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Members wearing Schnürschuhe must also wear Gemaschen, or Wickelbander — leg wraps commonly referred to in English as "puttees". Gemaschen were typically made of web or bound woolen strips colored Feldgrau, stone grey, black or brown. Wrapping the leg from the boot to the calf and binding in the open end of the Hosen kept rocks and debris from making its way into the boots and provided support to the ankles.

Pictures of original Gamaschen. The set on the left is a late-war ersatz example (appears
to be paper-cloth) showing the boot hooks at one end, and the set on the right is an example
made from wool showing the tie straps.

The German word for fabric leg wraps is specifically Wickelgemaschen - officers also employed leather leg wraps or Ledergemaschen - IR63, being infantry, will use only the fabric wraps. The distinguishing features of German Gamaschen include a large hook for attaching to the shoe at one end and a strap with a buckle or an S-hook at the other to secure at the top. Gamaschen were often made from blankets cut into strips.

Original photo of a Soldat in Schnürschuhe und Gamaschen..

Rolling the Wrap Puttee

by Pick Mattock
Reprinted from the IR63 Die Frontsoldat Communiqué October 1997.

A seldom failing mark of a newcomer to WWI reenacting is by looking at how the man's puttees are wrapped: If white socks show or the fellow looks like he has both legs curved the same way, then you've got a tenderfoot. The solution is simple: Wrap your puttees the way the experts do.

The secret is to begin your wrap at your ankle, above the shoe top or overlapping the shoe top just a bit. The end of the puttee should be placed upon the inside of the ankle, or perhaps just in front of the lacing of the shoe. Experience will soon show you which area is better so that the upper end of the wrap finishes at the side or rear of the calf out of sight.

Then, begin wrapping the puttee downward. That's right, downward. Cover the shoe top and the bump made by the knot of the laces. (The laces have previously been tucked into the tops of the shoes so they won't show below the puttee) When you have reached the top of the instep where the shoe begins to swell outward broadly, wrap the puttee neatly and parallel with the ground, then start up the leg. Each turn should be about 1 inch above the bottom of the previous wrap.

The rolled puttee should be pulled tautly away from the leg to maintain tension on the wrap. This gives a tight fit, which will: (a) hold the puttee to the leg, and (b) give support to the calf of the leg.

The final wrap should be neatly parallel with the ground, with the 1-inch tape band lying neatly upon itself in the center of the wrap, and the free end tucked neatly under the tight band. The triangular point of the wrap should be out of sight on the side or back of the calf, as mentioned before.

Now take a look at yourself in the mirror. Dummkopf, did you wrap both legs from left to right? Always wrap from the inside of the leg, around the front, toward the outside of the leg.

Now it's time to learn yet another secret—how to roll the puttees for storage. For when it IS time to store the dry puttee, it is rolled up with the tape end in the center! The tape hangs free as the puttee is carefully rolled without wrinkles upon itself. When the puttee is completely rolled up, the tape is wrapped without wrinkles, perpendicular to the cylinder: i.e. across the top, down the curved side, across the bottom, and up the curved side, then neatly tucked under itself.