War Aid Winter Drawers

During the Second World War the US, with its huge manufacturing base, manufactured many different items for the British military as lend-lease war aid. Amongst this aid were items of uniform and clothing. These were made to British patterns, in the US, but were often made in finer woven cloth than their British counterparts and so were praised by those issued them for being more comfortable and smarter to wear. As well as the cloth, minor details such as buttons and fastening varied from British practice, but was close enough to be acceptable to the War Office. As well as battledress and greatcoats, War Aid also included undergarments such as this pair of winter drawers:

These are made of a heavy, but soft, woolen fabric and secure up the front with a button fly:

Loops are provided on the hips for the trouser braces to pass through, the drawers being worn inside the trousers and supported by the one pair of braces. When the trousers were dropped, the drawers came with them:

A small section of lacing is fitted to the back of the waistband to allow the size to be adjusted slightly:

Finally, the bottom of each leg is reduction woven to provide a close fit around the wearer’s leg to help keep a pocket of air trapped inside and make them warmer:

Labelling follows US practice rather than British, so the details are stamped in rather than being on a separate label sewn into the garment. Here we can see they are War Aid (W.A.) and so produced for the British in 1943 by the Elliott Manufacturing Company:

Stores codes and contract numbers again follow US Army practice.

These War Aid items are less common than their British counterparts, in part because they were often shipped directly to the Italian theatre for use rather than going through the UK. They are an interesting and rather different set of uniform to the usual uniforms seen and so make a fascinating area to collect and I am certainly going to be keeping my eye out for more items to go with this pair of drawers!

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