Overalls, Tank Crews, 1942

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Old Git, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Hi All,

    quick question (at the risk of opening a whole can of worms). I'm looking for some info on the 'Heavy Overalls' for tankers, mentioned in the Brayley and Ingram book (pgs 46 - 47) 'The WWII Tommy'. Specifically I want to know if anyone is aware of any wartime accounts, or photographs, which show its actual use with troops. I'm 99% certain there aren't any but on the off-chance I thought I'd ask the best WWII Chat forum on the net.

    There's a copy of Brayley and Ingram content over on the Military modelling site, which I've linked to below, so if you're not familiar with overalls in question see Pics 15 and 20 on the article below. Just to be clear we are talking about the 1942 Overalls, NOT the 1943 Pixie Suit with hood and long zips running from bottom of leg to neck.

    Uniforms of the British Armoured Force - Build Features
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  2. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Not help with your question, but a couple of pictures of mine - I'm sure I'd heard a while back they had been used in training units but that was just a passing comment and I cant offer any backup.


    P1030345.JPG P1030346.JPG
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  3. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Was never called Pixie Suit.

    Tank Crew, Oversuit.

    Pixie Suit is another collectorism.
  4. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Sigh! There's always one! They can never answer the question that's actually been asked but for some reason they feel compelled to correct some putatively glaring error that you may have made. It's akin to correcting soeone's grammar or pulling up your guests for their table manners, it's just not done and is, indeed, just plain bad manners. It is especially egregious when they clearly don't know what they're talking about.

    Unlike you mate I don't spend my weekends getting dressed up and running around the woods making bang, bang noises! I'm a proper historian, who spends his time reading through primary sources! I have at my finger tips dated reference from WWII that clearly uses the term 'Pixie Suit' and if that's not enough to fry your noodle, Stanley Christoperson's diary cleary has him wearing the Pixie Suit in Normandy in 1944, as does Bill Bellamy's diary (although in dear old Bill's case it was a mental note not to wear it after his friend was killed wearing his during Op. Epsom). Furthermore, the photo records that are now beginning to emerge from the Polish and Czech brigades are beginning to show Camo Pixie suits, and probably dark green Pixie Suits, in use during WWII. I realise that that's all probably too much for you to deal with so you may wish to go lay down in a darkened room for a bit. Take as long as you need mate, a couple months should do it!
    TMRARG likes this.
  5. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Alastair thanks for the input mate. I've heard similar tales but that's all they are. I've been working my way through the files at the National Archives on the tortured design process for these Overalls (and how it led onto the collective design of the Denim Tanksuit, the Pixie Suit, and the Jungle Tank Suit, as well as the All-Round Vision Cupola) and I' pretty certain that these suits were never issued. Believe it or not their intended use was for the Western Desert, however the treatments applied to the cloth meant that the wearing of these suits could seriously impact the wearers health and so there were desperate scrambles to try to withdraw them just as they were being packed up to be shipped out to North Africa! The Design Team's nickname for these suits (including the Pixie Suit) was 'The Teddy Bear Suit',

    You know how it is mate, if I write it up and say it was never used in anger, some bright spark will pop up with a photograph and say ha ho! So I thought it might be best to have a quick shout out on the old forum before committing to paper!
  6. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Despite all evidence points to trials with 1st Polish Armoured. Then again issue from Sept onwards etc, down to a unit by unit basis.

    Language does matter. Hence Zoot Suit and Teddy Bear suit have emerged in the past. I'll stick to all my original source material on their development and usage, ta. :)

    (What a sweet boy, you assume my weekends are far more exciting than they actually are.)
    Ron Goldstein likes this.
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    1945-046 October Monfalcone Italy Bren Gun Carrier (BBC).jpg :Cartangry:just to stir the pot !
    The infamous Tank Suit.JPG
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    SDP, ozzy16, Tricky Dicky and 2 others like this.
  8. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Go away sonny the adults are trying to have a grown-up conversation!

    Von Poop can we please do something about the children running amok in the Library? WW2Talk is supposed to be a venue for serious research, not a place for the children to dress-up and act-out. This is the first time that I've had to add someone to the ignore list on this forum, I do hope it'll be the last.
  9. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    The privilege of age dear Ron! So good to hear from you again, I do hope you are keeping well? Have you heard from Brian recently? I've seen him wandering the halls of Facebook (which I was reluctantly dragged to last December) but haven't connected with him as yet...not yet sure that an old Buzzard like me belongs on Facebook, too many selfies of the self-obsessed or photos of cats in toliet bowls. The modern age, despite it's technical wonders, can be quite depressing sometimes!


    could you do me a quick favour mate and look under the arms of your suit to see if there are a couple of airholes in both armpits? Standard type, two small holes thread and reinforced around their diameter.
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    OG, despite your username & chosen title, I don't really understand the annoyance. :)

    He's raised the passing point it may not have been called a Pixie suit at the time. Seemed a fair comment to me.
    I've been intrigued for a while as to whether that term was actually used in WW2 or came to be later. There does seem to be some doubt.
    He's also probably one of the better chaps on here at the minutiae of uniform with hours of archive time staring at pictures of Tankies, so despite his own sometimes a tad acidic style* I wouldn't easily dismiss his views on this stuff.

