1960s ‘Drawers, Cellular’

In British Army slang ‘shreddies’ is the term for any pair of underpants (although the more disgusting the better). Although today it refers to all different types of pants, its origin comes from the green “drawers, cellular” that were issued for tropical use in the early post war period. These undergarments were made from green cellular cotton, and the open weave resembles quite closely the popular British breakfast cereal ‘shreddies’- hence the name:imageThis pair of mint, unissued underpants date to the mid-1960s and have a simple open fly:imageThe drawers are held up by an elasticated waist:imageWhilst the label sewn into the rear indicates that they date from 1965 and were made by prisoners at one of Her Majesty’s Prisons:imagePrisoners could earn small amounts of money by working whilst incarcerated and sewing small items for the military was a common task given to inmates. Previously we have seen a housewife sewing kit made at a prison and this pair of pants was another item produced by the prison service. All these items are fairly simple, nothing of the sophistication of a smock or pair of trousers seems to have been entrusted to the prison workshops!

One old soldier remembers being issued with these underpants:

Oh Yes! I had completely fogotten about the good old ‘Drawers, Cellular’ or as we used to call them. Drawers ,Dracula’! I never ever had ‘The pleasure’ of actually putting any of the three pairs we were issued on my Body! I used to use mine on Bullnights for cleaning the windows! They bought the glass up admirably!…..

Another old soldier’s website gives the following definition:

Drawers Dracular – Real name Drawers Cellular, jungle-green cotton underpants with draw strings, designed to castrate unwary A/Ts, so reducing the need for putting bromide in the tea. The most diabolical underwear ever designed. Indescribable. And why cellular?

My thanks go to Jon Mills who kindly helped me add these to my collection.


  1. I was issued with three pairs of drawers cellular when I joined the RTR at Catterick in 1969. I have to confess to wearing them (but only on exercise) until the early 1980s when, although still serviceable, they became car polishing cloths.

    • Drawers Dracula were made from silk not cotton they had rubber buttons and side draw ties as I remember.

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