Our primary depiction is that of the Hampshire Regiment soldier in Northwest France between D-Day and the end of the war. Therefore, while a wide array of uniforms were issued across theaters of war, we will focus on the items that pertain to that time and place
Battle Dress Uniform
Seeking to replace the constricting Service Dress of the Great War, the British Army selected a practical if inelegant jumpsuit design. High trousers and a jacket that met at the waist made for high mobility, a bandage pocket and map pocket were added for utility.
An austerity pattern also exists with plastic buttons exposed on the jacket and pockets. Either are acceptable for 1944, but the traditional pattern saw use throughout the war and is the more flexible option
A wool, collarless shirt is worn underneath
The British Army started the war with the Field Service Cap, a cheaper alternative to the pre-war peak cap, it would eventually be supplanted by the General Service Cap. Although the “GS” Cap was meant to emulate the comfort and style of a beret (at reduced cost, being stitched wool serge rather than knit) it was generally reviled by soldiers who were used to the sharp style of FS cap. For 1944, the GS Cap would be the standard except for old salts who had managed to retain their FS.
The standard boots for the British Army throughout WWII was the black, leather toe-capped, “Ammo Boot.”
The toe and heel had iron caps and hobnails kept the boot from wearing prematurely. These were worn with gaiters (see Field Equipment) to keep dirt and water out of the boot and trouser leg.
This ankle high boot was laced “ladder style” (a single lace corkscrewing up through the eyelets), and was worn with wool socks.
While there is a lot of detail that can be covered on this topic, here is presented some basic equipment every soldier would have carried.
- A Brown Enamel Mug. (Earlier white ones may have survived up to ’44 but issue by then was brown)
- An AB64 Paybook. This served as the soldier’s ID and service papers while in service. It also was a record of his pay, immunizations, and other details.
- Housewife Sewing Kit – A small canvas pouch containing needle and thread, spare buttons and darning for socks
- Mess Kit. Consisting of two pans, it was an ideal instrument for eating stew, and brewing up tea.
- The Carry All. This would have included all other items a soldier wanted to keep clean and dry (razor, tooth brush, shaving brush, KFS, a small metal mirror, etc.