Major’s BD Blouse

Officers were issued battledress at the same time as it was introduced for other ranks, although initially they kept their Service Dress uniforms for wear out of the field and the battledress for wear in combat. As the war progressed and more and more men of lesser means became officers it was decreed that officers only needed battledress, although most ensured they had a set of service dress as well. Initially officer’s battledress was identical to that of the other ranks apart from rank insignia, however it was usually worn open at the neck over a shirt and tie. As the war progressed many men had the facings of the collars tailored to better suit an open neck, however this was far from universal. Today we are looking at an example of a 1940 Pattern blouse worn by a major that has an unusual set of insignia on it:

The two medal ribbons are for the defence medal and the war medal and suggest that this blouse was worn until the end of the war by an officer who did not serve overseas.

What makes it unusual therefore is that there is no other insignia sans the major’s crowns on the epaulettes:

For wear later in the war we would expect to see some sort of divisional and regimental insignia, but there is no indication these were ever applied to this blouse. This lack of insignia was sometimes seen on front line troops who wanted to make themselves as anonymous as possible, but if that were the case, then why the medal ribbons? The lack of campaign ribbons certainly suggest the major never left the UK so its a bit of a mystery. The blouse itself was made in 1943 by Mourne Clothing and is a size 12:

Mourne Clothing had a factory in Larne in Northern Ireland and Alison Kane worked in the factory after leaving school in the early 1930s:

 I stayed at school until I was 14. My birthday was in February and my mother let me stay on until 6 July, which was a holiday, and then I had to start work. My father died on 7 July.

The first place I went to work was the Mourne Clothing Factory. I learned to make boys knickers – boys short trousers. I stayed there for a little while, the money wasn’t all that good. We had to travel from waterloo Road, down the Mission Lane to where Allens is now. That was where the Mourne Clothing Factory was first. I enjoyed school and work.

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