We have looked at the 1980s and 1990s waterproof equipment on the blog before, but technology has come on dramatically since then and light weight, breathable waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex are now available. Modern waterproof is a far cry from the older designs and most importantly- it no longer scrunches like a crisp packet every time you move!
The army was quite slow to recognise the importance of waterproof clothing, but one soldier explains why it’s so important in modern warfare:
The purpose of MVP kit is to keep you dry. It keeps you dry so that you can soldier better, harder and longer. You getting wet and miserable can eventually lead to a) you acting like a mong: b) hypothermia leading to c) you being ineffective – in fact, worse than ineffective because you can rapidly become a no duff casualty requiring casevac.
Odd though it may seem, there was still a need for waterproof clothing during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan- it still rains in these parts of the world! To that end waterproof clothing was made in desert DPM and it is a pair of these trousers we have tonight:These over trousers are made from a lightweight Gore-Tex fabric and are designed to be worn over other items of uniform, as witnessed by the simple design. The waist is secured with an adjustable piece of elastic:There is no fly or other adjustment. The cuffs of each trouser leg have elastic around them as well to seal over the wearer’s boots to prevent water from getting in so easily:As ever there is a label in the waist giving sizing and stores numbers:MVP stands for ‘Moisture Vapour Permeable’- meaning that you don’t get as wet from your own sweat as the water the trousers are repelling would have made you! The Gore-Tex fabric is made from nylon with billions of small pores in it- the pores let water vapour out but are too small to let droplets of water in. Ironically for a piece of desert camouflage, the only time I ever wore DDPM waterproof clothing was during basic training with the RNR on exercise on Dartmoor in the UK in October! As is often the case, the correct kit can be hard for stores men to come by and somehow he had acquired some second-hand DDPM waterproofs and for a small bunch of recruits who were only using them as loan clothing for a couple of days this was seen as being perfectly adequate.
Tonight we are looking at a fairly modern pattern of Royal Naval blue collar:It is worth taking a moment to compare the design to that used during the Second World War here. Despite looking very similar when worn, the modern naval collar is far simpler to fit and is held securely to the rest of the uniform using Velcro tabs on both the ‘tails’:And around the collar:Note also the button hole, this attaches to a button on the back of the neck of the dress uniform and ensures the collar is correctly centred. This collar is not actually of the most recent pattern as the latest examples have small button loops on the back, bottom corners of the collars to fasten to corresponding button loops on the jacket that prevent the collar flying up in the wind, this example then is an earlier design without this feature.
The collar retains the traditional mid-blue shade, with three white stripes around the edges:These collars are marked with the owner’s name- today this is written on the label, but in this example the original user has printed his name on with white paint to the underside:I actually have a pair of collars to this sailor, each marked the same. They are identical apart from the manufacturer’s labels, one of which has washing instructions included:Collars are ironed to give a distinctive set of folds in them that go ‘/\/\’ and it is crucial to iron these in carefully when first issued as a wonky crease will never truly come out once ironed in! The new design of collar with Vecro was first introduced in the 1970s and caused trouble for one new recruit:
I think our class was the first to be issued with the new style No1s in 1977 with the velcro collar, (don’t know if its changed since).
The abuse I got at Culdrose when duty “PT runner” for the first time, I was bollocked & threatened with being trooped as well as a kit muster by PTO & CPOPTI For being in a “circus rig” told to come back in proper uniform. As a young 17 year old, fresh out the box, I’ll admit I wasn’t far from blubbing as I had never been chewed out like that before, told the OOW what had happened, straight away said that’s the new rig isn’t it.
At least the CPO had the decency to say sorry.
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:It 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:Two large cargo pockets are sewn onto the front of the legs:A smaller patch pocket is sewn onto the seat:Note also the belt loops above. A slash pocket is fitted to each hip, with a mesh pocket liner and a separate zipped part:The cuff of each trouser leg is secured with a drawstring:The designers were also mindful of areas of particular wear, and the crotch is reinforced with a second layer of fabric:The 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:
Continuing this blogs ever increasing coverage of quilted liner clothing, tonight we have another variation on the smock liner:This example is actually an RAF Ground Tradesman’s smock liner and would have been worn by RAF ground crew servicing aircraft in cold conditions- air bases in Britain and West Germany were notoriously cold places in winter so extra layers would have been very much appreciated.
One of the dangers around aircraft is that small pieces of debris can fall out and are then sucked into engines with disastrous results- even something as innocuous seeming as a button could potentially destroy a jet engine worth many millions of pounds. Because of this risk, this smock liner is secured up the front by sewn in pieces of Velcro rather than the buttons seen on many army smock liners:Apart from that there is very little difference between this and other examples of the liner. It is made of the same quilted green nylon, with polyester batting between the two layers of fabric. The same green mesh is used to aid ventilation in the particularly sweaty parts of the body, here the arm pits:It is the sewn in label that here indicates that this is RAF issue and for ground crew:The liner was made by Dashmore Clothing and they seem to have had a number of large MoD orders for uniforms in the mid to late 1980s and then disappeared again from military procurement.
This is another great variant of the quilted liners and joins my growing collection of different types- there are still more out there to find so I am sure this is not the last you will be seeing of the ‘Chinese fighting suit’ on the blog…you have been warned!
A long time ago on the blog I looked at a pair of cold weather mittens here. That pair were quite long, with the body of the glove coming half way up the forearm. Tonight we have a second pair of snow gloves, but these are much shorter, just covering the hand itself:These gloves are made form a closely woven but lightweight cotton, as such they would afford no warmth to the wearer. They would have been worn over a pair of woollen gloves or mittens, the woollen layer offering warmth and the cotton outer glove providing camouflage and some degree of waterproofing. The layer of air trapped between the inner and outer glove would also add to the insulation and help keep the wearer’s hands warm.
The wrists of the gloves are secured with a piece of elastic:Each glove is /|\ marked and dated 1942:They are marked as having been manufactured by J B & Co Ltd- unfortunately I have been unable to link this with a specific manufacturer.
I am not sure how widespread the use of these mittens actually was- photographs of troops wearing cold weather kit are unusual in the first place and all those I have seen just show men wearing just the woollen gloves and mittens, without the white outer mitten. Certainly this pair are in mint condition and don’t seem to have ever been issued.