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A.E.F. Gloves, Gauntlets & Mittens 1917 to 1919


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Please forgive the … ah, preposterous length of this post, whose title may have given the impression of being much shorter. After all, how many different hand coverings could the Army have issued between 1917 & 1919? The short answer is a lot – the long answer you’ll find posted below.

 

While you’re contemplating whether or not to absolve me of the egregious sin of writing over 23,000 plus words on such a mundane topic like U.S. Army & A.E.F. gloves, please be sure to thank the following individuals, all of whom …

Generosity supplied me with photographs and information and had nothing to do with the length of this post. Their contributions made this monstrosity worthy of being looked at: Forum members Jagjetta, Jprostak, Chuck Thomas, Dragoon, Baker 502, Smcgeorge, Navybean, Dr-Rambow, Rogier van de Hoef and others.

 

A.E.F.

Gloves, Gauntlets & Mittens

1917 to 1919

Over the course of the United States involvement in what most American’s, prior to 1917, referred to as the “European Affair”, the U.S. Army either already issued, or over the next nineteen months devised, issued, purchased and tested some twenty-six different hand coverings. Each of which was designed to either protect or keep the hands of the average American soldier warm in the trenches of the Western Front. Each of those hand coverings was officially designated as a glove, a gauntlet or a mitten.

 

Photo No. 01: A variety of regulation or “issued” hand coverings are worn by the Doughboys surrounding this 155mm artillery piece. Of the thirteen men whose hands are visible, two are wearing woolen gloves, three are wearing leather mittens, three more are wearing canvas gauntlets, and two types of leather gloves are worn by the five remaining men.

 

Photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Photo No. 02: From left to right these close ups show that the artillerymen’s hand coverings were comprised of the 1918 Olive Drab Jersey Knit or 1918 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves, 1918 Heavy Leather Gloves, 1918 Leather Mittens and 1918 Canvas Gauntlets (the other leather glove, not shown here, but worn in the above photo is the 1913 Riding Glove).

 

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Other World War I Era

U.S. Army & AEF Hand Coverings

 

Home Knit Hand Coverings

In addition to the “regulation” and “special purpose” hand coverings, countless styles of “home knit” woolen gloves, mittens and wristlets were made by the loving hands of family members and by volunteer knitters across the United States. These homemade creations were either sent directly to a loved one serving in the military or donated to one of America’s many charitable organizations that were doing “war-work” in an official capacity for the United States Government. Those volunteer institutions then distributed the provided knit “comfort items” to the men and boys fighting in far off France.*

 

*In order to limit the size of this topic, home knit and donated hand coverings, which have already been adequately covered in a separate topic elsewhere on this forum, have been omitted. More information on home knit comfort items can be found at:

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/39625-us-army-knit-clothing-from-1911-to-1918/?hl=%2Barmy+%2Bknit+%2Bclothing

 

Photo No. 03: The patterns and styles of home knit hand coverings were as diverse as the backgrounds of the patriotic citizens who made them. A small selection of the many styles in which they were made are shown here - Clockwise from upper left: Home knit woolen Wristlet, this example included an “idiot cord”, which unless severed, permanently connected it to its partner; home knit woolen “Rifleman’s Mitten”; home knit woolen “Fingerless Mitten”; and a home knit woolen Mitten.

 

Wristlet Photo Courtesy of Griffin Militaria.com

Fingerless Mitten Photo Courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

Mitten Photo Courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

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Photo No. 04: It certainly looks as if this member of the 20th Engineer Regiment (Forestry) is wearing home knit wristlets over a pair of regulation 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves. Senior military officers were skeptical of the fingerless hand covering’s serviceability. They ultimately came to the conclusion that the wristlet was just too fragile for military use.

 

Photo courtesy of the Dragoon collection

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Commercially Made Hand Coverings

Innumerable styles of commercially made gloves were likewise purchased on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean by the officers and enlisted men of the AEF. Additional “off the shelf” gloves were sent in small parcels to both the stateside soldiers and to the Doughboys who served overseas by friends, family, and well-wishers from home. Commercially made gloves are briefly discussed later in this topic.

