WW1 Centenary Publications

British Army Uniform and the First World War: Men in Khaki

Jane Tynan

What did British combatants wear on the western front in the First World War? From the idealized recruitment images to the coarse trousers and ill-fitting tunics, Jane Tynan retraces wartime culture through images and experiences of khaki. Photographs, newspapers, memoirs, war office documents and tailoring ephemera reveal the impact of the war on the tailoring trade. But the story of uniform also involves the wartime knitting projects, the issue of ‘Kitchener Blue’, Sikhs wearing khaki on the western front, and the punishments given to COs. Military uniforms were designed to make soldiers of civilian men and to rank them according to race and class, but Tynan argues that neat images of men in khaki concealed the reality that clothing an ever-expanding army involved compromise, resistance and improvisation. Uniforms transformed men and war changed British society. This book tells the story of British army clothing during wartime and offers insights into why khaki has endured as the symbol of modern militarism.

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