Gloves and Mittens

Soldiers have to fight in all weathers including extreme cold. The extremities are at particular risk in cold weather so some form of protection is needed and gloves have been used to protect fingers since ancient times. The problem with gloves is that the more effective they are at protecting against the cold, the harder it is for a soldier to fire a rifle due to their bulk. Whilst the Russians and Germans came up with elaborate trigger mechanisms to allow riflemen to continue fighting, the British continued issuing simple knitted woollen gloves and mittens.

Wool garments have the advantage that they are cheap, easy to make and can be repaired by the soldier in the field with the same darning needle and thread he uses for his socks. They are not always the warmest items of clothing though, and manual dexterity is limited as with any glove that covers the finger tips. There seem to have been two main designs of hand protection issued to the British Tommy in World War 2. The first was a traditional fingered glove in olive green knitted wool:

 0D255ECF-D682-4725-865B-C9BF53F5E069As the fingers are separate this glove allows a rifle to be used much as usual, however the separation of fingers does not allow the same level of warmth to be achieved as in a mitten. Mittens though make it impossible for a soldier to use a rifle as he can’t fire the trigger. Therefore a half-way house was developed with separate thumb and trigger finger and a mitten type covering for the other three fingers:A9440A22-F825-4188-A2F1-A3A2A387DD37Both these designs seem to have been used simultaneously throughout the war and indeed for many years later. These gloves and mittens are not marked and seem to be pretty easy to come by, and I can attest to the effectiveness of the mittens having used them on cold early mornings at WW2 shows!

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