Scots at War - Black Watch Bren Gunner
Bren gunner BEF c1940

Soldier's kit

From the Boer War period to the Second World War

The Great War 1914-18

Officer's kit


Officers's personal kit varied substantially from the rank and file. Much of it was  'private purchase' and down to the individual what they deemed neccessary. Items like torches, binoculars and even sidearms as well as domestic paraphernelia were bought.


Officers also had more leeway on items for personal comfort and generally speaking had a servant (or batman) to tend to many of their routine needs such as catering. 

The haversack was carried by the soldier either on the left hand side hanging from the belt when in marching order, or on the back when in fighting order.


Inside the soldier carried his iron ration, knife, fork and spoon, and the unconsumed portion of the day's ration.

The 1908 equipment, when fully assembled, formed a single piece and could be put on or taken off like a jacket.


Ammunition was stored in two sets of pouches attached to the belt at the front, and the straps from these passed over the shoulders, crossing diagonally at the back.


The pack was attached to these diagonal straps, thus spreading its weight. Inside the pack the soldier carried his greatcoat, holdall (containing washing and shaving kit), housewife (sewing kit), mess tin, a towel, cap comforter, and spare clothing.

World War 2 (Early war)

This shot of a Bren gunner with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is noticably different from the kilted 7th Black Watch. He is wearing typical kit of the BEF in France, 1940 with little to distinguish him from any other British Army Infantryman.

At the outbreak off WW2, the 7th Black Watch, like many other units, were still equipped and clothed with the SMLE rifle, service dress and most distinctively the kilt, items more readily associable with the Great War, contrast with the better gas protection of the Second World War. The 1937 pattern equipment with its spacious universal pouches reflects the wider range of specialist stores required by soldiers a generation after 1918.