 

Photo No. 05: A pair of non-regulation leather dress gloves, much like those worn by these Doughboys of the 4th Division, was often the finishing touch to an overseas soldier’s best attempt at a clean and tidy “walking out” uniform.

 

Photo Courtesy of the Rogier van de Hoef collection

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Foreign Made Hand Coverings

Despite the fact that American Doughboys drew regulation gloves from Quartermaster stores, were sent homemade gloves by relatives, received donated gloves via charitable organizations, and purchased gloves themselves from various commercial military outfitters; it was still necessary for the Chief Quartermaster, AEF to obtain every pair of gloves that the Allied nations could spare. England had none, but by April of 1918, the AEF had purchased over a half million pairs of gloves and gauntlets from France. Perhaps, the most notable foreign procured hand coverings were those worn by the military aviators of the forty-five AEF pursuit, bomber and observation Aero Squadrons that were flying sorties by the time the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.*

 

*With the exceptions of the Winter and Summer Aviator’s Gloves that were listed in the 1917 edition of the Uniform Specifications, the various hand coverings as worn by American military aviators have also been left out of this topic. As soon as appropriate photographs, and more importantly, detailed information on the subject of flight gloves can be obtained, they too will be incorporated into a future topic tentatively titled “AEF Flight Clothing”.

 

Photo No. 06: Heavy fur mittens, like this pilot or bombardier from the 96th Aero Squadron (Day Bombardment), were frequently worn over leather or woolen gloves by aviators. The inset shows both sides of a flannel lined bearskin aviators mitten.

 

Background photo courtesy of Great War Images.com

Inset courtesy of the Baker 502 collection

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Extreme Weather Hand Coverings

When American troops were dispatched to Northern Russia and Siberia in August of 1918, a variety of gloves, gauntlets and mittens that were capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures were utilized in that theater of operations. The majority of those hand coverings were not made available to the Doughboys who served on the Western Front nor to the servicemen that stayed behind in the continental United States. The hand coverings worn by the Yanks dispatched to the eastern most region of Europe were largely comprised of American, British and locally acquired Russian gloves, gauntlets and mittens.*

 

*The above mentioned extreme weather hand coverings, worn during America’s foray into Russia, have likewise been excluded from this topic. When sufficient photographs and accurate information come to hand, those hand coverings will also become the subject of a future article devoted to the extreme weather outer garments worn by the American North Russia Expeditionary Forces and by the Siberian American Expeditionary Forces.

 

Photo No. 07: A great deal of clothing suitable for an arctic environment was required for the American soldiers sent to Russia. Among the garments procured were wool lined leather mittens made from the hides of muskrat, marmot, bear, buffalo, wolf, seal and even dog.

 

Inset courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

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Regulation U.S. Army Hand

Coverings Prescribed for Use by the A.E.F.

Between 1917 & 1919

  • Yellow Horsehide Gloves, Specification No. 748, adopted on March 17, 1905
  • Buckskin Gloves, Specification No. 832, adopted on September 6, 1906
  • Riding Gloves, Specification 1185, adopted on April 10, 1913
  • Olive Drab Woolen Gloves, Specification No. 1245, adopted on August 21, 1916 (This specification likely never went into production as it was canceled two days later when Specification No. 1265 was adopted)
  • Olive Drab Woolen Gloves, Specification No. 1265, adopted on August 23, 1916
  • Canvas Gauntlets, Specification No. 1303, adopted on February 21, 1918
  • Canton Flannel Gloves, Specification No. 1304, adopted on February 21, 1918
  • Heavy Leather Gloves, Specification No. 1305, adopted on February 21, 1918
  • Leather Mittens, Specification No. 1319, adopted on April 11, 1918
  • Canton Flannel Mittens, Specification No. 1325, adopted on April 15, 1918
  • Jersey Knit Gloves, Specification No. 1326, adopted on April 15, 1918
  • Olive Drab Woolen Gloves (seamless), Specification No. 1342, adopted in June 1918
  • Olive Drab Woolen Gloves (seamed), Specification No. 1389, adopted on November 1, 1918

Special Purpose Hand

Coverings Used by the U.S. Army & A.E.F.

