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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The 'Ole Sweat' Look and personal alterations


AdamMills97

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I was thinking the other day about what different things a Old Contemptible or a Conscription/ Kitchener's lad did in order for them to battle hardened and not look like a fresh and inexperienced new recruit, such as the breaking or removal of parts of the SD cap.

Also the adding of extra hooks on the tunic in order to close the collar, was that against the kings regulations or was it a personal preference if they chose to have it?

I've only heard of these two things they altered but there must of been evidence of more?

Any answers would be greatly appreciated

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Liverpool Pals swapped their shoulder titles for regular Kings ones. This may have been on Div orders so as to hide their Btn identity in case of capture (Maddocks, pages 36 - 37) .

Maddocks also cites an incident in France when a Liverpool Pal was confronted by a regular Kings SNCO. "What are you doing with that bloody bird on your hat? You're in the Kings aren't you? Get a 'orse up there where it should be!" (21515 Pte C S Hauwnaur, 19th KLR - Maddocks, page36)

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Hi

some removed the T and number from the to of the titles so T4 RW KENT became RW KENT etc

regards

Dave

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Speaking from experience, I remember how new my kit looked when I first arrived in theatre, but after 6 months of wear and tear, washing and the odd bit of tailoring, I remember noticing how "new" the replacements looked when they came to take over from us.

Some things never change I suppose.

Baz

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was looking at a pic last night of a 'raiding party' in the trenches. And a fair few of them were wearing pickelhaubes ! My word they looked like a bunch of tough hombres.

As an ex forces chap myself, we used to have a word for it, we called it looking 'warry', i.e ready for war. More recent ex-squaddies have another term today, if you have a look around the ARRSE forum you should be able to find the word out. Oh hang on.....they call it looking 'ALLY'.

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Adam,

As you say, the SD cap was a favourite. Not only the removal of the stiffener, but arranging the strap so that one half went above your badge and the either below, or even slitting the strap and twisting it in on itself so as to give a plaited appearance. You can see both in many photos.

Today's equivalent would probably be shaping the beret, now that the beret has taken over from the SD hat as 'everyday' wear. (I've never seen photographs of WW2 berets looking particularly well-shaped, though!).

Puttees as well, of course, and the multitudinous ways of winding them.

I wasn't aware of anyone putting extra hooks on the collar - I thought they had a hook top and bottom, anyway?? I remember a phase in the 1970s when baggy combat trousers (and especially the green 'lightweights') would be tailored to be a tighter fit and perhaps have sewn-in creases. There wasn't much scope for tailoring WW1 tunic and trousers, though, I don't think.

I do know that the 08 webbing was considered the Gucci stuff to have (as it was worn by 'real' soldiers!) and you'd dump your leather kit asap if you got the chance. I've heard that anyone who was wounded was stripped of webbing (so live ammo, grenades etc. didn't end up in the CCS and have to be dealt-with later) and the discarded set would be quickly snapped up by someone with the leather stuff. The 1958 pattern webbing was more flexible than previous models and, again, in the 60s-80s many people discarded the large kidney pouches in favour of more of the smaller water bottle pouches if they could get hold of them.

Nothing changes - it's all military 'fashion'!

Bob.

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I remember a phase in the 1970s when baggy combat trousers (and especially the green 'lightweights') would be tailored to be a tighter fit and perhaps have sewn-in creases. There wasn't much scope for tailoring WW1 tunic and trousers, though, I don't think.

I suspect that 'tours of Northern Ireland' had something to do with this. We never knew when the media were around taking pics. If you see pics of the lads who went in 'early doors' 1969/70 and '71, some of the trousers looked awful. After this period, where you mention the 'tailored look', we all looked a lot smarter.

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I wasn't aware of anyone putting extra hooks on the collar - I thought they had a hook top and bottom, anyway??

