22 三月, 2009

Denison smock

Denison smock

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(Redirected from Denison Smock)
Sgt Harold Marshall wearing a Denison smock.

The Denison smock was a coverall jacket issued to Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents, the Parachute Regiment, the Glider Pilot Regiment,Air Landing Regiments, and other Commonwealth airborne units, to wear over their Battle Dress uniform during the Second World War. The smock’s primary purpose was to prevent parachute rigging lines fouling on personal equipment as the wearer’s parachute opened. However, it was equally useful as a camouflage garment, as a windproof, and as a method of carrying ammunition or equipment.




Three views of the 1944 Pattern Denison Parachute Smock.

The smock replaced an expedient first issue grey-green paratroop jump-jacket that had been directly copied in 1940 from the German parachutist’s Knochensack (‘bone sack’)[1]. This first smock was designed to be stepped into (it had leg holes built into it) and pulled up over the body like a set of overalls”)[2].However, the new Denison smock was put on and removed by pulling over the head: the collar zipped open as far as the chest, making it a true smock style. The zipper was covered by a cloth flap, which had no buttons or other method to fasten it down. The smock bore a camouflage pattern designed by a Major Denison - a member of a camouflage unit under the command of eminent stage designer Oliver Messel[3] – and was thus named when it debuted in 1942 as the "Airborne Smock Denison Camouflage". An alternative name was the "Smock Denison Parachutist".

The Denison was a popular garment among officers who could acquire them (Company Sergeant Major CC Martin, DCM, MM of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada mentioned in his memoir Battle Diary that senior officers and sergeants major of his battalion wore the Denison universally)[4].

[edit]1st Pattern

The smock was made from loose-fitting, yellowish-sand coloured, heavyweight twill material, allegedly hand-painted with broad, mop like brushes using non-colourfast dyes in broad pea green and dark brown stripes, or "brush-strokes". With use the base colour faded to a sandy buff, and the overlaid shades gained a blended appearance. The colours 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 khaki 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”)[5].

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 theSpecial 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[1].

[edit]2nd Pattern

5/6 June 1944. Pathfinder officers synchronising their watches in front of anArmstrong Whitworth Albemarle before flying into battle in Normandy. They all wear 2nd Pattern Denison smocks

The 1st Pattern smock design was replaced in 1944 by a second pattern, which had buttoning tabs at the cuffs, and brass snap fasteners to stow the tail flap on the back of the jacket when not needed. Other detail differences included its length; it was shorter, and the sleeves were tube shaped, where the 1st-Pattern had tapered sleeves. In order to make it more wind-proof, the tops of woolen socks were often sewn to the cuffs. The half-length zip fastener on this smock was made of brass. The colours of the 2nd pattern also differed from those of the earlier smocks, the base colour varying from a light to a medium olive combination, with overlying brushstrokes of reddish brown and dark olive green. These colours were thought better suited to the North Western European theatre.


Major-General Richard Gale, GOC 6th Airborne Division, addresses his men, 4 - 5 June 1944
The Airborne Assault: Major General Richard Nelson Gale OBE MC, the commander of 6th Airborne Division, talking to troops of 5th Parachute Brigade before they emplane at Royal Air Force Harwell on the evening of 4 or 5 June

Denisons of either pattern issued to officer’s had woollen collar linings. By the time of theD-Day airdrops, some officers had had their jackets modified with a full length zip by their personal tailors, since this was not available on the issue item. Wartime photographs show that some other ranks had their smocks serviced the same way by the unit tailor. The zipper was most commonly removed from the 1942 Parachutist's Oversmock, a longer, sleeveless, fully-zipped jump-jacket, made of a grey-green denim material that was worn under the parachute harness, but over everything else (including the Denison). This Parachutist's Oversmock also featured a tail flap and its sole intention was to prevent the paratroopers equipment from snagging while emplaned or during a jump. It was to be discarded on landing. [6]. The oversmock had capacious elasticated pockets on the skirt, intended as a safer way to carry grenades. These pockets were sometimes removed and added to the Denisons as well.

Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey (right) wearing a modified Denison Parachute Smock - 10 June 1944

A sniper's variant of the Denison smock is known, in effect an issue smock with a specialized pocket (approximately 10" x 10") added to the left rear in which could be carried food & water, maps, ammunition, and other small equipment. Modifications were done at the unit level and known examples all vary from one sample to the next.

High ranking officers (see photographs) were issued a specialized model of Denison, with full length zipper, slanted-flap internal chest pockets, a heavy-wool lined collar and a drawstring waist cord with external eyelets.

The Royal Marines used a version which had the half zip replaced with buttons and loops for fastening the opening[2].

A waterproof Denison in waxed dark green material was also very rarely found during the War[3].

