For wear around the barracks officers were sometime instructed to purchase woollen pullovers often known as ‘Guernseys’ of a finer weave than the standard British Army woolly-pully. These were not only less itchy, but also gave a smarter and more soldierly appearance for men when they were working in office type roles. Tonight we have an example issued to Major Ian Ward, Royal Engineers in the early 1990s:In most respects the design echoes the standard woolly-pully, with a round neck:It is quite clear however that the weave of the knitting is far tighter than the standard issue item. Reduction knitting is used on the cuffs:And waist band:This draws the garment in and hugs it tight to the body in these places. Fabric panles are fitted to the shoulders, with space for a rank slide- here a major’s crown with embroidery for the RE:Panels are also fitted on the forearms to protect them:And a small pencil pocket is sewn to the upper sleeve:A unit formation flash for the Tyne Electrical Engineers is sewn to the upper sleeve:This badge dates back to 1922 when it was registered with the College of Arms as “out of a mural crown or, a dexter cubit arm grasping a winged arrow inflamed proper’.
This example has had its label removed from the back of the neck for comfort, but companies such as Brenhyre Knitwear produced these for officers, examples in 2007 costing the individual a hefty £60 each!
Barrack dress disappeared in the late 1990s/early 2000s and although some regiments persisted with it, the official policy was for everyone to be in Soldier 95s all the time. One irreverent wag described barrack dress as:
Barrack dress was always known as Uniform, Officers, Nothing to do. How can you do your job as an officer in barracks when you’re dressed in all that nonsense escapes me.
“Oh no, corporal, I couldn’t possibly join the chaps doing that mucky veh maint / SAA / PT etc when I’m dressed in my best shoes and trousers, wearing this hideously coloured baggy gardening jumper, wearing a daft hat and carrying this stupid stick.”
This policy has now been reversed and most regiments now include barrack dress once more. The Royal Engineers sets out what clothing should be worn in their dress regulations:
No. 2 Dress hat or side hat (CO’s discretion)
Jersey, wool, heavy duty
No. 2 Shirt
Tie, silk knitted, RE pattern
Trousers, Barrack Dress
Shoes, brown, plain leather
We continue our review of the 88 Pattern webbing set this week with the second pattern water bottle carrier. The earlier pattern was covered here, and side by side the differences are clear (the first pattern is on the left, the second on the right):The most obvious change between the two patterns is the replacement of the webbing loop on the front with a full pocket for carrying a hexamine stove:Both the front pocket and the base of the carrier have eyelets to drain water out:The pattern of Auscam is also brighter and slightly greener than the older carrier. On the rear the belt fastenings have changed:Instead of the sprung metal ALICE style clips, plastic fasteners are fitted instead:The rest of the carrier is broadly similar in design, borrowing heavily from the US M1910 style of carrier. Two top flaps secure the bottle into the carrier, fastening with a pair of press studs:The inside of the carrier is lined with felt to help insulate the bottle and keep it cool in the heat of the Australian outback:This particular carrier dates from 2010:The US M1910 must be one of the most enduring designs of webbing in history, inspiring dozens of derivative designs across the world; we have covered the 44 Pattern British carrier, 51, 64 and 82 pattern Canadian and 88 Pattern Australian designs which are all inspired by this design and this does not include all the non-commonwealth countries that have also adopted variations of this design.
With water being such a high priority in Australia, it is typical for soldiers and cadets to carry a minimum of two bottles on their webbing at all times, with extra bottles added to the rucksack if extended operations are expected.
In October 1918 an innovative fund raising campaign took place in London that saw Trafalgar Square transformed into the battlefields of the Western Front. The ‘Feed the Guns’ Campaign took over the whole square and created a ruined farmhouse and windmill as well as trenches and original pieces of captured German equipment. Like many of these exhibitions, postcards were sold as souvenirs and to raise money:The London Illustrated News reported that the square was:
Being “camouflaged as ruined churches, windmills, and cottages. The lamp-posts, even, will figure as shell shattered trees. Investors will be given application forms for War Bonds in a camouflaged military hut, and will be conducted through sandbagged trenches to the great guns in their emplacements.
The Daily Mail reported on the setting up of the exhibition:
The work of transforming Trafalgar Square into a ruined village on the western front in readiness for next week’s “Feed the Guns with War bonds” campaign was begun yesterday. Men of the “Camouflage Corps”, or Army Special Works School were busy making sandbag trenches and erecting a ruined farmhouse.
Seven big guns are to arrive tomorrow, and during next week investors will be able to take their bonds to a gun and “feed” them into the barrel, where they will be stamped with a special device.
One item that could not be disguised was Nelson’s Column, however advertising hoardings were fitted around its base encouraging the purchase of War bonds:The fountain has become a French farm and a windmill covers one of the famous lions:The lion himself can just be seen beneath the fake windmill! The destroyed village can be seen ranged out in the square:The campaign was nationwide, with London as its focus, and lasted a week. £31 million was raised and this event was clearly popular as can be seen by the crowds queuing up for admission:London alone raised over £23 million pounds and much of this money came for the visitors to the ‘Feed the Guns’ exhibition in Trafalgar Square.