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Using labels and markings to date postwar British clothing and equipment


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In about 1970 the British Ministry of Defence stopped including dates in the labels and markings of most military clothing and equipment, a cause of much confusion to collectors of postwar kit. It is

CW Son is not "Compton Webb"...............it is actually "Clifford Williams & Son Ltd", a rather old manufacturer of Battledress, etc, and having some of the first contracts to manufacture DPM 19

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On 4/8/2015 at 6:13 PM, Edward53 said:

In about 1970 the British Ministry of Defence stopped including dates in the labels and markings of most military clothing and equipment, a cause of much confusion to collectors of postwar kit. It is nevertheless possible to date these items fairly closely from labels and markings, using the MoD contract number.

 

All British military clothing and equipment procured through official channels was, and still is, marked with a contract number. These followed fairly consistent timelines, with different contract codes such as eg CT2, CT3 and CT4 seemingly using unique numbers from a shared sequence. The CT code in a contract denotes a Section within the Ministry of Defence Contracts Branch - see Post 7 at this link. Luckily some items, mainly NBC equipment, rucksacks, jerseys and a few odd exceptions, continued to be dated after 1970. Matching up these dates with contract numbers enables a date to be inferred for other, undated items with similar contract numbers.

 

This is not an infallible guide, as contracts for different items may have run at different rates, but it is a fairly reliable one. To take an example: suppose we know that an item with, say, contract number CT2A/904 was made in October 1981, and we have an undated item with contract number CT4B/844. We would assume this item was made around the same time as the first one or slightly earlier. Even allowing for different contract running times, CT4B/844 is unlikely to be a lot later than October 1981. Since CT4B/844 is a contract for a windproof arctic smock, and since a smock with this contract number in the Imperial War Museum is known to have been worn in the Falklands campaign, we can more or less confirm this even though we have no other way to date that garment.

 

Early contracts seem to have been allocated to different contract offices according to the type of item contracted for, though not consistently. A/78/CLO is presumably short for Clothing, but whilst some equipment is stamped A/78/G.S. (General Service?), sometimes CLO is also used on equipment, eg. A/78/CLO/47456/CB(CT)2B is a para bergan. The CT series, which follows A/78, uses CT2 for equipment and NBC kit, CT3 for headgear and CT4 for clothing. The SL series is however not ordered in this way, and contract codes remain mixed until the DC series, with DC2 appearing to represent clothing and other items made from cotton-type fabric, and DC1 used for almost everything else.

 

Unfortunately, neither MoD contracts branch nor the Public Records Office have a record of the numbering system for older contracts, or if they do, they are unable to locate it.

 

If enough dated items are arranged in sequence, it can be seen that contract codes changed every few years, with a degree of overlap. Approximately:

A/78 - early-mid 1960s to 1979

CT2, CT3, CT4 - 1979 to 1985

SL31 - 1983 to 1990

SL32 - 1985 to 1994

SL33 - 1989 to 1995

SL34 - 1990 to 1994

ST1 - 1994 to 2003

CT34 - 1995 to 1997

CT1A - 1996 to 1997

CC2 - 1996 to 2007

OC2 - 2002 to 2003

CC - 2004 to 2007

DC1, DC2, ESL - 2003 to at least 2010

 

Some of these contract ranges are very tentative, especially OC and CC for each of which just two dated items were available. There is also the unclassifiable oddity SL3 which only occurs only once.

 

Below is a list in date order of dated contract numbers collected from various sources, mostly ebay:

 

A/78/CLO/15578/CT4A – No. 2 dress trousers, H Lotery, 1966

A/78/CLO/16276/CT5(a) – jacket overall, J Smith & Co, 1966

A/78/CLO/16810/CT5(a) – trousers overall, Ashton’s overalls (Marple) Ltd, 1966

A/78/CLO/17450/CT5a – combat smock, J Smith & Co, 1966

A/78/G.S./13101/G.S. 1a(1) – NBC trousers, Remploy, packed May 1967 (1966 date deleted)