[edit]Windproof Smock

A garment with a similar appearance to the Denison, in lighter weight denim, the Model 1942 Windproof Smock (M42 Windproof), was also commonly issued to scouts and snipers in infantry battalions, from 1943. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as the ‘SAS Windproof’, it was not designed for parachuting and lacked a crotch flap, having a drawstring hem instead. The most distinctive point of difference between 'M42's and the Denison smocks are that the former are hooded. A matching set of overtrousers was produced to complement the smock. Both items were screen printed with colourfast pigments in a bold design, similar to that of the Denison.

[edit]Post War

The Denison smock remained on inventories in Commonwealth and other militaries after the Second World War, and was popular with troops in Korea. It remained standard combat dress for the Parachute Regiment until the mid 1970s and the Royal Marines until c1970, and changed little from the wartime issue. By this time a full length brass zip had become standard - with no cloth flap to cover it - and the ever-popular knitted cuffs (deleted on the 2nd Pattern smock, but often imitated by sewing woollen sock tops to the cuffs) were reintroduced. The base colour of the camouflage pattern was now a lighter khaki shade. The "Newey" press studs changed from brass/copper to nickel plated versions.

[edit]1959 Pattern

The 1959 Pattern Denison Smock.
The 1959 Pattern Denison Smock.

The Denison was significantly modified in the 1959 Pattern. This had a higher hem line, and was much less baggy. This was because wearing it over the personal carrying equipment (but under the parachute harness) while parachuting was no longer the practice. The '59 Pattern retained the full length zipper and knitted wool cuffs, but the flannel lining of the collar was changed from khaki to light green. The most obvious difference to the eye, however, was the change in pattern and colours of the camouflage. The pattern became less random and more defined, with broad, vertical brush-strokes, and greater contrast between the base light khaki and the overprinted tones. The green was much darker than previous versions, and the brown was now chocolate, rather than brick. Where green and brown overlapped, they formed a fourth, darker, olive brown colour.


The British Army had officially adopted a DPM combat uniform for general use in 1972. Although the jacket was equipped with a buttoned crotch flap, a la Denison (but fitted on the inside, rather than the outside), the Parachute Regiment continued to wear the Denison (typically, with olive green ‘lightweight trousers’) through the 1970s.

’Although a status symbol in the British Army, the Denison,’ wrote ex-SAS officer, Barry Gregory, ‘was windproof but not waterproof and stank after use like a coal-miner’s sweat shirt. I used it in extremis as a pillow when sleeping out with sleeping-bag and poncho to keep my head above ground level’[7]

In the UK, the DPM Parachute Smock began to replace it (beginning in 1977), in time for the Falklands War of 1982. It was not constructed of the Denison’s heavyweight twill, but was instead made from the same material as the ’68-Pattern combat jacket. However, it was cut like the Denison smock, with snap-fastened (but now bellowed) pockets, a full length zipper, but no buttons down the front, wool cuffs, and a 'crotch flap' on the outside of the back.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment was first issued an olive green replacement for the Denison in the 1950s, and in 1975 a Disruptive Pattern parachute smock entered service, remaining in the inventory until the regiment disbanded in 1995.


Belgian special forces units serving with the British during the Second World War included the Belgian Special Air Service. On their return to Belgium after the war, the unit - and its successors [4] - continued to wear the Denison Smock, with the design following a separate evolutionary path there [5].

The French SAS wore the Denison while fighting with Free French forces to liberate France, and continued to wear it immediately after the War while in Indochina[6].


The characteristic “brushstroke” camouflage pattern used on the Denison Smock has had a notable influence on the development of camouflage clothing worldwide. As well as being the design antecedent of its replacement, the four colour Disruptive Pattern, the Denison clearly inspired camouflage patterns used by Belgium, France, Rhodesia, Pakistan, and India. [8]. The most important development based on Denison pattern was the French Lizard pattern, in which the green and brown brush-strokes were more frequent, but much smaller, on a light greyish green base. Lizard evolved into two main styles: vertical, and horizontal (indicating the general direction of the brushstrokes). Other developments changed the shape of the brushstrokes, using intricate grass-like patterns in the Rhodesian pattern, or palm frond-like sprays in the Indian pattern.


  1. ^ Hilton, Frank (1983). The Paras. British Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-563-20099-5.
  2. ^ Ferguson, Gregor (1996). The Paras 1940-1984. Osprey (Reed Consumer Books Ltd.). ISBN 0-85045-573-1.
  3. ^ Blechman/Newman, Hardy/Alex (2004). DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. Department of Publications, Maharishi. ISBN 0-9543404-0-X.
  4. ^ Martin, Charles C. (1994). Battle Diary: From D-Day and Normandy to the Zuider Zee and VE. Dundurn Press Ltd.. ISBN 978-1550022148.
  5. ^ Ferguson, Gregor (1996). The Paras 1940-1984. Osprey (Reed Consumer Books Ltd.). ISBN 0-85045-573-1.
  6. ^ Ferguson, Gregor (1996). The Paras 1940-1984. Osprey (Reed Consumer Books Ltd.). ISBN 0-85045-573-1.
  7. ^ Burns, Michael G. (1992). British Combat Dress Since 1945. Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0-85368-984-9.
  8. ^ Blechman/Newman, Hardy/Alex (2004). DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. Department of Publications, Maharishi. ISBN 0-9543404-0-X.


