SADF Barrack Shirts

Although the uniform most associated with the South African Defence Force is the nutria brown combat uniform, the SADF also used a variety of other orders of dress when out of the front line. One set of uniform often seen on bases was barrack dress, known officially as ‘office dress’ of which two varieties were listed in the official dress regulations:

Dress 2 Kalahari sand office dress (long-sleeve shirt & tie)

Dress 4 Kalahari sand office dress (short-sleeve, open collar)

These orders of dress used a light sand shirt and today we have examples of both types to look at, firstly the long sleeved version:

From the cut of the collar, it is clear that this is designed to be worn with a tie. By contrast the collar of the short sleeved version is cut to comfortably lay open at the neck:

Otherwise both shirts are similar, with pleated pockets on the breast, each with a top flap secured by a button and distinctive angled corners to the bottom of each:

In close up, the open weave of the shirt is readily apparent, helping keep the wearer cool in the hot African summers. Each shirt has a pair of epaulettes at the shoulders with a distinctive point where they secure by the neck:

These epaulettes were used to attach rank and unit insignia to, as seen in this period photograph of one of the shirts being worn:

As is often the case with SADF uniform, the labels and stamps within the shirts are rather perfunctory and the clothing manufacturer’s label especially has just been taken from their civilian stocks rather than being specifically for the military contract:

These shirts are some of the first items of SADF clothing I have picked up that pull the story away from the front line to other aspects of the South African Army’s story. We will be looking at some more items of clothing in the coming months that expand this focus further.

One comment

  1. Finally, someone wearing a beret ‘properly’ rather than flopped on any old way šŸ˜‰
    We used to take the linings out of ours and fill them with boiling hot water, which shrunk the wool quite a bit, then shape them while still wet (after they’d cooled enough) until they sat squarely on the head with the badge directly over the left eye and the ‘flap’ pulled back neatly and well clear of the ear almost exactly as in the photo, then the tape would be tied tightly and the ends cut off short then tucked into the leather channel which would be sewn shut with one hidden stitch.
    His needs to come to the right just a tiny tad and the badge is leaning forward a little too much but the overall shape is very good and nothing would likely be said on parade, the back would just get a little tug to bring the badge upright.

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