GWA Australian Uniform & Equipment Authenticity Standards

Note: This list is meant to read as information only, it should not be considered a complete and comprehensive list. These do not represent the only source of these items but the best available at the time of printing. This list will be under continual revision as new information is gathered. The final decision as to what items are historically accurate and are acceptable to a Great War Australian impression will be left to the unit commander or his designated Authenticity Inspector. The items below are considered acceptable. New recruits are encouraged to check with the unit commander, an NCO, or the unit designated Authenticity Representative before purchasing any item not recommended by the unit. If your looking for acceptable vendors - please consult the 5th Battalion, AIF website.

I. Uniform Items

  1. Jacket, Service Dress (Tunic).

  2. The "jacket" consisted of a five button, four-pocket belted tunic. This tunic was made from a twill weave cloth, in several different weights (8, 10, 12, 16 and 18 oz confirmed so far) and was a "Khaki" color. This khaki is of a greener color than the standard British army uniform of the same period. The bottom two external pockets must be of the bellows type. There must be at least six pleats (3 on each side) set in the back of the jacket, in addition to the center seam. There are at least three patterns of the standard tunic, with variations on the belt arrangements being the most common difference.

    The pattern 1914 was a full belted (approximately 2 inches in width) tunic with a brass buckle. Period photographs show several different buckle styles. These are unlined; many having no internal pocket reinforcing or shell-dressing pocket.

    The pattern 1917 tunics have a sewn in false belt with no buckle. They have pocket reinforcing seams and an internal shell-dressing pocket. These were apparently made only in England under contract to the Australian Government. The pattern 1917 is identical to the Tunic used by the Australian Army between the wars and in early WWII (Up to 1943).

    The third type is a variation of the Pattern 1914 tunic made from Flannel. These were of an identical pattern to the standard tunic, but made of flannel material due to uniform and material shortages (similar to the cloth used in L.L. Bean or Woolrich shirts). The color was officially "Drab" and has been variously described as olive green to brown when new. They almost all faded to a gray-green color. Though these were early war emergency issue, they were used though out the war.

    All of these tunics have an almost endless series of variations. Photographs, diaries, the official histories, and museum collections document serious variations in color (Bright Olive Green to Light Pink) and cut, in addition to the various styles of belt buckle. We strive for a middle of the road appearance.

    We will also accept original World War II Pattern 41 tunics. This is virtually identical to a late war issue WWI tunic. The color is actually a few shades darker than the WWI originals, but wartime manufacturing shade variations makes these acceptable. They are very hard to find in any but small sizes.

    The Australian WWII Pattern 44 tunics can also be used to make a tunic (You must altar the uniform by making the two bottom bellows pockets.). WWII Australian straight leg pants are the same material and color and can be used for reenactment purposes. A trashed and moth eaten pair can be used to make the pockets. Ebay or general surplus are the only sources to get these type tunics. This should be on option of last resort. You should contact us before doing any home tailoring of your uniform; we will furnish you dimensions and photos of period uniforms to use in altering the tunic.

  3. Breeches, Woolen, Commonwealth Pattern, Dismounted Service (D.S.).

  4. The Australian Army was officially issued breeches of khaki wool whipcord cloth. These came in two types, Mounted Service (MS) and Dismounted Service (DS). The infantry were issued the DS Breeches. However, with all things concerning Australian uniforms there are many exceptions. The major difference between the two types of breeches is the extra reinforcing in the crotch and inner thighs of the MS breeches. Photographic evidence from the Australian War Memorial shows Infantrymen wearing MS breeches during all periods of the war.

    Australians were also issued breeches made from serge cloth, similar to the cloth used in British SD uniforms. These were presumably made in England at the same time as the Pattern 1917 tunic contracts were let (Research is fuzzy, but photographs and museum uniform collections document their issue).

    Australians were also issued (or stole) British SD Trousers when stocks of breeches ran low (A not uncommon experience, again backed up by photographic evidence from the AWM and others). All of the above types of Breeches/ Trousers are acceptable to this unit.

