Royal Navy Cotton Flannel

In the past we have looked at the Royal Navy’s tropical flannel with a built in spine pad. Tonight we are taking a look at the more common cotton flannel worn in other climates. I have several of these garments in my collection, but this example is the saltiest (it was however the only one I could find easily!):imageThe cotton flannel is a white (!) cotton shirt in what we would now call a ‘t-shirt’ style, with a square cut neck, edged in dark blue cotton tape:imageNote that even in its current dishevelled state, it still retains the crease up the front of the garment. The cotton flannel replaced an earlier design which was outwardly similar but made of wool fabric. Ratings complained that this was excessively hot so a replacement made in lighter cotton was issued with aertex vest to be worn underneath in cold conditions to make up for the lack of warmth if needed. The new cotton flannel was introduced in 1938 and the woollen examples made obsolete, except for boys under training who continued to be issued the woollen garment which was renamed ‘flannel, training’ for the purpose. The cotton flannels were issued to new recruits and as men wore out their old woollen flannels, new cotton examples replaced them. The example is stamped inside with the original owner’s name:imageFor some reason a large section of the bottom section on one side of this garment has been cut away. It doesn’t look very neat so I am unable to say whether this was done by the original owner for a practical purpose or if someone has started cutting it up for rags later:imageThe flannel was worn underneath the woollen sailor’s jumper in the summer months in home waters:Stoker Baxter(1)It was also seen in use in the tropics as it was actually cooler than the flannel that had been designed for these regions. It could be worn under the white tropical square rig, or on its own as a more relaxed working dress with a pair of shorts.

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