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converting a 1951 pattern greatcoat


Nicky B
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Hi All,

The 15yr old son has been getting into his role as a Great War Living Historian for the past few months and has been able to do the odd event.  Just wondering if anyone has ever had any luck converting a 51 pattern Greatcoat to single breasted?  Understood will never be perfect but it looks possible to me, I have some basic tailoring skills but would be handing it to a local seamstress to do the work.  Is it anywhere near possible without making it unfeasible in money terms and if so, are there any quirks I should ask her to look out for?

Many thanks,

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1 hour ago, Nicky B said:

Hi All,

The 15yr old son has been getting into his role as a Great War Living Historian for the past few months and has been able to do the odd event.  Just wondering if anyone has ever had any luck converting a 51 pattern Greatcoat to single breasted?  Understood will never be perfect but it looks possible to me, I have some basic tailoring skills but would be handing it to a local seamstress to do the work.  Is it anywhere near possible without making it unfeasible in money terms and if so, are there any quirks I should ask her to look out for?

Many thanks,


The cloth is very heavy, at 32 ounces per sq yard, so substantial tailoring is not as easy as it might look.  As the 1951 greatcoat is double breasted, why not convert it into a WW1 mounted pattern greatcoat, which was most commonly also double breasted.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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7 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:


The cloth is very heavy, at 32 ounces per yard, so substantial tailoring is not as easy as it might look.  As the 1951 greatcoat is double breasted, why not convert it into a WW1 mounted pattern greatcoat, which was most commonly also double breasted.

because he is infantry, no horses in sight as far as I am aware.  it is a much easy conversion though so if all else fails....

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13 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

because he is infantry, no horses in sight as far as I am aware.  it is a much easy conversion though so if all else fails....


You could make him a member of the battalion transport section who were dressed and equipped for mounted duty.  It would add an interesting element to his portrayal as he could explain the role of that part of a battalion and its importance to the functioning of the unit.  There were field kitchens, water carts, small arms ammunition limbers, GS Wagons, a Maltese Cart (for officers’ mess store) and a small stable of draught horses and field officers chargers.  He would still be an infantryman.

 

1B87033C-021E-4A7C-A140-377AA1B50F6A.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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2 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:


You could make him a member of the battalion transport section who were dressed and equipped for mounted duty.  It would add an interesting element to his portrayal as he could explain the role of that part of a battalion and its importance to the functioning of the unit.  There were field kitchens, small arms ammunition limbers, GS Wagons, a Maltese Cart and a small stable of draught horses and field officers chargers.  He would still be an infantryman.

Interesting idea Frogsmile, I really appreciate that input, think the long greatcoat might keep the legs a bit warmer though, although he won't be up to much in the winter obv.  I'm seeing the seamstress on Thursday so great to have a go-to option to make it a bit more proper if the single breasted conversion isn't a goer.  Are we talking between waist and knee for the mounted length?  Or longer?  Are there any more glaring differences if dealing with a '51 to GW Mounted?  And any diffs in the general uniform?  Although he'll prob be able to tell me, he knows them inside out! Thanks,

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18 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

Interesting idea Frogsmile, I really appreciate that input, think the long greatcoat might keep the legs a bit warmer though, although he won't be up to much in the winter obv.  I'm seeing the seamstress on Thursday so great to have a go-to option to make it a bit more proper if the single breasted conversion isn't a goer.  Are we talking between waist and knee for the mounted length?  Or longer?  Are there any more glaring differences if dealing with a '51 to GW Mounted?  And any diffs in the general uniform?  Although he'll prob be able to tell me, he knows them inside out! Thanks,


There’s an explanation of the various patterns here:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/178583-greatcoats/

 

The type I’m referring to was a Coat, Warm, Mounted Duty.  I enclose images from the Imperial War Museum.

 

A90C720F-09D7-4044-AF81-2C04DF450380.jpeg

5ADECF68-7192-4E30-BA19-A82FC4D63041.jpeg

1C89826D-7AAC-45FB-A131-B8A51CC71E25.jpeg

 

471D6809-110E-4D46-8023-5EE7FB228EAC.jpeg

C272EB0A-9523-4156-A9EF-880664880255.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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4 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

cheers, have been looking at their coats,


Knee length as you can see.  He would also wear a leather bandolier in lieu of 08 web equipment.

