British Infantry, Belfast, Late 1970s Impression

This month’s impression is based around troops deployed to the streets of Belfast in the late 1970s as part of Operation Banner. Operation Banner was the British Government’s response to the increased violence in Ulster that started in the mid 1960s. For thirty years British troops were deployed to patrol the deterrent against Republican and Loyalist terrorism.

This fusilier from the The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers wears the distinctive cap badge and hackle of his regiment on his head. His uniform consists of lightweight trousers, khaki flannel shirt and 1968 pattern smock. He wears DMS boots and short puttees around his feet and the first pattern of 1979 pattern body armour. Webbing is minimal, with just a 58 pattern belt being worn with a single ammo pouch and water bottle. The rifle is the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR), worn with the sling around the wrist so it cannot be pulled off him. He wears the padded ‘Northern Ireland’ gloves, developed for the use in urban environments.

The kit lay out looks as follows:

1. 68 Pattern smock 2. Beret with cap badge and hackle of the Royal Regiment of Fusilier 3. 1979 pattern body armour 4. Belt gear consisting of a single 58 pattern ammunition pouch and a water bottle in its pouch worn on a 58 pattern belt. 5. Northern Ireland gloves 6. SLR rifle 7. Lightweight trousers 8. KF Shirt 9. Short puttees 10. DMS Boots

There were numerous variations on the standard patrolling equipment of troops in the province over the thirty years of the Troubles, depending on period, location, job role and a unit’s SOP. This is representative of a fairly typical set up, but period photos provide a plethora of variations and inspiration in putting together your own set up.

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