Russian foot cloths

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Volklin
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Russian foot cloths

Post by Volklin » 14 Jul 2005 01:34

I read Russian soldiers didn't wear socks, they wore clothes wrapped around their feet, now that actually sounds very much more comfortable, anyone know is it because of comfort or socks would just prove wasteful industry usage? Any pics of the foot cloths?

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brau meister
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Post by brau meister » 14 Jul 2005 21:00

This is strange, I was just about to write a post asking this very question. Odd timing.

I've read about this in various sources too. One is the account of his soviet captivity in Panzer commander by von Luck. He actually knit his own socks to compensate for the inadequate substitution the wraps provided. Another source I can't remember describes German soldiers using them as scarves in cold weather.

Does anyone know what these wraps looked like or how exactly one wore them? I can't imagine what they are like. Pics or diagrams would be appreciated.

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brau meister
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Post by brau meister » 14 Jul 2005 21:00

sorry, double post. Mod, please delete.
Last edited by brau meister on 15 Jul 2005 03:20, edited 1 time in total.

Volklin
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Post by Volklin » 14 Jul 2005 22:15

Wow that's weird

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THE_BEAR
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Post by THE_BEAR » 28 Jul 2005 20:52

Dont just tell us double post, you could have at least left us the link to the other one lol

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 28 Jul 2005 23:54

Actually these were also used by the Finnish Defence Forces until 1990's (together with socks). These are literally called "feet rags" in Finland. In Finland they are about 0.5 m x 0.5 m pieces of soft flannel (or a kind cotton fabric, I think chamois could be also used?). They are wrapped tightly around the feet so that there are not any "seams" under the feet. I usually wore woolled socks over them to make a really tight "package". They were great with rubber boots but probably would have been as good with other boots as well. I used feet rags in the 1980's during long marches and I can say they were much better than I expected: not a single blisters or such. The benefits are that they are cheeper than socks, more comfortable (if used correctly) and more easy to wash and faster to dry in combat conditions.

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BIGpanzer
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Post by BIGpanzer » 29 Jul 2005 01:10

I read about this also and I've just found two pictures by Google. Take a look!
Probaly, Russians called such "foot clothes" as "portianki" or smth like this.
And I remember that some tourists prefer them to socks even now.

http://pedagog.eparhia.ru/www/imgs/azbu ... tianki.gif
http://www.hunter.ru/archives/images/pohod3.gif
http://spb.kp.ru/readyimages/99806.jpg
http://vladimir.kp.ru/readyimages/69939.jpg (modern Russian army :) )

Eugene (J. Baker)
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Post by Eugene (J. Baker) » 04 Aug 2005 12:27

Volklin wrote:Wow that's weird
actually it is much better than socks then you're marching.

bratello
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Post by bratello » 05 Aug 2005 15:58

Harri wrote:Actually these were also used by the Finnish Defence Forces until 1990's (together with socks). These are literally called "feet rags" in Finland. In Finland they are about 0.5 m x 0.5 m pieces of soft flannel (or a kind cotton fabric, I think chamois could be also used?). They are wrapped tightly around the feet so that there are not any "seams" under the feet.
I wore the "portianki" in the 70s during my 3-month stint in a Red Army reserve officer training camp. No socks. The "portianki" were pretty much as described above. Wrapping them around your feet was practically the first thing we were taught to do. It is an art in itself. "Portianki" can be a very comfy thing if you wrap them properly or they can make your life hell because, if you don't, you get blisters in under an hour. I have no idea if they are still used in the Russian army today.

Regards.
Last edited by bratello on 05 Aug 2005 19:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Kristian S.
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Post by Kristian S. » 05 Aug 2005 16:52

Were these "rags" the real reason that the russian soldiers were issued with boots that were one or two numbers larger than actually needed? I've read that they wore this large footwear because in winter they could "feed" it with old newspapers or even hay to prevent frost-bite. I also recall a statement of Mannerheim about the precise fitting of german Jackboots. He said something like: "In russian winter instead of this tight, nailed boots you can march barefeet as well."

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 05 Aug 2005 17:48

von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt wrote:Were these "rags" the real reason that the russian soldiers were issued with boots that were one or two numbers larger than actually needed? I've read that they wore this large footwear because in winter they could "feed" it with old newspapers or even hay to prevent frost-bite.
I don't think feet rags need any additional space? That space is needed for additional woollen socks, paper or straw (or whatever insulating) during winters. Actually additional insulations can be used also during summers because they absorb sweat and moisture and keep feet dry. Wet and dirty insulations and feet rags must be replaced with the dry (and preferably clean) ones occasionally.
von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt wrote:I also recall a statement of Mannerheim about the precise fitting of german Jackboots. He said something like: "In russian winter instead of this tight, nailed boots you can march barefeet as well."
Mannerheim was a former Russian Army officer so he if anyone was well aware of the need of the extra space in cold conditions.

Volklin
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Post by Volklin » 19 Aug 2005 03:24

Eugene (J. Baker) wrote:
Volklin wrote:Wow that's weird
actually it is much better than socks then you're marching.
That's what i think too!

nelriv
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Discontinued

Post by nelriv » 20 Dec 2007 19:59

The portianki will be discontinued this year according to the Swedish National Television (SVT.se) quoting Moscow Times. It says that the portianki's advantage was solving the problem with boots that were too large. Apparently they had been used since Peter the Great's time. Among the disadvantages the SVT mentions the "legendary stench".

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Sewer King
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Post by Sewer King » 28 Dec 2007 06:14

nelriv wrote:Among the disadvantages the SVT mentions the "legendary stench".
There was a joke I had read in LIFE magazine in the early 1990s about life in the Russian military at the time. The foot wraps would become such that soldiers said "if the enemy unleashes a chemical warfare attack against us, we can reply with our portyanki."

-- Alan

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