    These pants will have a button fly and will be held up by the use of pants suspenders (Braces). By far, the most common type is the whipcord DS breeches. These are very similar in style and cut to the WWII British army Dispatch Riders Breeches, and certain cord cavalry breeches still issued today in the British Army which are acceptable. Beware of the Dispatch Rider Beeches. They have VERY NARROW Calf openings. If you have larger than pencil thin calves, these won’t fit.

    Note: A breeches style of pants should be your first choice. SD trousers should only be worn when breeches are not available.

  5. Badge, Hat; Badges, Collar; Titles “Australia”, Copper, Oxidized.

  6. For your uniform you will need to purchase the standard Australian Army Insignia consisting of two curved "Australia" shoulder titles and two collar insignia ("dogs", this is the familiar Australian rising sun badge.

    Note: These badges come in two sizes. The smaller is the collar insignia and you will need two. The larger is the cap badge addressed below. ) that read "Australian Commonwealth Military Forces". Do not purchase anything that reads only "Australian Military Forces" as they are post war and not correct for WWI.

  7. Buttons (Tunic and Trousers).

  8. The Australian Army saw service throughout WWI using a plain brown or green dish style button of Bakelite type material or leather covered buttons. Oxidized Copper Map buttons (showing the outline of Australia) were issued starting in 1918 but are not common on a combat uniform. For other than Officers and some NCO’s (who used Australian Map buttons for the whole war) the map buttons were add-ons at wars end to dress up the appearance of the tunic upon return to Australia. Correct combat buttons are the Bakelite/ leather type mentioned above.

    Each Tunic takes 11 buttons 4 pockets, 2 shoulder, 5 front – a ½" size button is recommended for the bottom four front closure buttons and cuffs. A ¼ ” button for the collar button and pocket flaps.

  9. 5th BN Unit Color Patches.

  10. Black over red in wool felt 1¾” by 2¾” (each of the black and red sections should be of equal halves of the width).

  11. Greatcoat, Khaki, 25oz, Dismounted Service (D.S.) (Optional Item).

  12. Not normally used in trench warfare, but damn comfortable around the campfire on a cold night. The original Australian Greatcoats were an ankle length single breasted, plain overcoat with two internal, covered, slash pockets. The coat was of a thick (25oz) blanket type material similar in color to the tunic. It had five large buttons on the front. The sleeves have deep, turn back cuffs. There is a short slit in the rear of the skirt that can be fastened with two buttons. The collar has a small wool gathering piece to be buttoned in front if the collar is worn up. It is held in place by a small button under the collar when the collar is worn down. Original Australian Great coats are preferred, but very hard to find. Again, the WWII model is almost identical to the WWI pattern, but still hard to find. Photographic evidence shows Australian troops wearing British style overcoats without turn-back cuffs.

    Any single breasted British/Commonwealth style overcoat with period buttons is acceptable. One inexpensive solution is to purchase a standard post-WII British Army double breasted overcoat, known as a Pattern 1953 Dismounted Overcoat and convert it to a WWI pattern by having it altered to single breast. These overcoats normally come with a plastic British Army button that will need to be replaced. Leather buttons can be used for overcoat buttons. You will normally need five 1" and five ½"size buttons (depending on the coat you get).

    Also acceptable are Belgian/Greek post WWII overcoats as it is the same type of material and design.

  13. Hat, Khaki, Fur (Slouch Hat).

  14. The most recognizable Australian item, 100% greenish khaki colored felt broad brimmed hat. These are worn turned up on the left side on parade and down in the field. These are quite available because of their popularity.

    This hat will also use a hat insignia version (larger size) of the collar insignia that will read "Australian Commonwealth Military Forces". This badge is worn on the left brim of the hat to be centered on the brim when turned up.

    The pugaree (Hat Band) can be the plain wool (most common) or pleated khaki cloth type.

  15. Cap, Service Dress.

  16. Officer and NCO impressions may also wear the Australian Service Dress Cap.

    This is very similar to the British SD cap, made of the same material as the Australian Tunic. There are slight manufacturing differences between this cap and the British, so the British SD cap is not allowed.

    This hat was issued to drivers in the Australian Army through WWII. For Pre-1916 scenarios, all ranks will be permitted to wear this cap. It was issued to all ranks, but was not generally worn in any numbers by other ranks after Gallipoli.

