A couple of months ago, I presented an impression of a Royal Naval rating as a sentry with 1908 webbing, SMLE, early pattern leggings and the woolen sweater under his jumper. Today we are looking at another impression that shows how as a collector you can change up a uniform to create a different impression very easily. Once you reach a certain point, you find yourself with enough uniform, webbing and equipment that it is possible to mix and match these to create a number of unique impressions with a minimal requirement to buy extra bits.
It is Summer 1942 and this rating is on guard duty armed with the recently introduced Lanchester Machine Carbine. This sub machine gun was a copy of the German MP28 and would be used in small numbers by the RAF and in greater quantities by the Royal Navy. It was a well made firearm with machined parts, wooden stock and bayonet boss and so was expensive and time consuming to manufacture. The weapon has a distinctive 50 round box magazine and the extreme length of these magazines has necessitated an equally long magazine pouch. Our sailor wears a pair of these pouches which give him space to carry six magazines. The rest of the set is made up of components from the standard 1937 pattern webbing set. The Lanchester has its bayonet attached which gives is a particularly intimidating appearance although how practical it was as a weapon with its bayonet fixed has been a source of debate for the last eighty years!
He wears the standard woollen ratings uniform we have seen before, but as it is the summer it is worn with a ‘white front shirt’ rather than the knitted sweater seen in the winter months. The webbing leggings are the second pattern that replaced the lower strap and buckle with another cord loop and eyelet although both early and later patterns were used alongside one another throughout the war. On his head the rating wears the standard Mk II helmet used by the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War. The modern idea of a separation between parade, working and combat uniforms did not really exist during the Second World War to the same extent as in the modern services and for the RN Sailor the same uniform was used for all three roles with the addition of webbing, helmet and a weapon being the only difference between this and what a sailor would wear for day to day duties.