Following on from last night’s post on the NBC Suit Mk III Smock, tonight we look at the matching trousers:These are made from the same green fabric as the smock and have the same charcoal infused fabric inners to protect against radiation. Again they come issued in a compressed and vacuum sealed package, rated for four years in storage:The trousers have distinctive diagonal strips of Velcro with matching tabs on the ends of each leg:These allow the trousers to be wrapped tightly to ensure a good fit under the rubber NBC boots issued with the set. A single pocket is provided on the thigh:The trousers are held up with a pair of integral braces that pass over the shoulders:And minimal waist adjustment is provided with another Velcro tab:Instructions on correct fitting were included in the British Army NBC manual ‘Survive to Fight’:As with the smock, a white label is sewn in indicating that this pair are a ‘small’ and were made in 1981 by Remploy:By all accounts the Mk III NBC suit was held in reserve for many years to be issued in case of war, the older Mk II being used for training throughout the Cold War. It was only in the late 1980s, many years after their introduction, that the Mk III came to be commonly seen- just as a new DPM version began to be released to replace it. The Mk III suit is very common today, with large numbers of mint sealed examples being available to purchase on eBay and similar sites.
Tonight we have part one of a two part post on the British Mk III NBC suit. This suit was introduced in 1976 and consisted of two parts, a hooded smock and a pair of trousers. Tonight we are going to look at the smock and tomorrow the trousers. Together with the S6 respirator and protective gloves and boots these made up a complete protective suit for working in nuclear and chemical battlefields:The smock was issued in a vacuum sealed bag that gave it a storage shelf life of four years. A paper label visible under the packaging helped identify the contents:A second label was provided to the back of the package, helpfully giving instructions on what to do should the hood’s slide fastener become broken!On opening the packet the smock can be removed and it consists of a mid-green, over-the-head garment made from modoacrylic and nylon:Unlike other nations the British NBC suit was designed to have air pockets inside it to make it more comfortable to wear for long periods of time- the suit being expected to give protection for up to 24 hours. The inside of the smock has a black liner made of a charcoal impregnated fabric:This is lining that protects the wearer from radiation. A large central pocket is fitted onto the front of the suit:According to ARRSE the pocket was useful for storing a packet of fags! A set of pen holders is fastened to one of the sleeves of the smock:Each sleeve has a Velcro fastener to allow the sleeves to be tightened to help provide a close seal with the gloves:A pad is sewn onto the sleeve to allow detector papers to be attached:Around the waist is another set of Velcro straps that allow this to be tightened as well:The smock has a large integrated hood:This has a drawstring that allows a tight seal to be formed with the wearer’s S6 Respirator. The inside of the hood has the smock’s label:From this we can see that the smock is a ‘Large’. The NBC suit came in five sizes, each with its own NSN number:
X Small: CH 8415-99-132-3493
Small: CH 8415-99-132-3494
Normal: CH 8415-99-132-3495
Large: CH 8415-99-132-3496
Special: CH 8415-99-132-3497
Tomorrow we will look at the accompanying trousers, but I leave you tonight with this rather frightening image of troops on exercise in Mk III NBC suits:
Tonight we come to the final post on the 82 pattern webbing set, at least until I track down some more components. The Canadian Army issued a special lightweight rucksack for their troop’s NBC equipment that accompanied the 82 pattern set, although technically it was never actually a part of the equipment. This small pack was popular with troops and frequently used in the field as a general purpose haversack to supplement the ‘butt’ pack we looked at a few weeks back. The pack is made of green nylon, with three straps on the front securing the flap:These are secured with black ‘Fastex’ fasteners:The pack here is made in a mid green shade, other examples can be found with much darker colouring. Under the top flap is a drawstring that helps secure the main part of the rucksack and keeps the contents dry:One side of the pack has a small exterior pocket, secured with Velcro:The rucksack has a pair of shoulder straps sewn to the rear, with slide adjusters to allow the wearer to get a comfortable fit:Each strap is heavily padded for comfort:This pack has clearly seen heavy use as there are a number of different soldiers’ names and numbers written in pen on the underside of the top flap:The only label inside the bag is a small manufacturer’s label for ‘Just Kit’:This then ends our study of the 82 pattern set for the time being- there are still some components left to find so we will revisit the set as and when I add these to the collection. I hope this series has been of interest to you and that I have managed to raise the profile of this underappreciated set of commonwealth webbing.
