The greatcoat as an item of clothing for use on active service disappeared in the late 1950s. It continues to this day however as a piece of ceremonial clothing for wear on parade in cold weather. One of the most distinctive greatcoats worn is that of the Foot Guards who wear a single breasted grey woollen coat whose origins can be traced back to at least the Napoleonic Wars:It is a 1960s dated example of one of these coats we are looking at tonight:This greatcoat is made of a heavy blue-grey wool, with a row of staybrite buttons up the front. Reinforced shoulders are fitted, presumably to help protect a part of the coat that will get a lot of wear from rifles carried at the slope on parades:Two large pockets are fitted below the waist, with flaps on the outside:And a separately sewn inner:The coat is made of a coarse, heavy wool, but some concession to comfort has been made by fitting a liner over the shoulders and sleeves made of a man-made fabric:The back of the greatcoat has an expansion pleat and a small half belt secured by three buttons. The skirt of the greatcoat is split and would originally have been secured with more buttons, but these are missing from this example:The label inside the coat indicates that it was made in Bradford by James Dawson in 1965:As can be seen, the single breasted coat is for other ranks, officers and warrant officers wear a double breasted version. The coats are worn throughout the winter, being removed in spring as reported by the London Evening Standard in March 2013:
Snow may have been falling in London with temperatures close to zero- but today the Army declared: summer has arrived.
It has ordered that, from tomorrow, soldiers standing guard at Buckingham Palace will remove their winter dress of Athol grey greatcoats and appear for sentry duty in traditional red tunics.
The ruling comes into force at 8am and the first to brave the chill winds on the palace forecourt, and at St James’s Palace, will be the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Mounted troops at Horse Guards will switch to a shorter cape.
The battalion’s commanding officer, Lt Col Dino Bossi, said: “When the Foot Guards appear in their iconic red tunics it’s a sure sign summer is on its way.
“The soldiers have spent the winter enduring some pretty bad conditions out there and I hope the weather gods welcome the splash of colour and smile on us accordingly.”