The Saxon

3 Apr

For today’s picture post, an individual:

A Saxon stands ready

This infantryman of a Saxon regiment poses for a photograph somewhere on the Eastern Front in 1916.  Some notable features:

  • The stencil on his helmet indicates his regiment — and note that the haube lacks a pickel.
  • He wears clothing very obviously suited to the cold he was forced to endure, which was not a sartorial reality (unfortunately) commonly to be shared by the men serving on any particular front.
  • His comfort comes at a price, however; those gloves and the abstract concept of “using any of his weapons” would be mortal enemies.
  • The best he could do with that rifle, for example, would be to throw it at someone.  He could do that with the grenades as well, to be sure, but he could scarcely prime them first.

A striking photograph of a striking man, in any event, even if it is rather conventional for its time and place.  In images such as this I always like to look for the personal touch, particularly when it’s an interesting one; A.O. Pollard, in his memoirs (Fire-Eater: Memoirs of a V.C., 1932), for example, writes of coming across a dead German infantryman who had been defending himself in his trench with an old-style war-axe that would have been more at home in the Black Forest of the 10th century than in the trenches of the 20th.

Oh well.  The gentleman above still cuts an impressive figure.

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