Introduced in 1921 to accompany their new 1919 pattern webbing set, the Royal Navy legging was designed to protect the bottom of ratings’ legs and prevent damage to their bell bottoms when landing ashore on operations. These leggings are seen on many period photographs and are easily distinguished from the later 1937 pattern army types by being almost twice as high:
There are actually two patterns of these RN leggings, we looked at the second pattern here and today we are considering the earlier pattern:
They are made of heavy duty pre-shrunken cotton webbing and this pair have been blancoed green at some point in their life. These leggings are easily distinguished from the later pattern as they have straps and Twigg buckles to secure them at both the top and bottom of the legging, unlike the later pattern which just has them at the top.
These buckles are accompanied by three cord loops (four in the later pattern):
These are threaded through each eyelet and interlock together in a style known as ‘Dutch’ lacing:
This style of lacing ensures that the legging is secured the whole of its length, without a multitude of fiddly straps and buckles. A piece of webbing is sewn as a stiffener on the inside of the legging at the opposite side to the fasteners:
This pair of leggings date from the very start of production and were manufactured by the Mills Equipment Company in 1922, this pair being a size 3:
The high webbing leggings can be seen worn with both the dark blue woollen naval dress worn in home waters and the white cotton tropical order of dress. They were not usually issued to individual men, but carried as pool stores on board ship and distributed prior to a landing and gathered back in when men returned on board. Despite being replaced by the second pattern in the mid 1930s, both patterns contined to be worn alongside each other throughout the Second World War.