Royal Navy Seaman’s No2 Dress Jacket

In the late 1970s the Royal Navy updated their ‘square rig’ junior rates uniforms. At the time two different variations were issued, a No1 uniform for formal occasions with gold wire badges and a No2 uniform that had red badges and was for more regular wear. One sailor explains their use:

No 2’s were used for duties and for the most part were up to the job; shore patrol (though some chose to wear 1’s), SSD’s etc. I was ordered to go on my first draft in 2’s; Pompey to Rosyth. It didn’t bother me when I got grease off the train door on my trollies (remember KUA?)…they were my 2’s!

These uniforms remained in service until the late 1980s at least and tonight we have an example of the No2 Seaman’s jacket to look at:

By the time this uniform was made, the traditional wool had been replaced by manmade fibres, giving it a slightly shiny look, and it was no longer a skin tight, over the head garment, but rather had a concealed zip up the front:

Each cuff is tightened using a piece of Velcro:

The traditional sailor’s collar is attached to the jacket using a set of buttons:

And again Velcro is used to secure it:

As has been tradition for the last century, a large flap of fabric is attached to the back of the collar of the jacket itself to allow the Nelson collar to sit neatly over the back:

It was traditional to mark your name under this in white pen, here the remains of the name ‘Mahn’ can just be made out:

This particular jacket was made by the famous firm of Compton and Webb, as indicated on the stores label:

‘Class II’ on the jacket refers to the type of sailor (i.e. one who had to wear square rig rather than fore and aft rig) rather than this being a No2 dress jacket, that is indicated by the trade patch on the sleeve, which is embroidered in red rather than gold:

The trade badge is for a Radar Operator and the SM indicates service on board a submarine. The Number 2 dress uniform was a bit of an anachronism by the late 1980s, as it was hardly practical for most tasks and men already had the No 4 uniform for a working dress. It is therefore no surprise that at some point in the late 1980s or early 1990s it was dropped and the MoD managed top save a small amount of cash by not issuing yet another rig to its sailors…

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