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This display represents the Austro-Hungarian Alpine Infantry during the last two years of the war. The basis of this display is a wartime variation of the original M1909 uniform, this particular version includes the M1917 tunic and the M1909 Alpine trousers. Despite the K.u.K. regulations, the tremendous number of uniforms produced, combined with wartime shortages of certain dyes, led to a wide variety of different uniform colors. The M1909 Austro-Hungarian uniforms can range from the pre-WWI gray blue known as "pike gray" (very similar in color to the French horizon blue) to flat grays, to khaki to dark brown along with every shade in between, particularly as it applies to wartime produced uniforms.

The simplified uniform introduced in 1917 was produced in various shades of greenish-gray, which was officially referred to as "nettle-green". In addition, there were large numbers of late war Austro-Hungarian uniforms produced during the war in griggio-verde, the gray-green associated with the Italian wartime uniforms. The cloth that was used to produce these unusual uniforms was captured in huge amounts following the Italian retreat from the disaster at Caparetto.

The M1917 nettle-green tunic is correct for our elite Alpine trooper. The tunic has dark red/maroon collar patches, which depending on a correct ID are either from the 1st or 89th Infantry regiment. While this tunic was not issued to an actual Alpine unit, it is the correct pattern for the display. Alpine units had a small edelweiss badge on the collar of their tunics worn over the collar facing.


Moving on, the tunic is typical of the very loose weave of the late war Austro-Hungarian uniforms. (note the material close up in the photo showing the Sturmtruppen badge with the skull and crossed grenades) The Central Powers were suffering shortages of almost everything, the Allied blockade having already had a major impact on supplies of war materials. The 2nd Class Marksmanship lanyard was also a great find. It is the only example of any class I have come across for sale and is in mint, un-issued condition.

The Alpine "kniehosen" trousers were patterned after the traditional Alpine climbing trousers. These are the actual regulation trousers issued to the Alpine Infantry, whenever available, throughout the war. The trousers are cut extra baggy to allow for enhanced freedom of movement while climbing. The woolen stockings were both warm and gave reasonable support to the calf muscles. The ties on the side of the trousers kept the extra material in the trousers from sliding down and also helped keep the stockings up, performing the same function as garters or flashes. I have used a modern pair of knee length woolen Alpine hose (knee socks) that display nicely with the “kniehosen” until I can find an original pair of Austro-Hungarian hose.

The fatigue cap is one of the many wartime variations, this particular example having a leather visor. A myriad of other versions exist with leather, felt, wool or papercloth visors. Like everything else, the quality of newly produced caps deteriorated as the war progressed. This early war version sports the badge of Emporer Franz Ferdinand on the obverse of the crown. Worn resting on the visor is a nice original pair of Austro-Hungarian Alpine goggles with tinted lenses to deal with the perpetual snow high up in the Alps.

On the side of the fatigue cap is an Edelweiss badge, the insignia of the Alpine Infantry. This original badge is stitched to the side of the cap. The same insignia occasionally shows up mounted on the collar patches of the tunic, however this practice was not universal as is evidenced by wartime photos.
 

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The equipment begins with the M1888 belt and M1916 pouches. The buckle worn at the beginning of the war similar to those of other nations with the Austro-Hungarian double headed Imperial eagle embossed in the brass buckle plate. The belt was produced rough side out in brown leather. Later during the war, several simplified belts with both double and single pronged roller buckles were introduced. The earlier pattern belts were retained and all three types could be frequently found within the same unit.

The M1916 cartridge pouches were a simplified version of the earlier M1908 pouches, the major difference being in the shape of the rear panel of the pouches. Each pouch holds 2 five round Mannlicher clips. There are two pouches per each half of the set. Single pouches were produced as well for use by specialist troops. This provided each soldier with 40 rounds of ammunition ready at hand with an additional 60 rounds carried in a special pocket in the standard issue pack. Additional ammunition was issued prior to scheduled assaults or when an enemy attack was expected.

In order to help distribute the weight of the ammunition, a rectangular loop was mounted on the back of each set of pouches. A strap extension from the pack or ruck sack shoulder straps engaged these loops and helped to counterbalance the weight of the ammunition with the weight of the fully loaded pack.


