Details sought on 1960's kit

#1
We are looking at setting up a display covering the middle part of the Cold War period, from around 1960 to 1970.

Most people thinking of that period will talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vulcan bombers and Polaris boats, the Czech “Prague Spring” and Superpower rivalry & so on but forget the large number of boots on the ground in Germany holding the line and deterring Warsaw Pact aggression .

It looks like an interesting time with a lot of major changes to uniforms and equipment taking place and we think that it would be good to show the changes & advances made over that time, from Battledress, Lee-Enfield & Bren with 37 Ptn webbing at the end of the 1950's through the green 1960 Ptn clothing and on to DPM clothing with SLR/GPMG & 58 Ptn webbing in use by 1970.

Can anyone provide us with some information on when various things came into widespread use so that we can work out what would or would not have been seen together in the middle of the decade (as we do not want to get things badly wrong!).

We are particularly interested in the approximate dates that the following would have been introduced into use in a “typical” infantry battalion in Germany:

1960 Ptn Smock & Trousers (the olive green predecessor to 1968 DPM kit)

1958 Ptn webbing

SLR & GPMG

Sterling SMG

We would also like to know if most units changed to the GPMG at the same time as the change to the SLR or was the L4 (7.62 mm version of the Bren) brought in first with the GPMG following later?

We would also like to know when the NBC suit was introduced, when the Mk 2 version ( with the attached hood) was introduced and when that was replaced with the Mk 3 version (with the overall green cloth finish) and when the S6 respirator was first issued.

Any recollections would be appreciated, either of the dates kit was changed over or as to what clothing and weapons were used together at the same time with an indication of the units concerned would be very much appreciated.
 
#2
SLR, GPMG, green combat kit, DMS boots and 58 pattern were all in use at the Yorkshire Brigade depot at Strensall in 1963. 1st Argylls in Germany were still in green kit in summer of 1967 but the Daily Telegraph had a photo of an inf bn arriving in Belfast in DPM in early 1968. Mind you, battle dress trousers were still being issued as barracks dress in some units in 1970 -71ish.
 
#3
On first posting to BAOR in September 1979, I was issued with a Mk.2 NBC suit, as were the majority in my unit. I know the new Mk.3 suits with olive-green fabric covering were held, but these were considered war stock only & very few had them on issue. Gloves inner & outer were issued to us, but no overboots as these were also considered war stock & none ever left the unit Mob Store. During the whole of my service (1979-84) I only had an S6 respirator.

As far as webbing goes, for most of my service I was issued '58 pattern with its superb water-retaining qualities. However, when I was posted to Northern Ireland in May 1981 I received a full set of the lightweight '44 pattern with its superb large pack (far more useful than the '58 pattern one) & retained this until June 83.
 
#4
Joined in '58, got 37 pat web, had the same in Bahrain then Aden, London from '64 - '67 still had 37 pat, went to singers in '67 got issued 44 pat (and jungle boots which soon wore out in the jungle free exchange). went to Germany in '70 got 58 pat web and for the first time issued NBC suit, smock and trousers, inner and outer gloves, Sr6. did the NBC course at winterbourne gunner? in 70 or 71, no change of kit. and on going back to UK still had 58 pat web and same ole nbc kit and sr6 - supposedly the finest in the world when it fikrst came out.
Got issued the barrack dress trousers whilst in London, had the green DPM even in germany from 70-72, got the cam dpm in Uk in '73,
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#5
At IJLB Owes try in 66 we were trained on all the section weapons which at that time was the SLR, GPMG & sterling SMG as the main weapons. We also did others, among which were the 2" mortar, and that great bit of kit (not) the Energa grenade, the pouch for the launcher of this grenade was where everyone kept their KFS.

@ Vasco, maybe the Belfast troops were trialling the new DPM. I know that our bn did not get it until our return from our first tour in mid 1970. Also we were the first BAOR major unit to go to Belfast. Our rear party had to paint the whole battalion's vehicles in the new DPM pattern, away from the shiny green of previous.
 
#6
I'd recommend this book amongst others

Combat Dress, 1950 to the Present Day - 1989 (British Soldier in the 20th Century) [Paperback]
Mike Chappell (Author)

He's written several others for Osprey and they are all a vailable on Amazon.

And this

The British Army In Northern Ireland [Paperback]
Simon Dunston (Author)

Also check out HMVF.co.uk A military vehicle forum mostly but has a section on clothing and it seems that the period you are interested in is the one they seem to have focused on. A lot of anorakie types but the info is there and you're probably a bit of a one yourself and so might enjoy it in there ;-)

D_B
 
#7
I think the L4 Brens actually came into service about 5 years after the GPMG; they took a while to get the conversion right.

The L4 was issued alongside the GPMG: broadly speaking line infantry got GPMGs, and all other arms used the L4 right up until 1st Gulf War (even on Op Telic, they'd only found enough cash to give arty and other sub-units one or two GPMGs each....).

