Up until the end of the Second World War, officers were the only members of the army officially allowed to wear a shirt, collar and tie. At this time both civilian and military collared shirts had removable collars, secured to the rest of the shirt with collar studs. This allowed a clean collar to be worn every day to look smart, without needing to go to the effort of laundering the rest of the shirt. This example is in khaki cloth, with a fold down design and would have been worn by an officer:A short stud passes through the rear of the collar and shirt, hence the small button hole here:A longer stud is used at the front, passing through the two sides of the shirt and both ends of the collar:The collar is in what tailors refer to as a ‘cutaway’ design, designed to be used as a soft rather than a starched collar and worn with a tie:The 1931 Indian Army Dress Regulations provided the following guidance on officers collars:
Collars.- The pattern is left to the discretion of commanding officers but all officers of a unit must be dressed alike.
Drab flannel or khaki collars will be worn with service dress and khaki drill jackets at all times. A plain gold safety pin may be worn under the tie to keep the soft collar in place.
The regulations went on further to give guidance for officers wearing a shirt without a jacket in ‘shirt sleeve order’:
The collar of the shirt may be worn open without a tie.
This collar is faintly marked with the /|\ inside a ‘U’ acceptance mark of the South African Army:In this fine portrait of Lieutenant General John Darcy shows off the officer’s collar nicely, worn with the regulation shirt, tie and service dress jacket:An officer would normally have at least half a dozen of these collars and they would be carried in his baggage, however by the Second World War they were very much worn away from the front lines, soldiers battledress being a far more sensible option in battle.