    Note: There is currently no reproduction of this hat being made.

  17. Socks.

  18. The issued sock was a knitted wool, calf length sock of gray, neutral, or khaki color.

  19. Jerkin (Optional Item).

  20. These were used to protect the uniform from barbed wire and to provide some additional warmth. They amount to a blanket lined long sleeveless vest made of leather. Brown leather is the preferred material.

  21. Puttees.

  22. The most identifiable WWI item, wool leg wrappings. Nine feet in length with two-foot cotton tape on the end. Standard full-length puttees are easy to find at gunshows. Make sure these are the correct lengths and not the shortened Scottish variety.

    It is also acceptable for Australians to wear a cut sandbag tied with twine over the puttees or even in place of the puttees. You must have the permission of the unit commander to do this without puttees. This was especially common during really muddy periods.

    The Australian Official Histories and LTG Sir John Monash’s (The Australian Corps Commander in 1918) Book The Australian Victories in France in 1918 also mention Australian soldiers acquiring American canvas leggings. They loved these much better than the puttees because they did not get caught as much in the wire and did not unravel.

    The Australians trained the U.S. 27th, 30th and 33rd Divisions and the 27th and 30th fought with the Australian Corps in late 1918. After the July 4th Battle of Hamel, Americans were "…now classified as diggers". They swapped, stole, and gambled away each other’s money and equipment on a regular basis. See the official histories The Broken Years by Bill Gammage, and Monash’s book. Monash also speaks of American troops who were left out of the Hamel fight swapping places and uniforms with Australians to get in the fight. Items of American equipment can be worn at the discretion of the unit commander in late war scenarios.

  23. Boots, Ankle, Brown.

  24. Australian Army Personnel normally wore a medium brown colored ankle boot. These boots included hobnails and iron horse shoe heel plates. Boots of this type are hard to come by and are usually only available as a WWII original item (as opposed to reproduction). Black boots are available and acceptable, but are not preferred as Australia really stuck with brown boots. Hobnails and iron heel horseshoes should be placed on the boots. The proper WWI version is not toe capped. Brown leather WWII toe capped originals will be allowed. Unit members have been successful in finding brown leather, ankle work boots and having them re-soled in leather. This will probably be the best and cheapest way to get proper brown Australian Boots. Rubber soled boots of any type are not acceptable.

  25. Shirt, Flannel.

  26. The blue/gray undershirt of the British Army and Commonwealth forces known as the "Gray back" is the most common. The actual shirt was meant to double as a nightshirt. Australians wore a variety of shirts (On Gallipoli and in Egypt they wore a white cotton shirt). Original period photos show a variety of period shirts in the field. We will accept most all wool or cotton tab collar shirts with period buttons. Unit commander will have the final say on just what shirts are acceptable.

  27. Braces (Suspenders).

  28. Good ones to get are khaki colored Canadian ones. Make sure you use ones that are made of non-elastic cotton and have leather attachments for buttons. Clip on suspenders will not be accepted.

  29. Vest, Balaclava, Scarf, Gloves (Optional Items).

  30. These were mostly all private purchase items, sent from home, or provided by various comfort societies in Australia and the U.K. They help keep you warm in the trenches. Balaclavas, scarves, and gloves were normally home front manufactured items. Most photos seen show fingerless wool type gloves. Try staying with military-ish colors such as green, brown, neutral knitted wool.

  31. Cap Comforter (Optional Item).

  32. The British Army did issue a device known as the Cap Comforter. A picture of trench raiders in 1916 shows all of them wearing this cap, really a variation of the common watch or stocking cap.

II. Weapons and Equipment

  1. Rifle.

  2. The standard rifle of the period was the Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE).303 No 1 Mark III, or No 1 Mark III* models, these models are a must – no exception. Lithgow Manufactured and pre 1918 dates preferred with large tolerance on other manufacturers. There has been movement with accepting .308 rebored models but a method has not been devised to duplicate in appearance the standard .303 model just yet. Please stick with a .303 rifle until otherwise advised.

    Rifles are complete with leather or webbing rifle sling.

