A very good pair of WW1 British Army Commercial Pattern B2 Boots. Patented in 1913 the B2 Pattern Boot was first issued by the British Army in late 1914 at the height the Army’s rapid war expansion and consequential equipment supply crisis.
It came in several subtly different versions as it was manufactured by both regular army contractors and commercial boot makers pressed into service to plug the disastrous hole in the Army’s supply chain at that time. The one important feature that all the different versions had in common however was the patented horizontal waterproof seaming joining the upper of the Boot to the lower part. This unique very recognisable feature is what marks out B2 Pattern Boots from all others.
The B2 Pattern Boot was issued from late 1914 to late 1916 by which time it was superseded by the B5 Pattern Boot which had a more straightforward type of seaming. The B2 Pattern Boot and its very distinctive horizontal seaming is thus the classic British Army Boot representative of the Battle of the Somme, and it is seen in pretty much all photos of British soldiers in that period.
The B2 Pattern Boot here is the commercially manufactured type. This version of the B2 Boot is typical of Territorial units whose battalions bought their own equipment in the first half of the war when going overseas, as well as some of the war raised Service battalions who equally bought their own kit early on such as the Pals Battalions amongst others (Pals Battalions of course being famously heavily engaged in the Battle of the Somme). The type was also bought by some soldiers at their own expense after the B2 had been replaced by the B5 Boot simply out of personal preference to continue wearing this successfully waterproof type.
This pair of B2 Pattern Boots is in good condition overall with the stitching strong throughout. The inner leather of the tongue where it joins the inside of the Boot is dry in places, the dryness though is invisible from the outside.
The Boots are devoid of any type of markings, this being standard for the commercially manufactured versions of the B2.
The sole of the Boot is nicely shod with a complete set of WW1 issue three-headed hobnails. In WW1 the British Army for the most part used two types of hobnails, the round single headed type, or the three headed type. The single headed type continued to be used after the war, whereas the three headed type such as seen on these B2 Boots did not.
The heel of the Boot no longer has it’s “horseshoe”, this probably indicating the Boot has been re-heeled at some time though it may also be down to supply shortages which which were rife in 1915.
The Boots still retain their original issue metal tipped laces.
A near identical pair of Commercial Pattern B2 Boots to these is published in the excellent “Campaign 1914” book by Chris Polendine as shown in my images. Those differ only to the B2 Boots here in the type of hobnails used on the soles as of course is usual and mentioned in the book's text. As also mentioned in Mr.Polendine’s text, the most common version of the B2 Pattern Boot is made in a brown pebbled leather just as the ones here.
My last two images show B2 Boots in wear during the Battle of the Somme. The first image is of a Durham Light Infantry Stretcher Bearer in July 1916 and the distinctive horizontal seaming of the B2 Boot can clearly be made out in the bottom right of the image.
The next famous image is of two British Service Battalion members helping Germans during the battle. Both British soldiers are wearing B2 Boots, this most visible on the left hand figure.
An essential item for the representation of the British Soldier in the first half of the war.