The British Army uniform developed along roughly the same lines as uniforms in other European armies. Its signature colour had become standardised as red for both infantry (foot) and cavalry (mounted) units by the end of the 17th century, except for the Royal Horse Guards and Royal Artillery who wore dark blue; then khaki (for everyday wear) and blue (for parade) in the 1930s. Netherwear and equipment followed European fashion. Exotic costume, such as that of hussars and zouaves, was either embraced late and toned down, or not embraced at all.
The British Army issued a number of patterns of combat uniform that never fully replaced the previous version.
Unless noted, jackets have four large pockets on the front, a pen pocket on the left sleeve and a first aid dressing pouch on the right sleeve. The wrist has velcro tabs for fastening. Draw cords are available at the hem and waist and the zip is full length. Shirts have two small breast pockets and are in olive green. Combat trousers have a rear pocket and two large map pockets along with the traditional two hip pockets. Trousers are in DPM if combats or olive green if lightweight (which has only 1 map pocket on the left). Flies are zipped. The jersey heavy wool (usually known as the “woolly pully”) is only in olive green. All pockets are buttoned. Note that many soldiers tailored their kit to move or add pockets, etc. All shirts, jackets and jumpers have two epaulettes. Helmet covers were issued in DPM, desert camouflage, UN blue and Arctic. The belt was a green plastic belt (which was often replaced by a 58 pattern webbing belt in the field as this was much more comfortable).
Thick and heavy trousers and jackets were popular even though this was the oldest pattern (the trousers were especially popular with cavalry for the extra thickness. The combat trousers added a field dressing pouch on the front which was all but unusable as it was very badly placed when prone! Pockets were patch pattern and hold less than later versions. The jacket included a button storm flap over the zip and a separate button on hood was available. The jacket had buttoned cuffs instead of velcro. Boots were the low leg Directly Moulded Sole (although these were no longer worn by anyone by 1995 and none were available from stores).
These were a lighter issue which had the benefit of drying faster. Pockets were larger but were in early versions badly attached and were known to fall off if holding a heavy load (e.g. A belt of 7.62)! Boots became the Boots, Combat High. NBC suits were over the head in olive green. The jacket needed an extra button sewing on to use the detachable hood.
An improved version of the 85 pattern these were a darker colour (although the first batch was a strange orange colour). Final versions of the lightweights deleted the map pocket as an economy measure. The jacket incorporated two large zip pockets behind the upper pockets but deleted the first aid dressing pouch, removed the ability to fit the hood and lost the storm flap over the zip. NBC suits change to DPM and after an initial issue quickly changed to full length zip.
A brand new issue this changed the shirt to DPM, added a fleece (at first olive green but later DPM) with two slash pockets, deleted the jumper (after an attempt to replace it with a newer smarter version) – many soldiers retained the older jumper though, deleted the lightweight trousers, moved the epaulettes to the front of the chest and introduced a lighter weight material. The jacket retained the zip pockets but lost the pen pouch (incorporating pen holders in the shirt and left zip pocket of the jacket). The storm flap returned with an epaulette attached. Early versions of 95 pattern kit wore out very quickly. Pocket buttons became taped not sewn. Norwegian roll neck shirts became an issue item (although they had been worn since the early 1980s as a private purchase item). Issue boot became the Combat Assault Boot (although many patterns were worn bought as private purchase). The belt was changed to a webbing pattern (identical to the PLCE web belt but with standard buckles - many in fact still have the rear belt loops) which was much more comfortable.
98 Pattern (fictional)Edit
The wartime economy version. Changes from Soldier 95 were, the fleece lost the pockets and once again became olive green, trousers lost the internal draw cords at the ankles, shirts were frequently without pockets and some cuffs were velcro as opposed to buttons, the jacket lost the internal pen pocket and the quality throughout the kit was decidedly poorer. Boots were simplified and returned in style to the older combat high boots, losing the shock absorption and were less waterproof. Note that this pattern is a game invention and was never issued in reality.
90 and 95 pattern versions were issued in a two colour desert cam. Boots (when available) were a special brown suede pair. NBC suits were available in desert camouflage.
Similar to 85 pattern in a fine cotton. No jacket was issued, just a shirt (with field dressing and pen pouches). Replaced by 95 pattern. Boots were a fabric and rubber boot (in green to about 1990 then in black).
A special thick quilted lined parka (similar to but heavier than the SAS/Royal Marine pattern) was issued as was a padded field cap with ear flaps. Thin over whites were issued. Arctic mittens with separate trigger fingers rounded off the kit.
ECW jacket and trousersEdit
A thick quilted jacket and trousers was issued with 65 pattern and this was unchanged until deleted with the introduction of 95 pattern.
Available in olive green and for tank crews in black. Only the black came in fire resistant versions. Features a pen pocket and two small chest pockets. Press stud fastening.
Specialist jackets and trousersEdit
A number of specialist jackets were issued including:
Issued to the Parachute Regiment. As per normal but thick woollen cuffs and an external fastener for parachute jumps. Pockets had press studs to reduce catching on parachute cords. Only in DPM. Often replaced by SAS smocks by members of the Parachute Regiment and often worn by non paras.
Very popular across the army but only issued to the SAS. Finer cotton made it wind proof. Pockets were larger. Epaulettes were only on the chest. The 95 version deleted the first aid dressing pouch and reduced the size of the pen pocket but added the two zip pockets and added a button to secure the hood. A desert version was introduced but was rare.
Only in DPM, issued to the Royal Marines and often confused with the SAS smock. Identical to it but includes an epaulette on the rear and the hood is wired (although these were often inserted/removed to taste).
Army Air CorpsEdit
Differently angled zipped pockets and clear leg pocket on the trousers. Designed to be more accessible in the aircraft restraints.
This was identical although olive green trousers, shirts and jumpers were in blue. DPM kit was unchanged. Berets were RAF blue. The RAF regiment wore standard army uniform. Rank was usually shown by slides even for NCOs.
This was as per the comments for the RAF but in Navy blue. Royal Marines wore standard army uniform with green berets.