Over the last couple of years we have covered a number of the padded liners issued to troops for service in extreme cold weather, including the parka liner here. This liner was designed to be fitted into the arctic parka used by British troops in extreme cold weather. Happily I have been able to add an example of one of these parkas to my collection and we are able to take a closer look at this garment tonight. The parka is a distinct garment, different from the more usual smocks. It is longer and baggier than the traditional windproof or parachutist’s smock and has a permanently attached hood:The hood itself is padded with a quilted liner and has wire around the front to allow it to be shaped to suit the wearer’s preferences:Large baggy patch pockets are sewn to the front of the parka, secured with green plastic buttons:A heavy duty zip with a Velcro fly is fitted to the front of the parka:And two buttons are sewn to the lower front skirt of the garment:These are to allow a tail flap to be passed between the legs, much like the parachutist’s smock and fastened to the front. However where the parachutists smock used press studs, this example uses large buttons. When the flap is not needed it buttons into the inside rear of the parka:The same buttons go through two button holes to also act as the fastening for the large soft kit pocket that runs all across the back of the parka:The parka is designed to be worn with a liner, so large patches of Velcro are sewn into the inside of the garment:These are the loop half and the corresponding hook part of the Velcro is on the outside of the liner to allow the two pieces to be attached together.
The sleeves of the parka are also distinctive with large double thickness elbow sections to add extra protection and comfort when shooting:The cuffs are unusual in having a tab with Velcro to secure them:This design allows the wearer to tighten the cuffs, even when wearing heavy arctic mittens.
It should be noted that there also exists an arctic windproof smock that was issued at the same time as this parka. It has been suggested that the smock was for infantrymen, whilst the parka was for more static troops such as those maintaining vehicles or in non-combat roles that required them to stand still in the cold for longer. I have been unable to confirm if this is indeed the case, but it seems a plausible theory. These parkas are extremely well made and I was lucky enough to find this one in a vintage clothes shop for a very reasonable price. Strangely this is only the second parka in my collection, the other being an earlier olive green example I picked up several years ago.