A/78/CLO/23153/CT5A – NBC gloves, DAC, 1968

A/78/G.S./20148/G.S. 1a(1) – NBC trousers, Remploy, packed Aug 1969

A/78/CLO/32935/DC67 (1) – NBC gloves, packed Nov 1971

A/78/CLO/33893/DC69 (1) – 68 pattern smock, CW Son Ltd, 1971

A/78/CLO/38647/DC69 (1) – 68 pattern trousers, CW Son Ltd, 1972

A/78/CLO/38799/DC67 – respirator case, BHE Ltd, 1972

A/78/CLO/41990/CB(CT)2A – NBC gloves, Dipco, Dec 1973

A/78/CLO/44665/CB(CT)2C – NBC gloves, SG Ltd, 1974

A/78/CLO/41465//M/CB(CT)1C – drawers cellular, Meridian Ltd, Feb 1975

[above is contract no on garment, batch label also gives “Order A/78/CLO/41851/1/M/CB(CT)1C”]

A/78/CLO/46903/CB(CT)2C – NBC suit, XAT, 1975

A/78/CLO/47456/CB(CT)2B - rucksack, M.E.L, 1975

A/78/CLO/46905/CB(CT)2C – NBC smock, SPE, Jan 1976

A/78/CLO/50169/CB(CT) – NBC overboots, maker not stated, Jan 1977

A/78/CLO/50662/CB(CT)1C – jersey man's heavy, TWK, 1977

A/78/CLO/52159/CB(CT)2A – sleeping bag, CQC, 1977

A/78/CLO/55654/CB(CT)2B – casualty bag, Remploy, packed May 1978

A/78/CLO/57092/CB(CT)4A - jersey, heavy, Remploy, 1979

A/78/CLO/57761/CB(CT)2B – NBC smock, maker not shown, April 1979

A/78/CLO/57761/CB(CT)2B – NBC smock, maker not shown, April 1979

A/78/CLO/56726/CB(CT) 2B – NBC gloves, S.G. Ltd, packed May 1979

A/78/CLO/57761/CB(CT)2B – NBC trousers, maker not shown, Dec 1979

CT4B/17 – flak jacket, James Smith and Co, 1979

CT2B/232 – respirator haversack, Remploy, 1979

CT2B/436 – NBC Mk3 trousers, no maker, fabric date July 1979

CT3B/566 – lowland spats, Hobsons, 1979

CT2B/339 – casualty protective bag, Remploy, 1980

CT2B/431 – NBC smock, Remploy, 1980

CT2B/496 – S6 respirator haversack, Remploy, 1980

CT2B/544 – NBC smock, James Smith, 1980, Jan 1981 (fabric date 4/80)

CT2A/618 – thermal overboots, Remploy, 1980

CT2B/436 – NBC trousers, no maker, Nov 1980, Mar 1981

CT2B/496 – S6 respirator haversack, Remploy, 1981

CT2B/723 – NBC suit, Remploy, fabric 6/81, packed 11/81

CT4A/803 – jersey man's heavy, Remploy, 1981

CT4B/844 - dpm arctic smock, 180/96, GQ Defence Equipment Ltd, 1982 or earlier (IWM – issued to war artist Linda Kitson)

CT2A/904 – NBC overboots, LBRCo, Oct 1981

CT2B/895 – NBC gloves, S.G. Ltd, packed July 1982

CT2B/962 – NBC smock, Remploy, June, Aug, Oct. 1982 [fabric Oct 81]

