'the two types' desert style

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by JackGe, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. JackGe

    JackGe Junior Member

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    Many of you are familiar with the above cartoon, but what I'm wondering (and asking), is for actual examples of non-regulation wear in the western desert campaign. Was it more the officers who might wear something out of the ordinary, how about the common soldier? I know corduroy trousers and 'chukkas' were popular, anything else?

    Welcome any thoughts on the subject, and if you have photo examples, please post!

    regards,
    Jack
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jack

    It has to be remembered that living in the desert was a 24/7 thing - and comfort was paramount and first thing in morning - everything handy was worn - as the Sun made it's relentless way across the desert many layers were stripped and packed way until evening
    when the Sun went off again to the West….COMFORT was the order of the day - without exception- try sitting in a Tank with the temp at 150Deg…it ain't cool…

    Cheers
     
  3. JackGe

    JackGe Junior Member

    Tom, thanks - appreciate and understand what you have provided, but can you give an example of clothing wear that wasn't army regulation. Perhaps something you brought along from home, maybe sent to you from home or acquired elsewhere: bought, traded for or liberated from the enemy?

    regards,
    Jack
     
  4. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    There's a whole thread here with pictures of soldiers in non-regulation items, entitled (I think) 'The sartorial elegance of the British officer on campaign'

    All the best

    Andreas
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  5. JackGe

    JackGe Junior Member

  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jack - even in the a.m. in Italy I wore a small leather waistcoat type of sleeveless jacket under everything else which I brought

    from the Uk as my Father had been in the Mid east in Gallipoli and knew all about the weather - still have that waistcoat- scarves

    were a must to keep the heat into your body... as well as some some sort of ear coverings- camp netting was very handy-finally Tank

    suits were issued - and worn all day…

    Cheers
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jack

    I did indeed try to get a thread going about the ORs dress code but as you pointed out, it died a death.

    What a lot of folk don't realise is that those of us who spent quite a few years in the Africa/Italy,Austria areas faced extreme changes in the weather from extreme heat to icy cold, sometimes within the same day :)

    I looked through my Album pics and found a couple of photos that illustrate this.

    The pic at Heliopolis swimming pool in Cairo was taken around the boiling heat of mid-day and yet I remember freezing in the evenings back in the firing camp in the desert.

    The photo of me at Monfalcone was taken in late '45 and I remember the mugs of tea that we carried back from the cookhouse to our barrack room used to have a layer of ice on top by the time we had travelled a few hundred yards !

    I know that old-soldiers tend to exaggerate conditions but do believe me when I say we either boiled or froze :(

    Ron 039%20Page%2039.jpg 1945-046 October Monfalcone Italy Bren Gun Carrier (BBC).jpg
     
  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I would actually think it proper to assume that more officers had cameras and used them to photograph other officers, and that official photographers also focused more on officers and did not mind them looking 'different', while for men this wasn't as acceptable? :)

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jack

    Don't forget that, in general, officers above the rank of Lieutenant were a law unto themselves and could wear whatever outfit they liked as opposed to the ORs who had to wear regulation kit, certainly while on parade.

    In the field, things obviously relaxed and that was when some weird and wonderful things were worn.

    As already mentioned, scarves were a must and these were usually sent in parcels from home.

    Ron
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    The thing is that British Army Dress code is subject to the addenda ,to K or QRs

    "When in uniform try to dress as individually as possible""
    "When in civilian clothes try to dress exactly the same as everyone else"
     
  11. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    The above quote describes an incident from Sicily but I think it captures the flavour of Montgomery's attitude towards dress: " I was not particular about dress so long as the soldiers fought well and we won our battles". Also like it because it shows Monty actually had a sense of humour, an often underappreciated fact
     
    RemeDesertRat likes this.
  12. JackGe

    JackGe Junior Member

    Guys, thanks, really good to see the responses.

    What really interests me are the other ranks, and wish more specific examples could be provided on civilian or captured stock. More directly, the colour and quality of the item. Photos aren't necessary, and can appreciate trying to recall something exact from 70 years ago can be pushing it.

    regards,
    Jack
     
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  14. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I bet he did that on purpose.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  15. sanchez

    sanchez Well-Known Member

    ron,
    is that a recce bren gun carrier youre standing in front of in youre picture of monfalcone
    cheers
    dave
     
  16. JackGe

    JackGe Junior Member

    Well this an interesting site, knitted wear on the home front sent out to troops. There is only one colour photo of gloves, but I think gives an excellent idea of the shades of scarves, pullovers, etc.

    http://www.sentimentaljourney.co.uk/tl/comfort.htm

    I think it's certain that a textured pattern, like the one in this photo, is civilian made and handed out to troops:

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    Ken Lawrence, on another forum site, has provided this photo:

    [​IMG]

    ... and here's what I think:

    Looks to be captured Italian goggles?

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    Which might indicate the origin of his lighter coloured jacket, the Italian Sahariana?

    [​IMG]

    Those visor caps look curious. They have no insignia, meaning more captured stock?

    [​IMG]

    What do the members here think?

    regards,
    Jack
     
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Dave

    Yep, very much a "Bren Gun Carrier"

    This one replaced our Stuart Mk III Honey Tank, which was handed over when we returned to Italy after our stint in Austria

    Ron
     
  18. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    My father mentions getting a Balaclava Via troop Comforts in North Africa Also a pair of thick woolen socks gifted by an Officer,he also mentions freezing by night and boiling by day.
     
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Redtop

    You have just reminded me of the ever welcome parcels that kind folk back home sent to us on a regular basis.

    Whilst waiting my call-up I was in the Civil Defence, acting as an Air Raid Warden in a small village near Luton.

    Every couple of months the Warden's Post used to send me a parcel which included ciggies and a knitted article of clothing.

    By these means, I, and I am sure a lot of chaps, survived the bitter Italian winter months.

    May I now send them my belated thanks ?

    Ron
     
  20. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Officers did seem to have more freedom in the manner in which they dressed ,Have seen the odd picture of non airborne Generals wearing Dennison smocks.
    Lord Lovat landed at Diepe wearing a pullover, corduroy slacks carrying his own Winchester.
    I think a lot of this stemmed from the fact that Officers (May be only regulars ) purchased their own uniforms,.Items such as Service Dress (Though not usually worn in field)were a private purchase.
    Whether this still happened during the war I an not sure but it did apply I know post war at least until the eighties.
     

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