The latest piece of clothing to help with my Auscam obsession is a pair of trousers in the distinctive camouflage pattern. In my experience it is nearly always easier to find jackets than trousers. Army surplus trousers are regularly worn in civilian life in a way jackets are not and trousers are far more susceptible to ripping or wearing through the fabric than jackets. This adds up to a situation where it can be hard to find more unusual trousers for a collection. It was therefore very pleasing to pick this pair up, even if they are a little more worn than I would have liked to match my jacket:The trousers are made of poly-cotton, with the distinctive DPCU pattern printed on it, a little faded but still clear and serviceable. The trousers sport a large pocket on each thigh, secured with concealed buttons:A third pocket is sewn over the right buttock:Note also the belt loops, each of which fastens with a button on the bottom of the loop. Waist adjustment is by a pair of buttoning tabs on each hip:The flies are secured with a zip and a button tab:The bottom of each trouser leg is elasticated, drawing the leg in tight around the ankle where the trousers meet the wearer’s boots:The Australian Army’s dress regulations indicate that the trousers are to be worn bloused over the boots:Sadly the interior label is badly degraded from repeated washing so it is not possible to exactly date these trousers, but I suspect they date to the early 1990s. With the matching jacket and the 88 pattern webbing in my collection I have almost completed a full, if basic, set of Australian combat uniform and equipment from the end of the twentieth century, boots and hat are the last two major components now…
In the immediate post war period the British military started reviewing the extreme cold weather clothing it had available and introduced several new garments based on wartime experience. The Royal Navy had found itself gaining much experience of operating in sub-zero temperatures during the convoy runs to Murmansk and Archangel in the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Ironically the emerging threat was not the USSR and with this being the case there was the clear possibility that future combat might occur in the frozen wastes of the Arctic. New extreme cold weather clothing was rapidly developed for the RN including specially padded trousers:These are made from a closely woven dark blue cotton and filled with a very thick layer of insulation for warmth. The insulation is indeed so thick that the trousers have special expansion cuts on the knees to allow the wearer to even bend his legs!A single large pocket is seen to the front of the left leg, secured with one black plastic button:The flies fasten with further plastic buttons:The waist is adjustable with cotton straps:And corresponding white metal buckles (as these trousers are unissued they are still wrapped in tissue from when they were made):The end of each trouser leg has a tab and two buttons allowing the leg to be wrapped around the ankle and fastened tight before the wearer slips his feet into boots:The label inside indicates that this pair was manufactured in 1952 and the term ‘Vocab’ shows they were naval issue, this being the RNs store’s code system:It is hard to identify the use of these trousers from period photographs but I think I have found a couple of images where they are being worn. In 1949 the RN undertook Arctic trials on board HMS Vengeance and here we see sailors wearing heavily padded trousers which look to be the same pattern as the set above:
My thanks tonight go to Chris Davies who has very kindly given me a selection of items that belonged to his Grandfather Captain A Davies. We shall be looking at a few different items over the coming weeks, but tonight we start with an officer’s Field Service Cap for the East Yorkshire Regiment:The official history of the East Yorkshire Regiment lists a Lt A Davies as being part of the 5th Battalion just before it landed in Sicily in 1943 and I suspect that this would be the same chap. The cap itself is a private purchase item in high quality barathea, but follows the same pattern as the other ranks’ caps:As an officer the cap badge is made of bronzed metal and the East Yorkshire regiment used a design of a Yorkshire rose in a laurel wreath on a six pointed star:The two buttons on the front of the cap are also bronzed:The differing quality of the cap is really apparent on the inside, where the cap is lined with an oil cloth, now a little degraded and stiff, but still in reasonable condition:The inside of the cap, where it meets the head has a strip of soft velvet like material to capture sweat and make the cap more comfortable to wear:This was clearly a quite expensive cap when new and is in lovely condition, despite the slightly dried out lining. As someone who has been involved with the East Yorkshire Regiment living history group for many years it is lovely to have an attributable cap for an officer of the regiment and with it being a gift it will be a treasured addition to the collection.
My thanks got o Michael Whittaker for kindly helping me add tonight’s object to my collection. After the partition of India, the British Army retained four Gurkha regiments:
2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (1947–1994)
6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles (1947–1994)
7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles (1947–1994)
10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles (1947–1994)
These regiments tended to be deployed to warmer parts of the shrinking British Empire such as Brunei, Malaya and Hong Kong. As such they were issued with a special tropical ceremonial uniform that allowed them to perform official functions in the high temperatures and tonight we are looking at a No3 Jacket for a member of the Brigade of Gurkhas:This is a white cotton jacket and it has a smart standing collar, secured with a pair of wire hooks and eyes:A pair of epaulettes are fitted, one to each shoulder:The breast pockets are of the patch variety and secure with a single, removable button. These are white plastic but I suspect that these were swapped out for staybrite regimental ones if required:The pockets on the skirt are internal ones, covered by a simple flap:A pointed cuff is fitted to each sleeve:As it is a ceremonial jacket and belts with swords might be expected to be worn, an internal hanger strap is sewn into the uniform. This allows metal belt hooks to be attached that poke through the side of the jacket and help hold any belt in place:A separate white belt is provided with a removable metal belt buckle for laundering (missing here):Regular washing would be expected with white clothing, so the buttons are removable, each held on with a split ring:The label inside indicates that this is designed for Gurkha troops and the sizing is in the special ‘G’ series of sizes specifically allocated to Gurkha troops:These special sizes were offered because Gurkhas were usually smaller and differently built to English troops and the standard sizes usually would not fit them correctly.
