Royal Navy Arctic Trousers

In the immediate post war period the British military started reviewing the extreme cold weather clothing it had available and introduced several new garments based on wartime experience. The Royal Navy had found itself gaining much experience of operating in sub-zero temperatures during the convoy runs to Murmansk and Archangel in the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Ironically the emerging threat was not the USSR and with this being the case there was the clear possibility that future combat might occur in the frozen wastes of the Arctic. New extreme cold weather clothing was rapidly developed for the RN including specially padded trousers:imageThese are made from a closely woven dark blue cotton and filled with a very thick layer of insulation for warmth. The insulation is indeed so thick that the trousers have special expansion cuts on the knees to allow the wearer to even bend his legs!imageA single large pocket is seen to the front of the left leg, secured with one black plastic button:imageThe flies fasten with further plastic buttons:imageThe waist is adjustable with cotton straps:imageAnd corresponding white metal buckles (as these trousers are unissued they are still wrapped in tissue from when they were made):imageThe end of each trouser leg has a tab and two buttons allowing the leg to be wrapped around the ankle and fastened tight before the wearer slips his feet into boots:imageThe label inside indicates that this pair was manufactured in 1952 and the term ‘Vocab’ shows they were naval issue, this being the RNs store’s code system:imageIt is hard to identify the use of these trousers from period photographs but I think I have found a couple of images where they are being worn. In 1949 the RN undertook Arctic trials on board HMS Vengeance and here we see sailors wearing heavily padded trousers which look to be the same pattern as the set above:

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