Like every other soldier of the period, the Austro-Hungarians carried a variety of personal tools, the most common of which is the Linneman style M1888 entrenching tool. The spade was worn in a leather carrier suspended from the belt. Unlike the German and French pattern carriers, the Austro-Hungarian version had a single belt loop. The bayonet was worn adjacent to the spade and the scabbard was retained tight against the e-tool by tucking it underneath the retention strap. This prevented the scabbard from bouncing against the other gear and creating unnecessary noise.

The bayonet carried by our soldier is the M1895 NCO pattern, complete with a pommel swivel to allow the attachment of the troddel, or bayonet knot. Regular soldiers wore their troddel attached to the bayonet frog rather than on the bayonet. This particular example is very rare as it has a "tinnie" inlayed in the grip panel of the bayonet.

Tinnies are a study unto themselves. They were small pressed, sheet metal badges that commemorate individual units service on a particular front, etc. etc. This particular tinnie is marked 29 ITD over an armored knight holding a two handed sword. On either side of the knight are the dates 1914 on the left and 1917 on the right.

I have yet to determine exactly what the 29 ITD means. It does not match any of the regular unit marks used in the Austro-Hungarian Army. It might stand for 29th Infantry Tyrolean Division, but that is simply an educated guess. There is an identical bayonet in the museum collection in Prague. It is illustrated in Jan Smid and Peter Moudry's excellent book, "Bayonets - Habsburg Monarchy 1683 - 1918". Based on the 1917 date on the tinnie, it might have been set in the bayonet grip in the last year or it could have been added afterwards. It is interesting that both surviving examples are found set into the grip of an NCO bayonet?
 

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The next item grouping includes the bread bag, enameled water bottle and cup.

The Austro-Hungarian bread bag was larger than many of the period. It had both a shoulder strap as well as two belt hooks. Unlike the German bread bags, the shoulder strap on the Austro-Hungarian version could not be removed. Within the bread bag is a special pocket for the water bottle. This is why so many of the water bottles turn up without any form of carrying strap.

However, since most soldiers scrounged up additional water bottles depending on where they were serving, water bottles, such as this one, do turn up with carrying straps. This particular example has an adjustable paper cloth carrying strap. Other variations exist fashioned from both paper-cloth as well as in harness leather. Another variation incorporates a canvas cover, which slips over the water bottle. The carrying strap is stitched to the canvas cover. All of the different variations were issued with cork stoppers. This particular example has a felt cover which helped to keep the water cool during hot weather and more importantly for our Alpine soldier, from freezing when it was cold.

The enameled cup is extremely rare and the example that came with this water bottle is one of only a few that I have encountered during my years of collecting. It has a small loop mounted on the side to provide a means of lacing or strapping it to the water bottle.
 

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Like every other army of the period, the Austro-Hungarian military began issuing trench knives during the war. The standard issue variation had a broad, single edged blade with the top 1/3 of the back of the blade also being sharpened. The blade length is 8 1/4" long while the overall length is 13 1/4". The grip is is composed of two very plain wooden panels which are held in place with three rivets. The simple metal cross-guard is oval shaped. This knife is quite a bit larger than the trench knives issued by most other countries during the war.

Pictured in this display is a home made "trench art" version that has had the normal issue grip and cross-guard replaced with a stylized aluminum grip shaped roughly in imitation of the NCO bayonet with a recurved quillion. The aluminum that was used to make the replacement grip was most likely scrounged from part of an aircraft engine. While I can't be certain, this item would most likely have been acquired from the site of a downed aircraft. Both sides of the grip have a section of copper driving band from a fired artillery sheel inlet into the side of the aluminum grip.


Hanging next to the haversack and water bottle is the M1917 Lederschutzmaske gas mask carrying canister. Throughout the war, the Austro-Hungarian Army used their own versions of the standard German gas masks. Some of these masks were actually made in Germany while others were produced in Austria-Hungary to German specifications. This mask and canister falls into the first category. It is an Austro-Hungarian marked German produced M1917 gas mask.

The mask was made from treated horse leather with tinted glass eye pieces. In addition to the standard filter, as the Germans developed additional varieties of poison gas, they produced snap on filters that would mount over the air intake panel of the existing filter. The canister is made of thin sheet metal and is slung over the shoulder via a paper-cloth carrying strap with an adjustable buckle. Spare eyepiece lenses were carried in the top of the canister. This particular example is stamped with K.u.K. markings on the face of the filter mounting panel.
 

