Bazaar Made KD Bush Jacket

When men were posted overseas it was common to seek out the local tailors when on leave to get extra sets of uniform made up, either to suit one’s own sartorial desires (within reason) or, in the case of impecunious officers, to save some money on the cost of buying sufficient uniforms back in Britain. The souks and bazaars of the east were always filled with skilled native tailors who were more than happy to sell the soldier a jacket and trousers, made to measure and cut as he wished, for far less than it would have cost back home. These garments are an interesting area to collect today, as they are usually cheaper than issue items and are ideal for use in living history. Today we are looking at a typical example of a KD bush jacket:

This is a simple bush jacket, secured up the front with plastic buttons and with a pair of pleated patch pockets on each breast:

A second pair of unpleated pockets are sewn to the skirts:

There is evidence that when originally made this bush jacket had removable buttons, probably brass regimental buttons, that were secured with split pins. At some point these have been replaced by sewn on plastic buttons and the button holes sewn up at either end to suit the smaller diameter of these buttons.

An epaulette is sewn to each shoulder to allow rank slides to be worn, here for an infantry captain:

Loops are provided at each hip for a cloth belt to pass through:

I very much doubt that this is the original belt for this bush jacket, however it is of a similar vintage and has an unusual buckle to fasten it at the front:

The inside is completely plain, with no stamps or markings at all. There is, however, a small pocket for a first field dressing sewn into the skirts of the jacket:

This, together with the change to buttons and the cut down sleeves suggests to me that at some point in it life, this bush jacket was intended to be worn in the field rather than on the parade ground. It is this curious history and clearly well worn appearance which make this particular jacket a favourite of mine and one I have worn for living history events on a number of occasions.

One comment

  1. Official instructions to officers during WWII suggested that they obtain their tropical clothing when they arrived at overseas stations because they were cheaper (probably in more ways than one). Presumably they did not require clothing coupons. The practice of having uniform clothing made up locally was also a practice in French Indochina but apparently not in North Africa. The French even operated clothing factories in Indochina and some of the patterns differed slightly from French made garments. Some garments had no relation to regulations at all.

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