Between 1917 & 1919

 

Experimental and special purpose gloves, gauntlets and mittens were also developed by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, Ordnance Department, Bureau of Aircraft Production, as well as the Chemical Warfare Service. The majority of these hand coverings were shipped overseas and issued to AEF personnel for testing or recreation and to be worn in the field by men who had been trained to perform special tasks, such as flying aero-planes.

 

  • Fencing Gloves, no specification number, adopted in October 1904
  • Fencing Gloves, no specification number, adopted in December of 1917
  • Summer Aviator Gloves, specification number & adoption date unknown
  • Winter Gauntlet, Specification No. 972, adopted on June 29, 1908*
  • Winter Aviator Gloves, specification number & adoption date unknown
  • Wiring Gloves, specification number & adoption date unknown
  • French Heat Resistant Gloves, no specification number or adoption date
  • French Anti-Gas Gauntlets, no specification number or adoption date
  • Gas Mittens, no specification number, adopted before October of 1918
  • Gas Gloves, no specification number, adopted after October of 1918
  • Armored Gauntlet, no specification number or adoption date
  • Leather & Wool Gauntlets, Specification No. 1401, adopted on December 14, 1918
  • Baseball & Boxing Gloves, no specification numbers or adoption dates

*A hand covering called a “Winter Gauntlet” was prescribed for all AEF chauffeurs (vehicle drivers) and motorcyclists in a 1918 dated AEF manual. At the time of writing I am uncertain whether the hand covering so named was in fact, the 1908 Winter Gauntlet or if it was merely a pseudonym for another glove, gauntlet or mitten, or an, as yet, undiscovered regulation hand covering.

U.S. Army Gloves – Spring, 1917

 

At the time the United States declared war on Imperial Germany on April 6, 1917, the nation’s Army primarily issued three types of gloves to its soldiers. Thus, when American Doughboys first stepped onto French soil in June of 1917, depending on the branch of service in which a man served, each soldier would have been issued one pair of the following gloves:

 

  • Yellow Horsehide Glove, Specification No. 748, adopted by the Army on March 17, 1905: one pair was issued to enlisted men of the Coast Artillery, mountain batteries of the Field Artillery, machine gun platoons, Ordnance Department, Signal Corps and the Corps of Engineers.
  • Leather Riding Glove, Specification No. 1185, adopted by the Army on April 10, 1913: one pair was issued to each mounted enlisted man who served in the Cavalry, Field Artillery or an Ambulance Company.
  • Olive Drab Woolen Glove, either Specification No. 1246, adopted on August 21, 1916 or Specification No. 1265, adopted on August 23, 1916: one pair was issued, to chauffeurs and motorcycle messengers, and to all other dismounted soldiers for winter wear or when ordered.

According to the 1917 edition of the Uniform Specifications of the United States Army, additional hand coverings comprised of the garments listed below were also available from the Quartermaster Corps. In spite of appearing in that publication, by the spring of 1917: one had been temporarily suspended, and the others were never intended to be a part of the American soldier’s regulation equipment. They were instead, issued only as needed from company or regimental stores. As such, they were to be returned to the source from which they were drawn as soon as their use was no longer required:

  • 1912 Fur Mitten, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued only to troops posted to Alaska.*
  • 1912 Duck Mitten, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued to troops posted to Alaska, and possibly the AEF.**
  • 1912 Horsehide Mitten, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued only to troops posted to Alaska.***
  • 1912 Horsehide Gauntlet, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued only to troops posted to Alaska.***
  • 1912 Scotch Wool Glove, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued only to troops posted to Alaska.***
  • 1912 Siwash Mitten, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912: issued only to troops posted to Alaska.***
  • 1913 White Cotton Glove, Specification No. 1193, adopted on June 9, 1913: issued for wear with the enlisted men’s full dress uniform.

 

*The new 1912“Alaskan” Fur Mitten was intended to replace the Army’s older 1907 Fur Mitten. Although it is not certain, the 1907 Fur Mitten, or its successor, the 1912 Fur Mitten, may have been issued to AEF troops who trained in the Vosage Mountains of eastern France during the bitter winter of 1917-1918. It is known that some troops who trained in the French mountains did receive a limited amount of special winter clothing that was not provided to other AEF organizations who trained elsewhere in France. Since no definitive proof has surfaced stating that the Fur Mitten was used by the AEF, it too has not been included in this topic. It may however, be added pending further research.

 

**It’s possible, but not confirmed that the fingerless canvas-duck mitten worn by the 88th Division soldier in Photo No. 30, is in fact, the 1912 Duck Mitten that was made for the troops who served in Alaska.

 

***In November of 1912, the Quartermaster Corps adopted a broad range of cold weather clothing that was designed to be worn by American soldiers posted to the Department of Alaska. Apparently all thirty-one of the garments named in that specification, which included everything from felt shoes and wool knit underwear to fur overcoats and parkas, fell under the rather large umbrella of Specification No. 1117, which was titled, “Alaskan Clothing”. The hand coverings within that document included: Gauntlets (Horsehide) – Gloves (Horsehide) – Mittens (Duck) – Mittens (Fur) – Mittens (Horsehide) – and Mittens (Siwash). With the possible exception of the Mittens (Duck), at the time of writing no documentation has been found indicating that any of the so called Alaskan clothing was used by the AEF. Nor have any period photographs surfaced showing members of the AEF wearing hand coverings that match the Quartermaster Corps written descriptions of those garments. Therefore they too have been omitted from this topic.

 

1905 Yellow Horsehide Glove

Specification No. 748, adopted on March 17, 1905

In service from March 1905 to 1919and possibly beyond

 

Photo No. 08: This official Quartermaster Department photo shows both the front and the back of the 1905 Yellow Horsehide Glove.

 

Photo courtesy of the Jon Prostak collection

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The 1905 Yellow Horsehide Glove was made from chrome-tanned horsehide that was dyed yellow and stitched together using white silk thread. “Between the finger and at the base thereof a reinforcing finger quirk* is to be inserted.” The back of the glove had three ornamental welts approximately 3 ¼ inches long made up of a double row of stitching located on either side of each welt. The wrist opening of each glove featured a 3 ½ inch slit that was reinforced and finished in a square corner. Each glove had one “Pringle” glove fastener placed roughly 1 ½ inches from the upper edge to properly fasten the glove.

 

The Yellow Horsehide Glove was available in five different sizes: No. 8, No. 8 ½, No. 9, No. 9 ½, and No. 10. When measured from the upper edge of the cuff to the tip of the middle finger, a size No. 9 glove was approximately 10 ½ inches in length. No measurements for the other four sizes were mentioned. Each glove had the size either stenciled or stamped on the inner side of its cuff.

 

*A “quirk” is a small V-shaped gusset of matching material that is sewn at the base of, or between each finger.

 

Photo No. 09: This “junk on the bunk” photo depicts the clothing and equipment that would have been issued to a raw recruit upon entering the Army in 1917. In this case, the equipment belonged to a member of the Signal Corps who was not authorized to carry a rifle – hence the pistol belt, holster, and .45 automatic pistol. As a member of the Signal Corps, this soldier has also been issued a pair of 1905 Yellow Horsehide Gloves. A pair of home knit or Red Cross donated wristlets also reside at the top of the bunk in between the 1911 Service Hat and the spare socks and underwear.

 

Photos courtesy of the Chuck Thomas collection

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Photo No. 10: These two men from an unidentified 3rd Army Motor Transport Corps organization are wearing Yellow Horsehide Gloves.

 

Photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Photo No. 11: Close ups of three of the four horsehide gloves depicted in the above photograph.

 

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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The Yellow Horsehide Glove saw widespread use throughout the AEF. Although the Horsehide Glove was initially conceived as a “work glove”, period photographs depict both officers and enlisted men who served in a wide variety of the arms of service, including the Motor Transport Corps, Tank Corps, Coast Artillery Corps, Corps of Military Police, Field Artillery, and others, wearing the Army’s original work glove.

