Procurement of string vests

#1
From The Grauniad:

Cool but uncool: why soldiers failed to warm to string vest

Mark Honigsbaum
Friday July 1, 2005
The Guardian

It is widely considered the height of sartorial naffness - a garment most closely associated with plumbers' mates, Rab C Nesbitt and confirmed recidivists (think Ronnie Barker in Porridge).
But according to documents released by the National Archives yesterday, prejudice against the string vest may be shortsighted. If tests conducted by the War Office in Egypt are any guide, the humble string vest - particularly the loose knit Sherpa version - may well be the greatest boon to mankind since the invention of air conditioning.

In the mid-1950s string vests were widely marketed to British civilians, primarily against the cold. But in the summer of 1955 the Ministry of Supply's directorate of physiological and biological research decided to conduct a "subjective study of string vests under hot/dry conditions" in the Canal Zone of Egypt.

For four weeks in July and August, as temperatures fluctuated between 84 and 98F (29 and 37C), 24 men from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were made to wear three different types of vest under their bush jackets.

The first was an army-issue string vest made from thick cotton yarn and featuring flannelette shoulder pieces. The second was a type known as the Sherpa, featuring a wider loose-knit mesh. The third was a cotton singlet, then standard issue for soldiers on duty in the Canal Zone.

For periods of nine or three days, the men wore one type of vest before swapping it for another. At the end of each period they were asked to fill in questionnaires, rating the vests.

In every case, the men reported that string vests enhanced sensations of coolness and lessened "dragging or sticking" between clothes and skin from sweat.

But for those accustomed to wearing vests in the heat, the clear winner was the Sherpa.

"It shares with the string vest the ability to lessen the sensations of warmth and sweatiness, to reduce dragging or sticking in wear, and to obviate the difficulties of doffing and donning," the report concluded.

However, at the end of the experiment only two of the men not used to wearing a vest agreed to continue with the Sherpa. The rest preferred to do without and were heard to comment, "er ... I don't think I'd like to wear one regularly."

The report concluded that "seemingly, all vests were to be regarded with suspicion".

However, it argued that with more experience of wearing a vest under hot/dry conditions and "efficient indoctrination" it was confident more men could be won over.
The story is here.

'Efficient indoctrination'? Did the RSM go round the whole Battalion forcing soldiers to put them on, in spite of their being regarded 'with suspicion'?
 
#2
Gonna have to come up with an answer that will astonish many and offend some.
In those sunny days, soldiers did what soldiers were told to do. No whining, no winging, no ifs and buts. Somehow, it seemed to work in those times.
 
#3
I had a mate RAOC cum back from Singapre when the troops where withdrawn in early 70's. He could not put up with life in BAOR so terminated.
His massive box of kit accumalated in Far East was fought over. I proffed Aussei Jungle boots with (steel sole) and a new String vest,
which was certainly very warm in German cold weather Never thought to wear it in hot weather tho.
john
 
#4
Cannot say I have ever had the "pleasure" of wearing a string vest although my father swears they were fantastic throughout postings in the tropics and during the War (so good in fact he still wears string vests to this day....not issued ones though, obviously :lol:).

String vests work on similar principles to the cellular blankets used in hospitals - so I am informed by those in the know about such matters. Efficient warm airpocket traps due to the open weave design that provide sufficient resistance to body heat loss without the overheating sometimes associated with closer weave materials. Where would hospitals be without cellular blankets. Fantastic things! Light, easy to launder, highly absorbent with bodily fluids, able to be used in emergency as a good pressure dressing (don't knock it till you have to do it). I prefer to use cellular blankets myself but only when the "Electric Blanket" is away :lol:

In the interests of science and military effectiveness I will volunteer to hot weather field test some string vests and let ARRSE know the results. If anyone has any particular vests they would like to contribute for the field testing I will post them back afterwards.
 
#5
mizkrissi said:
In the interests of science and military effectiveness I will volunteer to hot weather field test some string vests and let ARRSE know the results. If anyone has any particular vests they would like to contribute for the field testing I will post them back afterwards.
Miz, you know that this will lead to requests from the likes of MDN that you also wear a 'string' thong & return them unlaundered... :roll:
 
#7
DozyBint said:
Miz, you know that this will lead to requests from the likes of MDN that you also wear a 'string' thong & return them unlaundered... :roll:

I do believe the lovely Cait has already fulfilled MDNs need for unlaundered thong things :wink:
 
#8
I remember....[yawn]...being issued with vests/underpants cellular [had holes in them like a string vest]. White ones in the near east and green ones in the far east. Just a thought.......do they still issue underpants from stores?
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
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#11
I used to wear my issue string vest in Hong Kong, until green T shirts became de-riguer in the late 80s / early 90s. I binned the string pants 'cause they made my arrse itch.

I think the vests were more comfortable, but the T shirts were considerd more fasionable.
 
#12
I turned into an old git last year (or was it the year before) and started wearing a vest (singlet) again when it was cold.

At first I just had the M&S aertex type and everything was fine until we had a couple of warm days.. Without being too delicate, I'm quite a sweaty bloke and a vest in warm weather sounded like a bad idea.

I visited my Dad on one such start cold/finish hot day and he suggested that if I was going to wear a vest in hot weather then it should be a proper string one; to prove his point he loaned me one of his, and he was right! The vest wicked the sweat away from my skin, allowing my shirt to (a) dry out and (b) stay dry.

Since then, I've bought some of my own and stopped being a sweaty mess. I've also bought some string pants (trunks) and have now for the first time in my adult life got cool and dry nether regions.

Unfortunately, both vests and pants are only available on-line & they're quite pricey!

On the plus side, my Dad has now given me a worthwhile piece of advice.

Cheers,
 
#13
BuckFelize said:
RAF Firecrew wear them under their thick felt suits, so there must be something in it. Or maybe that's too much informazione?
Nah - we no longer have the special summer visions of fat, pasty RAF Firemen playing volleyball in their string vests. How things have changed, jumpers for goalposts, etc.
 
#14
I remember getting issued string vest and underpants in a fetching green one size fits the fat f**ker size in 1982 at JLR RAC. The underpants keep me cool cos everything hung out!......
 
#15
Kitmarlowe said:
I remember getting issued string vest and underpants in a fetching green one size fits the fat f**ker size in 1982 at JLR RAC. The underpants keep me cool cos everything hung out!......

And horribly abrasive they were too. I ended up with a terryfing sore on the end of my todger while at Sandhurst. Caused by said organ flapping about in vast green string "scouring pad" material skiddies while on one of the many "nature walks" we enjoyed.

Nearly fainted in horror when I saw it.

Now the mere sight of green underwear makes my parts shrivel. Something in lacy black though....
 

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