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Keith_history_buff

Raincoats worn at Tsingtao for "positive identifcation"

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Keith_history_buff

When the 2nd South Wales Borderers deployed to Tsingtao, there were identification issues. These men, taller than the Japanese, dressed in khaki and wearing pith helmets, looked like the German adversary. 

One means of changing the appearance of the British, to positively identify them as "not German", was to issue the Japanese raincoat. Its appearance, and the way in which it hangs, reminds me of the parkas synonymous with the Mod Revival, and with their parents 20 years previous to that in the UK.

I have come across the following photograph, with a British soldier on the far right, wearing such a hooded raincoat and a pith helmet, via Pinterest, and gather the original is held by the National Army Museum. (The link has been provided for attribution purposes.)
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/169096160988003683/

Are there any surviving examples of these hooded raincoat/cagoul garments?

There is a picture of the WW1 Japanese infantryman that used to be on display at the IWM. His greatcoat is double-breasted, and gives the impression of being more fitted than the freely flowing hooded raincoat.  

There are some better photos that have been published of the raincoat being worn by men of the SWB, most notably in The Sphere's edition of 8 August 1915. I don't have access to that, and am unsure as to the copyright around those images.
 

Tstingtao_group.jpg

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Keith_history_buff

I've further details on the above, which is indeed from the NAM

 

Quote

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1969-06-31-35

Copyright/Ownership

National Army Museum Copyright

Location

National Army Museum, Study collection

Object URL

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1969-06-31-35

 

A photo of Japanese artillerymen shows the rear of the garment, and he looks as though he is wearing a fishtail parka.

 

There's a passing reference to the friendly fire incident in a newspaper article, which appears to be largely derived from the book on Tsingtao by John Dixon
https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/13782539.long-view-the-gwent-soldiers-who-fought-alongside-the-japanese/

 

Quote

There were problems too of 'friendly fire' at least from the Japanese. Due to similarities in uniform, the Japanese often fired on any unfamiliar looking Europeans, mistaking the Welsh soldiers for Germans.
A Lance Corporal Thomas [10406] was in a convoy that came under German shellfire. As he took cover, he was shot at by Japanese who mistook him for a German, hitting him in the shoulder and the hand. Soon after, he fell on his wounded shoulder causing an aneurysm which killed him later that day. He was first man in the battalion to die in the First World War.
After this tragedy, the soldiers started to wear a piece of white cloth on their helmets as a means of identification. A better solution came when British soldiers were issued with a Japanese-style smock which they wore over their uniform. This at least stopped Japanese sentries firing long enough for them to identify the British as friendly.


This is also mentioned in an IWM oral history recording of an interview conducted with one of the battalion's officers in 1963, Robert Konoma Beaumont Walker:
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80018022

 

 

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