 

1908 Buckskin Gauntlet

Specification No. 951, adopted on April 23, 1908

In service from April 1908 to April 1913 or until supplies were exhausted

 

Officially, the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlet that was originally devised for mounted troops was no longer an article of issue in 1917. It had been replaced in 1913 by the Riding Glove, which cancelled the 1908 specification. However, the Quartermaster Corps directed that the gray, buckskin gauntlet with a flared cuff continue to be issued until existing supplies were exhausted. Period photographs reveal that mounted troops wore the Buckskin Gauntlets for a number of years after they had been superseded by the Riding Glove.

 

Photo No. 12: Other than the material from which it was made, the outward appearance of the cavalryman’s riding gauntlet changed very little between 1884 and 1908. In all, there were eight specification changes made to the mounted man’s leather gauntlet; most having to do with the materials from which it was made: Leather Goatskin Gauntlet (1884 to 1888) – Leather Calfskin Gauntlet (1889 to 1895) – Leather Buckskin Gauntlet (1896 to 1902) – Yellow Horsehide Gauntlet (1903 to 1904) – Leather Buckskin Gauntlet (1904 to 1908). From left to right are examples of the 1884 Goatskin Gauntlet, and the 1897, 1905 and 1908 Buckskin Gauntlets.

 

Color photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Line drawing courtesy of the Jon Prostak collection

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Photo No. 13: This “Regular Army” artilleryman, stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, circa 1911, is wearing a pair of 1908 or earlier pattern Buckskin Gauntlets. Note that the soldier, whose hands are visible, to his left is wearing a pair of 1913 Riding Gloves.

 

Photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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At the time of writing, a copy of the specifications for the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlets could not be found. Therefore, the following description of the 1908 gauntlet’s closest relative, the 1906 Buckskin Gauntlet (Specification No. 833, adopted on September 6, 1906), must suffice until the 1908 specifications can be located.

 

The 1906 Buckskin Gauntlets were gray in color and made from oil-tanned buckskin. The 4 ½ inch deep cuff was lined with bark-tanned russet sheepskin. The front of the cuff was ornamented with a scallop edged rectangular panel composed of white silk stitching. The back of the cuff was ornamented with a plain rectangular panel, also composed of white silk stitching. The back of the glove featured three ornamental welts, approximately 3 ¼ inches in length comprised of a double row of stitching on either side of the welt. Each gauntlet had its size either stamped or stenciled onto the inner side of the cuff.

 

Photo No. 14: Front and back of a 1908 Leather Buckskin Gauntlet bearing an August 1912 dated contract stamp on the inner cuff. Note the plain and scalloped rectangular stitching patterns on the obverse and reverse of the cuff.

 

Photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

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The 1906 Buckskin Gauntlet was issued in ten sizes as follows: No. 7 ½ & No. 8: 12 ½ inches – No. 8 ½: 13 inches – No. 9, No. 9 ½, No. 10 & No. 10 ½: 13 ½ inches – No. 11 & No. 11 ½: 13/3/4 inches – No. 12: 14 inches. The overall length of each size was not to be ¼ of an inch more or ½ of an inch less when measured from the tip of the middle finger to the edge of the cuff.

 

Photo No. 15: At first glance, this pair of WW I mounted soldiers appear to be wearing 1908 Buckskin Gauntlets. Construction details of the gauntlets worn by the left hand soldier with the 35th Infantry Division’s insignia on his shoulder, inform us that he is in fact wearing a pair of 1918 Leather Mittens. It’s difficult to be 100% certain if the right hand trooper is wearing Buckskin Gauntlets, as the hand coverings he wears also resemble the 1918 Canvas Gauntlets.

 

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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To my knowledge, the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlet was never an article of issue for the AEF. Period photos suggest, but do not conclusively prove that mounted personnel still possessed the cavalryman’s cherished gray gauntlets or that they were worn by in France by mounted men of the AEF.

 

Photo No.16: Closer views of the 1918 Leather Mitten (top) and either the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlet or 1918 Canvas Gauntlet (bottom). At right is the inspector’s acceptance stamp above the contract stamp. Both of which are located on the inner side of the cuff of the gauntlet shown in Photo No. 10. The contract stamp listed the manufacturer, contract date, the depot to which they were delivered, the specification number, as well as the glove’s size.

