Footcloths have been part of the uniform of a Russian soldier for more than one hundred years. They have become an indispensable element of the soldiers' humor and folklore. For many, the transition to socks is a progress, a step forward, but in general, people who have served in the army for more than one year, consider it differently and nostalgically remember footcloths as an excellent protection for feet from cold and corns.
This element of clothing appeared more than thirty thousand years ago, much earlier than the invention of ordinary socks. Exploring the changes in the bones of the foot, anatomists and historians argue that the peoples of both Americas and Europe wore something similar to footcloths. During the construction of the Roman metro, ancient Roman footcloths were accidentally found, which were subsequently sold at one of the auctions for five hundred thousand dollars.
But the longest leg wrappers lasted on the "arms" of the armies of different countries of the world, as a practical, simple and cheap element of a soldier's uniform. In written documents of the suppliers of the revolutionary troops of George Washington left lists of some "pieces of canvas", issued to the soldiers to save the legs.
Especially widely this rectangular piece of cloth (about thirty-five to ninety centimeters) was used by our Slav ancestors who inhabited the northeastern European plains. Numerous stories that footclothes in Russia brought Peter I, borrowing them, in turn, from the Dutch, nothing more than a myth. The origin (etymology) of the word "footcloth" has two versions. One at a time - it comes from the old Russian word "port", denoting a rifle or piece of cloth. According to another, it comes from the word “tailor” - a rough canvas. From here and portaitse - cut piece of canvas. Anyway, both variants are words with the same root. For us, it is important to emphasize the prevalence and antiquity of the origin of this “undergarments for the legs” (this was the name given to footcloths up to the beginning of the twentieth century in various bureaucratic “reports”), which was widely used long before the appearance of the socks, as well as after their appearance.
In Russia, footcloths were preferred to be worn with boots and traditional Slavic footwear - bast shoes. Much later, already with the development of sheep, they began to wear with felt boots. In winter, they wore warm footcloths from bikes or half-woolen, and in the northern regions of Russia and in the army - pure wool. In the summer, the Slavs preferred cloth footcloths. Cotton also appeared much later with the birth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of weaving manufactories that worked on imported material. Footcloths are not overlapped on the edges and not sewn from individual pieces of fabric, the lack of seams and scars protected the feet from rubbing and corns.
Especially long footcloths, along with the windings, served in European armies. In French, footcloths are called “chaussette russe”, which means “Russian stocking”. A gradual departure from the footcloths began in the world in the middle of the twentieth century. At this time in the army began to change the boots on the shoes. However, until the very end of World War II, the Wehrmacht’s soldiers, especially those fighting on the Eastern Front, wore footcloths with socks and most often used them for other purposes, like mittens or gloves. In contrast to the Russian footwomen, German, like Finnish, were square.
What explains such a popularity of a simple piece of fabric, which lived to the advent of high technology? There are several reasons for this. In the first place, it is, of course, the servitude of footcloths. In the field, they can be made from a piece or scrap of any fabric. It is much more difficult to tie a new sock, and if it is wiped, wait until the quartermaster will issue a new one. Secondly, footcloths are easy to wash, they dry even faster. In a hike, you can dry the whole footcloth by wrapping it around your leg, for example, on the hips. That is, two sets and legs are always dry. However, wet it completely - it is still necessary to try. If the footcloth is not all wet, it is enough to rewind the foot with a dry area, and the wet one dries perfectly on the calves. The third important advantage is closely connected with mass armies - the versatility of "size" as opposed to socks. Footcloth can be wound on his feet exactly as many times as necessary to keep tight boots. The wrapped cobbler wrapped in several layers blocks access to the garbage and sand, effectively absorbs moisture and retains heat. To achieve the same results from the socks, they need to wear a few pairs, and even that is not a fact of what happens.
