U.S. Army Waterproofed Ponchos, Slickers & Raincoats
In service from approximately 1911 to 1919
By 1911, waterproofing technology had improved to the extent that both gum rubber coated cloth and oil impregnated fabrics were no longer considered to be of sufficient quality for use by America’s military.
Instead the Quartermaster Department began using cotton sheeting that had been waterproofed by several applications of an advanced rubberizing compound.
In 1911 the Quartermaster Department issued the 1911 Poncho, the first of several rain garments that were made from various weights of “waterproofed” cotton fabrics. The foot soldier’s new rain poncho was described as follows in a period military publication:
The poncho, for the use of foot troops, is made of waterproof cotton sheeting, to weight no less than 2 pounds, 10 ounces, nor more than 3 pounds. It consists of body, fly and extension. It is 75 inches long, exclusive of extension, and 59 inches wide, exclusive of fly, and is passed over the head by a crosswise opening 13 inches long in center seam.
The poncho and blanket are of suitable size and shape to form a comfortable sleeping bag, the blanket being folded and tied together by means of its tapes, and the poncho buttoned together over the blanket. A double sleeping bag can also be made by means of two ponchos with two blankets between, the latter being tied together along the edges and the foot end.
Manual of Military Hygiene for the Military Services of the United States, 3rd Edition, Colonel Valery Havard, 1917, page 468
Specification No. 1144, adopted by the Army on December 6, 1911
(Waterproofed Cotton Sheeting)
The 1911 Poncho replaced the 1908 Poncho, Specification No. 960, which had been adopted by the Army on June 4, 1908
Dimensions: According to the specifications for the 1911 Poncho, excluding the extension along the lower edge, the new poncho measured 75 inches in length and 59 ¼ inches in width. It weighed in somewhere between 2 pounds, 10 ounces and 3 pounds.
Material: It was made from waterproofed, khaki cotton duck cloth that weighed between 7 ½ to 8 ounces per linear yard. A 6 foot length of No 3 gilling line was fitted to the square edge of the poncho.
Hardware: Twenty-one standard Army, No. 70, brown japanned, brass tack buttons of 78 ligne diameter were used throughout the poncho.
Description: The opening in the poncho’s center through which the head passed was 13 inches long. Two tack buttons were placed along the rear edge of the opening, which, when fastened, to the corresponding buttonholes on the forward edge of the opening held closed the opening when the poncho was used as a ground sheet or a tarp.
A falling collar that was made from the same fabric as the poncho surrounded three sides of the center opening. The collar was 3 inches wide at the center and 5 ½ inches wide at each end. A tack button was placed on the right hand point of the collar and the left hand point had a corresponding buttonhole.
Ten equally spaced buttonholes were placed along the lower, straight edge on the underside of the poncho, One additional buttonhole was situated just to the left of the center seam.
Six equally spaced buttonholes were placed along the outside, lower, left hand edge. In addition, six equally spaced tack buttons were placed on the 3 inch wide by 30 inch long extension located on the lower right hand side.
Twelve equally spaced tack buttons and buttonholes ran the length of the right hand edge of the poncho. The left hand side also had twelve equally spaced tack buttons and buttonholes which were covered by a matching 1 ½ inch wide khaki cloth fly. All outer edges of the poncho were reinforced with a 1 ½ inch wide strip made from the same material as that of the poncho.
Contract Label: A standard contract label was either sewn or stamped in ink on the inner, front side of the poncho, typically near the lower, right hand corner. The label or stamp was to show the name of the contractor, the date of the contract, the name of the depot, and it had a space at the bottom for the inspectors’ name.
Size: The 1911 Poncho was available in just one size
Photo No. 31: Overall view of a 1911 Poncho. The inset is of one of the tack buttons placed on the back or underside of the poncho.
Photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com