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"Officers" WW2 Denison Smocks


wdbikemad
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I'm interested in other members thoughts on the "officers" pattern Denison smocks seen in many wartime photos, usually being worn by senior ranks........

 

Close study of the photos reveal that these garments, which do seem to vary in detail amongst wearers, are not a modification of the "issue" smock........there are too many differences, including the press-fasteners that are of the "ring & doughnut" type found on flying clothing rather than the Newey type fitted to issue garments.........some of the photos also suggest that the cammo fabric is possibly a windproof gabardine type, rather than the cotton-drill used on the issue garment.....

 

A few years ago now I was at the airborne museum near Pegasus Bridge in Normandy....and in a display case was a rather unusual, original smock looking every inch the rare "officers" model.......it had all the distinct features, such as a lighter gabardine fabric, different press fasteners, etc, plus a label just about visible that appeared to show details peculiar to RAF aircrew clothing (I seem to remember the visible wording "resistances" ??.....).....

 

I'm just wondering IF these alleged "officers" smocks, or at least some of them, were actually a previously undocumented Air-Ministry model for some purpose.....

 

Any thoughts...?

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This is all i could find

"Several officer’s models of the Denison smock have been documented after 1942. The General Officer smock was manufactured with a full-length zipper, had slanted chest pockets at a much more severe angle than the standard smock, and sported faun-colored angora wool knitted collar lining and cuffs at the wrist. Due to the small number of officers of this rank, these may have been custom tailored for the individual in England. Many officers, however, are also pictured during the war wearing standard-style smocks with professionally tailored full-length zippers and angora wool collars or knitted cuffs. It is believed these were also custom tailored back in Britain, although some historians claim the smocks were in fact manufactured this way specifically for officers.

A special variation of the Denison smock for snipers has also been documented, although it saw very limited issue. It would appear these were simply standard issue smocks that were modified at the unit level. These smocks had a “poacher’s pocket” (measuring approximately 10" by 10") sewn to the rear of the smock in which specialized equipment, maps & documents, spare ammunition or extra food & water could be carried."

 

http://camopedia.org/index.php?title=Denison_smock

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I'm pretty certain that some smocks were privately-tailored alongside many other items of officers kit.......but on evidence I have seen I suspect that at least some may have been some sort of "official" issue, and probably not originally intended for officers but adopted by them nonetheless...(after all, rank has some privileges....:D).....

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A wild stab in the dark Army glider pilot smock Sergeants being army pilots at the time.

 

As far as I can ascertain, the issue Denison was supplied to all airborne troops, including glider pilots......these "officer" versions appear worn by only the most senior airborne officers.....yet the example in the display case at Pegasus bridge suggests an issue pattern item, very different to the standard issue smock.......??:undecided:...and it was original AND showed signs of extensive wear !!

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Pegasus Bridge was not taken by Paratroopers, but by D COY 2nd Ox&Bucks in gliders and as such a battle Honour of the present day Army Air Corps.

If you know the AAC as well as I do then you will know that besides battle honours the AAC also keep a live the Regt TRADITION of obtaining kit which would only be wasted if issued to "less need of" folk.

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Pegasus Bridge was not taken by Paratroopers, but by D COY 2nd Ox&Bucks in gliders and as such a battle Honour of the present day Army Air Corps.

If you know the AAC as well as I do then you will know that besides battle honours the AAC also keep a live the Regt TRADITION of obtaining kit which would only be wasted if issued to "less need of" folk.

 

I'm fairly well up with my military history ! All part of the airborne forces, air-landing brigade et-all.......and they did a damn fine job !!!!!

 

The one thing I didn't note at the time was the details on the card relating to the smock on show (my concentration at the time was distracted by some w@&%£r fiddling around with my 1942 Ariel motorbike parked outside !!!).....there was some history, but I cannot for the life of me recall if it was associated with events at Pegasus Bridge or not. As with many museums, not everything on show has genuine provenance or relevance to the subject matter........many items are donated.....