  3. Cloth Bandolier (Optional Item).

  4. This refers to the standard 50 round Khaki cotton cloth bandolier that ammunition was carried in, in addition to the standard amount carried in the left and right ’08 ammo pouches. A good impression will have two of these. They should be British marked and be specifically for .303 ammunition.

  5. Stripper Clips.

  6. Standard .303 stripper clip for 5 rounds of .303. You should purchase enough for both the left and right ammo pouches and two cloth bandoliers (40 total).

  7. Sword Bayonets and Scabbards, Sword-Bayonet.
  8. Standard No 1 Mark III pattern 1907 Bayonet with a proper leather scabbard. The button type steel scabbard keeper is more correct for WWI than the lozenge shape but both are acceptable.

III. Field Equipment

  1. Helmet.

  2. Standard Brit Brodie Type – Purchase only from an approved source as it will avoid future problems. WWII British helmets are not acceptable. If you are unsure what is correct WWI helmet check with the Unit CO before you buy one.

  3. Helmet cover(Optional Item).

  4. Self manufactured of canvas or burlap (sandbag). These were used to eliminate the shine off of a helmet and to lessen noise when scrapping against other objects.

    Note: Not all ANZAC’s wore them – this is a personal preference item only.

  5. Sheets, Ground (Rain Cape).

  6. This is a tough one to source – the British Army provided what amounted to a rain cape, with no sleeves, as rain gear. It was basically a rubberized type of cloth.

  7. Gas mask bag.

  8. Standard Brit box respirator bag with brass snaps/furniture. Original British bags are very hard to find and are so scarce that even if you should obtain one, use of it would not be recommended in the trenches. The Unit can help you convert a U.S. Bag (easier to find).

    We prefer a British gas mask bag, or at least a converted bag, but we will accept U.S. (See comments under puttees above) gas mask bags. When wearing a U.S. bag you must keep the snaps and flap turn toward the body to hid the obvious snaps.

    We have a unit member who has a British marked, Broad Arrow marked U.S. Style Bag but this cannot have been very common and was probably made in a British factory on a U.S. Contract for use by the American Forces.

  9. Gas mask.

  10. Reproductions are starting to appear [See Above under Gas Mask Bag] or you can find a usable U.S. mask to put in your Brit bag. PH helmets can be used under certain circumstances for pre-1918 scenarios.

    Note: If using an original mask – do not attempt to breathe through it! Many may still contain elements of poisonous gas and will harm those attempting to use them for their original purpose.

  11. Infantry Equipment (Pattern 1908 Mills Webbing).

  12. The original webbing field gear used by all Commonwealth Forces of the period. We prefer an all original set, but good reproductions are starting to appear so you will no longer have to trash your original set in the trenches.

    1. Your set must have (all of the 1908 pattern NOT 37 pattern):
      • belt
      • braces
      • left & right ammo pouches,
      • bottle, water, enameled (Blue enamel only, with Khaki wool cover)
      • water bottle carrier
      • bayonet frog,
      • e-tool carrier
      • small pack
    2. Implements.
      • Intrenching Patt ’08
      • helve (e-tool handle)
      • Heads (e-tool)
      • helve Holder
      • Large Pack, Equipment (Helmet) Straps and Mess Tin Cover are optional.
  13. Typical Australian "Billy" rolls made from the Rain Cape.

  14. Greatcoat and blanket is acceptable and encouraged for a field impression. The items are rolled like a sleeping bag with the rain cap on the outside to keep items dry. The are bound with cotton twine or extra P-08 equipment straps and slung from the shoulder (or attached to the P-08 gear) with leather or rope straps. This was a method for the troops to carry extra gear for comfort into the line. Almost every picture of Australian troops going in or out of the line shows these.

  15. Australian Pattern 1908/15 Leather Equipment.

  16. Australia rushed into production a leather version of the above equipment to cover the needs of their soldiers when web gear was in short supply. Original leather 08/15 is close to the price of original webbing if you can find all the pieces.

