Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 2, 2011 23:28:21 GMT 12
I have borrowed an excellent book form the library, The Twenty Fourth New Zealand Infantry Battalion : A Pictorial History by F L Phillips and H R Gilmour.
It is a collection of official and unofficial photos fom that battalion from their formation in 1940 right through the war till 1945.
On page 307 there are four surprising photos. they are group shots of four sections, No.'s 1, 2 and 3 Sections of No. 13 Platoon, B Company, 24 Bttn, and the Company HQ staff of B Company. The photos were taken on September 1944.
In all four shots the men are wearing a disruptive pattern matrial uniform, in the form of a loose sleeveless smock over top of the usual uniform cotton shirt, and what appears on may of the men to be also DPM trousers. They wear normal tin hat helmets with camouflage net on them, and normal boots and ankle puttees. the wear mormal webbing over the smock.
They look very much like the German style smocks. Were the kiwis dabbling with a lower visibility look at this time? Sadly the co-author Henry Gilmour who took the photos does not mention the odd uniforms.
In all the other Italy photos the soldiers wear the standard NZ Army battle dress of the lighter cotton desert uniforms.
By DPM I'm assuming you simply mean a cammouflage pattern of some sort, rather than actual DPM (which is a specific pattern), which didn't enter service until 1968.
Without seeing the photos, (Can you not scan or photograph them and post them?) the most likely explaination would be the 'smock, cammouflage, windproof' and trousers that were issued in a pattern somewhat similar to the Dennison smock.
These were not sleeveless though, so unless they had been modified in some way I'm not sure. Perhaps they are a locally manufactured item?
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 3, 2011 11:53:41 GMT 12
Here are some digital photos of the four photos in question. On looking at these blown up I note that even the webbing is camouflaged, and it looks like they may have a home made nature to the camouflage pattern smocks. I wonder if 13 Platoon of B Company was a bit of a Commando or sniper unit within the Battalion?
No. 1 Section, 13 Platoon, B Company, 24 Battalion
No. 2 Section, 13 Platoon, B Company, 24 Battalion
No. 3 Section, 13 Platoon, B Company, 24 Battalion
They aren't the service issue smock, windproof I mentioned in my earlier posts. I'd suggest they are locally manufactured items.
The pattern on the smocks looks a bit like Italian pattern that was also used by the Germans to manufacture clothing, but it would be odd to use 'enemy' uniform material!
Also there's not a great deal of consistency with the patterns - the smocks look like quite broad areas of colour while the pants look like they have much smaller blotches. Perhaps they were just hand painted?
I'd have to disagree about the comments made about the bren, it was a (relatively) light weight weapon that could provide a good amount of suppressing fire. It was also pretty accurate (being so well made). I've fired them a few times and have been very impressed with them. They can't have been all bad since they remained in service right up to the early '90s, in the form of the L4 LMG chambered for 7.62 NATO.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 3, 2011 14:56:14 GMT 12
Yes I admit I was surprised when Uncle Ted said that about the Bren. He thought they'd made a mistake when they put him, the smallest guy in his platoon, in charge of the Bren. I think he had a thing against it as he had to lug it everywhere. But he did say in combat they were not too accurate over a longer distance. He preferred a rifle, and later as a Sgt and then an officer he had a Tommy gun which he liked.
Back to the photos I reckon that they are really fascinating to see such a variation from the normal kit worn by the kiwis at that time and the variation from one man to the next in the photos. There must have been some reason why they were dressed this way, they'd never have gotten away with it otherwise. So i thought others here might dind the shots of interest.
Another thing in that book that amazed me, I never realised that when the kiwis went initially to Greece in 1941 that they were all wearing pith helmets, rather than lemon squeezers they'd worn previously in Egypt, or tin hats. They mustn't have been issued tin hats till the battle started there? All the photos I have seen in Crete they have tin hats.