Canadian Army Lightweight Combat Coat

It has been a while since we looked at any post-war Canadian army uniforms and equipment. Last year we took a detailed study of the Canadian 64 pattern here, one of the defining features of this set was the lack of an ammunition pouch, troops carrying magazines in the pockets of their jackets. It is one of these jackets we are looking at tonight:

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Officially these are known as ‘Coat, Combat, Man’s, Lightweight Mk II’ and were a modification of a design of jacket introduced in 1964. This design of uniform was a major departure for the Canadian Army and was the first uniform that was designed to not be ironed or starched. Bright insignia was replaced with subdued rank and name badges and it was forbidden to dry clean or iron the uniform due to the nylon reinforcements. The Mk I uniform carried four magazines for the C1 rifle, the Mk II though had provision for 6 magazines and had a waist drawstring added.

Two angled pockets are fitted to the chest:

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These are reinforced with nylon and can each hold a C1 rifle magazine:

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Two further, larger pockets are sewn onto the skirts of the combat coat:

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These each have internal nylon pockets as well:

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Two magazines can be carried in each large pocket, although the fit is extremely tight on this particular coat:

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Please note that I am using SLR magazines rather than C1 magazines as I do not have the latter so this might explain why they are not a perfect fit!

All the fastenings on the combat coat are secured using buttons that themselves are sewn on with tapes rather than thread:

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It is interesting to note that this feature was in use by the Canadians thirty years before the British adopted it in the CS95 series of clothing! This combat coat has epaulettes on the shoulders for rank insignia:

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However as it was worn by a sergeant his rank is sewn to the sleeves. The rank is in subdued green, but has a rather nice embroidered Canadian maple leaf above it:

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The original owner’s name is embroidered on a cotton tape sewn to the chest:

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Sadly the original label for this combat coat is completely unreadable, however this design was produced between 1969 and 1982 so it is most likely from the 1970s. Although very popular, this garment had one fundamental weakness. It was made of a 50% cotton 50% nylon blend so it was not flame retardant and could catch fire easily. It also had a tendency to pick up oil stains that were very hard to shift and if bleached went an interesting pink colour! Despite these flaws, the combat uniform was much liked by troops and saw service for many years, indeed it was still used into the 2000s by cadets who, for political reasons, were not issued Cadpat uniforms for field exercises.

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