Australian Jungle Puttees

In the late 1930s when the British Army introduced its new uniform and equipment, it did away with puttees in favour of webbing anklets. Puttees had been in use since before the Great War and consisted of nine foot long strips of cloth that were bound around the lower leg to secure the bottom of the trouser leg together. The name puttee derives from the hindi word patti meaning a bandage, they were first used in India in the second half of the 19th century and were soon widely adopted by the British Empire and other nations around the world. These puttees were very effective in protecting the uniform and ankle, but were cumbersome to put on due to their long length. The new webbing anklets were much quicker to fit and seemed to be a sign of a modern efficient system of clothing the soldier. However as the Second World War progressed and troops began serving in very different climates to Western Europe, it became clear that anklets were not a panacea for all situations. In the jungle they did not provide a tight enough join between trousers and boots and allowed parasites to reach the legs. Puttees were cheaper to make, could be more comfortable to wear and offered better ankle support. However rather than the high puttees that had almost reached the knees, these were only ankle high. This pair were made in dark green/brown wool rather than the khaki of WW1:imageThey have a label indicating they were produced in Australia:imageThe N indicates they were made in New South Wales and they are dated 1944. The tape binding the puttee is in a different shade of green to the rest of the puttee and is securely sewn on:

imageUnfolded they are much shorter, at 41 inches, than their earlier counterparts:imageThis style of puttees were widely used by Australian forces and their use spread to the British Army in the post war period, often being seen with DMS boots and 68 pattern uniforms in the field. In this photograph of Malayan Police during the Malayan Emergency, the British Officer inspecting the men before they go out on patrol is wearing short jungle green puttees:malayapatrol02

One comment

  1. Despite these being made in Australia I don’t recall a single photo of a digger wearing puttees in the jungle in ww2, American leggins were the norm.
    I think I may have seen photos of them worn in Borneo post war but I can’t say for sure…

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