Imperial German Army

At the beginning of the 20th Century, military science was very much at a crossroads. The traditionalists clung to old uniforms and practices, some of which hailed back to the days of chivalry. The modernists who had tasted war more recently, the British experience in the Boer War, for example, were pushing the transition from the colourful uniforms of old to the khakis, field greys and dulled blues of modern warfare.

The figure, below, samples the uniform styles of the Imperial German Forces at the turn of the 20th Century. The German's field grey, "feldgrau," did not become more commonplace until the outbreak of war, in 1914.

Dress uniforms of the Imperial German Army in 1914

Tradition made way for the harsh necessities of war with the creation of the fieldgrey or "feldgrau" uniform as the standard battle dress of the Imperial German Army. Some units still retained their 19th Century styles of headdress in the field but took to wearing a field grey  cover, or "überzug," to be less visible.

The illustration, below, gives a sampling of the various types of "feldgrau" uniforms that developed.

Field grey uniforms of the Imperial German Army

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