Denison Book Review

I must confess that the clothing and equipment of the elite regiments has never really appealed to me; I have always been more interested in what the majority of ordinary troops experienced and wore. I am not sure why I have this prejudice, possible years of seeing very old and overweight paratroopers at re-enactment events has coloured my judgement…Therefore I have very little knowledge of what is undoubtedly an interesting facet of British military history and I came to Brian Wilson’s excellent work Denison as something of a novice.51+TF6T7+OLAlthough the book is advertised on Amazon as ‘Denison’ its sub title better conveys the scope of the work: ‘British Airborne Specialist Clothing from WWII to the Present Day’. Whilst the majority of the work does cover the Denison Smock, there is plenty of other pieces of specialist clothing covered in exquisite detail. The Denison Smock is such an iconic piece of clothing that it makes sense to use this as the title of the book, but be aware of the greater scope covering prototype clothing, oversuits for jumping and parachutists trousers amongst others.Denison 1The book is published by Military Mode Publishing, and in common with their other military history books from this publisher the production values are high. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout, with clear period and modern photographs presented on high quality gloss pages. As mush of the text refers to colour variations in the early camouflage material the clear colour reproduction is especially welcome. The text that accompanies them is well written and very detailed and the author has made a point of using post-war collectors terms to refer to the garments themselves.Denison2Not having much knowledge of the subject, I occasionally struggled to see all the subtle variations between garments referred to in the text, but I have no doubt that the author is correct! Happily this book does not end in 1945 but also covers the post war period from 1959 pattern smocks to modern MTP examples, all with the same detail as the more well-known wartime examples. I would have liked a few more captions to some of the period photographs, as although they were being used to illustrate types of uniform they were interesting in their own right and context would have been nice. This however is a very minor point and I can thoroughly recommend this book not only to the airborne enthusiast but also to the more generalist collector as you will learn a lot! I can’t say I am going to rush out to collect Parachute Regiment militaria, but I feel better equipped to recognise any pieces that come my way and if I come across a cheap DPM smock I will be happy knowing what I am looking at! I will definitely look into getting the two accompanying volumes on airborne headgear and insignia now.Denison3The book is available from Amazon and Military Mode Publishing here for £39.99.

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