Regular infantry used the L4 along with- or in place-of the GPMG in tropical locations - Belize, SE Asia, Kenya, etc.


IIRC up until 1970-ish there were still .303" Brens, Vickers and 4(T) sniper rifles in service alongside 7.62mm SLR & GPMG. RM used the Vickers in Borneo in 1966, and kept them until about 1971.

Some units still had Sten MkV as late as 1970.
 
#9
Joined up in 1976 (JLR RCT at Norton Manor, Taunton).

1937 pattern webbing

S6 and 1958 pattern nylon bag

1968 DPM combats mit puttees and DMS

SLR's with wooden stocks

LMG's (Brens) .303 as DP's with drum type rear sights and 7.62 with leaf sights for range work

Posted to Germany 1978.

SLR's with plastic stocks (for NI tour)

LMG's (Bren) 7.62

3 part NBC suit (grey) replaced later with a grey 2 piece suit, some lads got the 2 part green NBC suit early 1980,s

Best bits of kit for me were;

Black coveralls

First version of NI glove

Olive green Canadian style parkas, issued in October and taken back in April by the SQMS.
 
#10
@ Vasco, maybe the Belfast troops were trialling the new DPM. I know that our bn did not get it until our return from our first tour in mid 1970. Also we were the first BAOR major unit to go to Belfast. Our rear party had to paint the whole battalion's vehicles in the new DPM pattern, away from the shiny green of previous.
Hmm. I was basing that recollection on my OTC dates (ditto for the note about the Argylls, which I am pretty sure about), but you may have put your finger on my weakest link. FWIW, the Marines were in DPM NLT end 1971 because they issued it to an acquaintance in the RMR while he was attached - we were amazed when we saw it. As I suppose most people were. I was issued it at the RAF OCTU in June 1972. It had been in use there for some time.
 
#11
All of this will count for nothing if you do not have a Bedford RL on display.
 
#12
I was in REME at the time and was posted to an armoured unit in Muenster, West Germany and the end of 1970/beginning of 1971.

In 1970 we changed from Pullovers Khaki lightweight to heavy green Woolen Pullovers but still wore Olive Drab combat kit for guard mounting. When I was posted to my first Regiment, which was part of 4 Guards Armoured Brigade, we also wore the Guards "Evil Eye" flashes on both shoulders of all uniforms except No 2 Dress. Normal working dress in barracks was Green Coveralls with detachable buttons, KF shirt, BD trousers underneath the Coveralls, a "37" pattern web belt and beret. In Cavalry Regiments and the Royal Tank Regiment, the coveralls were held up by elastic bands (normally 3 strong ones on each leg) over DMS Boots. The coveralls were later replaced by pop buttons and when 2 RTR took over, we changed to black coveralls and had to remove all Brigade flashes from uniforms. If not in Coveralls, pressed Battledress Trousers were worn with stable belts, KF Shirts and Pullovers, or in Shirt Sleeve order with Regimental accoutrements (Regimental Lanyards, Epaulette slides etc).

We were originally issued with the Mk 1 (grey) NBC suit with detachable hood, and IIRC for a short time still had the original 1950s respirators with small haverbag and demisting wax and cloth until these were replaced by the S6 Respirator and a cloth haverbag.

The Mk 1 DPM suits were issued around about 1971, (not a patch on the old olive drab ones IMHO) although again, in the armoured regiments, these were only worn for guard mounting. Whilst the Panzer crews had GPMG as well as .30 browning, the LAD were issued with the 7.62mm LMG (Bren uprated). Tank crews were issued with 9mm SMG (which were all modified by welding a small strengthening plate to the folding butt in 1972/73) whilst attached personnel were issued with the trusty wooden butted SLR.

In 1973/1974 the sturdy heavy woolen greatcoat was withdrawn from service - how I missed that in the winter, and at some stage we moved from kaki woolen gloves to dark green woolen gloves which were little short of useless.

Oh! I nearly forgot to mention the hairy woolen swimming trunks we were issued with as well !
 
#13
I went to N Ireland from BAOR in Jan 1971 and we were all kitted out in the olive combat gear as were all other units on the streets (I think) with the exception of the paras. Prior to then some units in BAOR were wearing DPM.

In early Feb 1971 the snipers atop Flax St Mill were still using No4 sniping rifles but only because the starlight 'scopes could not be fitted to the God's SLRs. In mid Feb God allowed starlights to be fitted to his favourite weapon and that resulted in an increase in the number of PIRA boyos who had the honour of meeting Him earlier than they had anticipated.

By late April 1971 DPM was being worn by most regular soldiers on the streets.
 
