South African Navy Working Dress Shirt

The South African Navy in the 1980s used a working dress uniform very similar to that used by the Royal Navy. It consisted of a mid-blue shirt worn with a pair of dark blue trousers, steel toe capped work boots and either a beret or traditional naval headdress as can be seen in this image of a group of South African sailors off duty in the 1980s:

Whilst I do not have a full set of uniform yet, I have managed to pick up an example of one of the shirts from this uniform and at first glance the similarity to RN uniforms is striking:

Looking at the uniform more closely, however, it can be seen that the details mirror the nutria brown SADF shirt of the period so the pockets have straight, rectangular flaps to them with concealed buttons:

The epaulettes have pointed ends that button partially under the collar:

The collar itself is cut to sit open at the neck comfortably:

The shirt buttons up the front with a set of blue plastic buttons, again of the same style as those used on army uniforms of the period:

The South African Navy seem to have introduced name tapes for its personnel much earlier than the RN did and this example has the name of Zimmerman worn over the pocket on the right chest:

The sailor’s trade badge is worn over the left breast pocket and here consists of a pair of crossed keys, with a star below and a lion above:

I have been unable to identify which specialism this represents, so if you can shed some light on it please comment below.

A label I the inside of the shirt shows it was manufactured by ‘Endeavour’ which is a company we have seen a number of times before on South African military clothing of the period:


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