The footcloth, unlike a sock, does not have a rubber band, it can be processed by boiling or ironing for the purpose of disinfection, which is impossible to overestimate in the conditions of mass armies. Footcloths serve for months and are much more durable than a sock, which in boots, especially tarpaulin, the main soldier's shoes of the Russian army, wear out in just a few days. If there is a hole in the footcloth, it can always be rewound from a different angle, if it is wiped off at the edge, cut off the edge. In addition, footcloths are washed in common laundries, they do not need to be paired. And even the most durable socks are several times thinner than footcloths, therefore, the number of minor injuries to the legs and skin diseases increases.
Curiously, even with the tsar in the Russian army, there were at least a dozen ways of putting on footcloths with their own specific names, for example, Life Guards, women’s, engineer, plastunsky, Cossacks, fishermen’s, merchants. In the Soviet Union, he was left alone, the soldier way, the rest were forgotten. Every one who went hiking or served in the army can mock footcloths in this manner. Sometimes, together with the main method, an accelerated parachute is used. To do this, put a boot and throw a footcloth along it. When putting on the boot, the clotle wraps around the leg. Cons - unreliable fixation on the leg, terrible calluses when walking long distances and forced marches.
The Russian Army
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, stockings, socks and leggings appeared in the European armies along with the introduction of uniforms. New trends have not bypassed the Russian army, but in the soldier’s environment, unlike the officers, especially in the aristocratic guards regiments, they did not take root. Their Excellency, Prince Grigory Potemkin-Tavrichesky, wrote in 1783-year to Mother Catherine II the following: “Spacious boots in front of narrow and touches or footclothes in front of stockings have the advantage that, if the legs are sweaty or wet, at first convenient of time, they can be immediately thrown off, wiped off the legs with a foot-clothe and, wrapping them, again with a dry end, put on shoes in speed and protect those legs from chills and dampness. But in narrow stockings and boots one cannot inflict anything. It is inconvenient to throw them, it is impossible to put on freely again, and it is not always possible to dry or change stockings. Poor soldiers, with constantly wet feet, subject themselves to colds and other diseases. " As you can see, the Most High Prince was quite aware of the advantages of footcloths in the field conditions over European innovations. Again savings. Potemkin-Tavricheskiy always differed with particular diligence in relation to others. As they say, in sins, yes on his feet.
The correctness of the wise Prince Potemkin was confirmed by all subsequent wars, more precisely military roads and battlefields. With the onset of the autumn-spring thaw and winter cold in the ranks of the opponents of the Russian army from the Turkish janissaries and Napoleon's Grand Armee to the trained Nazi invaders, there were great losses from "de-multiplication" or, in other words, trench-foot syndrome. For example, American soldiers, shod in boots, lost their feet during the Second World War due to the “trench” disease. The Russians in boots and footcloths of this disease almost did not know. The famous American General Omar Nelson Bradley in his memoirs "History the soldier ”describes well how great a loss the United States military man caused this disease. For example, in the Ardennes, where some of the bloodiest battles were fought, the American army lost about nineteen thousand people killed. At the same time, twelve thousand fighters were out of action due to the disease of rheumatism of the legs, most of which, according to the conclusion of the doctors, became unsuitable for military service, and many remained disabled for the rest of their lives.
For the first time, the “trench foot” syndrome was described by physicians during the First World War 1914-1918s. The description of the disease says that "this type of foot lesion occurs with prolonged exposure (one day is enough) of cold and damp and is a type of frostbite." This reaction began in people after their stay in wet trenches or participation in long-distance crossings during the cold season (at temperatures around 0 ° C and lower) while wearing narrow shoes.
Senior Sergeant G.I.Valyk shows the young soldier Red Army soldier T.F. Stebakovu how to rewind footcloths before going. 1944 year
At present, it is hardly worth considering that the life of the footcloths has come to an end. Even from the army, they will not disappear completely and irrevocably. The fact is that the personnel of the Kremlin regiment, where the boots are still an integral part of the uniform, will wear footcloths. And what to do with eight million meters of special fabric, from which you can make sixteen million pieces of footcloths and which is NZ in long-term storage warehouses? And by the way, many soldiers and officers, participants of modern combat conflicts, still prefer footcloths. And if we recall the huge fraternity of hunters, fishermen, geologists, oil workers, builders - all those who, by hunting or by profession, have to walk a lot in fields, forests, swamps, so to speak, in rough terrain away from civilization, then we can safely predict many more years of life to the ancient keeper of our feet. Moreover, for rubber shoes nothing better than socks on socks has yet been invented.
