ARP Pattern 57 Battledress Blouse

At the start of the Second World War ARP wardens were expected to complete their duties in their civilian clothes. This was soon revealed to be completely inadequate and civil defence personnel involved in dirty duties were issued with bluette overalls. These worked up to a point, but were not particularly warm or hard wearing so from February 1941 First Aid and Rescue parties were issued with a heavyweight set of blue battledress known as the ARP Pattern 59 Battledress Blouse and ARP Pattern 60 Battledress Trousers. In July of the same year a slightly lighter weight version of the uniform was issued to other men in the Civil Defence services and this was known as the ARP Pattern 57 Battledress Blouse and the ARP Pattern 58 Battledress Trousers. Today’s post is looking at this Pattern 57 blouse:

The blouse is clearly inspired by the army’s battledress, but as well as the colour there are a number of differences. The pockets are unpleated, but the buttons to secure them are hidden beneath a fly:

The blouse has hidden buttons up the front, these being made of black japanned metal:

I suspect that the reason for this was to reduce the risk of parts of the blouse catching on debris, so no pleats or exposed buttons helped a worker move through a bombed out building a little safer. The collar secures with a pair of metal hooks and eyes:

Junior ranks were expected to wear the blouse secured to the neck, more senior members could leave it open with a shirt and tie beneath. This example has had the collar faced so that it can be worn open if required. this can be seen here where it partially covers the white inspector’s acceptance stamp:

The blouse has also been taken in at the back with a pair of tucks to make the waist slightly narrower:

Whilst the pockets and front fastening are secured with black metal buttons, the two shoulder straps are held in place by a pair of black plastic buttons:

The cuffs are also each secured with a small button, again hidden inside to avoid snagging on debris when rescuing people from bombed out buildings:

The waist of the blouse has a half belt that is secured with a metal buckle:

The blouse has a label sewn into it which indicates its pattern number and that it was made in Leeds by Montagu Burton:

The blouse would have been worn with a variety of insignia on the breast pockets and shoulders, as seen here:

Sadly my blouse has suffered a bit from the moth over the last eighty years, however as it only cost me a fiver, I can hardly complain! I would quite like to find some period insignia and add them to it to finish it off as it would look quite striking with the correct badges on it.

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