Tonight we are following up the post on the Combat Body Armour from earlier in the year here. When the Gulf War broke out this body armour was just becoming standard issue to infantry troops and at that time was only issued in a temperate green DPM cover. The Times reported at the start of the war on 14th February 1991:
Britain’s troops in the Gulf are being issued with ultra-light body armour which is claimed to be the finest in the world(Nick Nuttall writes). Front line units are being clothed in layers of ballistic nylon and Kevlar fibres, a material five times stronger than steel. Commanders hope that all British troops will have the armour before the land offensive begins. The Royal Scots, Royal Fusiliers and Staffords have been kitted out, but some combat engineers, artillerymen and members of tank regiments are still waiting. Although the basic armour is only designed to stop shrapnel, the full protective kit can stop a ricocheting bullet…
New covers in Desert DPM fabric were rapidly produced for this body armour and it is one of these we are considering tonight:A comparison with the woodland pattern shows the design of the covers is virtually identical, save for the different camouflage pattern. The front of the CBA has the same pair of pockets, one large and one small:The same straps are positioned around the waist to adjust the fit, with Velcro used to secure them:Note also that the strap on the back to attach the armour to a belt is still attached on this set of CBA:These were commonly cut off so it’s a nice feature to still have. Sadly this CBA cover does not have proper armour in, just a piece of foam cut to the right shape, but I do have a couple of set of ballistic filler if I did ever want to swap it over . The CBA cover has a standard label, with the owner’s name and number written on in pen.I find it interesting that despite there being space for a name and number on the label, troops seem to universally just write over the whole label in large black writing!
When the First Gulf War broke out in 1991, the British Army was woefully underprepared for a conflict in the dessert. Although a four colour Desert DPM camouflage pattern had been developed in the 1980s, as the MoD could not see an immediate use for it the design had been used to produce uniforms for the export market and sold to Iraq; it was also produced under license for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia amongst others. As the level of threat increased in the middle east it became clear that British forces might need to deploy to the region and having an identical pattern of camouflage to potential enemies would only cause confusion or worse. The eventual two tone desert camouflage was different enough to go into production and quantities were received by troops taking part in the First Gulf War. Due to the short turnaround times though, the DDPM uniforms were essentially the old tropical uniforms produced in the new fabric. Tonight we are considering one of these DDPM shirts, and it is interesting to contrast the design with that of the CS95 DDPM shirt we looked at here: The shirt has two patch pockets, one on either breast, these are bellowed to allow expansion and secured with flap tops and a single button:The buttons are the same design used on many British Army uniforms since the Second World War. The shirt also has a pen pocket on the upper sleeve:Each shoulder has a buttoned strap for the displaying of rank and to help secure webbing under if desired:The shirt is secured with a zip, that is then covered by button fly:The collar has the ability to be turned up and secured with a button, although I doubt this was ever done in practice:The cuffs are also buttoned, with a tab and pair of buttons provided to give differing degrees of tightness:As with all modern military equipment, the shirt has a white label inside giving details of sizing, washing instructions and manufacturer:It is interesting to note that this shirt was made by a British manufacturer, J Compton Sons & Webb Ltd, most modern British Army uniforms being produced in China! We end on a wonderful photograph of a chap on active service in the Gulf War pairing the DDPM uniform with 58 pattern webbing and a Sterling SMG: