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:
Unfortunately, like so many things, the militaria market has a small number of bad eggs who will fake or adulterate items to try and make a quick profit. One common method is to try and alter dates to make them ‘wartime’ on the basis that wartime dated items are more desirable than post war items. Sadly tonight’s object has been subject to this, with some unscrupulous individual trying to alter the date of this Canadian beret from 1946 to 1945! Luckily it is still a very nice object and I picked it up for a very cheap price so I cannot complain:The beret is made of a high quality dark tan wool, with a black broadcloth fabric liner:Two black ventilation grommets are fitted to one side:Note also the leather sweat band machine sewn into the brim. A drawstring is threaded through, and secures at the back with a small bow:The inside of the cap has a printed manufacturer’s label, note how the ‘6’ has been mysteriously worn away on the date!From this we can see that not only is the beret a nice large size, but that it was also manufactured by The Dorothea Knitting Mill Ltd of Toronto. This company produced berets for the Canadian military for many years, and indeed the company is still in existence today.
The khaki beret was used by the Canadian Army from 1943 onwards to replace the Field Service side cap and was far more fashionable than the British GS Cap, leading to them becoming prized acquisitions by British troops of a sartorial nature. One thing to note about the design of the Canadian beret is that it is noticeably smaller in the crown than equivalent British examples of the period, and this seems to have been a conscious choice by the military, although it is still considerably larger than modern berets.
A few weeks back we looked at a fire resistant windproof smock in Desert DPM here, thanks to Michael Fletcher I have been able to add the more standard windproof smock to my collection, complete with a rather nice set of badges on the sleeves:The design of this smock is very similar to the one we looked at previously, so I will only point out a few of the more obvious points. The Velcro patches on the sleeve are missing from this smock, and the fabric is very different in texture and colour. Here we have three different garments, showing the differences in fabric. Left to right we have this windproof smock, then the fire resistant windproof smock and on the right the rip stop fabric of the field jacket we looked at here:The fabric used for this smock is a 50/50 poly cotton blend, the polyester obviously means there is a danger of the fabric melting at high heat, hence the development of the fire resistant version for those troops at greater risk of being exposed to flames. Again this smock has a hood, with a wire around the front, that can be rolled up and secured with a tape and button at the back of the neck:A drawstring helps adjust it, with plastic sliders on each end of the string:These have a male and female connector that allow them to be fastened together so the ends are not dangling in the way:What is particularly nice about this smock are the patches on each sleeve- clearly this smock has been used in theatre and the insignia includes the famous Jerboa of the Desert Rats on one sleeve:Note also the reflective glint tape above it, and the sewn on Union Flag. The opposite sleeve has a second piece of glint tape, the TRF flash of dark blue/yellow/red for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and a large round ISAF patch:ISAF stands for the International Security Assistance Force and it was set up in 2001 as the NATO led security mission in Afghanistan. The British Army website gives some background to the role of ISAF:
The military mission in Afghanistan has been a partnership between the 49 nations – more than a quarter of the world’s countries – which constitutes the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). On 11 August 2003 NATO assumed leadership of ISAF operations. The alliance became responsible for the command, co-ordination and planning of the force in Afghanistan.
Since NATO took command of ISAF, the Alliance has gradually expanded the reach of its mission, originally limited to Kabul, to cover Afghanistan’s whole territory.
ISAF is a key component of the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, assisting the Afghan authorities in providing security, stability and creating the conditions for reconstruction and development with the help of 28 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Based in Kabul, the ISAF Headquarters serves as the operational command for the NATO-led mission. It interacts with the Afghan government, governmental and non-governmental organisations present in the country to assist with reconstruction, and supports the work of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
As part of that mission troops serving in theatre wore the ISAF patch to clearly show their role and to aid esprit-de-corps across the various nations. This smock was worn by a soldier named ‘Williams’, whose name can still be seen under the marker pen used to try and obliterate the marking on the label:I am finding as I collect these jackets and smocks that there is a bewildering variety of designs, fabrics and variations, as ever I will try and bring you more examples as I find them and hopefully we can build up a fairly comprehensive selection over time.
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:
Update: My thanks to Michael Fletcher and Sean Featherstone for helping correctly identify the material used in this smock as being a special fire resistant fabric.
A few months back we looked at the desert DPM field jacket here. At the time we mentioned in passing the windproof smock, with a user commenting:
Windproof smock – all the advantages of the 94 smock, and is bloody excellent in dry cold. Not so clever in wet, muddy conditions. The fabric’s just too thin, and the ingrained dirt that goes with infantry trench-living will abrade it like feck, so it disintegrates, suddenly (a characteristic of all 100% cotton clobber). The hood’s a pain in the arse, even in Noggieland, where (for all the usual good tactical reasons) it was seldom used, except in the most severe cold (like -40).
Tonight we are looking at the said windproof smock, here in desert DPM fabric:One thing to notice throughout all the photographs on this post is the material the smock is made from, it is obviously a very different weave to that used in the field jacket and this is a special fire resistant fabric used for smocks issued to aircrew, pilots and others who might be exposed to fire as part of their daily duties.
Some features of the smock are clearly common across the CS95 system, so we have the usual centrally mounted rank slide:And large pockets secured with the typical sewn on buttons:Other features of note are the strips of Velcro on the sleeves to allow insignia to be added or removed, these help easily distinguish the smock from more conventional patterns:The most distinctive feature of the smock however is the hood, this has a piece of wire across the whole of the front, allowing it to be adjusted and set to a degree:When not in use it is rolled up and secured behind the neck:A cotton tape and button preventing it from unravelling:As with most items of British Army clothing a large white label is sewn into the inside of the smock with sizing, care instructions and a space for the owner to write his name and number:Note the ‘FR’ on the label indicating that the smock has been treated to make it fire resistant. As with so much of this kit, desert DPM smocks are easily available and cheap- being surplused off in large numbers following the switch to MTP clothing. As has been said many time before on this blog, if you are a new collector, this is an ideal area to start with- it’s cheap, available and its likely that in years to come the ‘War on Terror’ will become ever more collectable.
White uniforms in the Royal Navy are traditionally associated with tropical climates, however white uniforms were also commonly issued as a working dress to sailors in the first half of the twentieth century. Originally these uniforms were made of canvas, but by the time of the Second World War they were made from cotton duck, a hard wearing but reasonably comfortable material that was ideal for working dress. Tonight we are looking at a pair of trousers from this working uniform:As can be seen these are cut generously with wide ‘bell bottoms’ allowing the sailor to roll up the cuffs of the trousers if required to prevent them getting soiled. The trousers fasten with a three button fly:That in turn is covered by a large buttoned flap:A single slash pocket is fitted inside the trousers:Sadly I can find only one marking on the trousers, a simple stamping with the code ‘L261’:I suspect that this is a laundry mark. Here we can see an original photograph of a sailor from HMS Cardiff wearing the working dress, complete with bare feet:This uniform is part of the packing list for my 1919 pattern haversack, although sadly I am still missing the top half to finish the set.