Airborne Troops 1970's

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Fred
Master Baker
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Re: Airborne Troops 1970's

Post by Fred » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:45 pm

An interesting article. To add a couple of points: trousers, overall, were generally referred to as "denims" and were considerably more popular than their replacements, TML, or trousers, men's lightweight. When lightweights first came out they were considered horrible for a number of reasons and all who could, particularly the "first eleven", such as paras and RM commandos, kept their denims. Basically, TML were unpopular because: the patch pockets were tight and felt "weird". Things fell out of them easily, or were pressed against the leg - so cigarettes were easily crushed and they showed, so whatever was in the pocket was obvious. The horrible square-cut pocket flap curled at the edges and had horrible little shirt buttons to secure it (and the belt straps). The material had a high polyester content - so they adopted a grey shiny finish if pressed with too hot an iron. It wasn't uncommon for soldiers to be required to replace them when the outsides (pressed harder) were a very different colour to the insides - giving them a dreadful stripy look. The polyester was also vulnerable to flame - so many units banned their being worn in NI. But, worst of all, the fly had a tendency to burst without warning! It wasn't uncommon to see a soldier with a new zip he had stitched in himself - usually inexpertly!

So, denims stayed as long as possible. The "JGs", you refer to, by this date were generally called "OGs" or olive greens - JGs, as a term, probably went with the previous generation. There was also a jacket which went with the denims which wasn't common by this stage, except as a combat jacket for the cadet forces. It had a fly front and no chest pockets. It was replaced in the cadets by a windproof smock drawn over the head - it had no opening along the front but there was a large chest pocket. It was actually quite a good bit of kit, but unpopular with cadets because real soldiers didn't wear them!

The practice of wearing green trousers with camouflaged top in airborne forces and RM commandos died overnight - after the Falklands. The reason was simple: for Op CORPORATE, both RM and Paras were issued with trousers, DPM, windproof. They were not unlike OGs in cut and had the same cross-over belt and buckle arrangement at the waist. They, along with windproof smocks, became a mark of the Falklands veteran, so green trousers became passe, pretty quickly.

One other peculiar habit during this period which died out in the 80s, was the practice of folding the bottom edge of the smock under to shorten it - it then cut roughly across the middle of the backside. You can see this on at least one of the soldiers in your link. The waist belt was then worn quite low down (except when wearing webbing) and it cut across the skirt pockets (rendering them useless, of course). The smock was often hitched up a bit, or bloused, to make it baggier across the chest - and, in NI, it wasn't uncommon to wear the flak jacket underneath the smock rather than on top.

Regarding your own photo - in NI, the rifle butt "bucket" was pretty rare and the rifle sling was usually detached from the upper sling swivel and worn around the wrist - particularly in urban areas - though the sling was more usually removed completely by "the first eleven" in the countryside - why would you need it, it was reasoned - a rifle should always be ready for action not slung over a shoulder. A variation, though, was a pair of waterbottle pouches with the flaps cut off, worn at the back... by dog handlers! Reason? For emplaning in helicopters quickly the dog was put on his back with his front feet on his shoulder and the back ones in these pouches! And, a picky point, I know, but, during this period, a good soldier would never be seen with a smock button undone!

So, thanks for the article, it made interesting reading and brought back some memories - again!

Fred

Jon S
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Re: Airborne Troops 1970's

Post by Jon S » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:54 pm

That's right, the DR helmet does share the same shell as the Para helmet, but there are other steel DR patterns which were not used by Airborne, as I understand it. I have two different patterns, one with a flared rim and one without. In fact the early DR helmets were a composite material like paper mashie. Early in the war, more DRs were receiving head injuries from bike accidents than in combat.

Returning to smocks. Can you identify the one in the photo below please? Its not a jump smock as far as I know, but it has a button crotch flap. It was made by James Smith & Co of Derby.

Regards - Jon
Attachments
Smock 1.JPG
Smock 1.JPG (184.55 KiB) Viewed 93 times
57 KB 69 SIII Winterised GS - Ex 29 CDO RA
29 EN 56 Sankey Narrow Track - Ex 12 Engr Bde
34 ET 35 Sankey Narrow Track - History not yet researched

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Notsob
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Re: Airborne Troops 1970's

Post by Notsob » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:58 pm

Fred wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:45 pm
And, a picky point, I know, but, during this period, a good soldier would never be seen with a smock button undone!

So, thanks for the article, it made interesting reading and brought back some memories - again!

Fred
Hi Fred - i got pulled about a smock button again at Peterborough from a really nice bloke who was ex 10 Para.

Thanks for adding to my piece. My knowledge is far from complete and i am always ready to learn and will take it all on board!

Best regards,
James (or Jim, or Jimmy)
46FL68 1972 S3 GS ex Royal Sigs 'Certa Cito'
M0TPR, 2E0ZDF, M6XJH

Fred
Master Baker
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:37 pm

Re: Airborne Troops 1970's

Post by Fred » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:07 pm

Jon S wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:54 pm

Returning to smocks. Can you identify the one in the photo below please? Its not a jump smock as far as I know, but it has a button crotch flap. It was made by James Smith & Co of Derby.

Regards - Jon
Isn't it a standard 1968-pattern combat smock? It is the first pattern without the turned down and double-stitched collar which was produced in DPM, but which was, otherwise, identical to the last pattern of green combat smock. The '68 Pattern was also the first to have a pen pocket on the sleeve and, if I remember rightly, no reinforcing on the elbows. But it was fully lined whereas later patterns weren't. The crutch strap was certainly a feature of combat smocks in the early days. This is not my specialist area, though - Shaun is better at this sort of thing. (Not least because I have a crap memory!)

Fred

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