If you put all the equipment, weapons, ammunition, uniform, armour etc. on a weighing scale - everything the soldier is expected to carry into the field down to his underpants - which soldiers gear would top the scale?
A kind of two parter - I’m interested in what soldier today holds the record and which soldiers in history had to lug around the most.
I don’t know about “which soldier today” but in general, modern soldiers carry vastly more weight on their bodies than the average soldier in the past. Maybe the grunt carrying pieces of the platoon’s M2 machine gun in WWII carried more weight day to day than a modern supply clerk in Afghanistan, but the average soldier today carries a lot more (body armor alone is ~45lb) than the average soldier of yesteryear. I’ll see if I can look up cites.
Mortarman is definitely up there but I wonder if the ammo bearer in an MG team on an airborne-inserted long range reconnaissance patrol in cold weather might not go higher. They might not be able to count on being resupplied and would have to carry everything. The MG might be the most powerful weapon they have immediately on hand and they’d want to carry a lot of ammo for it. That’s what the ammo bearer is there for.
I’ve hear it takes a big muscular guy to lug around a BAR in combat. It may not be the heaviest item carried. But the BAR guy has to lug that thing around 24/7 while in the field. Add in all his other standard gear and its quite a load.
Everybody avoided being assigned to any of the crew-served weapons, if possible. The mortar has the base plate and the tube to carry. The M-60 had the weapon, the tripod and the ammo cans to hump. By comparison, the PRC-77 was a piece of cake.
The first year I was in Iraq, I carried the SAW. Occasionally, somebody would complain about having to carry their 7lb M16 around all the time (we were mostly Fobbits, a term that didn’t come into vogue until my second tour). I was like “Screw you! I have to carry this 20lb behemoth 24/7!”
But the heaviest thing we had to carry was the body armor, which we only wore on guard duty or when going outside the wire. The vest weighed 30lb, and the plates weighed 14lb for the two of them.
Throw in weapons, ammo, helmet, water, other supplies and maybe a rucksack and you’re carrying more than the average grunt in any other modern war ever carried. I’ve heard renaissance plate armor was up around 70lb, but that’s all they really carried, being knights and all. Though most medieval soldiers were actually peasants with little more than smocks and sticks.
I’ll admit, in other wars there was a lot more walking. In Iraq, we hardly marched at all, we just hopped in a humvee and went on a convoy to get anywhere. Which makes me wonder why military PT is stuck in the “skinny marathoner” mode instead of “big strong powerlifter”. But that’s a subject for another day.
Don’t count on it. Every unit, HQ included, has a table of equipment, and it likely includes crew-served weapons. I, for one, carried the M-249B at a hefty 14lb. Someone had a SAW, despite never leaving the wire.