In the early 1960s the British Army reviewed its uniform requirements, with the ending of National Service it was returning to a small peacetime professional army and it was felt there was a definite need to modernise. New combat clothing had started to be introduced and the old battledress relegated to a parade uniform. The problem was that it was not very smart, leaving troops looking like sacks of potatoes if not carefully tailored and it required a lot of maintenance as it was still made of wool. A new dress uniform, known as No2 dress, was introduced that was based on the officers’ service dress but made of manmade fibres to reduce the amount of care it would need in service. The new uniform was trialled in 1962 and rolled out as the 1964 pattern a couple of years later. This design would remain in service, with minor modifications until the introduction of FAD in the 2000s that finally did away with any distinction between officers and other ranks uniforms. Tonight we are looking at a very early example of the No2 jacket dating from 1966:This particular example has staybrite buttons for the Staffordshire Regiment:The jacket closely mirrors officers’ service dress and has two large pockets in the skirts and a pair of buttoned, pleated patch pockets over each breast:A pair of shoulder straps are fitted, each secured with a staybrite button. I was surprised how long these straps were and how far from the point the button was fitted, a larger portion of the strap goes under the collar than on many garments:Originally the collars of this jacket would have been fitted with matching staybrite collar dogs. Sadly these are missing on this jacket, but the holes where they were once attached can still be seen:Going forward I am going to try and track down a pair of badges to finish off the jacket. Rather than the leather Sam Browne belt used by officers, other ranks were initially issued with cloth belts, with anodised aluminium staybrite buckles. This example has sadly been cut short:The rear of the belt had two cotton tapes secured at one end with a press stud, these passed through corresponding loops on the rear of the jacket to hold the belt in place:This jacket was originally worn by a warrant officer and his large embroidered badge of rank is sewn to the sleeve:Interestingly this has a King’s crown on it, suggesting that the regimental tailor was using up old stock when he badged this jacket up. Later warrant officers would tend to wear officer’s service dress rather than other ranks No2 dress, but this example seems to be correct and the rank professionally sewn on so it would seem that at the introduction of No2 dress at least some WOs used it as well.
The inside of the jacket has the label with sizing and the date of 1966, indicating the early production of this particular No2 dress:The jacket was manufactured by H Lotery, who were a clothing company from Whitechapel in London who made a variety of military clothing for the War Department and later for the MOD during this period.