Category Archives: Camouflage

Arctic Mittens Mk III

With the temperature dropping in the UK, now seems a good time to take a look at another piece of British Army extreme cold weather gear. The extremities of the body are the most vulnerable to extremely cold temperatures and it is essential the fingers are suitably protected. Mittens are one of the best ways of keeping warm as each finger helps to heat the others next to it, gloves insulate one finger from the other and it is much harder to keep them all warm this way. Unfortunate mittens are very clumsy and manual dexterity is virtually non-existent with them; not very helpful to the soldier who needs to fire a weapon. To solve this dilemma the British Army issued the Arctic Mitten MK III:imageThis is made in DPM fabric and has a heavy duty padded hand and thumb section:imageThey are fitted with an artificial fur liner:imageElastic at the wrist helps keep the heat in:imageSmall ‘bumps’ to aid grip are fitted to the palms to help the wearer hold the pistol grip of his rifle:imageWhere these mitten are special though is that they have a separate opening for the trigger finger:imageThis part of the mitten is not padded with fur at all and leaves the finger free to pull the trigger of a rifle easily. Most of the time all the fingers can be kept inside the mitten for warmth, but when the need arises it is the work of seconds to move the index finger into this special finger section to fire the weapon.

As ever a label is sewn inside the mittens with stores details:imageThis label is quite far into the body of the mitten, so it was not easy to get a photograph for you! This mark of glove has now been superseded by a more advanced design, but they are certainly warm and I can imagine they would be very much appreciated in extremely low temperatures. The gloves themselves are not actually waterproof, cold water would rapidly remove their effectiveness so they would be worn with the waterproof outer we looked at here.

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MTP Trousers

As MTP (multi terrain pattern) uniforms start appearing on the surplus market more frequently, we will be taking a closer look at items of British Army uniform and equipment more often in the coming years and tonight we have a nice example of the MTP trousers used extensively by the British military:imageIt is fair to say that MTP was not treated with universal acclaim when it was first introduced, with many saying that the old DPM and DDPM were better patterns depending on the area a soldier was deployed to. ARRSEpedia explains the thinking behind the pattern in their usual inimitable style:

Woodland DPM and Desert DPM work very well where they are designed to: in woods and deserts. However, most areas of operation are not just one thing or the other, and patrols and military operations traverse terrain that can vary from light sand to dark woods in a matter of minutes, particularly in Afghanistan, but also worldwide. Desert cam works well in the desert, but once in the Green Zone it works less and less well until you are a light coloured target against a dark green background wishing you could change into Woodland DPM. MTP might not be perfect in either the desert or the Green Zone, but it’s never that bad either: it is good cam for where you actually are, not perfect cam for where your kit hopes you might be.

Returning to the trousers, it is obvious that the design draws heavily on the CS95 pattern, with many of the same details of design and construction. Here the fly can be seen, secured with a zip and single button:imageTwo large cargo pockets are sewn onto the front of the legs:imageA smaller patch pocket is sewn onto the seat:imageNote also the belt loops above. A slash pocket is fitted to each hip, with a mesh pocket liner and a separate zipped part:imageThe cuff of each trouser leg is secured with a drawstring:imageThe designers were also mindful of areas of particular wear, and the crotch is reinforced with a second layer of fabric:imageThe sizing and store’s label is sewn into the back of the waistband:As is so often the case these days, the trousers are made in China rather than the UK!

Finally, just to scare those of you who have got used to not seeing my ugly mug in posts for a while, here is a picture of yours truly sporting a pair of the MTP trousers:

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DPM Ripstop Field Jacket

Way back in April we looked at a rip stop field jacket in desert DPM fabric here. Tonight we follow it up with a look at the same jacket in the temperate DPM fabric:imageMy thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping me add this one to the collection. In design this jacket is virtually identical to the DDPM version, with two sloping breast pockets:imageAnd two large pockets below the waist:imageThe ubiquitous central rank slide is sewn between two small zipped pockets on the chest:imageVelcro is sewn to each cuff to allow them to be drawn shut:imageInside the jacket is a drawstring that allows some waist adjustment:imageNote the small label of a soldier and the company name ‘DCTA’. This is the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency, this groups was founded in 1994 and was responsible for the procurement of the CS95 sets of clothing, placing contracts with manufacturers such as Remploy.The following parliamentary question and answer shows the scale of military clothing procurement at this time:

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the gross value of textile and knitwear contracts placed with Remploy was in (a) 1993-94 and (b) 1997-98. [36820]

Mr. Spellar: The bulk of the MOD contracts placed with Remploy for procurement of textile and knitted products are carried out through the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency and I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member. In addition there may be some local purchase of items from Remploy for which we do not hold records centrally and which could be identified only at disproportionate cost.

Letter from Mr. J. Deas to Mr. Andrew George, dated 24 April 1998:

In the unavoidable absence of my Chief Executive I am replying to your Question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the gross value of textile and knitwear contracts placed with Remploy in 1993-94 and 1997-98, as this matter falls within the area of responsibility of the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency (DCTA).

