Monday, November 12, 2012

Army boots

As a footnote (no pun intended) to my post yesterday, I came across this paragraph in an article on army salvage practices during WW1:
"Boots were even more important than clothes. After less than a fortnight of fighting, Sir John French's men were in desperate need of boots. When trench. warfare settled in its long course, many regimental officers either started repairing shops of their own or engaged contractors to keep the battalion well shod. The boot, however, was too important a thing to be left to individual officers. On it depended the marching power of the Army and for this reason it engaged the concern of the Commander-in-Chief, who in June, 1915, appointed Major-General Sir John Steevens; the Army salvage expert, to organise large central repair shops.
One was opened in Calais in the autumn of 1915, another was founded at Mudros during the Gallipoli operations and afterwards removed to Salonika. Later a shop was erected at Alexandria for the army of Palestine; while the army of Mesopotamia had its boots repaired at Basra. Other works were organised in England and Scotland, and these, with the Calais shop, were at last saving 150,000. pairs of boots each week. 
Instead of the Army having to purchase new boots at the rate of a quarter of a million pairs a week, only 100,000 were required. Large as was the economy in money, this was of secondary importance. The great thing was the saving in the stock of available leather, upon which all the Allies constantly needed largely to draw. Moreover the British manufacturing plant for Army boot-making, when partly released from service for the New Army, was able to work for millions of allied troops."(1)
Perhaps Granddad Thomas Henry's boot and shoe repairing skills were greatly appreciated by the army. I wonder if he got to work in the repair shop in Basra?

(1) quoted from "The Garbage of War - the great work of salving war material" by Edward Wright, found at 

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