In practice, the elimination of warts in the army means complicating and streamlining the logistics system. First of all, you will have to be very attentive to the clothing supply of servicemen. Footcloths are dimensionless, socks are of any size, and there are no compromises with shoes at all. It will be necessary to revise all existing models and methods for their fitting, to develop a whole range of measures aimed at an individual approach to each soldier. Further changes in hygiene will follow, as you need to change socks every day.
Large-scale wars are fought in conditions of chaos and the struggle for order in it. This, so to speak, is an indispensable attribute of survival and, ultimately, victory. The more invulnerable, more universal and easier the foundations of our order are, the more difficult it will be to destroy them. After all, hosiery-stocking factories and warehouses can be destroyed, the supply is hampered by an enemy who has broken through or weather conditions. In addition, a logical question arises - who will be already producing hundreds of thousands of tons of socks tomorrow for the Russian army? Surely the one who wins the tender. The company will most likely be Russian, but they will definitely be produced in China. And if you have to fight with the Chinese?
It is interesting that against the background of the struggle of socks with footcloths in the Russian army there are bottom shirts with ties, nineteenth-century pants, summer blue pants, a Sidor duffel and a belt belt with a brass buckle.
On the other hand, supporters of the abolition of footcloths, and for the most part also veterans of hostilities, respond that fighting in kersey and footcloths in modern conditions is at least yesterday. Just look at the range and quality of current shoes and socks for tourists and travelers, as soon as it becomes clear that the issue is not in footcloths, but as an army uniform, including footwear. And we need to argue here not because of the footcloths, but because of what the Russian army will be wearing, tomorrow.
Foreigners were introduced not only to the glamorous side of the Soviet reality. For example, they learned to wind footcloths.
Regarding the tailoring fabric left in warehouses, manufacturers claim that it can be implemented very quickly in the trade network. Summer flannelette fabric is used for the production of baby diapers, sliders, blankets, warm shirts and jackets, and cotton sheeting will be used to make bed linen for the same army. Winter woolen cloth is woven from ninety percent wool, the fabric density is four hundred grams per square meter, which is an ideal material for hemming of coats, jackets, suits and hats. Army "merchants" are confident that the tailory emergency reserve can easily replenish the military budget by several hundred million rubles.
It seems that there is no golden middle between footcloths and socks. Riding on armor and walking close to dry is more comfortable in boots and socks, but to climb mud, bushes, dew, and primer is better not to think of boots and footcloths.
After the end of World War II, footcloths began to be widely used in the armies of socialist countries, but by the end of the sixties, their use was greatly reduced. However, in some states they became firmly established in military life, for example, in Northern Finland they were abandoned only in the 1990 year. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian army abandoned the sackcloth in 2004, and the Belarusian army followed it in 2011.
In the US Army, as in many other armies of the world, there are neither boots nor footcloths. But the Americans have very high-quality boots with high berets. They are made of genuine leather with numerous impregnations and membranes. Socks are also not cotton at all, but special ones using new technologies and similar in composition to thermal underwear. In general, the United States Department of Defense spends more than fifty million dollars a year only on developing new types of modern equipment for soldiers. In addition, multimillion grants are allocated for fantastic projects of the ammunition of the future, for example, nanomaterials for military uniform.
America can allow for its soldiers such elements of equipping the legs, and can Russia afford it? Controversial issue. And although Shoigu managed to get a lot of money out of the budget for the Ministry of Emergency Situations, it is not known whether he will be able to bring the reform started to the end as Minister of Defense. And while the refusal of footcloths does not look very reasonable.