 

Left hand photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

Right hand photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

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1913 Leather Riding Glove

Specification No. 1185, adopted on April 10, 1913

In service from April 1913 to 1919 and possibly beyond

 

According to the Quartermaster Corps specifications, the 1913 Leather Riding Glove was intended to replace the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlet (Specification No. 951, adopted on April 23, 1908) for all mounted troops.

 

The Army’s new riding glove was made from chrome-tanned horsehide that was sewn together using silk thread. The back of the riding glove had “three ornamental triple ridges about three and one-quarter (3 ¼) inches long made up of four rows of “B” silk stitching to each triple ridge.” Quirks were set at the inside base of each finger. The glove and the thumb were closed with the raised seams to the outside. The wrist of each glove also had a slit that was not to exceed 4 ¼ inches in length, in which a “gore”* made from the same material as the glove was inserted to fill the V-shaped opening. A fastener was fixed on the wrist ½ inch below the lower thumb seam - the type or style of fastener used was not named in the specifications. A wrist strap, also of the same material as the glove, was sewn to the side seam. The strap passed through a roller fastener set on a second, shorter strap that was attached on the opposite side of the wrist. The loose end of the longer strap was finished with a stationary cap or ornamental button. The cap or button was fastened to an adjustable stud placed near the sewn end of the long wrist strap.

 

*The word “gore” is defined as the curved shape that lies between two lines of longitude on a globe. In this particular instance, gore was a reference to the V-shaped gusset that was sewn between the two sides of the glove’s wrist opening.

 

Photo No. 17: This pair of gloves was found on the website of a small town historical museum. They were labeled as being from the Spanish American War. Because these gloves bear a striking resemblance to the above description, as well as to the gloves worn in period photographs, it is my opinion that they are actually a pair of 1913 Riding Gloves.

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The Leather Riding Glove was available in six sizes: No. 7 ½, No. 8, No. 8 ½, No. 9, No. 9 ½, and No.10. From the tip of the middle finger to the top of the cuff the smallest size measured 10 3/8 inches in length. Each progressive size was 1/8 of an inch longer than the previous size with the exception of size No. 10, which could be anywhere from1/8 to 3/8 of an inch longer. The size was “plainly marked” on the inside of the glove.

 

Photo No. 18: These dismounted, mounted troops, probably stationed along the Mexican border circa 1916, wear both the 1908 Buckskin Gauntlet (left & right) and the 1913 Riding Glove (center).

 

Photo courtesy of the Dragoon collection

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Photo No. 19: The cavalry trooper, circa 1916, at center, is wearing the 1913 Riding Gloves. The two AEF Signal Corps photographers, circa 1919, that flank him, also appear to be in possession of a pair of Army regulation riding gloves.

 

Right & left photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

Center photo courtesy of the Dragoon collection

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Despite being prescribed only for mounted men, period photographs of AEF personnel indicate that the 1913 Riding Gloves were popular amongst Doughboys, even if their duties were best described as “dismounted”.

 

Photo No. 20: Closer views of the three pairs of 1913 Riding Gloves depicted above. Note that the riding glove’s wrist strap is visible in each photograph.

 

Right & left photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

Center photo courtesy of the Dragoon collection

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1913 White Cotton Glove

Specification No. 1193, adopted on June 9, 1913

In service from June 1913 until suspended for the duration of the war in 1917

 

The issue and wear of the blue dress and full dress uniform for both officers and enlisted men was suspended for the duration of the war. The full dress uniform was however, still worn, but only during special functions held at the White House in Washington DC. Therefore the men who entered the Army between 1917 and 1918 were never issued with either the blue dress uniform or the white cotton gloves that were prescribed to be worn with it.

 

On October 4, 1904, the Quartermaster Department adopted a new enlisted men’s White Cotton Glove which was to be worn with the enlisted men’s 1902 Dress and Dress Blue Uniform. Between 1904 and 1917, the specifications for that White Cotton Glove were changed in 1909, again in1910, and yet again in 1913. The enlisted men’s White Cotton Gloves were, on occasion, also referred to as “Berlin gloves” or the “Berlin glove” in some Quartermaster Corps publications. Berlin glove is a generic, or trade name, that was used to describe a washable, thin cotton, white glove that was worn by servants, such as a butler or waiter, and the less well-off in civilian life.

