Although the British Army had some limited experience with camouflage clothing through the Denison smock and camouflaged windproof issued in WW2, it was not until the mid 1960s that a concerted effort was made to issue camouflage uniforms to all troops. The design of camouflage adopted was called ‘Disruptive Pattern Material’ or DPM and in various forms was to last into the next century. DPM is made up of black, dark brown, mid green and sand colours in a complex pattern of splodges and swirls and black ‘twigs’ leading to a remarkably effective form of camouflage. Initially the uniforms were made in the new material to the earlier patterns for the 1960 pattern uniform, but a new and revised uniform was produced called the 1968 Pattern and this was to become the first camouflage uniform to be universally issued to British Forces. Tonight we are looking at the Smock from that uniform:The new design of uniform was an improvement on its predecessors as the cloth was better quality and the lining lighter resulting in a comfortable and popular uniform. It was fastened by a zipper and five plastic buttons. One major innovation with the uniform was the ability to button a hood to it:At the rear of the smock is sewn a tail of cloth that can be drawn between the legs and buttoned to the front of the smock in the same manner as wartime parachutists smocks:Note also the large pocket running across the back of the smock which is large enough to stow a rolled poncho, an NBC suit or the quilted liner that was available for the smock. As can be seen the smock is fully lined unlike later designs. On the breast are two angled, buttoned patch pockets:These are designed to still be accessible when webbing is worn, hence the angle to them. Note how pale the shade of DPM is compared with later patterns, partly this is due to fading from washing, but it seems universal, regardless of the condition of the uniform so they seem just to have used a lighter shade of dye. A further pocket is mounted on the left upper sleeve, with space for pens and pencils:A number of labels are sewn into the smock and the hood, identifying the garment and its stores code:
From this we can see the smock was made by James Smith and Co of Derby and is a size 4. Another label towards the bottom of the smock has care instructions:The 68 pattern uniform was replaced by a new design in 1984, but as this was far inferior to its predecessor the 68 pattern remained popular being both comfortable, practical and a sign of a supposed ‘old sweat’. These jackets are starting to command quite high prices on eBay, but they do come up fairly regularly through other, non collector, sources for much lower prices as the layman cannot tell the difference (and doesn’t care) between 1968 pattern, 1984 pattern and CS95 pattern jackets- they are all army jackets to most. As the iconic uniform of the Falklands War these smocks are going to become more collectable in the coming years so I would suggest picking one up if you find it cheap whilst you can as they will only go up in price as the supply dries up.