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Web Equipment, Pattern 1958 - Note on Clothing

clothing 1shootWhere the British Army had once fought and paraded in Battle Dress (B.D.), the Korean War saw them issued with mid-green, hooded smocks (with liners) and trousers as Cold Wet Weather (C.W.W.) clothing. This combat clothing later developed into the mid-green Patt. 1960 Smock, combat and Trousers, combat, as in the heading colour photograph at left. In later years, these were superseded by a camouflaged, or DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) equivalent. Patt. ’58 W.E. is most associated with these two types of clothing.

From around 1960, where two suits of B.D. had been issued in the past, soldiers would now receive one suit of Patt. ’60 combat clothing and one suit of No. 2 Dress, comprising a khaki jacket and trousers, these being for Walking Out in public. There was the usual transition period and B.D. was still being worn into the early 1960s. It is therefore interesting to see Patt. ’58 W.E. being worn with Battle Dress, here in 1960 by 3 Para’s Shooting Team, equipped with the new F.N. Self Loading Rifle (S.L.R.). The Pouches are 1st Issue, worn to the sides, unlike Patt. ’37 Basic pouches. Lt. Col Gibbs, D.S.O., M.C., who commanded the Battalion 1960-62, is wearing a Patt. ’37 Belt. This photo from the John Bodsworth Collection.

queenThere are always exceptions – the Paras being a case in point! They continued to wear Denison Smocks, modified from the wartime pattern and this is depicted on the cover of Soldiers of the Queen, a recruiting publication. The depiction of Patt. ’58 is poor, but the eyeleted belt and broad yoke flares are unmistakable. Throughout this 1961 publication, there is only one photograph of a soldier in Patt. ’58 and not one showing the Patt. ’60 Combat clothing!


mercian 1This trio of photographs, taken in 1962, show men of the Mercian Brigade, about to board a Bristol Britannia – “The Whispering Giant” - trooping aircraft of R.A.F. Transport Command. The photo was probably taken at R.A.F. Lyneham, Wiltshire an airfield that is set to close in 2012, thanks to defence cuts. The men are all wearing Battle Dress, with their No. 1 Coloured Forage Caps, normally worn with the blue, or No.1 Dress. They are wearing the Patt. ’58 Waist belt, on which are the 1st Issue Rear pouches, shown by the way they sag away from the wearer. Some of the men are wearing a gilding metal, or possibly Staybrite drum badge denoting a bandsman.


mercian 2

The Mercian Training Brigade was formed in 1948, but in 1959 they became a formalised “large regiment”, under defence initiatives of those times, with a common capbadge. The Brigade was formed from the Cheshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire Regiments, the latter being an amalgamation of the North- and South Staffordshire Regiments. The shoulder titles are the Cheshire element, as are the acorn collar badges, each element of the Mercians wearing regimental “collar dogs”. The crossed key (one of the two crossed keys of 2nd. Div.) and bayonet was the sign of the 5th and 6th Infantry Brigades in 2 Div. Judged on colour contrast, the sign is red, so is the 5th Bde, which should have a contrasting blue “5” above.

mercian 3The baggage handling party, in more practical berets, are also Mercians. The line-up of very uniform suitcases (who was the individualist then?!) is topped by several 1st Issue Patt. ’58 Packs, though there is also an example of the new U.S. style kitbag. Two men, second from left, and standing extreme right, are wearing Patt. 1960 Combat Smocks, with the rest in denim overalls. These three photos from the John Bodsworth Collection.





Rog Dennis 2012