 

But the smock on display was intriguing.......definately some sort of "official" garment but not standard issue.....

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I'm fairly well up with my military history ! All part of the airborne forces, air-landing brigade et-all.......and they did a damn fine job !!!!!

 

The one thing I didn't note at the time was the details on the card relating to the smock on show (my concentration at the time was distracted by some w@&%£r fiddling around with my 1942 Ariel motorbike parked outside !!!).....there was some history, but I cannot for the life of me recall if it was associated with events at Pegasus Bridge or not. As with many museums, not everything on show has genuine provenance or relevance to the subject matter........many items are donated.....

 

But the smock on display was intriguing.......definately some sort of "official" garment but not standard issue.....

 

Could it be one of the "sniper smocks"?

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Could it be one of the "sniper smocks"?

 

No, the sniper-version of the Denison was nothing more than an issue standard-pattern smock with an additional large pocket added to the left lower rear extending from the side of the crutch strap to the (front) side seam, complete with a stud-fastened flap. This official mod was to be carried out by unit tailors (no doubt by using fabric from a knackered garment) and was approved under ACI (Army Council Instruction) 213 of 24 February 1945 specifically for sniper use and only carried out if the unit OC agreed !......I doubt if many such modified smocks saw wartime service going by the late date.....

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Looks like they have a wax finsh on the jackets.

 

Bond is wearing a standard 2nd pattern smock (with seamed front and cuff tabs) with an added collar, probably actually done by some in wartime, but in this instance (from a Bridge Too Far) probably a mod done by the film company by the addition of the collar lining to match old photos of the character......

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Dave...that's terrific info and a great help....I just want to make sure I can cram as much accurate info in the book as possible without overlooking anything.....I think your observations are spot-on too....thank you !

 

Very interesting smock shown in your photos..........but I note the crutch strap is button-fastened rather than using press fasteners.....possibly yet another variation...?

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I have an original Officers Dennison dated 1961 and it's 1953 pattern (I think it says 1953, but the 3 is a bit faint). It has a full zip and you can make out the marks where the pips went. I will try and get a photo posted sometime.

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I have an original Officers Dennison dated 1961 and it's 1953 pattern (I think it says 1953, but the 3 is a bit faint). It has a full zip and you can make out the marks where the pips went. I will try and get a photo posted sometime.

 

Dated 1961, I would assume that this is actually a "1959 pattern".......this was the only version of the Denison allocated an official pattern reference......

 

A quick summary....

 

Original Dension introduced during 1942 ("Smocks, Denison, Airborne Troops"), with knitted cuffs, tail permanently hanging loose (no securing studs at rear) and no central seam at front or rear.....many have the cammo colouring hand-applied (to the material) before cutting and manufacture.......

 

In 1943 second version of smock introduced that was assumed to be an "economy" version to make better use of material....front and rear central seams now feature allowing smaller cuts of material, plus the cuffs now lacking the woollen ends and featuring an adjustable tab and buttons....this was because not all manufacturers had access to the knitting machines or supplies of cuffs from elsewhere that may have held-up production.......tail now secured by press-fasteners when not in use.....some of these smocks still feature the earlier seamless front and rear but generally have the button cuffs....cammo fabric now printed in many cases....

 

During the early 1950's the smock reverted to knitted cuffs and lost the sleeve adjustment tabs, but was otherwise as the 2nd version.......

 

In 1959 a full front zip was specified for the smock, becoming officially the 1959 Pattern, issues commencing 1960-61......

 

By the late-1960's the smock designation was officially changed to "Smocks, Camouflage" but otherwise as the 1959 pattern.......:-D

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Thanks Dave

Having been in the AAC prior to recent middleeast history. always KEEN to hold onto the history we have prior to our recent exploits.

The smock you display is of great intrest to me and ties up a number of loose ends as I have seen a smock Maybe its in our museum at Wallop Dont know.

but BEING

1 HOODED

2 TWO SIDE

3Button crutch strap.