#14
All the above is exactly how I remember it all, I spend three years in 8reg bimbling about in coveralls and boots,I only started to dress properly when I went to NI and that was olive drab combats, never got any dpm ffs when I left in 1974 I still was wearing 37patt,
I often wondered when they withdrew greatcoats?...answered above.
 
#16
SLR, GPMG, green combat kit, DMS boots and 58 pattern were all in use at the Yorkshire Brigade depot at Strensall in 1963. 1st Argylls in Germany were still in green kit in summer of 1967 but the Daily Telegraph had a photo of an inf bn arriving in Belfast in DPM in early 1968. Mind you, battle dress trousers were still being issued as barracks dress in some units in 1970 -71ish.

1st Argylls were in Aden in summer 1967,,6month tour from base in Plymouth....Seaton Barracks.
 
#17
Using 1st Bn The King's Own Scottish Borderers as an example (though each infantry Bn was different depending on role).

1KOSB exchanged their Lee Enfields for SLRs in Berlin in 1960 (the Bn first experienced the FN jungle version on operations in Malaya in the 1950s though still had the .303 BREN). They changed over from the .303 BREN to the 7.62 LMG at the same time, they were also issued with the sterling SMG and the 3.5'' RL. SW were Vickers MMG, 3" Mortar and MOBAT. Battle Dress and a windproof smock were worn with 37 pattern webbing, gaiters and ammunition boots, the 'brown' wooly pully was issued but not worn in barracks.
N01 Dress (Lowland) was issued and worn for all ceremonial occasions. The Bn changed parade head dress from the short lived, and much disliked Lowland Bonnet back to the glengarry.

The Borderers returned to the UK in April '61 and spent 9 months on Public Duties in Edinburgh and Balmoral (Ballater) where they were again issued with (Lowland) No1 Dress, and, incidentally, 58 pattern webbing. BD continued to be worn as the daily uniform.

The Bn (and families) sea trooped to Aden in 1962 - still in BD and issued with the same section, platoon and support weapons (there was still a Machine Gun Pl) as they had in the last year of their Berlin tour (1960-61) on arrival KD (including puttees, hose tops, etc) was issued (as were tropical No1 Dress jackets) that remained until their return to UK (Shorncliffe) in 1964.

Shorncliffe (and 19 Brigade) saw the Bn in the 'new' No2 Dress and 'green' combat suit (though the Bn's Korean War Vets remarked they had been issued with the combat suit in Korea in 1951-52)!. Cadres were completed on 81mm mortar, WOMBAT, A41 and C42 sets. The Bn returned to Aden later in '64 for operations in the Radfan, they employed the same Bn and Pl weapons bolstered with GPMGs for Coy defence (though LMGs continued to be issued at section level). KD was worn. The Machine Gun Platoon was disbanded.

In early 1965 (following route lining for Churchill's funeral) the Bn deployed to Hong Kong ostensibly in an anti illegal immigrant role where they were issued with OGs (including, once again, puttees, hose tops, etc), jungle boots, jungle kit, and 44 pattern webbing. Thence to JWS at Kota Tinggi, where they were subjected to intensive jungle training and converted from the SLR to the AR15 Armalite (the A/Tks lost their guns and, much to their chagrin were dispersed among the Rifle Coys). LMGs continued to be employed as section and patrol weapons, with GPMGs for defence. Cadres were run on the A13 set which was used by patrols during the Bn's subsequent operational tour in Borneo on completion of jungle warfare training.

On the Bn's return to Shorncliffe early summer 1966 LMGs were exchanged for GPMGs as the section FSW, SLRs and SMGs once again became the soldier's personal weapons. Incidentally the old .38 Webley was still issued! 3.5" RLs were exchanged for the 84mm (Carl Gustav) MAW. The 94 (Energa) grenade was still issued @ 2 projectors per section.
Composite Rifle Coys embarked on a 6 week field firing exercise in Libya, several major and productive UK wide exercises too.
Many signals and driving cadres were run as a precursor for re-roling to mechanised infantry in BAOR in 1967.

1KOSB's mechanised tour with BAOR's 12 Mechanised Brigade, in Osnabruck, from 1967 to 1971 saw many changes in the Bn. Recruits were given the option to enlist for 3 years (which the vast majority did) previous to that the minimum engagement was 6 years though most opted for the 9 year engagement for the extra pay. As a result the average age of soldiers in the Bn gradually went from 25 to 19 (and was a damn shame)!
Round about 1970 the 66mm LAW was issued (a vast improvement over the 94 grenade) as was the new hand grenade successor to the 36 grenade (can't recall the designation - been a long time). Jerseys Heavy Wool came on the scene too! The Webley was binned in favour of the 9mm in, as far as I remember, late 1968 (though we used the Webley when the Bn represented the Army at the CENTO shooting competition at Grafenwohr in the summer of 1968) S6 respirators were issued to replace the awful WW2 era Mk2. Bn soft skinned vehicles included the incomparable Alvis Stalwart. Bn mechanised exercises in Libya were a welcome relief from the monotony of BAOR.
The advent of 'The Troubles' in NI gave the Bn a new purpose in life, completing their first tour, in Belfast, in 1970.

The Bn returned to Edinburgh, in the Light role, in the spring of 1971 when they were quickly re-deployed to Belfast, still in green combat suits!
DPM combat suits were issued on their return. Further tours in West Belfast in 1971, 72 (twice), and 73 saw little change in uniform and equipment for the average infantryman - for some strange reason though puttees were issued instead of gaiters! Starlight scopes, Noddy, etc, improved night surveillance.
In between tours the Bn Anti-Tank Platoon had to familiarise themselves with the vehicle towed CONBAT - an older system than the WOMBAT first issued to the Bn in 1966!
As well as NI tours and training for operations there, the Bn completed exercises in Cyprus, sent a Company as reinforcement to Sharjah, guarded Edinburgh Castle, went on KAPE tours, Field Firing, Support Weapons Concentrations, participated in the Edinburgh Tattoo, and provided the Royal Guard for HM at Balmoral.

1973 -75 saw the KOSB in Berlin - a much needed break from NI and the drudgery of a Public Duties Bn. Conventional infantry skills had to be re-learned (in some cases learned)! I seem to recall the Recce Pl were issued with Fox, otherwise kit and equipment remained pretty much the same.

1975-76 the KOSB completed an 18 month tour as PRB in Hollywood Barracks outside Belfast - not much difference from the roulemont tours really except it was an 'accompanied' tour. We trialled the kevlar helmet (the design was crap as when firing in the prone position the helmet was forced over one's eyes by the collar of the 'flak jacket')!

From November '76 through May of 1980 1KOSB were based in Fort George, Inverness from there, as well as several overseas deployments and an operational tour in NI, they completed two stints on Public Duties in London (Greatcoats were worn)!.
Lightweight tropical DPM was issued for the first time for Kenya in '77 and retained for their 6 month Belize tour in 1978 (though OGs - and tartan hosetops, shorts, etc, were also issued to be worn by the companies rotating through Airport Camp). The Mortar Pl were equipped with the 1 tonne LR during this period.
The Bn suffered under the spending 'moratorium' - along with the rest of the army during this period, consequently no other new equipment was introduced. The Bn were issued DPM wet suits and NI Patrol Boots for their 1979 NI tour, once again in West Belfast! COP was issued much needed Gucci kit - especially cold and wet weather clothing.

The early part of 1980 saw the Borderers in the USA on Ex Trumpet Dance hosted by the US 101st (Air Assault) Airborne Division. The US Army had been subjected to a greater neglect than the Brits in the '70s post Vietnam and we seemed very posh in comparison to them - probably for the first and last time as Reagan was about to inject new life and 'beaucoup bucks' into his armed forces.

In the spring of 1980 1KOSB deployed to BAOR - once again in Osnabruck, though this time, thankfully, in the Light role as part of 5 Field Force.

That's a brief resume of a regular infantry Bn's kit, equipment, and deployments from 1959 through 1980. Cold War Warriors! Wouldn't have missed it!

Hope it helped.

XXV
 
#18
Many thanks for the details guys.

All very helpful and makes me realise even more how much change went on in just one decade and how diverse the army was with the different theatres and roles troops had to contend with even within on single battalion or career!
 
#19
In early 1965 (following route lining for Churchill's funeral) the Bn deployed to Hong Kong ostensibly in an anti illegal immigrant role where they were issued with OGs (including, once again, puttees, hose tops, etc), jungle boots, jungle kit, and 44 pattern webbing. Thence to JWS at Kota Tinggi, where they were subjected to intensive jungle training and converted from the SLR to the AR15 Armalite (the A/Tks lost their guns and, much to their chagrin were dispersed among the Rifle Coys). LMGs continued to be employed as section and patrol weapons, with GPMGs for defence. Cadres were run on the A13 set which was used by patrols during the Bn's subsequent operational tour in Borneo on completion of jungle warfare training.
Out of interest, why the need to convert from SLR to Armalites for Jungle Operations?

Borneo was well before my time but from various old photos I've seen from the era it's not unusual to see units carrying a varied assortment of SLR's, Armalites and SMG's. A potential nightmare for ammo resup?
 
#20
Out of interest, why the need to convert from SLR to Armalites for Jungle Operations?

Borneo was well before my time but from various old photos I've seen from the era it's not unusual to see units carrying a varied assortment of SLR's, Armalites and SMG's. A potential nightmare for ammo resup?
The Aussies coped okay in Vietnam. Even in the prolonged contacts such as Long Tan.


Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
LAIT Infantry 5
RARO_Reject The Intelligence Cell 9
RARO_Reject Army Reserve 0

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top