Our records show contracts to the value of £18.8M in 1993-94 and £3.0M in 1997-98, VAT inclusive, placed with Remploy by the DCTA. These figures include all items procured by the DCTA, as the tri-Service Agency responsible for the majority of the clothing and textile items purchased by the MOD. However, we are not responsible for certain clothing and textile items, such as Aircrew clothing, for which we are informed that contracts were placed with Remploy to a value of £51,865 in 1993-94 and £439,105 in 1997-98.

There is also a standard British Army clothing label sewn into the jacket:image As mentioned in the last post, these jackets were actually quite popular as they were comfortable, fairly robust and because they were made of cotton the wearer did not run the risk of the fabric melting in a fire.

DPM Boonie Hat

The boonie hat has to be one of the most successful items of military headgear ever designed, as popular today with soldiers as when it was introduced over seventy years ago. Over the decades the design has changed subtly with a lower crown and wider brim being the most obvious changes, along with changes to fabric to match the current combat uniforms. Tonight we have our first example in the long lived Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM):imageLike other boonie hats, this one has a broad brim, with multiple rings of stitching to reinforce it:imageNote also the tab and eyelet for attaching a piece of string to act as a chin strap to. The broad brim keeps both sun and rain off the wearer’s face and neck. The crown of the hat has metal ventilation grills and loops for attaching camouflage  foliage to:imageThis example has a fairly early style of label sewn inside, it has an NSN number but is one of the early examples with this feature. It is also in a very generous size of 60:imageAs ever ARRSEpedia has a wonderfully irreverent description of the boonie hat:

At one time they were very hard to find and possession of one marked the individual out as either being one of them, someone who’d been to a hot posting like Belize, Hong Kong or Cyprus, or (more often than not) someone who was simply a big-timing walty cnut who’d been shopping at Silverman’s.

The variation of styles that can be achieved by their wearers is quite staggering. RLC mongs and RAF techies tend to adopt the ‘Eastwood’, whilst anyone worth their salt either alters theirs by cutting down the brim (the origins of this date back to Malaya, when peripheral vision was enhanced), or purchases a tailored SF-style example available from several commercial suppliers in that never ending pursuit of allyness.

In this photograph from Belize, these well camo-ed troops show off a selection of bush hats:image

DPM Jungle Trousers

Earlier this year we looked at the 1970s jungle DPM shirt here. Tonight it is the turn of the matching trousers to be considered. The trousers are made from the same lightweight DPM fabric as the shirt:imageDPM, or disruptive pattern material, had been designed in the 1960s, very much inspired by the patterns used on Denison smocks in World War Two. The pattern uses four basic colours, typically seen in western Europe- black, dark brown, mid brown and dark sand. These colours were modified slightly for tropical uniforms with more vibrant hues used that rapidly faded to pastel shades.

These trousers have large buttoned pockets on each thigh:imageA further pocket is provided on the seat:imageButtoned belt loops are provided to help support the trousers:imageAs is a drawstring through the waist that can help adjust the size:imageNote also the button fly using a row of small green buttons. The bottom of each trouser leg has holes to pass drawstrings through, allowing the bottoms to be tied off and bloused over boots if required:imageThe label for the trousers is on the inside of the waist belt, sadly in this case the label has been washed clean, and a hand inked size of ‘8’ has been written on in its place:imageA size 8 pair of trousers equates to a waist of 32-33 inches and a seat of 38-39 inches:App3264LargeThese trousers were used throughout the 1970s and 1980s until the introduction of the CS95 clothing in the late 1990s. These uniforms were worn extensively during jungle training in Brunei at the Jungle Warfare School there. The country is still used today for training, with a large British Army presence. The British Army in Brunei comprises an Infantry Battalion and a Bell 212 Helicopter Flight of the Army Air Corps. The climate of Brunei is well suited to jungle operations and the Training Team Brunei run jungle warfare courses for all members of the British Army ranging from Jungle Warfare Instructor Courses to long range patrolling and tracking. The Infantry Battalion is supported by the small British Garrison, which provides all logistic and administrative support.

1968 Pattern Combat Smock

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:imageThe 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:imageAt 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:imageNote 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:imageThese 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:imageA number of labels are sewn into the smock and the hood, identifying the garment and its stores code:

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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:imageThe 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.

British Army Snow Smock

You might remember last year I picked up a pair of snow camouflage trousers (See here), I have now picked up the smock to allow me to complete a full suit:

D550FE38-C0BE-4C41-9972-A9552E385FF9 The smock is designed to be pulled over the head and thus has no central fastening. It has pleated pockets over the breast, secured by brown plastic buttons:

D79B74E8-A09D-48EB-B5C4-FEAD70820FFAThe lower pockets are simple un pleated patch pockets secured by the same style of button:

F4D1437D-D87F-4552-B740-A581DD54C29BThe forearms are reinforced with an extra layer of fabric:

8EBCB611-A263-47E7-9AFF-86FF92CBBB7DThe waist of the smock is secured by a simple cotton tape:

16713FBE-08D0-481E-AFB1-580E0D24BC8FThere is a hood to the garment, secured by another cotton tape:

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The hood was not often worn as it restricted head movement, hearing and peripheral vision. Below are a couple of reconstructions of a British soldier in winter 1944 wearing the full snow camouflage suit:

4D3C3D7C-207B-4CF9-A93B-79063DF9CFB9C3A35D4C-E3BB-4C2F-A13E-AB685FD2D234