Category Archives: Camouflage

3 Commando Brigade DDPM Windproof Smock

Tonight we are looking at a desert windproof smock from 3 Commando Brigade, but first a confession. When I bought this smock it had all the TRF insignia and glint tape still attached to the sleeves, however the shoulder titles had been removed at some point. The ‘Army Commando’ titles then were added by me, however they are a legitimate shoulder titles to wear with this flash as we shall see and unlike the more typical ‘Royal Marine Commando’ titles, I actually had a pair of these in stock! I am wary about badging up uniforms to units they were never originally from, however in this case I have less of an issue with it due to the original TRF patch and stitch marks as I feel this is more a restoration than a new creation.

The smock itself is a standard DDPM windproof smock, like the example we looked at here:imageAttached to the sleeve is a 3 Commando Brigade tactical recognition patch, introduced in 2002, in the form of a black Fairburn Sykes commando dagger on a green background:imageAlso attached is the reflective glint tape and the reinstated Army Commando titles. Although 3 Commando Brigade was a Royal Marine unit the army also had units serving alongside the marines and these were entitled to wear the TRF even if not commando qualified as it was a formation rather than a qualification patch. The following order description was given in 2011:


24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers (24 CDO REGT RE) Formed in 2008, the British Army’s 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers form a key part of 3 Commando Brigade. Their main role is to provide combat engineering support to the brigade. This includes the construction or destruction of fortifications, bridges and roads, the laying and clearing of mines and neutralizing IEDs. The Sappers of 24 CDO REGT RE go through full commando training, including the All Arms Commando Course, and can be drawn on to perform the traditional infantry role.

Also there is 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery The batteries of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, provide artillery support to 3 Commando Brigade in the form of 105mm howitzers, mortars and Naval gunfire. All members of 29 Commando are volunteers from other Royal Artillery regiments and are Commando trained.

Both support 3 CDO BDE and are titled ARMY COMMANDO’S.

With this in mind I felt quite justified using these titles on the smock. The same titles appear on the opposite sleeve, again following the stitching marks of the original insignia, and a Union flag appears along with the same glint tape as the other sleeve:imageWhen I acquired the smock it came with a single corporal’s rank slide on the front:imageThe name on the label has been crossed out, but can be seen faintly inked to the inside of the smock below and reads “Morrish”:imageI am a great fan of badged smocks and there is a huge variety of units out there to find, and the prices are often very reasonable like this example which only cost me £10. I can see these becoming more desirable as the years go on so they are an excellent area of collecting at the moment and could well prove a good investment, especially for rarer or more desirable units.


MTP Windproof Smock

A number of different DPM and Desert DPM smocks have appeared on the blog over the years, but tonight we have the first example of a windproof smock in MTP:imageIn design this is externally very similar to the DDPM example we looked at here. The front of the smock fastens with a concealed zip, and a tab for a rank slide is positioned centrally on the chest, along with two small zipped pockets:imageFurther large patch pockets are sewn to the skirts of the smock, secured with a button flap:imageThese pockets are actually fleece lined, as can be seen on the inside of the smock:imageTwo further patch pockets are fitted, one on either breast, opening the left hand pocket reveals pen lops and a small inner pocket with a button hole:imageThis is designed to hold a small compass for field work. Finally pockets are sewn to the upper sleeves of the garment, with a small union flag sewn to the pocket flap:imageWhen wearing multiple layers of clothing ventilation can become important, so under each arm pit is a zippered hole to allow air in to this sweaty part of the body if needed:imageTo help make the smock comfortable, a mesh liner is sewn to the upper half of the jacket:FullSizeRenderA drawstring waist is also provided inside the smock, below the mesh liner:imageAs with the DDPM version, this smock has a hood, with an integral wire to help stiffen it and let it hold the shape the wearer wants:imageAs ever this can be rolled up and secured to the collar with a button tab.

The cuffs of each sleeve have a large Velcro tab allowing them to be drawn tight to get a warm seal and prevent cold air form entering the smock:imageThe smock uses the familiar plastic buttons secured with cotton tapes, as seen on all British Army field uniforms since 1995. Spares are sewn into the inside of the lower skirt of the smock:imageA standard label identifies the smock, gives sizing and NSN number and care instructions:FullSizeRender1This particular pattern of smock seems to have first been issued about 2009 and was popular amongst the men who received it:

They are warm in the winter, even in just a t-shirt or norgy, and cool in the summer (especially when the side vents are opened up). The fleece pockets are good too…

Another user said:

The smock is actually very good, I’ve never been told to do press ups for having my hands in those fleece pockets, in fact I haven’t seen anyone told to do press ups for that “offence” since I left the regulars, perhaps this jacket should be arketed to TA bods only! The mesh on the pockets doesn’t snag on anything, it’s under the actual pocket, and the stuff on the inside does its job really well. Overall, it’s a very good bit of kit.

The only criticism was it could be a bit heavy, especially when wet, but most users seem to have liked the smock and it was fetching high prices on the surplus market when first issued. Prices have dropped now that it has been on issue for eight or nine years and examples can be found for around £25 each.

92 Pattern DPM Temperate Trousers

My thanks tonight go to Jon Kempson for his help in identifying the specific pattern of tonight’s object that allowed me to go away and research it for you! Prior to the introduction of CS95 combat clothing in 1995, a new pattern was introduced in 1992. This replaced the woefully inadequate designs the army had been using since 1984 (this pattern was notorious for the pockets dropping off at a glance!). This intermediate pattern was used as a test bed for some of the features that would be rolled out in CS95 clothing but also to replace the earlier 84 pattern garments as maintenance stocks. One of the first areas that the new clothing addressed was the printing of the DPM fabric itself. The 84 pattern clothing had used the traditional method of printing the DPM camouflage on white cotton, however as the garments were now unlined this presented a potential hazard if the interior of the fabric were to become visible to the enemy. The 92 pattern was thus printed onto pre-dyed fabric, the shade chosen being the lightest tan colour of the four colour pattern. There were problems getting the dyes entirely correct for this initial production run, so the early garments have a distinctive ‘yellowish’ tinge to them. It is an example of these early production trousers we are looking at tonight:imageThe interior of the trousers reveals the tan-yellow shade the fabric was pre-dyed in:imageThe trousers themselves are pretty conventional, having a button and tape waist fastening, and a zip fly:imageTwo slash pockets are fitted, one on each hip:imageEach leg has a large button down patch pocket:imageButton down belt loops are fitted and a small degree of waist adjustment is catered for by two button tabs on the waist band:imageTies are fitted to the bottom of each trouser leg so they can be drawn in, and bloused if required:imageThe label has the sizes in metric, but at this date manufacture was still in the UK, unlike today where it is more cost effective to get the Chinese to make them for us:imageThis pattern of clothing seems to have first appeared amongst troops at Warminster in 1992 and saw extensive use during the peacekeeping in Bosnia in the early to mid-1990s, with a second production run in 1993-1994 correcting the colour issues with the early production run. With the introduction of CS95 clothing, the pattern was slowly superseded and replaced with the newer design. The development of British camouflage uniforms is sadly very under-researched and there is little published information out there on the development and variations of the classic British DPM uniform, as ever I will keep tracking down pieces like this and hopefully we can continue building up the history on the blog.

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.

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:




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