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The next item of equipment is the Alpine rucksack. This model was originally issued only to Alpine troops, however, after 1916, it was frequently supplied as a replacement for the standard cowhide covered, leather pack. The design is very practical and these rucksacks were considered much more comfortable to wear than the standard pack. Early examples, such as this one, were made with leather straps. Later variations were produced with canvas or linen straps.

The pack consists of a single large sack-like body with a few internal pockets and two external "ammunition" pockets. The entire body closes at the top with a drawstring, over which a flap closes and buckles to the back of the pack.

The straps incorporate two D rings which are used to strap items to the outside of the pack, such as a blanket roll, a greatcoat or a shelter half (usually all of the above!). The left side of the pack has an adjustable strap, which adjusts via a buckle, while the right side has a quick release hook. This enabled the wearer to simply slip the hook free to quickly remove the pack. With the extension strap hooks attached to the back of the cartridge pouches, the entire equipment load could be dropped by simply unbuckling the belt and letting the pack slip backwards off of your shoulders.

This particular example is in fantastic condition and is both dated and unit marked. It was issued to a Landwehr machinegun unit in 1914.


Strapped to the blanket and shelter-half roll on the ruck sack, is a M1916 trench mace, a M1917 rod style rifle grenade and a pair of M1917 wire cutters. All are examples of the wide variety of specialty equipment and weapons that were developed to deal with the peculiarities of life in the trenches.

This mace was one of several designs issued to Austro-Hungarian troops during the war in addition to the countless variety of "home made" weapons designed and built right in the trenches or at the depots close behind the frontline trenches. The nature of trench warfare gradually saw the grenade become the primary weapon, replacing the rifle and bayonet. After the grenade, the pistol was favored followed by the wide assortment of personal hand to hand combat weapons ranging from the mace, to the trench knife to sharpened entrenching shovels. It was easier to fight with these make shift weapons in the confines of the trenches than it was to wield a long rifle, made even longer with a long bayonet attached.


Our soldier has a Model 1917 rod-type rifle grenade that was mounted in the barrel of his M95 Mannlicher. These grenades were fired by a blank cartridge. Different length rods were used in combination with the angle of the barrel to fire at almost any target at ranges between 50 to 300 meters. The length of the rod determined how long the propellant gases of the blank cartridge exerted force against the rod. The longer the rod, the longer the range. There were three different length rods. They were generally carried seperate from the grenades and screwed in at the last moment before firing. The grenade fuse was ignited with a friction primer that was built into the tip of the fuse.

The same pattern grenade was produced as a hand grenade. This version incorporated a wire handle that was bent over double to provide a ready made hook from which to hang the grenade from the belt or the straps of the equipment. This was the most common grenade used by Austro-Hungarian forces during the war.


The wire cutters were essential during attacks, trench raids or simply for the constant wire duty that was necessary to maintain the huge belts of barbed wire that grew ever larger during the course of the war.

Our Austro-Hungarian Alpine Infantgryman carries the standard issue M1895 Mannlicher Infantry rifle. This interesting stright-pull design was issued with a variety of different bayonets, among them the various "ersatz" patterns that were produced in the hundreds of thousands during the war. Three of these variations are shown in this photograph.

The M95 was chambered for the M1895 8x50mmR cartridge. It was loaded with five-round en bloc Mannlicher clips.
 

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This display is one of my favorites and is notable both in terms of it’s rarity as well as representing an unusual aspect of the Great War that is not generally discussed with the focus in the US and much of Europe being on the Western Front. These Alpine troops were the tip of the spear during the “War above the clouds” that was fought high up in the Alps on the Italian Front from 1915 until the end of the war in 1918.
 

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Field cap badge attachement

I recently purchased a reproduction k.u.k field cap (an impulse buy at a surplus store in Prague). The cap badge (FJI) is attached using a simple straight pin, which doesn't seem like it would be the official method. How is the badge attached on the original kappe?

Thanks for your help,

Devo
 

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Hey Devo,
My Kappe with an FJI badge has two brass loops on the badge, and they are stuck through two holes and fixed with a bit of leather thong, the later K badges are attached with two metal prongs that are bent over after being stuck through the same holes. I have seen a brass cotter pin used on some of the older ones rather than the leaher.
gus
 

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Austrian Rucksack

I would never believe that this rucksack is WW1 Austro-Hungarian, due to overall design, the leather straps and the front hooks, it looks like ww2 German. What markings does it have and can you post a photo? Same with the shovel, it looks German straight top edge, Austrian had pointed top, right?

I have some Austro-Hungarian items in my collection if I find the time I will post photos.
 

