British Army Snow Shoes

Although the British Army only saw limited service in snowy conditions during World War II, the German occupation of Norway always made it a possibility that they might be expected to fight in this environment. As such the British Army ensured it developed a range of Arctic warfare equipment and these are an area of British Second World War militaria I do enjoy collecting and one item I have wanted for a while is a set of snow shoes so I was very pleased to get this pair last year. The shoes are made of bent wood secured with metal staples and are known as Truger pattern shoes. A criss-cross of strings on the inside support the weight of the soldier:

Turning the shoes over we can see how the strings are secured to one another and the iron rings used to attach the straps used to secure shoes to the base part of the snow shoe:

The straps to secure the shoes have a stamped metal friction buckle to secure them securely:

The straps are marked with the manufacturer’s initials and the year of manufacture, in this case 1943:

The strap is marked ‘Bagcraft’ but I am not sure if this company just made the strap or the whole snow shoes. In this period photo we can see snow shoes being manufactured in a factory:

The version of snow shoe in the photo has a long ski like blade on the bottom and is of a different pattern, but the photo below shows clearly how the straps are used to secure them to the feet:

Here we see the shoes above a pair of Canadian pattern snow shoes which are much larger:

One comment

  1. The longer ‘Canadian’ ones are a Native ‘Eastern Woodland’ style, larger because we don’t like sinking to the hips in soft snow and hitting a short sapling on the way down 😉 They’re also a bit easier to walk in with less chance of the dreaded ‘mal de racquet’ if you walk by bringing the edge of one shoe over the edge of the other with each step’ setting the curved ‘toe’ alongside the ‘tail’ where it snugs in quite nicely. That lets you walk with your legs closer together in a more natural gait rather than the ‘bearpaw’ type shown here. They’re also easier to pull a toboggan with than skis, for me at least. Both styles work and Natives in different areas used them for different purposes, Arctic shoes are different from Woodland and some work better in deep dry snow while others are better suited for wet or warmer conditions, warmer winters weren’t uncommon hundreds of years ago, warmer than today even.

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