(From 200 let 12-go pekhotnago Velikolutskago polka. Moscow, 1912. Page 237.)
Clothing for the 12th Velikie-Luki Infantry Regiment in Manchuria, 1904-05.
Fall in Manchuria was magnificent. In October the days were clear, warm, and gentle. But at night it was already cold with frost. Meanwhile there were not enough greatcoats for all the lower ranks. The greatcoats had been turned over at Lyaoyan to the divisional supply train, which had been burned up during the retreat. Only some of the greatcoats, about 300, had been able to be saved by the commander of the non-combatant company, Staff-Captain Ivanov. In September when the army turned around to the attack, Chinese quilted coats (kurmy) were handed out to replace missing greatcoats, but they proved to be flimsy and soon began to fall apart. Footwear was also in a lamentable state. The stalks of kaoliang sorghum, cut obliquely when harvested, that covered the fields over which the troops often had to walk during the September and October battles, cut footgear like knives. Often the only thing left on a soldier's feet was the top of his boots and a sole wrapped around with cloth, or in more fortunate cases—←Chinese slippers. But in this case, too, the regimental stores in Kharbin were able to partially solve the problem by delivering a small number of boots to satisfy those most desparately in need, as well as warm clothing—coats, foot-cloths, mittens, and a certain amount of uniform items. The replacement and repair of clothing and footwear somewhat improved the situation, but the shortage of greatcoats was keenly felt, especially for those units on duty in the trenches where it was not possible to build campfires to keep warm. The only available means to get warm was to quick march in place. Far from the trenches one could hear the stamping of feet on the packed earth.
(In November the regiment occupied fixed positions. Pages 239-240.)
Measures were taken to fix up clothing and footwear as much as possible. Everything still left in the Kharbin stores was handed out. A certain amount of footgear was obtained by the companies in the bazar at Mukden where there was a lively trade in various military items and soldiers' gear provided for sale by men being evacuated or fallen sick, and by lower ranks in newly arrived units which had been supplied in overabundance. There was an especially large amount of soldier's boots for sale since a man's second pair could be disposed of without regret. Their price settled at between 1 rouble 15 kopecks and 2 roubles. Short coats were received from the intendance—enough for the whole regiment, and about 50 pairs of felt winter boots for each company. The shortfall of felt boots was made up with quilted Chinese socks. These socks did not fit into the leather boots, nor could they substitute for felt boots because they were flimsy, so when on the march they were taken off and carried, and when not on the move they were worn over the boots. In some companies a kind of galoshes were sewn together out of Chinese felt. This felt turned out to be rather strong and such galoshes (like Finnish kengi), put on over boots, were lightweight and provided full protection from the cold.
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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2009.