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Deadjune, thanks for your first post and welcome to Gunboards. I'm afraid you are mistaken, the entrenching tool's top is not plainly visible but it is pointed as you describe, the carrier is the correct A-H style as well. I have detailed photos from John of this shovel and e-tool carrier and will post them when I have time to look them up if John doesn't get to it first.

I'll have to let John talk about the rucksack.
 

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Hey Deadjune and TP,
After looking at all my books, I am inclined to agree with Deadjune on the rucksack, the buckle/hooks that attach the shoulderstraps to the ammo pouches do look like the WWII German Auminum fittinigs, and everything that I see shows canvas straps on the Austrian rucksack, although that is not a sure argument.
Best wishes
Gus
 

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Yo Gents,

As always, excellent input and intelligent questions! I'll leave the Linneman pattern spade since T.P. has correctly addressed that one.

Regarding the rucksack, it's an Austro-Hungarian WWI original example that is both maker marked as well as dated 1914. Where you are spot on Gus is that the shoulder straps are original, however over the years someone had removed the straps with the hooks that engage the cartridge pouches. I restored the rucksack by adding replacement cartridge pouch extensions and a pair of hooks along with the leather straps I "borrowed" from Swiss rucksack of unknown date I found at a local surplus store.

I also restored the D-rings that were originally stitched to the top of each leather strap for attaching equipment. The rucksack and the primary shoulder straps are 100% original. The auxiliary straps that attach to the loop on the cartridge pouches are a modern restoration.

Sharp eye on the hooks Gus!

Anyway your slice it, this one's legit and without question, original. Variation existed across the board and the fact that the rucksack in "The Emperor's New Coat" simply happens to have canvas or hemp cloth straps. A single example like that should never be construed to the ONLY pattern produced, particularly during WWI.

Hope this info answers your question? I may have photos of the marks in this one on file. If I can find them, I'll post them.

Welcome to the Forum deadjune! Nice to have you with us.

Warmest regards,

John
 

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Yo Gents,

I found an old file that goes back to when I first acquired the rucksack. The photos were shot with my old crappy camera, however they do show the internal markings along with a unit mark. I don't recall the exact unit mark, however you can at least see that it is there in these photos. It is date and depot stamped to the Landwehr, which did include Alpine troops.

I acquired the rucksack from a dealer in Vienna. It's WWI without question and matches a known pattern of Austro-Hungarian rucksack. It also might be of German manufacture that was then supplied to the K.u.K. like so many other pieces of equipment throughout the war? Either way, the markings confirm its origins and it's a slight variation on a known pattern. It is most definitely NOT WWII, although it could have been reissued at that time. If you are familiar with Austro-Hungarian markings, the "blob" on the left of the date is a Habsburg double-headed eagle.

One photo shows the holes from the original stitching of the D rings. I formed the replacements and then simply used the original holes for the stitching. That there were originally ammo pouch extensions are confirmed by the rivet hole in the strap, which like the original D-ring stitching, I used the original holes for the restoration of the extensions.

The D rings and the leather extensions for the cartridge pouches are the only item not original to the rucksack.

Warmest regards,

JPS
 

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Cool stuff, now it makes sense!

I think that you will agree though that the standard given en-mass to the troops during the war is all-canvas made, the straps included. I suppose the pre 1914 alpine troops were given higher quality stuff in small numbers, which explains your rare item. I do not base my impression on the "emperor's coat", I have seen tens of photos of it, all over the literature and old postcards, always with canvas straps. What particularly seemed wrong in my impression was the German-type hooks, the Austrian hooks were very characteristic, and I have yet to come across Austrian- made gear without black-enamel metal parts.


By the way, I feel what you say about the supporting straps! They seem to be cut-off virtually in all samples, apparently a traveller that was buying a cheap surplus rucksack in the 50s could not care less about supporting the weight of cartridge pouches! ;)

PS Could I post photos of my stuff for another impression? Cheers
 

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Deadjune, thanks for your first post and welcome to Gunboards. I'm afraid you are mistaken, the entrenching tool's top is not plainly visible but it is pointed as you describe, the carrier is the correct A-H style as well. I have detailed photos from John of this shovel and e-tool carrier and will post them when I have time to look them up if John doesn't get to it first.

I'll have to let John talk about the rucksack.

Gotta back up my Buds!

Thank you T.P.! Here you go deadjune.

Warmest regards,

JPS
 
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