 

The 1913 White Cotton Glove was identical in all respects to the 1910 White Cotton Glove (Specification No. 1060, adopted on April 22, 1910). The only difference between it and the glove it replaced was that it was issued in four sizes, instead of three (the fourth size was size No. 12).

 

The fabric used to make the enlisted men’s white glove was made from white cotton yarn, and was either knitted or woven. It was also “carefully bleached”. The back of each glove had three ornamental welts that were formed by stitching. A white elastic band approximately ¼ inch wide and about 1 inch long was also fastened to the inner side of each glove’s wrist.

 

The 1913 White Cotton Gloves were available in four sizes: No. 9, No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12. The lengths of each size were not mentioned in any of the glove’s four specifications.

 

Photo No. 21: These official Quartermaster Department* images show the front and back of the Specification No. 709 White Cotton Glove. The outward appearance of the four specifications issued remained essentially the same between 1904 and 1917, as the specification changes dealt primarily with how the fabric was manufactured, and in how many sizes the gloves were to be made. Note the “white elastic band” on the left hand glove.

 

Photos courtesy of the Jon Prostak collection

 

*The reason why both the “Quartermaster Department” and “Quartermaster Corps” have been used in this topic can be explained by the fact that the supply division of the U.S. Army was officially known as the Quartermaster Department until 1912. In 1912, the Army re-designated its supply division as the Quartermaster Corps. Therefore, based on the date referenced, the appropriate name is used.

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Photo No. 22: Both the enlisted men’s 1902 Dress Blue Uniform and the White Cotton Gloves are worn by this corporal from the Signal Corps. The fact that this corporal appears to be wearing a russet leather garrison belt informs us that the photo was probably taken after 1911, as that was the year russet leather officially replaced black leather in the U.S. Army. Therefore, the gloves worn were most likely made to either the 1909 or 1913 specifications.

 

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Regulation Olive Drab Woolen Gloves

1909 to 1917

 

The United States Army first adopted an olive drab woolen glove in 1909 (Specification No. 1020, adopted on April 30, 1909). Prior to 1909 the nearly identical, 1906 White Woolen Glove (Specification No. 805, adopted on April 13, 1906) had been issued to its soldiers for winter wear.

 

The 1909 Quartermaster Department’s specifications for the 1909 Olive Drab Woolen Glove described it as being a “thoroughly seamless, machine knit, woolen glove, free from imperfections in manufacture or finish.” It was made from long staple American wool yarn that was “well carded and evenly spun.” It had a ribbed cuff that was 4 inches in length with a welt along the upper edge to prevent raveling. The glove was made in three sizes: No. 9, No. 10 and No. 11. The three sizes were 9 ½ inches, 10 inches, and 10 ½ inches respectively, from the tip of the middle finger to the top of the cuff.

 

Photo No. 23: Here a pair of slightly longer 1916 pattern woolen gloves, which were worn during WW I, are shown next to a soldier circa 1910, wearing what surely must be a pair of 1909 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves.

 

Background photo courtesy of the Dragoon collection

Foreground photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

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The 1912 Scotch Woolen Glove

Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912

Improbable, but possibly used by the AEF

 

In the 1917 Uniform Specifications five separate types of gloves for enlisted men were mentioned. The paragraph devoted to gloves read as follows: “96. GLOVES, horsehide, olive-drab, woolen, riding, Scotch wool, and white cotton, as issued.”

The 1912 Scotch Wool Glove, Specification No. 1171, adopted on November 7, 1912, was likely never used by the AEF. There is however, a possibility that it may have been pressed into service in early 1918 when the Army was struggling to clothe and equip its rapidly growing Army. Aside from being nearly twice as thick, the outward appearance of the 1912 Scotch Wool Glove would have been almost identical to the 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove with the following exceptions:

