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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Duffle bag / kitbag--Did British take personal effects in it?


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I've been able to verify (by Googling images) that some Aussies, Canadians, and Scots left for WW1 with some sort of cylindrical duffle bag for their personal effects. Did the Brits do so as well? If so, did they refer to it as a duffle bag or kitbag? (Seems kitbag is somewhat of a catchall term for Brits).

Also, I'm assuming they did not take the duffle into the trenches with them. I've read that Boulogne had a warehouse of sorts where trunks and "luggage" was stored for those deployed at CCS's.



Actually, now that I think about it, I may have the answer... I think it was Dorthea's War (diary) I read she and the other nurses were putting on some sort of play and she talked about getting into the kitbag. She seemed to imply getting in it like a sleeping bag, but the context was unclear. And at the time, I couldn't make sense of it because her other uses of the word kitbag included things like "getting the men in their kit," and references where the backpack kitbag seemed to fit. But now I'm thinking maybe it was a duffle bag! It certainly could make for a humorous sleeping bag.

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I served with the Royal Engineers in the 1970's, and we still had 'kitbags' of the type you describe. My Dad served in WW2, and the same design was issued to them too.

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The kitbag was a standard issue item for personnel other than officers, throughout the British Empire forces, to carry extra possessions not carried on the person in the field equipment. Officers had a greater luggage allowance and were allowed suitcases and steamer trunks. Kit bags were carried in the field in company transport (General Service horse drawn wagons) as far as brigade depot areas behind the lines. Troops would normally cycle through the forward positions (trenches), immediate reserve and rear area with the battalions of a brigade rotating.

In general kit bags are all about the same size, about 1m long and 30cm in diameter. The Canadians also issued a small kit bag about half the length of an ordinary kit bag. This was used as a sort of "backpack" in marching order with the P1899 field equipment. These continued in manufacture and use throughout the war even though the P1899 Oliver equipment was withdrawn early in 1915. I am unsure but assume that the Canadians used a full size kit bag as well.



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