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Oke, one of his plans is to be Essex Yeomanry at some point in honour of his Great Great Grandpa from Witham, Yeomanry, ASC after wounds and Home Guard in the Second.  So this could well work very happily into that story.  Bandolier has been on the list for a while.....  Thanks again.

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41 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

Oke, one of his plans is to be Essex Yeomanry at some point in honour of his Great Great Grandpa from Witham, Yeomanry, ASC after wounds and Home Guard in the Second.  So this could well work very happily into that story.  Bandolier has been on the list for a while.....  Thanks again.

 

Not sure if you're already aware, but this group might be of interest:

 

Home (yeomangreatwar.com)

 

Yeoman | Facebook

 

On the greatcoat front it used to be far more common in living history circles to use a standard WW1/WW2 style officers greatcoat as the basis for conversion, eg: 

 

WW2 German, Soviet, Allied militaria, uniforms, awards, weapons history.  War relics forum

 

These could then essentially be cut down to remove the excess double breasting material, reshaped and button-holed to form the five required at the front, rifle-patches added from the spare material, plus you already have the turn back cuffs, epaulettes, pleated back, etc.

 

Nowadays however good reproductions are already readily available, and for the cost versus the work required to convert another coat (plus destroying a piece of history) these are a much more sound option. A few good suppliers are:

 

http://www.khakidevil.co.uk/other

 

https://www.sofmilitary.co.uk/ww1-greatcoat-1909-british-greatcoat.html

 

Dickie Knight also used to do the conversion work as standard otherwise:

 

https://khaki-on-campaign.webs.com/ww1pricelist.htm

 

 

Edited by Andrew Upton
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Thanks,

I was going for the economy type without turn backs, rifle patches or ticket pocket but either way won't be spending £200+ on a repro or conversion.  Point taken on history of '51 pattern but there are a lot more of them about than either wartime version and obv wouldn't consider it with a '39 or '40 etc.  Thanks for your advice.

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4 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

Thanks,

I was going for the economy type without turn backs, rifle patches or ticket pocket but either way won't be spending £200+ on a repro or conversion.  Point taken on history of '51 pattern but there are a lot more of them about than either wartime version and obv wouldn't consider it with a '39 or '40 etc.  Thanks for your advice.

 

I think you're doing the right thing.  Although in terms of its make-up the officers pattern is an excellent template to work from, the cloth from which it is made is totally different in quality and much finer (less coarse) and thus superior (usually made up by gentlemens' outfitters) than the other ranks pattern.  I think you get a more realistic finish and appearance when you use the more coarse material.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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all good chap.  lets see what seamstress says.  may not be any kind of goer but I like a challenge, even if i am getting someone else to do the dirty work!!!!  but the mounted really is a way out without having to wear something that just couldnt be right.  think the collars need rounding, maybe same for pocket flaps.  cheers.

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Quite different button layout, flared as they go up the coat, on the studio portrait of the couple.  All others look very parallel.  That image might get us out of trouble should we go mounted, as I think the '51 is quite flared aswell.  All nice photos, thanks for adding.

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14 minutes ago, Nicky B said:

Quite different button layout, flared as they go up the coat, on the studio portrait of the couple.  All others look very parallel.  That image might get us out of trouble should we go mounted, as I think the '51 is quite flared aswell.  All nice photos, thanks for adding.

 

Yes, I suspect that there were revised patterns.  These changes were recorded by Lists of Changes (LofCs) at the Royal Army Clothing Department/Depot, but for your purposes I would't advise that you get down too far into the weeds.  Whilst you want to get the right look, it is in the end dressing up, and you cut your cloth to what you can afford (pun unintended).

Edited by FROGSMILE
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  • 11 months later...
On 01/12/2020 at 12:30, Nicky B said:

Oke, one of his plans is to be Essex Yeomanry at some point in honour of his Great Great Grandpa from Witham, Yeomanry, ASC after wounds and Home Guard in the Second.  So this could well work very happily into that story.  Bandolier has been on the list for a while.....  Thanks again.

Nicky

Always interested to learn more of Essex Yeomen. Your great grandfather's name? I will see if I have any info on him.

Ian

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  • Admin

@Nicky Bhasn't visited the forum since May. Hopefully the tag will alert them. 

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