South African Navy Warrant Officer’s Uniform

The South African Navy of the 1970s and 1980s is a new area of collecting and research for me and I have only a few items of uniform relating to this service so far. Amongst the items I have managed to find so far is a complete set of Warrant Officer’s uniform from the mid-1980s. The uniform design clearly follows traditional Royal Naval practice, but with the badges and insignia of the South African nation:

We will look at the cap in detail next week, for now however it is the jacket we are concerning ourselves with. The jacket is a traditional double breasted style of naval jacket, with two rows of four buttons up the front. Each button features a twist edge and an anchor surmounted by the national lion holding an elephant tusk that had been adopted by the nation:

To indicate the rank of Warrant Officer, the national coat of arms are worn on the sleeve where the Royal Coat of Arms would be worn by the Royal Navy. The crest here is particularly finely embroidered and offers a splash of colour on an otherwise plain uniform:

The jacket itself has a small breast pocket:

And a pair of slash pockets on the skirts:

A single medal ribbon is worn:

This ribbon is for the John Chard Medal which was awarded until 1986 for twelve years’ service in the Citizen Force. After 1986 the award criteria were changed to ten years.

The jacket has a standard South African label sewn inside it which indicates that it was manufactured in 1984 by Ensign, a company that seems to have had many government contracts for military clothing judging by the number of times their name appears on surviving items of uniform!

The Warrant Officer’s jacket seen here would not have been worn on day to day working duties, a blue working uniform being used instead for this, it was however worn for more formal events such as parades and official visits. Here a group of South African navy officers and senior rates can be seen on parade in the 1980s at the Simonstown Naval Base, with this uniform being worn by many:

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