In the 1960s The British Army issued a pair of woollen gloves to troops deployed to Northern Ireland for warmth and protection. These were clearly unsuitable, with troops substituting motorcycle gloves and other padded civilian types. In this photograph of a soldier patrolling on the streets of Belfast in 1972, these early civilian gloves can easily be seen:New gloves were introduced between 1974-76 and were designed for use in an urban environment, being made of black leather:The earliest pairs had padded fingers as well as knuckles, this pair is more modern and have had the finger padding deleted; just the knuckle padding retained:The padding was designed to help protect knuckles when the wearer was handling riot shields and batons and in an urban environment with hard surfaces all around. It was also rumoured that the padding allowed soldiers to get physical with protestors without leaving a mark. Having spoken to one old soldier who served in Operation Banner, it was not unknown for the stitching on the padding to be undone and a piece of lead or a bag of sand inserted into the knuckle area to create an improvised knuckle duster- the lead being quietly removed afterwards to ensure there was no come back for breaking rules of engagement!
The palms of the gloves are left as plain leather to aid grip:And elasticated knitted cuffs are provided to ensure comfort where they meet the soldiers’ sleeves:These gloves were well liked and a great improvement on what had come before, however they were not without their faults- easily absorbing large quantities of water like a sponge. They were officially replaced with CS95 gloves in the mid 1990s, but as ever troops who had them and liked them carried on using them for a time after. In this photograph of a group of soldiers form the Parachute Regiment, the two men on the left are wearing the Northern Ireland gloves: