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How the British Soldier of 1939 Went to War

Discussion in 'British WWII Uniforms and Equipment' started by Jim, Sep 29, 2006.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The "battle dress" of the British Army was finally approved in April 1939, and was worn by both men and officers. It was a two-piece garment of khaki serge, it consisted of a blouse and trousers buckling at the wrists and ankles, the ankles also being protected by web anklets. The weight of the uniform was about 12 lb. This soldier is wearing battledress, but is not completely equipped. When wearing full marching order, the infantryman carries a valise (or pack) on his back in place of the haversack seen here, the latter being transferred to the left hip above the bayonet and counter-balanced on the right by a water-bottle.

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    The valise holds the great-coat, cardigan when not worn, and such other personal effects as individual skill in packing can get into it; while in the haversack are a holdall with comb, tooth-brush, shaving outfit, fitted housewife, socks, mess tin, emergency ration, etc. The large patch pocket on the trousers is to hold maps and papers. Though officers carry some additional articles of equipment, such as revolvers and binoculars and compasses, there is nothing in their uniform to distinguish them from the men except the shoulder badge.
     
  2. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    Webbing

    Good find again Jim.:thumb:

    When I went in the army in 1957, the webbing was not a lot different to that in the photos. And we changed from "battle order" to F.S.M.O. ( full service marching order) when travelling , or for discipline purposes! ( this subject will be a future post from me) I hope?

    The "B.D." (Battledress) had not changed that much either. The main change being the map pocket was re-positioned from the front of the trouser ( right in the middle of the crease!) to the side. And although Officers wore the "same" B.D. for every day duties, their BD could easily be distinguished by the tailoring! Not all, but most Officers had their uniforms "made up" or had the issue BD tailored. The ordinary squaddie just had make do with the BD that was issued to him. Some camps had army employed tailors who made basic alterations, but that was it!

    BD was a real crap uniform! Especially when it was wet!!! The best move the army did was getting shot of it.

    It was much better overseas, because the issue was Khaki drill or Jungle Greens, depending on where you were posted to. Both were a vast improvement on BD. Although the army loved to have Tropical dress starched for bullshit parades, inspections, etc. which made them a bit uncomfortable to wear at times. But for everyday use it was pretty good.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    If you say that the B.D was bad when wet Jamie, i can imagine what this was like when fighting in the Bocage of Normandy for the British soldiers at the time. I can also imagine the uniform getting very heavy ... :ehm:
     
  4. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    B.D.

    Yeah it got heavy when wet, and very uncomfortable. But also when wet it had a very strange smell to it!

    BTW the only time they would issue you with new kit (free of charge) is if your kit got blood stained!! Otherwise you paid up!

    I cannot remember any other way they would issue new kit-- but perhaps some old sweats will put me right on that one?
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Funny you making that comment on the smell Jamie, Brian Guy was telling us in a post about how he and other soldiers knew when they were in the vicinity of Germans by the smell in the air coming from the attire that they wore and also some of the items that they carried in their pockets including food scraps as one of them … :silly:
     
  6. SamIam

    SamIam New Member

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    That is interesting. I would never thought in a million years that you could smell someone coming. :lol:
     
  7. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    I remember using '37 pattern' webbing in The Army Cadets. It was very heavy & smelly in the wet. And stiff!! I don't think it could in any way be described as user friendly.:nade:
     

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