In our attempts to recreate German cavalry of the First World War era, one of the first places we turn to are period photographs and illustrations. Unfortunately for us, while there are abundant single and group portraits of Chevaulegers, there’s a dearth of pictures of them in the field or in action (which I would expect). As with everything else in this blog, I try to pick out more interesting pictures and not just an endless parade of portraits. Also, in our attempts to build more convincing, authentic portraits, we try to study pictures to draw our ideas from. Combined with the official regulations, it helps to build up a more complete profile. Of course, as with all historical things and especially living history, this can only be a work in progress as we attempt to approximate the “real thing.” Naturally, we can not get to the final destination since we were not those original soldiers but I think we can come close with diligent effort and a willingness to adapt when our ideas are changed or proven wrong.
Two Chevaulegers, 8 Chevauleger Regiment. This is most likely an early war picture, perhaps 1914-15. Both of them are wearing sword belts with sword hangers. By late 1915, the sword had been retired from front line use and the hanger straps also disappeard. Interestingly enough, they are not wearing their bayonets. The boots are most likely the 1915 pattern Universal Bavarian cavalry boot.
Chevauleger NCO, regiment unknown. From the collar braid and the large collar disks, this is a sergeant. He’s wearing the distinctive cavalry belt and bayonet (mostly hidden by the tunic pocket. The bayonet or Seitengewehr (“sidearm”) was standard for all soldiers, even cavalry and a sword knot would be worn with it denoting the sergeant’s rank. The NCO is wearing a private purchase visored cap, similar to an officer’s cap but not stiffened and with a different cockade. This would be considered “walking out” dress, a uniform that was worn when the soldier was off duty but going into town, away from the Kaserne. He’s wearing the 1915/16 Bluse per the 1916 regulations.
Enlisted Chevauleger, regiment unknown. Here’s another interesting picture of a Chevauleger in walking out dress. The Chevauleger is wearing ankle boots and puttees, and of course, his bayonet. Here, the Chevauleger is wearing the 1908 tunic.
Chevauleger group, regiment unknown. This first picture is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the Chevaulegers are wearing puttees, which is consistent with cavalry’s changing role as the war progressed. Also, this is one of the few known pictures in which Chevaulegers are wearing Stahlhelms (helmets), something decidedly late war, either late 1917 or 1918. Also, the Chevauleger second from the left in the rear is holding a GEW 98 as opposed to the Kar 98a which was standard issue for cavalry. These are just some initial observations.