Smock Parachutist DPM

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from DPM Parachute Smock)

The 'Smock, Parachutist DPM', known simply as the Para Smock, was the replacement for the Denison Smock used by the British Army's Parachute Regiment and parachute-trained troops. It was introduced in the mid 1970s, after the British Army's universal adoption of DPM field clothing.

While the design was little different from the Denison smock, it was made from a lighter-weight cloth, printed in the now-standard Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM).

The Para Smock differs from the three most recent standard patterns of combat jacket, all made from DPM, and is like its Denison predecessor in having no flap to button or velcro over the full length zipper; hip and breast pockets; hem adjustors; and a diaper flap (fastened under the crotch to stop the smock riding up while parachuting) fastened by pres-studs (snaps) (though smaller than on the Denison); and knitted wool cuffs. It is also cut more loosely than the Smock,combat. It lacks the flannel lining on the inside of the collar that the Denison had, and like the standard Smock, combat has a first field dressing pouch on one sleeve (the right), and pen pockets on the other, both closed by buttoned flaps. Like the 1968 Pattern Smock, Combat, it is fitted with three buttons around the outside of the collar, to which a hood can be attached. The hood is DPM, and lined in green. (One is visible in the photograph shown). The Para Smock is standard issue for the Parachute Regiment and other airborne units.

The Para Smock worn by the Canadian Airborne Regiment was first issued in 1975 and remained in the inventory until the regiment disbanded in 1995. It was very similar to the British issue but had more features, being made from SAS Smock type material, with narrower, angled, breast pockets, 'Lift The Dot' snaps, internal hood, and a back pocket into which the whole smock could be folded like a 'stash bag'. These smocks may be worn by the British armed forces since they are almost identical to the British issue, and Canada is a British Commonwealth member.

Smock Windproof DPM

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Soldier of the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment wearing Smock Windproof DPM and trousers, temperate pattern.

The Smock, Windproof, DPM' (or, DPM Windproof Smock) was issued alongside the standard DPM Combat Jackets by the British Army. The Special Air Service Regiment was the first unit to adopt its own design of DPM Windproof Smock which it wore in preference to the 68 Pattern and later combat jackets. Aside from being made from a windproof material, it differed from the standard combat jackets in being cut to fit more loosely, allowing it to fit over other layers of clothing more easily, and in having an integral hood.

Later, a standardised DPM Windproof smock was introduced, which other units or individuals might wear in the field in preference to the combat jacket. In addition to the windproof material and the integral hood, this differed from the standard combat jacket in other ways. It had no epaulettes (the standard, 1968 to 1990 DPM jackets had epaulettes on the shoulders); and it had bellows pockets. However, the version issued and worn by the Royal Marine Commandos and Army units assigned to the AMF(L) for arctic warfare replaced epaulettes with button-on rank tabs on the chest and back, as well as a wire 'stiffener' for the hood.

The standard 95 Pattern (Soldier 95) shirt and combat jacket both followed this trend, omitting the rank tab on the back which tends to snag on rucksacks, camouflage netting and so forth). Where the standard jackets were closed by a full-length zipper, covered by a buttoned flap, and buttoned cuffs, the windproof smock used velcro to close the flap over the zipper and to fasten the cuffs. The buttons fitted to the Windproof Smock (on the four, expanding front pockets, and the small arm pocket for the First Field Dressing) were all of an overlarge type, to ease use by cold or gloved fingers.[edit]

Denison Smock

From ARRSEpedia

Denison Smock

WWII pattern smock

The Denison smock first appeared in the early 1940s, the design of a Major Denison. Sixty years on it has acquired a special, even iconic, status among collectors and aficionados of camouflage uniforms.

The Denison smock was conceived for airborne forces, and at first issued only to them. Later in WW2 commando units also used them.

The smock is said to be based on the work clothing of northern French artisans of the period. It certainly is practical and hard-wearing. The fabric used for the first Denison smocks was a hand-painted DPM fabric, and subsequent iterations, though relatively mass-produced, have replicated the distinctive hand-painted look.

Early smocks had a half-zip, though later versions always had a full-length zip. Early ones also seem to have had button cuffs, although later the familiar knitted cuff became standard. All versions had a crotch flap sewn to the lower rear hem which was attached to the lower front skirt by press-studs when in use, and when not in use to the rear back of the smock by a pair of studs. Its purpose was to prevent the smock billowing up when the user jumped from an aircraft. The Denison smock was always well made, of strong woven cotton, with top-quality zips and press-studs (Newey).

After WW2 the Parachute Regiment continued to use the Denison smock - no doubt in part because its distinctive appearance helped reinforce the elite image - and new (though very similar) versions were created in 1959 and 1972. At that stage the British Army's DPM was being recognised as a very effective camouflage pattern, and in the mid-1970s the Denison was finally replaced by the new Para Smock in standard DPM fabric.