CT2B/980 – respirator haversack, Remploy, 1982

CT4A/1000 - jersey, J Pick & Sons Ltd, 1982

CT4A/1001 – jersey, Remploy, 1982

CT2A/1150 – sleeping bag, CQC, 1982

CT2A/1285 - NBC gloves, Dipco, Feb, Dec 1982

CT2B/1202 – NBC suit, fabric date June 1982, packed March 1983

CT2A/1477 – 58 patt poncho roll, CWL, 1982

CT2A/1553 – Arctic rucksack, CQC, 1982

CT2A/2630 – NBC overboots, LBRCo, June 1983

CT4A/1023 – Jersey, Remploy, 1983

CT2B/1202 – NBC trousers, Remploy, Oct 1983

CT2B/1238 - Individual Protection Kit, Remploy, 1983

CT2A/1555 – sleeping bag, CQC, 1983

CT2A/1682 – rucksack, CQC, 1983

CT4B/1634 – smock reversible, Vacuum Reflex Ltd, Dec 1983

CT2B/896 – NBC gloves, S.G. Ltd, packed Feb 1984

CT2B/1415 – facelet mask, CQC, 1984

CT4A/1401 – jersey, TWK, 1984

CT4B/1415 – NBC facelet, Remploy, July 1984

CT4B/1895 - PVC trousers, ?, June 1984

CT2B/1528 – NBC suit, Remploy, July 1984, March 1985

CT4A/1610 – Jersey, heavy wool, Remploy, 1984/85

CT2B/1528 – NBC trousers, Remploy, 1985

CT2B/1653 – NBC trousers, Remploy, 1985

CT2A/2061 – rucksack, CQC, 1984

CT2A/2630 – NBC overboots, Leyland & B’ham Rubber Company, June 1985

SL32b/1872 – NBC gloves, S.G. Ltd, packed Dec 1985

SL32b/1900 – NBC smock, no maker, 1985

SL31a/1952 – Jersey, J Pick & Sons Ltd, 1985

SL31b/2385 - PVC trousers, ?, Dec 1985

SL32b/1981 – NBC gloves, Dipco, 1986

SL32b/1987 – NBC suit, Remploy, July 1986

SL32b/1988 – NBC suit, J S & Co (Derby), July 1986

SL31a/2189 – NBC trousers, Supercraft, packed June 1987

SL32b/2091 – NBC gloves, S.G. Ltd, packed July 1987

SL31a/2349 – NBC overboots, LBR, packed July 1987

SL32b/2389 – Jersey Heavy Wool, J Pick & Sons Ltd, 1987

SL32b/2450 – visor cover, Helmets Ltd, 1987

SL31b/2877 – OD foul weather jacket, Mileta Sports Ltd, 1987

SL32a/3754 – NBC personal protection kit, Remploy, 1987

SL32a/3891 - sleeping bag liner, ?, June 1987

SL31a/2441 - chemical casualty bag, ?, packed Dec 1987

SL31a/2442 – chemical casualty bag, Remploy, Jan 1988

SL32a/4058 – bergen, CQC, 1988

SL32a/4261 - various PLCE equipment items, ?, March 1988.

SL32a/4296 – sleeping bag cover, CQC, 1988

SL31b/2935 – NBC suit, Remploy, Oct 1988

SL31b/2935 - NBC trousers, Remploy, Dec 1988

SL33b/3773 – NBC gloves, S.B. Ltd, packed Mar 1989

SL33a/4??? – 58 patt pouch, CWL, 1989

SL32a/4661 – Rucksack long, CWL, 1989

SL31b/3205 – NBC trousers, Remploy, Dec 1989

SL31b/3085 – NBC gloves, J North & Sons, 1990

SL33b/4444 – NBC gloves, C.W.S. Ltd, Feb 1990

SL33b/4481 – NBC gloves, S.B. Ltd, Feb 1990

SL32b/5028 – NBC overboots, maker not stated, packed 1990

SL33c/391 – headover/balaclava, VMC, 1990

SL32b/5254 – NBC suit, Remploy, Aug 1990, May 1991

SL3/7/51 – NBC suit, J Compton Sons, packed June 1991

SL34b/0146 – NBC smock, Remploy, July 1991

SL32a/4616 – bivouac bag, CQC, 1991

SL32a/5519 – rifle grenade pouch, CQC, 1991

SL34b series – 1990 to early/mid 90s (ddpm clothing)

