Original British WWII Parachute Regiment 2nd Pattern Denison Smock
Original Item: Only One Available. This example of a genuine 2nd pattern Denison smock is offered in good condition. It is has been modified to add a full zip to front, which was very common. The maker label has been damaged and is not legible. It features brass Newey buttons and still retains its "tail". Size is No. 5 which is large and fits a 6'0 175 lbs man. The zipper is complete and runs but does not stay fully closed. Wartime produced 2nd pattern smocks are exceptionally difficult to find on the market and this will be certain to appreciate in value over time.
Collar to shoulder: "13
Shoulder to sleeve: '23
Shoulder to shoulder: "22
Chest width: "30
Waist width: "26
Hip width: "27
Front length: "33.5
The Denison smock was a coverall jacket issued to Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents, the Parachute Regiment, the Glider Pilot Regiment, Air Landing Regiments, Air Observation Post Squadrons, Commando units, and other Commonwealth airborne units, to wear over their Battle Dress uniform during the Second World War.
The smock was initially worn over the paratrooper's webbing equipment, but under his parachute pack and harness, as its primary purpose was to prevent the wearer's equipment from snagging while emplaned or during a jump. It was equally useful for camouflage and as a windproof garment that provided a method of carrying ammunition or equipment. Contemporary photographs show that airborne troops preferred to wear the smocks under their webbing once they had landed.
The 1st pattern smock was made from loose-fitting, yellowish-sand colored, heavyweight twill material, allegedly hand-painted with broad, mop like brushes using non-colorfast dyes in broad pea green and dark brown stripes, or "brush-strokes". With use the base color faded to a sandy buff, and the overlaid shades gained a blended appearance. The colors of the 1st pattern smock were thought to best suit the wearer to the North African and Italian theatres. It had a half length zip fastener made of steel, knitted woollen cuffs, four external pockets that secured with brass snaps (two on the chest and two below the waist), two internal pockets on the chest, and epaulettes that secured with plastic battle dress buttons. The inside of the collar was lined with soft khaki flannel (or in senior officer's smocks, Angora wool). A “beaver tail” fastened beneath the crotch from the back to the front of the smock - which kept it from riding up during a parachute descent. When not used, the tail would hang down behind the wearer's knees, hence the nickname "men with tails", given by the Arabs in North Africa in 1942. The smock was styled as a very loose garment, since it would be worn over Battle Dress, but it could be adjusted to some extent with tightening tabs on both sides of the lower part of the smock.
The smock was most commonly associated with British and Commonwealth airborne units, and the Special Air Service Regiment, after D-Day, but its initial use was by members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), parachuted or landed into enemy territory between 1941 and 1944. In the early smocks the colours were meant to be impermanent and wash out, leaving the garment looking like a typical French artisan or labourer’s chemise, and thus, hopefully, aiding the wearer's Escape and Evasion chances. As the newly formed Airborne Forces expanded, so the need for smocks grew, meaning that they were by now screen printed for easier production.
For use by Airborne troops, the Denison was worn over the battledress and under the webbing, with a sleeveless green denim oversmock being worn over the ensemble to prevent rigging lines snagging in the webbing and causing a 'chute malfunction. This sleeveless smock had a long external zip (often removed and used to make the half-zip Denisons full zip), a monkey tail that press studded to the outside front of the oversmock and two elasticated open pockets on the lower front which were to hold grenades for use whilst in the air or immediately upon landing. After a successful parachute landing fall, the oversmock was discarded.
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