PINK CAMO

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Still somewhat of an enigma, in terms of how useful can pink camouflage be in wartime, is this WWII British Army gas cape. Designed to be worn over the uniform and webbing in the event of a gas attack, it features a shaped backpack ‘hump’ for want of a better word.

BIBENDUM Vs STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN

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A cross between the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (RIP Harold Ramis) and Michelin’s Bibendum, the much scarier of the two to those familiar with William Gibson’s pattern recognition. These are in fact Air Ministry survival suits for British pilots, and are kapok filled for both warmth and buoyancy.

MASLAND REVISITED

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As a follow on to our piece about American carpet manufacturer turned hunting apparel makers C. H. Masland of Pennsylvania, we’d like to share some recent additions. Unlike other outdoor clothing companies, Masland came to it relatively late, and almost by accident. They had a wartime contract for canvases, clothing and tent awnings, but their main business had always been carpet manufacturing.

THE ‘BEACH BOYS’ – 1st BEACH BATTALION

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This US Navy Mackinaw coat has ‘1st Beach Battalion’ stencil stamped on it’s lining – The Beach Battalions being the crack-units which stormed the beaches first, and then controlled the traffic of their ‘pop-up ports’ making it possible for the allies to advance inland – most notably on the beaches of Southern France in 1944. Oddly, there is virtually no official documentation recording the activity and accomplishments of the WWII Beach Battalions. A website, created and maintained by a few surviving members of the battalion, aims at it’s least, to make sure a semi-documented account of activities and achievements reserves it’s place in history. – www.1stbeachbattalion.org

“…but the landings were made and the beachheads established because the men of the “Immortal First” refused to accept temporary setbacks or defeat. When the first wave roared ashore and the boat ramps dropped our battalion was there. And got the job done. Not always according to the book. But done and done well.”

THE ARROW POINTS THE WAY

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Kicking off our final boots triptych, here is something for the ladies. A pair of womens ATS ( Auxiliary Territorial Service) pebble grain short lace up boots, featuring the distinctive War Department Broad Arrow, or ‘Crows Foot’, stitched into the toe. Very similar in style to our Broad Arrow’d John White boots dated 1941, these have no discernible makers name, but are War Department stamped at the ankle.

ON THE ROAD


Cashing in on the topicality of the film release of the seminal Beat book On The Road, here is a ‘Hobo’ Beatnik classic. Based on the wartime Royal Navy short shawl collared duffle coats, this civilian ladies version dates from the 1950s and has a very aptly named label. Often seen sported by Soho Beats, Sorbonne students, poetry reading peaceniks, CND marchers et al…

EXISTENCILISM

Not to be confused with the more famous philosophy movement, and the likes of Camus, Sartre and Kierkegaard. This is a far simpler expression of ‘the Individual’, ie. stencilled letters and names, as a means of identity, commonly found on military clothing. Here is a variety of examples, American, British, French, different fonts, colours, sizes etc.

COCKLESHELL HEROES


As worn by British army commandoes during WWII, like in the film of the title, a ribbed reinforced sweater with shoelace neck drawstring. This one has the broad arrow on the label and interestingly is dated 1953.

KEEP THEM FLYING!

A little worse for wear this morning and with no appointments, I just could not face the mountain of paperwork that I should have been tackling. So instead I decided to trash the showroom. Every few months a red mist seems to come over me and when I come to I find myself surrounded by heaps of clothes that I have piled on the floor. I then get the fear that I will never be able to get things back together again.