Happy New year. Following experience in the Falklands War, the British Army decided to update their combat uniform. They had already been experimenting in the late 1970s with a new cotton blend that dried quicker- a cotton modal mix rather than cotton sateen. The new design was lighter and had larger capacity pockets, but was to be dogged by quality control issues that meant it never achieved the popularity of the older 68 pattern design. The design of the smock, which is known by collectors as either the 1984 or 1985 pattern, however is very similar at first glance to its predecessor:
The pockets on the new design were all bellowed to give them greater carrying capacity, a feature that had become apparent as being useful in the Falklands where allsorts of items were stuffed into soldier’s pockets. Note also that the printing of the DPM is noticeably darker on the cotton-modal mix than the earlier cotton-sateen blend.
The other noticeable difference between this pattern and the earlier 68 pattern was that the pocket for the joint services dressing was moved from the hip on the trousers to the upper left sleeve:
The opposite sleeve has a pocket for pens and if necessary pen shaped like items such as a stick dossimeter of an injectorpen of atropine. These are covered by a small triangular flap:
The cuffs of each sleeve are now secured with velcro rather than a button:
The rank is still displayed on the shouler rather than the chest at this date and so the smock has two eppaulettes, each secured with a single green button:
A large printed white label is sewn into the rear of the smock:
The new smock was only half lined and the bellows pockets had an unfortunate habit of falling off as the stitching was not very robust. The bellows pockets also tended to catch on things very easily and were prone to being ripped off. The design was updated slightly with improved stitching around the pockets to strengthen it slightly, this design sometimes being referred to as the 88 pattern. ARRSEpedia gives this assessment of the 84 pattern:
’85 pattern is best forgotten.
A major faux pas on the kitting front. ’85 pattern jackets and smocks were of an inferior design to their predecessors and were directly responsible for the decision to get the next choice of combat suit right.