As I said earlier the guys in the Regt (STILL DO) like to get their hands on kit which is fit for purpose, being first in the air then on the ground.

As "aircrew" they fight in the air... as soldiers an intresting concept, (go back to balloons in WWI as arty spotters.)

If you find your self on the ground rather than in survival mode you become soldiers on the ground and continue the battle.But the distinction has to be made between paratroopers who do not fight in the air but after deployment by air.

Recent action in North africa an example Aircraft flown from HMS ocean FLOWN by suaddies yet HMG could claim that had no troops on the ground.

HMG do not comment on SF

Any way my point is to be a squaddie of the air the kit you wear has to serve two purposes use in the air and on the ground. Warm, pockets for maps AND KIT.

Weight is a big issue. As more weight... less fuel which means less time on task. If you find your self "on the ground battle field" you fought with what you had on you. Hence the need TO IMPROVISE not like officers who liked to dress up and look special, but our kit was bourn out of requirement.

Although I was not air crew the requirement was still there for adapted kit as in the main I was expecting to become stay behind hence my LRRP training.

No way offical view, but when you consider the big picture....

Edited by Chin Strap
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Belt kits etc etc, windproof smocks and trousers not just the preserve of SF.

Sometimes we though "abaptation" put together better fighting kit than SF. NI was a geat place to try out personal kit

The comment made on another thread about Flying jackets being worn by SF made me smile as "we / I" had done that and found the common (then) combat jacket far better affair when combined with a Durham Barbour worn underneath.If you got a larger size combat jacket, room for the earlier american Flak jacket under there as well.

Sorry if off thread

Edited by Chin Strap
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I can relate to that....in the RAF we had access to some of the better items of kit and were allowed a giood degree of laxity in the field, particularly in cold weather....when I was at Greenham Common over the (very) harsh winters of 83-85 it was a case of almost anything that kept you warm and dry was acceptable, most important in static posts of up to 12 hours duration.....

 

We managed to get issue of arctic windproof suits complete with liners, plus Canadian extreme cold weather parkas, green RAF waterproofs (often termed the "NI" suit) and other kit......but other privately-sourced items were fairly common too....much was obtained from the Yanks, including parkas, etc.....and green "Hunter" wellies......

 

I have a photo of me somewhere, wearing green wellies, DPM 68 pattern trousers, American green M65 field jacket & liner with fur parka hood attached, blue/maroon scarf and a black-wool beanie hat !!!....and I was on duty at the time...:-D

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This is my Officers Para smock, was issued to a Lt Col in a RA unit. Its had a Zip out of a para over smock put in and then coved with the same type of cloth over the top of the zip. This is how it came out of the army. This is a Normal issue para smock That the officer must have had tailored.

Keith

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That's a nice looking smock.....featuring the commonest modification affected by officers, namely a full zipper fitted....

 

I think in this case the zipper may not be from an oversmock......almost all are on a chocolate-brown or tan base (unless this one has faded ?) but zips were available from other sources, including RAF flying clothing, commercial sources, etc....

 

As for the flap covering the zip, the top part is probably part of the original issue smock over-flap, and the lower portion (that does not quite reach the lower edge of the garment) is probably made from the original inner windflap fitted beneath the zipper.........???

 

Rare to see a wartime second pattern smock in a size 8, the largest manufactured....

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That's a nice looking smock.....featuring the commonest modification affected by officers, namely a full zipper fitted....

 

I think in this case the zipper may not be from an oversmock......almost all are on a chocolate-brown or tan base (unless this one has faded ?) but zips were available from other sources, including RAF flying clothing, commercial sources, etc....

 

As for the flap covering the zip, the top part is probably part of the original issue smock over-flap, and the lower portion (that does not quite reach the lower edge of the garment) is probably made from the original inner windflap fitted beneath the zipper.........???

 

Rare to see a wartime second pattern smock in a size 8, the largest manufactured....

 

ive had several just post war jackets modified to zips and i can see why, they are a lot easier

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