• October 15, 2023

British 8th Army Uniform: Description and Variations

The British 8th Army Uniform

The British 8th army uniform was the barracks and walking-around dress for British soldiers. It was made of khaki tropical material, with a large first aid field dressing pocket on one sleeve and epaulettes in regimental colors in ceremonial uniform and a DPM bush hat in non-ceremonial wear.

Line infantry full dress is a scarlet tunic of the pre-1914 type worn by colonels and above. It is a key order of dress and the most elaborate of the British orders.

Khaki Drill Shirt and Shorts

This light tan coloured cotton drill was well suited to tropical climes and was worn by troops in North Africa, The Middle East and the Mediterranean Theatres of Operations. It was also used as barracks and walking around dress.

The shirt and shorts were usually adorned with the regimental coloured flash worn on the epaulettes. The shirt could be tucked into the trousers with the sleeves rolled up.

The 8th Army was a diverse formation made up of divisions from throughout the British Empire including Australia, New Zealand and India. It fought in the Western Desert Campaign to Alamein and later, in conjunction with 1st Army, through Italy and the Balkans to Austria.

Black Leather Boots

The black leather boots worn by the british 8th army were typically sand or khaki in color although there are examples of them appearing super desaturated green due to dyes being mixed, miss dyes etc. The boots were worn with hose tops, socks and puttees.

This figure is a senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO) who is kneeling and looking towards his commander for instructions. He wears 1937 pattern webbing and is lightly equipped with a Lee Enfield SMLE rifle and a Thompson machine carbine with drum magazine. His hat is the standard peaked Field Service or FS cap and he has a pistol case but no ammunition pouch.

Khaki Grenadier Shirt

The khaki grenadier shirt is worn by the british 8th army uniform. It consists of a khaki jacket, shirt and tie with either a khaki skirt or trousers. Coloured trousers are worn by some units, including crimson by the King’s Royal Hussars and dark green by the Royal Irish Regiment. The hat is either a khaki bush hat or a field service cap.

It is also paired with the standard khaki drill pants and black leather boots. The other ranks wore a khaki belt with epaulettes. In combat the soldier wore a steel helmet and in non-combat wear a peaked service cap.

Khaki Grenadier Jacket

This is the standard service dress worn for ceremonial occasions and by certain regiments and corps. It comprises a khaki jacket, shirt and tie with trousers. It is typically worn with a black waist belt bearing a plate buckle displaying the unit’s badge for ceremonial attire and a plain khaki one for non-ceremonial wear.

This uniform was introduced in World War II as a practical combat garment, and served for many years before it was replaced in 2011 by the current No. 8 Dress which is based on the MTP windproof smock, lightweight jacket and trousers with a range of ancillaries.

Khaki Grenadier Pants

During World War Two the 8th Army fought throughout the Western Desert campaigns culminating in victory at Alamein under Montgomery and subsequently pursued the retreat of the Axis forces across Italy.

The battledress uniform was ideally suited for the temperate climes of Europe and the United Kingdom but was found to be too heavy for summertime operations and the sunnier climates of Southern Europe and Africa. The new PCS-CU combat uniform, which replaced the battledress, is lighter and more flexible.

Soldiers carried spare battle dress uniforms, so that they could send their soiled ones to be laundered or repaired and then wear their ‘best’ one for parades and other ceremonial duties. They wore a plain khaki belt when in non-ceremonial uniform.

Khaki Grenadier Helmet

In addition to the khaki drill uniform there was also a jungle green uniform for tropical areas which was worn when out of the line of fire. Generally this consisted of trousers, parka and bush hat.

The formation badge was a Crusader’s shield as 8th Army was known as the Crusader Corps. The same design was used for a peaked SD cap when out of uniform.

Often these helmets were painted in a sun-bleached colour. Depending on the shade this could vary from sand to other hues of khaki brown or even super desaturated green. This is a very nice example of a rare original named helmet of the Grenadier Guards with unit flashes.

Khaki Grenadier Cap

The British Army wore khaki uniforms for both working (combat) and ceremonial dress. Exceptions are those regiments that wear what is called a tribal head dress – the Tam O’Shanter of Scottish regiments, the Caubeen of Irish regiments and the Bearskin of the Guards regiments.

Such regiments continue to wear their cap badge on the beret worn in No. 8 Dress; the badge is positioned above the left eye where a beret or caubeen is worn. A scarce original officer’s service visor cap in khaki with a wide leather chin strap and General service buttons. Inner lining shows some slight hair grease markings but otherwise in excellent condition.

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