In the First World War more men were medically discharged from the British front line with feet problems than any other illness including battle wounds. This was not the case for the enemy who luxuriated in far better designed boots.
Trench-foot was the term used for particularly bad feet mostly caused by the wet muddy conditions of the trenches. Young platoon commanders were ordered to inspect the soldier’s feet on a regular basis to catch the problem early. This foot inspection routine was carried out for decades after the war.
A history of army boots from the very earliest known Greek hobnailed boots of ancient times reveals that even today there is no perfect boot for troops. The problem is that the boot has to be suited for all weather conditions be it tropical or freezing.
Mens boots are not of course just military and the full range available runs from ankle boots to knee high leather riding boots but versions of the army boot are particularly in fashion at this time.
Boots for many activities are designed to protect such as in rugby or soccer. Looking at old film footage of soccer games of the nineteen twenties through to the sixties makes one wonder how anyone ever scored goals.
The boot in those days was a large ankle hugging heavy leather with large studs on the sole and in very wet conditions must have picked up plenty of cloying mud.
Add to that the weight of the football and it really is a wonder anyone could kick the ball as far as the goal even from the penalty spot.
Famous boot design includes the Duke of Wellington’s effort from the Napoleonic Wars and the dreaded jackboot of the German Wehrmacht. The desert boot was also a classic design from the Second World War and led to the equally well known creeper.
Footwear through the ages has always been designed to provide comfort with durability and rarely has it succeeded. Until just a few decades ago it was normal to buy a pair of leather shoes or boots and spend the first few days or weeks in agony breaking them in.
The heel always seemed to bite into the flesh and cause blisters that required plaster and yet today this problem does not seem to exist. Perhaps it is softer leather or maybe the manufacturers have finally got the problem sorted but many remember the pain of breaking in new shoes.