The AIF kit bag held all of a soldier’s belongings. Made of strong canvas, the bag was versatile, cheap to produce, easy to carry, took up little room and, if needed, served as a pillow.
Soldiers were issued with their uniform and kit in accordance with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Order No. 2 of 26 August 1914 prior to embarking for overseas service. The prescribed uniform included AIF badges, two service jackets, two pairs of breeches, a dungaree jacket and trousers, braces, a field service cap, felt hat, great coat, two pairs of boots, puttees and shoe laces.
The kit comprised two identity discs, two sets of underclothes, socks, basic toiletry items, a field dressing, eating utensils and some small useful items. Each man was responsible for the items issued and regular inspections were carried out to ensure they were in order. While the men were in the lines only absolutely necessary items were carried in haversacks and the bags were placed in kit stores.
Driver Charles Berry’s mate Bob originally had enlistment number 1 in the 43rd Battalion until he was transferred to another unit and Charles was given his number. Charles enlisted at Morphettville, South Australia, in February 1916 and embarked from Adelaide on the Afric four months later for overseas service. The 43rd fought in Belgium at the Battle of Messines and later were in action during the Third Battle of Ypres better known as ‘Passchendaele’. In 1918 the unit saw service on the Somme, at places such as Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel, Mont St Quentin and the Hindenburg Line.
Charles with his teams of horses and mules was employed in carting ammunition, water, supplies and equipment to troops in the lines. On 29 September 1918 he received a gunshot wound in the leg and his horse was killed. He was hospitalised and by the time he had recuperated the war had ended. He returned to Australia in May 1919 – with his kitbag that had accompanied him to Egypt, several times to England, France and Belgium!
Port Pirie RSL Club
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