American equipment (the three-piece belt had eyelets to accept US style frogs, holsters, water bottles etc. (funnily enough I unearthed my 44 Patt water bottle and carrier today, searching for the Christmas decorations). The crucial thing about 44 was that it was a sort of nylon weave, so water and rot resistant, far more suited to Far East conditions.

Everywhere else started to kiss goodbye to their 37 Patt when 1958 Patt came on the scene. However, it took many years for all Arms and Services to receive 58 Patt.

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I still wear a 37 pattern belt when in black coveralls (which is not that often).

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Everywhere else started to kiss goodbye to their 37 Patt when 1958 Patt came on the scene. However, it took many years for all Arms and Services to receive 58 Patt.

We didn't have 58 Patt in Hong Kong until late 1988...a 30 year delay.

On topic, I assume the Great War medical manuals all had rather useful diagrams of what to do with a puttee when one was lying wounded on an Afghanistan plain contemplating what to do with one's musket. If memory serves a puttee had a rather high breaking strain. The RE manual famously informed us of the pressure in lb per sq inch, of an Ox standing on one leg* (imagine) and all sorts of other useful data. Can't recall the puttee data though (improvised ropes). MG

* presumably a throw-back to when the Army still had Ox-drawn transport. I think the 60 pounders were known as cow-guns in 1914 by South African War vetrans for this reason.

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Fascinating post chaps.

I always chuckle when the minutiae of things like webbing and equipment, which obsess the collector and historian, are of no interest at all to the blokes who actually used them. Talk to any WWII vet about, say, the difference between MKI and MKIII pouches and watch their eyes glaze over

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