Royal Navy Seaman’s Jumper

In 1932 the Admiralty revised the serge jumpers sailors were issued for wear. Up until this point they had received one jumper with cuffs for best, and two without for working dress. In 1932 it was agreed that all three jumpers would have buttoned cuffs and the design of the jumper was improved to make them both smarter and more comfortable. Tonight we have an example of one of these sailor’s jumpers for consideration:imageThis jumper is an example of No1 dress as the rating’s trade badge is in gold wire:imageOn his working dress this stoker would have worn the same badge but embroidered in red. We can date this jumper quite accurately as it has an internal pocket for carry the rating’s paybook:imageThis feature was deleted in 1941 so we can place the date between 1932 and 1941. The jumper has lined and buttoned cuffs and as can be seen this was a convenient place to stamp one’s name:imageThe buttons were deleted in 1943 as an economy measure.

In the 1930s the Admiralty had experimented with jumpers which had a zip up the front to make them easier to get on and off. It was felt that a zipper would not be robust enough to stand up to prolonged service life, and it was pointed out that many of the difficulties sailors experienced with the jumpers were their own fault as it was fashionable to have the jumper cut as tight as possible! Zippers would finally be introduced in 1956.

The jumper has a large collar at the back of the neck, over which the blue jean collar would be worn:imageThis example is manufactured out of two layers of serge fabric. This was reduced to a single layer with a dungaree binding in the spring of 1942.

This is just a brief account of a few of the many changes the uniform went through during the war and I heartily recommend Martin Brayley’s book “Royal Navy Uniforms 1930-1945” for those wishing to explore this subject in greater detail.

2 thoughts on “Royal Navy Seaman’s Jumper

  1. Ian Holloway

    Thanks for this! I especially love the naval items you post.
    In the RCN, the jumper pockets were a consistent feature, though in the early ’50s, they became less deep.
    It was at the same time that the RCN adopted a much finer grade of cloth for its jumpers, as well as a front zipper. (Before that, it was common for the men to have a tailor put in zippers along the sides. The joke was that it made it easier to take them off after a run ashore!)

    Reply
    1. hatchfive Post author

      I was lucky enough to be in the RNR long after these had been replaced with uniforms with a front zipper- they were still cut very snugly though!

      Reply

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