  • Since the gloves were intended for the extreme climate of Alaska, they were made from a heavier weight of 100% long-staple Scotch woolen yarn instead of the lighter 100% long-staple American woolen yarn and cotton/wool yarns that were used to fabricate the 1909, 1914 (Knit Wear) and 1916 pattern olive drab woolen gloves.
  • The result of the thicker yarn used to fabricate the Scotch Wool Glove resulted in the weight of a dozen pairs of that particular glove tipping the scales at 72 ounces, compared to 28 ounces for twelve pairs of the 1909 and 1914 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves, or 35 ounces, which was the total weight of a dozen pairs of the Specification No. 1265, 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove. That would make the weight of a single pair of 1909 O.D. Woolen Gloves 2.3 ounces – the 1912 Scotch Wool Gloves, 6 ounces – the 1914 O.D. Woolen Gloves, 2.3 ounces – and the 1916 O.D. Woolen Gloves 2.9 ounces.
  • The sizes in which the Scotch Wool Glove was issued were identical in numbers and length to those of the 1909, 1914, and first pattern 1916 gloves. They were however, approximately 2 ½ inches shorter than the overall length of the Specification No. 1265, or second pattern 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves.

The 1914 “Knit Wear” Woolen Glove

Specification No. 1210, adopted on May 13, 1914

Improbable, but possibly used by the AEF

 

On May 13, 1914, the Quartermaster Corps issued a new specification which encompassed a range of heavier weight knit clothing. The title given to that specification was “Knit Wear”. Presumably, the seven knit garments named in that specification were all assigned the same specification number, which was No. 1210. The 1914 Knit Wear/Olive Drab Woolen Glove, Specification No. 1210, was nearly identical to, and replaced the1909 Olive Drab Woolen Glove. The only difference between it and its predecessor was that its yarn was “twisted into a three ply”, unlike the 1909 pattern glove, whose yarn was “twisted into a four ply”.

 

The 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove

Specification No. 1245, adopted on August 21, 1916

This specification likely never went into production as it was cancelled by the adoption of Specification No. 1265 just two days after it was adopted

 

The first pattern 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove, if it was ever produced, was identical in all respects to the1914 Olive Drab Woolen Glove except that it was made from 60% wool and 40% cotton yarn instead of 100% woolen yarn (the number of plies to the yarn used was not mentioned in the specifications).

 

The 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove

Specification No. 1265, adopted on August 23, 1916

In service from

August 1917 to February 1918 or until supplies were exhausted

 

The second pattern, 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove canceled the Specification No. 1245 gloves, which had been adopted just two days before. The second pattern glove was identical in all respects to the first pattern, 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove with the exception that each of its three available sizes were made longer to provide additional warmth. The longer sizes measured: No. 9 - 12 inches, No. 10 - 12 ½ inches, and No. 11 - 13 inches from the tip of the middle finger to the top of the cuff.

 

The 1909, 1912, 1914 and 1916 pattern Olive Drab Woolen Gloves were all machine woven in one piece. The result of the glove’s manufacturing process in which each component, comprised of a hand, thumb and cuff, were seamlessly woven together, was that upon completion, each glove had a smooth finish, a ribbed cuff and no visible seams.

 

Photo No. 24: This smartly turned out Doughboy wears the 1917 Overcoat for enlisted men with the 77th Division’s insignia sewn onto the left shoulder and a pair of 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves. The four inch long ribbed cuff of the early all-woven glove can clearly be seen in the enlargement.

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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The 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Glove in Service

The Doughboys who served overseas as the year changed from 1917 to 1918, found themselves doing significantly more menial labor than their stateside counterparts. As a result the 1916 pattern woolen gloves with which the men had been issued prior to embarking for Europe were wearing out at an alarming rate. The AEF’s solution to this problem was explained thusly in a wartime evaluation of the clothing that was worn by the AEF when it arrived in 1917:

 

In consequence, a board of officers which met at General Headquarters A.E.F. in January, 1918, recommended that a serviceable leather mitten, with a separate place for the forefinger, to be worn over the woolen glove, be issued.

 

The United States Medical Department in the World War, Vol. VI, Sanitation, 1926, page 640

 

Photo No. 25: A PFC of an unknown III Corps, Corps of Engineers outfit, probably posted to occupied Germany sometime in 1919 takes a moment to savor his hand rolled cigarette. Note that even at this late date, his hands are encased in a pair of seamless 1916 Olive Drab Woolen Gloves, which had been abolished as an article of issue in February of 1918.

 

Photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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