Since 1994 the four Gurkha regiments have merged into the single Royal Gurkha Rifles and today this dress is worn with rifleman’s accoutrements such as black buttons and shoulder boards and red piping to the collar, the basic uniform jacket remains the same however:Sadly my jacket has some rather nasty staining on the pockets and I am still working out the best way to remove it without risking washing out all the detail on the label!
There are still many items of very common militaria that have not been covered on this blog yet and every so often I take a look and realise I haven’t yet covered something that should be very basic. The CS95 pattern of DPM trousers is one such item and looking back I was surprised to find I hadn’t written a post about this yet. Therefore tonight we are going to take a detailed look at this particular item of uniform:The CS95 uniform was trialled between 1992 and 1995 and came into service in 1995. Whilst the shirts were a major departure from what had gone before, the trousers were less distinctive, the buttons being held on by tape being the most obvious feature. These buttons are used to secure the large patch pocket on the left leg:And the smaller rear patch pocket over the right buttock:The fly fastenings for the CS95 trousers consist of a zip:Along with a drawstring and button:As well as the drawstring, a pair of buttoned tabs allow the waist size to be adjusted:Draw strings are fitted to the cuff of each trouser leg:CS95 trousers have two labels inside, the standard sizing and stores label:And a second DCTA (Defence Clothing and Textile Agency) label:The design of CS95 trousers seems to have been a popular one, especially after the generally poor reputation of the 1985 pattern combat trousers and those made from ripstop fabrics:
Standard CS95 trousers are a better bit of kit. Comfy, easy to iron, smarter looking, and most importantly very fast drying in the field
The CS95 Trousers were produced in both temperate DPM, like this pair, and in Desert DPM for use in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Initial runs of the new MTP uniform used this pattern as well, but this was rapidly replaced with a new design and the older CS95 MTP uniform has become particularly hard to find and sought after by troops and collectors.
Earlier this year we looked at the Royal Navy’s foul weather jacket here. This jacket is commonly issued to all sailors as a protective layer for inclement weather. Far less frequently seen is the accompanying pair of Gore-tex foul weather trousers and it is these that are the subject of the blog tonight:These trousers are made of moisture vapour permeable of MVP fabric that keeps the larger drops of rain water out, but allows moisture from perspiration to escape from the inside. All the seams of these garments have been taped to prevent water from entering here:These trousers are designed to be worn over the standard uniform, so the pockets are merely openings, secured with Velcro, that allow access to the uniform pockets beneath:As it is probable that these trousers will get saturated, a loop is provided at the back of the waist so that they can be hung up to dry:They are fastened with a zip fly and Velcro tab and a drawstring allows a degree of size adjustment:As it is likely that these trousers will be put on and taken off whilst the sailor is still wearing his boots, the bottom of each leg has a zip and a Velcro tab allowing them to be opened right up to make donning and removing them easier:A standard label is sewn into the inside of the trousers with sizing and care instructions. The size of these trousers is small, however they are very generously cut to fit over uniform, so will fit someone who is normally a larger size:As best as I can work out, foul weather coats are on general issue to all Royal Navy personnel either on land or sea, whilst the trousers are just issued to those aboard ship. This make sense when one considers how rough it can get at sea and that crew still need to perform duties outside in any weather:
A couple of weeks ago we looked at an Indian Army mess dress jacket. As promised, tonight we follow up that post by looking at the matching pair of mess dress trousers, also commonly called ‘overalls’:These are produced in a very fine dark blue wool, with a wide red stripe down each outside leg:These trousers were produced in India in 1920, as witnessed by the large circular acceptance mark stamped on the inside:These trousers are of superb quality and not at all what we would later come to associate with Indian production. I am fairly confident however that they were produced in India rather than imported from Britain and then stamped on arrival. The buttons used throughout the mess dress are japanned stamped metal designs and although the japanning is too thick to be able to read a makers mark, they feel very ‘Indian’ to me:The base of each trouser leg is cut to fit over a pair of dress boots, and a strap with a button to secure it is sewn on to pass under the instep and prevent the trousers from riding up:The fly is secured with a row of the same buttons:The waist of the trousers is lined with a striped shirting material, the rear being cut into a ‘fish-tail’ back and having buttons (on the reverse) to attach a pair of braces to:These are very fitted trousers and as such the only pocket provided is a small change pocket inside the waist:As officers would be expected to purchase their own mess dress, the acceptance stamp is a bit of a mystery. My best guess is that these trousers were produced for issue to a senior NCO who would have received his mess kit form the government. At some point though they were acquired by an officer for use with his mess dress jacket and thus the pair have come down to us together. I am pretty confident that the jacket and trousers have been together for a very long time as Indian produced mess kit is rare and the chances of a collector or a surplus shop just happening to find them as separate entities and then matching them up seems slim to me.
Either way these trousers are in remarkable condition considering they are now 98 years old and they look like they could have been manufactured yesterday!