The standard SD as issued had two hook-and-eyes to close it at the collar, at the very base of the neck, which looks like this:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2793/4395899961_b0268df962.jpg

However, it was very common for soldiers to add an extra hook-and-eye or two to the front most part of the collar, to bring the two seperate bits closer together for a smarter appearance, like:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/12/14210270_1601f1fc96.jpg

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It isn't always about uniform and equipment ( although true) but looking into the faces in photographs German or British it's not too hard to see those who are combat veterans.

khaki

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The standard SD as issued had two hook-and-eyes to close it at the collar, at the very base of the neck, which looks like this:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2793/4395899961_b0268df962.jpg

However, it was very common for soldiers to add an extra hook-and-eye or two to the front most part of the collar, to bring the two seperate bits closer together for a smarter appearance, like:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/12/14210270_1601f1fc96.jpg

Gotcha!

As I thought, the 'stand' part of the collar did indeed have two hooks and eyes. I see what you mean now, by adding a hook or two on the points of the collar to make it look almost like a 'mandarin' collar. I don't know why I hadn't noticed that before.

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The standard SD as issued had two hook-and-eyes to close it at the collar, at the very base of the neck, which looks like this:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2793/4395899961_b0268df962.jpg

However, it was very common for soldiers to add an extra hook-and-eye or two to the front most part of the collar, to bring the two seperate bits closer together for a smarter appearance, like:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/12/14210270_1601f1fc96.jpg

I always thought this was an official alteration that was introduced in 1915?

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I always thought this was an official alteration that was introduced in 1915?

I have never seen any evidence that this was an officially sanctioned practice, and would be extremely suprised if this was true. The variations in how the general look was achieved in period photos and on surviving originals would argue against this as well.

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I have never seen any evidence that this was an officially sanctioned practice, and would be extremely suprised if this was true. The variations in how the general look was achieved in period photos and on surviving originals would argue against this as well.

I wonder why I thought it was official. Have you any idea when the practice was started?

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Here's a picture of my Great Grand Father Sapper Thomas Clague ( seated) taken around May/June 1915 whilst he was in training at the ETC, Newark. I always liked the way his collar was smartly done.

Baz

post-116216-0-09178700-1414925852_thumb.

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...Have you any idea when the practice was started?

The first time anyone was ever issued a uniform I should think. Some units had certain ways of doing things and individuals once made to look like everyone else will do what they can get away with to look different particularly so with service dress in any period - you only have to look at the different ways berets are worn and have been since they were first issued.

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Just been having a look myself and I've now seen a few 1915 dated ones. I have a photo from 1900 I don't know the pattern of the jacket but it has what looks like a doubled hooked collar so confirms the 'old sweat' theme!

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  • 2 months later...

its quite funny how people would pay a lot more to get their hands on the leather equipment now in contrast to the fact that it was loathed by Tommies back then and I assume that most alterations to uniform wo0uld of been made in the years of 1915 when they started to not worry so much about ruining the Kings Uniform.

Thank you all for your comments but anything more you wish to add please do.

Adam

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It`s one of the things lacking in many TV productions - the actor/soldiers usually have that "straight out of the QM Stores" look about them.

The lack of beret shaping in WW2 may have been due to the fact that the berets just weren`t amenable to shaping. I had some (possibly old stock) in the 50s that resisted all my attempts to avoid the flyaway look, while others just fell into a desired shape easily..

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The removal of the wire stiffener in the SD cap was mandated, I understand, and was not just a matter of Young Berts seeking an Ole Bill image.

The stiff crown was highly visible from above.

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The T on shoulder titles was removed not so much to achieve the regular look but out of practicality, to stop snagging and also ID. The pals did not drop their shoulder titles for regular ones per se but for similar reasons. I also rather suspect originals would have retained and worn theirs whilst recruits and replacements would have had regular ones?

TT

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  • 2 weeks later...

The removal of the wire stiffener in the SD cap was mandated, I understand, and was not just a matter of Young Berts seeking an Ole Bill image.

The stiff crown was highly visible from above.

saying that, I read somewhere that the stiffner was removed in an attempt to lower the profile of the individual soldier as soon as they entered the war. An early trench cap per se.

I thought it might of started off as a trend before they took notice

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