1965 Pattern South African Defence Force Battledress Blouse

The uniforms of the 1960s SADF were rather different to those seen in the 1970s and 1980s, being far less sophisticated and much closer to wartime British practice. In 1965, the traditional battledress uniform was updated to replace both summer combat uniforms and the old woollen winter uniform. The design was clearly developed from British battledress, but had evolved slightly to suit the climate in South Africa. The weight of the fabric was much lighter than the traditional woollen cloth used elsewhere, being some sort of manmade fibre. This pattern was introduced in 1965 and had an open collar and was produced in a mid-brown shade:

As a parade uniform, the collars have collar badges for the regiment, and brass letters ‘SA’ for South Africa:

On the sleeves shoulder titles indicate that this uniform was issued to a corporal in the Durban Light Infantry:

The battledress itself has pleated pockets with pointed flaps:

A metal wire buckle is fitted at the waist:

Internally a large pocket is fitted to allow documents etc. to be carried:

This has the maker’s stamp marked on it indicating it was produced in 1969:

These jackets were usually known as ‘bunny jackets’ by soldiers and although intended for combat, they were far from ideal. The South African National Museum of Military History notes:

A decision was taken in the early 1960s to replace the SA Army’s summer uniform, consisting of a bush jacket and trousers and the winter field dress (Battledress) with a standardised combat dress uniform. This whipcord uniform was similar to Battledress in style and weight and was first issued in 1965, under the name “new style Battledress.” In 1965 the English nomenclature was changed to combat dress, reflecting an American influence prevalent at the time. The Afrikaans “gevegsdrag” remained unchanged. (Gevegsdrag translates with equal ease as battledress or combat dress.)

Unfortunately, this change had the same effect as the smartening up of the FSU which had taken place between 1919 and 1838, making combat dress useless a field uniform. The main result at this attempt at standardisation was that South African soldiers did not have a uniform which was suitable for either hot or cold weather.” This situation was aggravated, the SANMMH says, by the use of the uniform as ceremonial dress, and in respects it began to assume the role and functions of service dress. This was reinforced by issuing Reserve personnel service dress whipcord light shade trousers to be worn with the combat dress jacket. This combination was designated service dress.

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