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The Tozluci or alternatively, Kamašne (in Serbian - officially) or rarely; Gamaše or Steznici (in Croatian - unofficially) were leg gaiters of Yugoslav origin. They very closely resembled World War II USA (United States Army) standard issue M38 (Model 1938) military gaiters and were in fact, a copy of those.[1][2] Although the SFRY was never member of Warsaw pact, it was still another practically Eastern, (communist/socialist) country which generally endeavored to avoid practice of copying any standards from imperialist and capitalist Western world (whether military or civilian), as it was often described there and rather followed literally all practices from the Eastern bloc instead (and the YPA was a prime, if not the best example of that), those gaiters were, however, an obvious exception, which was most probably contributed to rage between SFRY (then actually FPRY - Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, renamed to SFRY yet in 1963) and USSR due to recent Tito-Stalin split which existed at the time of their appearance in YPA. Because of that and fear of a possible Soviet invasion (against which they were aware that they would literally not stand any kind of chance) FPRY went sensibly closer to West and US for a few years in such extent that the YPA was even severely armed with US made weaponry and equipment (firearms, artillery, even combat vehicles and aircraft) so they themselves obviously made a brief influence to US and generally Western military standards instead. This did not last for long however, since after the Stalin's death in 1953 and soon Soviet destalinization process which followed initiated by newly appointed general secretary Khrushchev, the FPRY again went close to East and practically turned back to West and the YPA style, equipment, weaponry and appearance in general until its very end are probably the finest evidence of that due to the simple and obvious fact that they were all almost the same as in Warsaw pact armies. Today, such trivial things like these ordinary gaiters among other stuff, are prime example and a clear reminder of that relatively brief turn-around of theirs, which lasted from 1948 until 1954.

The gaiters were very rarely seen and featured on YPA uniforms since they were intended for and used exclusively by only a few units of YPA mountain infantry - JNA planinske jedinice (YPA mountain units), colloquially also known as JNA brdska pešadija/pješaštvo (YPA hill infantry). There they were worn in combination with their brownish hiking boots, which were, together with their characteristic field cap (instead of usual Titovka/Partizanka side cap), clearly based on style featured by World War II German Gebirgsjäger (mountain troops), which Yugoslavian partisans were encountering in many occasions during the war, among others the well known muslim-composed XIII SS Gebirgsdivision Handžar (1st Croatian) or Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) composed VII SS Gebirgsdivision Prinz Eugen, which was often fighting them in the hills of then Bosnian region of Independent State of Croatia. This also explains why these gaiters are relatively rare and of some challenge to find nowadays.

Those gaiters were actually not the first of their type in YPA, they formally replaced their previous and even more less existing version of the same designation during late 1950s (which were smaller in profile - going not as far as up the knee like these, but only half way of that and which feature double buckles instead of laces) which were almost a direct copy of another WWII era, the German ones - their recognizable Wehrmacht's gamaschen (gaiters), worn extensively by HeerGebirgsjäger and Waffen SS while paired with their standard Schnürschuhe (Lace shoes), that is, at least when not using their well known leather jackboots, the schaftstiefel. Those previous, German influenced gaiters were, however, worn and used by the whole YPA, paired with classic shoes as in Wehrmacht case, until the second half of 1950s whey they finally intruduced their very first leather combat boots (today colloquially often known under their unofficial designation Čizme M55 - Boots Model 1955, officially designated simply as Vojničke čizme - literally; Military boots), which were similar in appearance to classic jackboots (apart from featuring twelve eyelets as well as two buckles - one at the upper end and the other located lower, across the eyelets). Those started to replace all gaiters in YPA service, except mountain infantry which continued to use them until the very end. Today, both versions of these gaiters are known simply as JNA Tozluci, Kamašne or Gamaše.

Overview & historyEdit

Like most other fabric made YPA gear and equipment (such as their uniforms and backpacks), the gaiters were also always made in the usual SMB (Sivo Maslinasta Boja - Greenish Grey Color, the official YPA fatigue) and were intended to complement the short mountain trousers utilized by the above mentioned mountain units of the Yugoslav People's Army. The gaiters are fastened by а lace going through lace holes on the side of the gaiter. There are nine pairs of lace holes on the frontal side of the gaiter, nine lace holes on the rear side and additional four on the top. The gaiters have distinctive seam patterns and small circular leather patch and were made out of either canvas or, eventually, cotton. As they were intended exclusively for mountain infantry (which used them paired with their own special hiking boots, as mentioned before), they were thus never issued and seen featured with standard YPA double buckle, black leather boots.

After the breakup of SFRY and dissolvement of YPA with it, the only known post-YPA usage of those gaiters was by newly-created Slovenian Army, which made a very brief usage of these together with the characteristic YPA mountain infantry field cap (seen on the photo in Gallery section below), which clearly resembles WWII German Feldmütze M43 (Field cap Model 1943 - also used by the Gebirgsjäger among other branches of Wehrmacht), in their brief conflict during June/July 1991 which is today known as the Ten-day war. Reason why those gaiters (and field cap) was used solely by them lies in the logical fact that the most of YPA mountain units were located in then Slovenian Socialist Republic (SRS) for the whole existence of SFRY, due to the fact that most of the country's mountain regions were located exactly there. Also, the SRS's segment of SFRY's people militia, which was officially known as TO (Teritorijalna odbrana/obrana - Territorial defense) also often used those fields caps (in addition to the usual Titovka side cap and the standard YPA M-59/85 steel combat helmet). Another, and perhaps, the main reason of their usage of those during the conflict is the fact that the just founded Slovenian army did not yet have almost any kind of its own uniforms nor patterns back in that time, so was practically forced to use existing YPA M-77 standard SMB uniforms, or eventually, the new M-87/M-89 ones (which means that they could not be told apart from the actual YPA). Exactly due to that, the Slovenians simply had to differ from their enemies in any way possible, by always wearing those field caps instead of mentioned combat helmets (also, YPA helmet always featured a communist red star, which became politically unacceptable), gaiters paired with combat or hiking boots instead of solely combat boots and so on.

Somewhat ironic, due to great similarity to previously mentioned US and German made gaiters, both of described YPA versions can be in fact effectively used in Reenactment/Airsoft of whether Wehrmacht (older model) or USA (this one) in WWII, apart from their color (standard YPA SMB) - which is a trivial and barely recognizable difference, however (although Wehrmacht gamaschen as an example, were made in few different colors apart from the standard Feldgrau - some even in pattern similar to SMB, as well as the US M38 gaiters, which were often made in their standard olive green fatigue, also roughly similar to the Yugoslavian SMB).

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/sfrj-yugoslavia-1963-1992-original-250895917
  2. https://www.mycity-military.com/Pesadijsko-naoruzanje-municija-i-oprema/Proizvodjaci-opreme-za-vojnike-JNA_13.html
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