Observers fixing parachute harness | National Library of Scotland

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Artillery Officer being fixed into parachute harness during an observation exercise in France. This photograph is one of a series of the same exercise. While some of the photographs are not posed, this one appears a little more stilted. The officer has raised his eyes to the camera and he seems to be sharing a quiet joke with the man to his left, who is half-laughing to himself.

Note the thigh-length ‘fug’ boots, worn by aircraft and balloon crews against the cold at altitude.

Uniform details suggest picture taken at some time between July 1916 and April 1918.

Original reads: ‘OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. R.F.A. kite balloons are the eyes of our guns in France. The observers are highly trained men & when their balloons are shelled or attacked by enemy aircraft they are forced to make rapid descents in parachutes. These parachutes must be kept in perfect working order. Observers fixing tackle which is connected with parachute.’

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Cite : Observers fixing parachute harness | National Library of Scotland ( by D. McLellan licensed as CC-BY-NC-SA (

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About Richard Marshall

Richard Marshall is studying for a doctorate in the literature of ancient Rome at Wadham College, Oxford, and is a tutor for Ancient History at St Benet’s Hall. In addition to Classics, he has a long-standing interest in the tactics and material culture of the British Army, especially of the period spanned by the Cardwell Reforms and First World War. He has a large collection of original uniform and equipment items used for teaching and research purposes, and is currently exploring the evolution of British military clothing and accoutrements in response to changes in fashion and warfare for eventual publication. He previously worked as a cataloguer for the Oxford University Great War Archive.
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