SL32a/5578 – PLCE side pouch, Remploy, 1991

SL32a/5578 – PLCE frog, Remploy, 1991

SL32a/5788 – compression sack for sleeping bag, A.I.L., 1992

SL34b/0246 – NBC suit, Remploy, 6/92, 10/92 (fabric date 9/91), 3/93

SL34b/0490 – NBC overboots, bp, packed Nov 1992

SL32A/5975 – respirator haversack, CWL, 1993

SL32a/6123 – dpm respirator haversack, Remploy, 1993

SL32a/6174 – rifle grenade pouch, Jacon, 1993

SL32a/6320 – dpm PLCE frog, Remploy, 1994

SL34b/0742 – NBC overboots, LBR, packed Sept 1994

SL34b/0757 – overalls white, Supercraft, 1994

ST1A/1292 – NBC suit, LBRCO, 1994

ST1A/1406 – 2nd patt pre-S95 desert trousers – 1993-1995?

SL33b/5489 – NBC gloves, OWR-H, packed Jan 1995

CT/CB 34B/0969 – NBC overboots, maker not stated, March 1995

SL34b/0281 – NBC gloves, James North & Sons Ltd, packed Nov 94, Apr 95

CC2/1531 – Soldier 95 ripstop smock, 1995-2000

CT32A/6688 – SA80 cover, 1995

CT34B/1036 – NBC overboots, Oct 1995

CT34B/1039 – gaiters GS, 1995 and 1996

CT34B/1060 – gaiters GS, 1995

CT1A/1005 – PLCE belt, Papworth, 1996

CT1A/1066 – NBC overboots, Oct 1996

CT1A/1067 – NBC overboots, Nov 1996

CT1A/1067 – NBC overboots, Acton, Jun 1997

CT1A/1157 – gaiters GS, 1997

CT34B/1154 – NBC smock, Remploy, packed Feb 1997

CT34B/1154 – NBC trousers, Remploy, packed Sept 1997

ST1A/1197 – NBC inner gloves, Nov 99, Feb 2000

CT1A/1103 – NBC gloves, Mar 2000

ST1A/1292 – NBC suit, Remploy, packed Jan 2000; June 2001; Mar 2003

ST1A/1456 – NBC gloves, Feb 2001

ST1A/1467 – parachute helmet, 2001

OC2a/1593 – desert windproof smock, Supercraft (Europe) Ltd, 2002

OC2a/1614 – desert helmet cover, Supercraft (Europe) Ltd, 2003

OC2/1534 – vest CS95, 2003

ST1A/1478 – NBC gloves, 2003

DC1bESL/0010 - desert windproof smock, Armour Products, 2003

DC1aESL/0052 – NBC trousers, Remploy, Sept 2003

CC2/1567 – roll mat, AP Ltd, 2004

DC1aESL/0014 – Mk6 helmet, 2004

DC1aESL/0118 – NBC overboots, Silvertown UK Ltd, Dec 2004

DC1aESL/0156 – PLCE belt, 2004

DC1a/ESL/0127 – NBC smock, Remploy, 2005

DC1a/ESL/0151 – rucksack cover, 2005

DC1a/ESL/0237 – NBC suit, Remploy, Jan 2006

DC2CESL/3129 – desert windproof smock, Cooneen Watts & Stone, 2006

DC1BESL/6004 – gloves, combat, 2006

DC4BESL/1000 – sleeping bag cover, 2006

CC2/1567 – roll mat, AP Ltd, 2007

DC2CESL/3154 – small pouch cover, 2007

DC1BESL/6007 – combat gloves, 2007

DC1aESL/0369 – gaiters, 2007

DC1aESL/0391 – desert sheet, J & S Franklin, 2008, 2009

DC2BESL/1000 - sleeping bag cover, 2009

DC2CESL/3154 – rucksack covers, 2007, 2008, 2009

DC2CESL/3129 – windproof smock, CW&S, 2009

DC2CESL/3129 – desert helmet cover, Cooneen Watts & Stone, 2010

DC1A/1043 – Arctic sleeping bag, 2010

DC2B12514 – vest, 2010

Thank you Edward53 for this post... as a collector, this will come in extremely useful... it's the most concise explanation of contract numbers I've ever seen... well done that man! 😄   

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