For wear around the barracks officers were sometime instructed to purchase woollen pullovers often known as ‘Guernseys’ of a finer weave than the standard British Army woolly-pully. These were not only less itchy, but also gave a smarter and more soldierly appearance for men when they were working in office type roles. Tonight we have an example issued to Major Ian Ward, Royal Engineers in the early 1990s:In most respects the design echoes the standard woolly-pully, with a round neck:It is quite clear however that the weave of the knitting is far tighter than the standard issue item. Reduction knitting is used on the cuffs:And waist band:This draws the garment in and hugs it tight to the body in these places. Fabric panles are fitted to the shoulders, with space for a rank slide- here a major’s crown with embroidery for the RE:Panels are also fitted on the forearms to protect them:And a small pencil pocket is sewn to the upper sleeve:A unit formation flash for the Tyne Electrical Engineers is sewn to the upper sleeve:This badge dates back to 1922 when it was registered with the College of Arms as “out of a mural crown or, a dexter cubit arm grasping a winged arrow inflamed proper’.
This example has had its label removed from the back of the neck for comfort, but companies such as Brenhyre Knitwear produced these for officers, examples in 2007 costing the individual a hefty £60 each!
Barrack dress disappeared in the late 1990s/early 2000s and although some regiments persisted with it, the official policy was for everyone to be in Soldier 95s all the time. One irreverent wag described barrack dress as:
Barrack dress was always known as Uniform, Officers, Nothing to do. How can you do your job as an officer in barracks when you’re dressed in all that nonsense escapes me.
“Oh no, corporal, I couldn’t possibly join the chaps doing that mucky veh maint / SAA / PT etc when I’m dressed in my best shoes and trousers, wearing this hideously coloured baggy gardening jumper, wearing a daft hat and carrying this stupid stick.”
This policy has now been reversed and most regiments now include barrack dress once more. The Royal Engineers sets out what clothing should be worn in their dress regulations:
No. 2 Dress hat or side hat (CO’s discretion)
Jersey, wool, heavy duty
No. 2 Shirt
Tie, silk knitted, RE pattern
Trousers, Barrack Dress
Shoes, brown, plain leather