  17. Bandolier Equipment (Pattern 1903 Cavalry Equipment).
    1. Includes:
      • Carriers, Water Bottle with Shoulder Strap
      • Frogs, Brown, Bayonet, CP
      • Haversack, G.S.
      • Bandoliers, 50 Rds (90 Rds for Light Horse Impressions)
      • Belts, Waist
      • Pockets, Cartridge, 10 or 15 Rds

    Due to the cost of the P-08 or P-08/15 equipment we will allow no more than two new recruits at a time to wear the P-03 gear for no more than two events. This will allow new members to attend events while giving them time to get all the proper infantry gear. This gear was intended for Cavalry, Artillery and service troops (basically everybody but infantry). Members using P-03 will portray Drivers from the Battalion "B" echelon and will perform carrying and cooking duties. Drivers will be allowed to fight with unit, but have the primary purpose of keeping the line infantry supplied. The unit has access to a loaner set of P-03 and the pieces of P-03 tend to be cheaper than P-08. Drivers wear a 5-pocket bandolier and the 2-15 round and 2-10 round belt pouches.

IV. Other field Equipment:

  1. British Army tin cup.

  2. Standard tin drinking cup. White enamel cups are preferred. Brown enamel cups are acceptable.

  3. Tin, Mess, DS.

  4. "D" Shaped mess tin that was standard to the British Army for many years. Prices range from $50 - $100 for originals depending on manufacturer, date made and other markings. OLM or GWM.

    British Army mess utensils- Knife, Fork, Spoon Field Service (F.S.) are needed to complete your mess tin. Equipment Add-ons (good to have, but optional unless specified). Holdall, Housewife, FS, Soap

    Holdall was used to hold personal toilet items. A cloth rolled bundle with pockets and spaces to hold toothbrush, straight razor, brush, eating utensils, etc – If you are planning to display soap for the public, use the back of a bar of Ivory soap or a plain bar of Lye Soap.

  5. Hairbrush.

  6. Use a period men’s hair hairbrush small enough to fit in the Holdall.

    Straight razor- in case, and shaving brush. Try to get the English made pieces.

  7. Military Pocket Bible.

  8. Soldiers on leave in London were usually given a pocket bible for free by any one of the numerous charitable organizations of the period. With the closeness of death to a WWI soldier, religious items were prevalent.

  9. Disk, Identity, with cord (Required Item).

  10. Every Commonwealth soldier was provided two ID discs. Normally suspended around the neck with a rope or small leather string.

  11. Knife, Clasp with Marlin Spike, tin opener and Lanyard.

  12. Just as described, with wooden checkered grips.

  13. Paybook (now available and required).

  14. Every Commonwealth soldier was issued a paybook that listed the complete personal history of the soldier. These were carried in the upper right tunic pocket of each soldier. Australian and New Zealand forces initially used a book specific to those organizations, which was longer in height and has a different style cover. The Australian version is marked Australian Imperial Force in block letters and has a printed version of the "Rising Sun" badge on the cover. Late war examples have been seen having been issued to ANZAC’s using the standard British Army models, especially after the original ANZAC ones were filled up with information.

    The unit will provide details and assistance for filling out your paybook correctly. It requires some prior planning to create your 1914-18 “Cover Story”. Contact us for assistance.

  15. Toothbrush.

  16. Get a Civil War Sutler Bone Handled toothbrush, they work great and are close to the originals.

  17. Button Sticks (brass).

  18. Button sticks were used to polish brass insignia and pieces of equipment.

  19. Blankets, General Service (GS).

  20. Australian army blankets are characterized as a gray 100% wool blanket with small red stripes running the length of the center of the blanket.

  21. Tentage.

  22. The Commonwealth Armies used a multitude of tents but we stick with two main types. A squad size British bell tent and a two-man "pup" tent version. These tents were the responsibility of the Quartermaster and not carried by individuals.

  23. Wooden "period" chair.

  24. Good for the campsite or the bunker. Find anything you think that looks like it might have been stolen from a demolished French house. Don’t spend a lot.

  25. Underwear.

  26. If you are very motivated or are going to a graded at a Living History event that looks at these, then by all means get a pair or two.

    1. Singlet, Woolen. - A sleeveless wool undershirt, sometimes called a vest.
    2. Drawers, Woolen - Basically the bottom half of a two piece set of long johns. Made from white colored wool. Has a button fly, with white Bakelite buttons.
  27. Towel.

  28. The Australian soldiers was issued a small, plain, white cotton towel.