On 15th July 1982 a charity called ‘The South Atlantic Fund’ was constituted to raise money to aid the victims of the war in the Falkland Islands and their families. By Autumn 1982 a sum of £11 million had been raised and one of those contributing to the fund was the Royal Mail who issued a special first day cover to raise money:Fortuitously the Royal Mail had issued a set of stamps based on famous naval personalities from history on 16th June, which provided a suitable set of stamps to display on the cover:A special envelope was printed for the South Atlantic Fund, with a design incorporating the White Ensign and the silhouette of a frigate:Inside the envelope is a card giving details of the charity and how much money the Royal Mail was aiming to collect:Alan Feinstein, Director of Public Relations at The Post Office wrote to the Daily Mail on 7th June 1982 explaining:
Mrs Such (Letters) will be pleased to learn that the Post Office will be offering for sale a million special pictorial envelopes with a maritime theme to boost the South Atlantic Fund by a minimum of £100,000.
They will go on sale at most post offices from June 28 until July 2, following the issue on June 16 of our planned Maritime Heritage stamps planned more than two years ago to celebrate the English Tourist Board’s Maritime Heritage Year.
The Post Office is guaranteeing a £100,000 minimum donation from the sale of the special envelope and the stamps bought for them, and any surplus will also go to the fund.
A special advert was taken out in the national press to advertise the covers:Sadly I have been unable to find out the exact amount of money raised by the sale of these covers, but judging by how common they are I suspect a lot were sold!
Tonight we have a pair of Canadian 51 pattern brace attachments:These allow the webbing set to be put together for those not equipped with full size ammunition pouches. The brace adaptor fills the gap between the shoulder braces and the belt and allows the set to be worn with items such as holsters and compass pouches. The design adopted for the 51 pattern set is a direct reuse of the uniquely Canadian 37 pattern brace attachment (we looked at a RCAF example of this a very long time ago here). The Canadians were unique in using a pressed brass open buckle arrangement to attach to the belt:This components is a single stamping so is much easier to manufacture than the British equivalent. Here it is made of blackened brass, as with all the other metal components of the 51 pattern set. At the top of the brace attachment is a blackened Twigg buckle that the shoulder brace passes through and the L-Straps of the pack can hook onto, and a small loop the end of the shoulder brace can be tucked into:For such a small and innocuous piece of webbing, some impressive stitching is used in the manufacture, with folded webbing straps and multiple layers sewn together to make up the component:
On patrol in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, British troops had very strict rules of engagement and were only permitted to carry very small amounts of ammunition- normally two SLR magazines, each with eighteen rounds- one in the gun and one in a pouch. Troops also wore body armour so there was a move away from large traditional equipment sets to more minimal belt kits. This example is a representative set like those put together by troops on Operation Banner:As can be seen the set consists of one 58 pattern ammunition pouch and two water bottle pouches on a 58 pattern belt:This set up emphasises the need for hydration during grueling foot patrols, with minimal ammunition needed. One ex soldier describes what he carried in Northern Ireland:
First tour 75 country Tyrone, dress was boots dms with puttees, trousers lightweight, kf shirt, woolly pully, combat jacket with yellow card in breast pocket, green waterproof, sometimes a parka, beret and blacked out badge.
Belt order with ammo pouches and water bottle only, although it was a bit of a waste as we only had 20 rounds. So lots of room for sweets and choccies.
In the past we have looked at a couple of padded British army liners for cold weather, a vest here and a full one piece suit here. Tonight we have another example to look at, but this time a sleeved version:I believe this is a slightly later version when compared with the vest, it is however made of the same green nylon with diamond shaped quilting to hold wadding securely inside and serves the same function as all the other liners- adding an extra layer of warmth to a uniform, here though for a parka rather than a standard combat jacket. One obvious departure from the earlier design is the use of long fabric tabs and Velcro to secure the front of the liner:Other features include a piece of mesh under the arm pit to provide ventilation at a particularly sweaty area:And various Velcro patches on the back of the liner to allow it to be secured to other items of clothing:
This indicates it was for a parka rather than a standard combat smock, but by all accounts soldiers used them interchangeably. A label inside indicates that this liner was made by the famous firm of Compton Sons and Webb: