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Serbian Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Serbian Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special


We’ve talked a lot about Serbia during our
regular episodes. From the war’s beginnings and the repeated
failures of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to conquer Serbia, to its invasion at the hands
of the combined Central Powers, then to the exodus to Corfu where the remnants of the
Serbian army were reconstituted to carry on the fight. And today I’m not going to look at what
they did, but what they wore. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War
special episode about Serbian uniforms in the First World War. Well, it’s also about some of their uniforms
from before the war. See, even though Serbia was officially independent
after the 1878 Congress of Berlin, it had been fairly independent from the Ottoman Empire
in reality since the 1830s, with it’s own ruler, constitution, parliament, and army. And there was a real desire to equip that
army like a modern European one. And even to the end of the 19th century you
could see foreign influences at work on Serbian uniforms, depending on the current political
situation. At first the influence was strongly Russian,
and in fact the first uniforms were actually Russian ones, but with Serbian insignia. In the 1870s you could see French style Kepis
and German pickelhaube simultaneously. However, it was at the beginning of that decade,
in 1870, when the Regulation of Military Clothing came out and the standard uniforms of the
both the officers and the enlisted men became more practical and appropriate for the modern
battlefield. In 1896 a new pattern emerged which was quite
different from the Austrian inspired 1870 pattern. It was clearly influenced by Russian uniforms,
and was a ploy by King Alexander to get more Russian support after his father’s pro-Austrian
policies. The men still wore the shajkacha on their
heads but the officers wore the shapka peaked cap. A new kalpak – a fur busby – was introduced
for parade. The tunic was dark blue and single breasted. Trousers were grey-blue and the greatcoat
dark blue. Collars and shoulder straps were in the colors
of service. Now, this uniform was replaced in 1908 but
is still important for WW1 since Serbia couldn’t produce enough modern uniforms for everyone,
so the 1896 uniform was all over the battlefields of the Balkan Wars and this war. In fact, many reserve officers and 2nd Ban
troops – soldiers 32-37 years old – you’ll see wearing the “old blues” in pictures
from back then. The soldiers’ uniforms by now focused on
simplicity and functionality, but not so those of the officers. The 1900 pattern officers’ uniform introduced
the mundir, a double-breasted tunic with six buttons in each row. It differed in color depending on branch of
service, but eventually all regiments except cavalry wore black mundir. Cavalry wore light blue. Trousers were black except for the cavalry
and general staff who wore red with two black stripes. The 1908 olive green uniform pattern was a
field service pattern for all ranks, to be worn on all duty occasions. The officers’ tunic was made of wool and
single breasted with 8 hidden buttons and had two pockets on the chest and two down
the sides. The upturned velvet collar showed the color
of service. The summer tunic was the same cut but made
of linen or cotton and was white. The trousers and greatcoat were also the olive
green. The coat was waist less and double-breasted,
with six buttons down each side. There were two pockets with flaps on the sides
and the left one was cut through for the sabre. There was a long slit up the back for horseback
that could be buttoned. Boots were black and came up just below the
knee. The headgear was an olive green shajkacha. They had a leather belt with a holster for
a handgun and a leather sabre hanger, a sabre, map case, binoculars and a case for them,
and a canteen. The enlisted men had shajkacha, tunic, trousers,
greatcoat, and boots. The shajkacha was olive green wool with no
decoration. The flaps could be folded down in cold weather
and a piece of cloth could be easily attached to the back in the summer to protect the neck
from the sun. Tunic was olive green wool with seven hidden
black bone buttons. It had four pockets, the two chest pockets
with scalloped flaps. Earlier models had flaps on the lower pockets
that could be snapped shut, but eventually they had the same as the chest pockets. Collar patches were the color of service and
shoulder straps were of the same material as the tunic, with one large bone button and
the rank insignia on top. Soldiers that carried rifles had a roll on
the right shoulder strap to keep the rifle sling from slipping off. Sergeants had the color of service piping
on the shoulder straps. The trousers were olive green and were adjustable
for high or low boots. The Greatcoat was the same color, with the
collar turned down with service color patches. When not in use it could be rolled up like
a bandolier over the shoulder. Tall boots with soft legs were used by the
artillery and cavalry; the infantry got low black marching boots. There was, though, a chronic shortage of footwear,
so many soldiers were issued with opanci, traditional leather peasant shoes. They were cheap and easy to mass-produce and
since most of the infantry were peasants, they were used to them. The infantry carried a belt with ammo pouches,
two on the front holding 45 rounds each, and one on the back holding 60. They had a water bottle and an entrenching
tool, and a backpack was issued in smaller numbers, but most soldiers carried a plain
white bread bag on its own strap. However, these uniforms were what the Serbian
army used early in the war, before the retreat through the mountains of Albania and the regrouping
on Corfu. Most of their uniforms were lost or destroyed
during this time, and the new reconstituted Serbian army that fought the remainder of
the war in the Balkans was equipped mostly by the French and wore their uniforms. Many officers, though, kept their 1908 patterns
or had new ones made so they were often wearing totally different uniforms from their men. 150,000 French Adrian helmets were issued
and they bore the Serbian crest on the front, and the kit the soldiers carried was basically
French. Compared to the other nations, Serbian uniforms
and gear were durable, simple, and practical. The olive green blended in pretty well with
Serbian vegetation and the relatively low weight was a great plus in the hills. There were a couple of downsides, like the
ammo pouches were fairly bulky, but the real downside was that Serbia was not a wealthy
nation and, especially after the two Balkan wars, could not afford to dress and equip
all of its troops. So the First Ban, soldiers 21-31, had the
1908 uniforms, the 2nd Ban, as I said, also had a bunch of the old 1896 dark blue uniforms,
while the 3rd Ban, ages 18-21 and 38-50, usually only got the greatcoat and the shajkacha,
but sometimes wouldn’t even get that. They might only have civilian clothes, and
that gave Austro-Hungarian troops the excuse to shoot or hang them as guerrillas and not
regular soldiers. Much of the 3rd Ban also only had one ammo
pouch for their single shot rifles. Nevertheless, it must be said that combat
experience, resourcefulness, perseverance and just the plain old will to fight made
these Serbian peasants into some of the finer soldiers
of the war.


Reader Comments

  1. I have a question

    I meet someone with a silver ww1 german ring, are there rare or important? What was there use?

    Thanks for whoever that answers.

  2. Great episode. Years ago a friend of mlne went to BeIgrade during that famous Guca music festival. He was like: “Wow, so many beautiful glrls with that funny hat.” He was trying to say “the Šajkača”, of course.

  3. Indy, love your show- extremely informative! Random question, but I understand the royal family (UK) changed their last name due to Anti-German sentiment. How did they come up with 'Windsor'? Keep up the good work!

  4. I watched this video intently, as if there is going to be a test, or it might make a difference in the rest of my life, or like I might encounter a Serbian uniform, and the knowledge might save my life. I am pretty sure my intensity is wasted.

  5. Why couldn't Germany just not break the Russian non aggression pact and unleash the Beast also the Japanese really messed up with Pearl Harbor. What would have happened if Germany didn't attack Soviet Union and Japan didn't attack US. US might enter war since German Subs always hit allied ships and America was supplying

  6. Hey The Great War I was wondering if you could do a special on Danish soldiers that fought in the War like Thomas Fasti Dinesen and Christian Celius Nicolaisen

  7. Typical swarthy balkan people with asian level of infrastructure and shocking high ratio of illiteracy even in the 20th century.

  8. Thank you very much for these episode. Ovo cu na srpskom pa prevedite: Najlepse vam hvala za komentar o srpskim vojnicima. Zaista su takvi bili.

  9. Dear Indy, I feel most appreciative for the Search Results excellent job you and your channel have been doing!
    Ever grateful, I believe that I can provide all the necessary information and regulations, should you and your team decide to present a WW1 Greek Army Uniforms Special.

  10. 1:57 – Prince Djordje Karadjordjevic, the elder brother of King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, who was supposed to be king, but unofficially, was mentally unstable for the ruler!

  11. We beat the ottomans austrians and germans..and if we have to we will BEAT THEM AGAIN..and this time we wont have to beat them another time

  12. I like Serbia. Novak Djokovic is from there. Niko Bellic too. They got a cool flag and I do think the west kind of screwed them over on Kosovo (at least give them serb majority areas of bosnia as compensation!)

  13. Their beautiful blue uniforms from ww1 were carried over to the modern day royal guard with red accents as an homage to ww1, and they look stunning

  14. Serbian military since its creation was nothing else but a russian tool used to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing against the authentic albanian and hungarian populations . Slavic expansion in Europe was supported and financed by faschist russia and supported by then France.
    Those uniforms are uniforms of shame.

  15. The so called "military" that wore those uniforms was nothing else but a rag tag genocidial brainwashed non-europian dark force that committed horrible crimes on behalf of Russia, and with the blessing of france. Russia wanted to set up a ghetto in Europe and it did so with the blessing of France. And those are the uniforms who made it happen .

  16. can anyone tell me where to get the picture with the Serbian grenzers in the background???
    i'm serching for info on the 9th grenzinf. reg. for months now and these look like them

  17. Every Serbian solider had ration of "tain" special military bread . Some say this was the secret of soldiers great endurance.

  18. You say : "that gave austro hungarian troops the excuse to shoot or hang them as guerrillas and not regular soldiers" – why then austro hungarians especially croats in thet army was killing womens, olds and children in district of Machva 1914 and 1915 ?

  19. This is a very laughable interesting story about
    " Russian uniforms with Serbian insignia" and "French helmets" . The true story is that these "heroic" peasant troops were nothing but regular Russian troops creating another slavic nation right in the heart of Europe , while europian powers were too busy fighting one another. The Russian and Serbian troops commited horrible crimes against the native Albanian and Hungarian populations just so they could create their "serbia". These "Serbian peasants troops " were nothing else but a genocidial dark anti-europian force in the service of faschist Russia . Their participation on the first world war had nothing to do with europian values but had everything to do with ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the native Albanian and Hungarian populations from what is known today as Serbia.

  20. Thank you for taking care of every single fact in WWI, and about Serbia also because we really had a big role during that war. I really like your channel, so keep going! Greetings from Serbia!

  21. Serbains enter in Bulgaria without declaring war but bulgarians which are fighting with Romania , Russia , England , France , Ottoman empire , Montenegro , Greece , Macedonia – win and serbians

  22. This Serbian army committed atrocities unheard and unseen against Albanian civil population in the north of Albania from 1910 to 1913. Sadly Serbians have no regrets.

  23. I still have shajkacha from my grand grand father! But with no simbols! He was soldier of first Serbian army in command of general Stepa Stepanovic!

  24. Opanci and shajkacha ade saying different but its okay because you are not from Serbia and our words are hard for saying to someone who is not from here

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