    Am I right in thinking that the best visual clue for spotting 42 vs 43 is the lack of breast pockets (& maybe padding) on the zipless variant?
    Been looking at lots of photos, but was never the best at uniforms.

    *I doubt he'd deny this :unsure:
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Old Git

    Sorry mate, but I have to concur with Von Poop regarding your clash with one of our stalwarts.

    Thanks for your good wishes..... apart from my current age and a dose of cancer I'm actually fine !

  12. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    VP, before I posted my question I did actually do a search to see if there was any information already posted. Obviously nothing turned up but one thing that did turn-up was the number of times chummy likes to correct everyone on this very point. Does endless repetition make you right or just make you annoying? And why do it when the question in hand has absolutely nothing to do with that topic. all it does is drag threads off topic (and besides it's not like it hasn't been done to death already) and it leads to arguments because someone has choosen to be an arse today. It's not necessary and it's plain bad manners.
  13. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I certainly don't deny a slight lemon twinge... usually crops up when one touches a subject of particular irritation (usually naming conventions) :)

    Although I am one to constantly appraise stances, some recent photos emerged of a chap in '43 wearing a type of insignia etc that I've adamantly always stated was done post-war in around 45-6! Evidence wins on that, as to why... well speculation seems to be they liked a sharper look and adopted it after SD (retained long after BD came in) for walking out was banned (as new arrivals were being bullied for lack of it).

    Bit like on the whole Valentine 17 Pdr/Archer account/field trials/nomenclature. Constantly learning and all that. Brit use of Cullen Cutters is another interesting one...

    Some *odd* kit does appear in some unit photos that hasn't been properly identified (or whether items were unit mods etc). Much like the debate a few years ago on whether denim oversuits were issued to tank crews, and if so which sort exactly etc. Some suggested they were simply normal denims etc - but there are some differences. Stopped digging on this area when it became clear too many generalisations were being used to justify a few things, when date/Bn/Bde etc was far more important stuff.

    Also amusing he ignored the *really* tasty bit on oversuit issue :( Given I accidentally dug up many of the details on issue while looking into some hunches on armoured bits and bobs in NWE, with tables and everything.

    Never a fan of casual ageism etc, discourages the next generation and all that.

    [For the record, if aggrieved I would have posted Taylor Swift's Shake it Off...]
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  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    There's a case for that, but we've all got bees in our bonnets about something or other. Jonathan's Got Archer & Pixie buzzing about...
    Maybe time for a grand 'Pixie/Zoot suit yes or no?' thread to settle it...

    In the spirit of thread drift concerns though - back to the '42 overalls!
    Trawling Davis & Windrow/Embleton proving not much use.
    There really is scope for some better one-stop core reference on British gear. Something like that Sainz 'Deutsche Soldaten' book would be lovely.
  15. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Ron, good to hear you're doing well and so sorry to hear about the cancer I hope they got it all!

    Ron, do you remember when you were issued the Tank Suit in your photograph, I remember you said you'd got in the Winter of 44. Did you ever get issued the denim tank suit as well? This was a similar suit, made of green denim. Unlike the Pixie suit it was unlined and did not have the long zips running from leg bottom to neck, but in all other respects it was pretty much made to the same design.

    I ask because I'm working my way through the design committee's notes and it would appear that as early as 1941 they were planning to make two tank suits for AFV crews, one to be worn over the other as both Shower and Cold protection. It seems that this was the thinking behind both the denim tank suit and the Pixie suit, that they would be complementary to each other and actually replace all other forms of clothing (including Battledress and Greatcoats) for AFV crews. Sadly the design committee was stuffed to the gills with waffling academics and rather than actually get the things into production they spent two years discussing it. That is until DAFV got seriously irked with them, by-passed them completely, and had the suits made themselves in August 1943. So both suits were designed to be issued together and it appears that they were. Just wondering if when you got yours, if you also got the other one?

    The whole thing is very fascinating because this, and another project, lead to the acceptance of the need for what we now call OR, 'Operational Research'. Trying to write it all up now but there are so many committee's, sub-committees and sub-sub Committees to work through that it can be quite challenging to keep all the threads pulled together. Still we persevere!
  16. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I agree! I think Davis would be the place to start and to give it a completel overhaul. Whilst a wonderful book it does have it's flaws (he identifies the camo Pixie suit as the Jungle Tank Suit). The Brayley book is good but like everything else in print it merely takes the errors of the past and repeats them. Stuff like describing the 1942 suits as water-repellant, which they may well be, but they were actually designed to be petrol and flame retardent and used a PVC impregnated cloth to acheive this.I'm digging so deep into this research that I can actually tell you that the cloth used to make these suits was doubled warp Wigan cloth (Provisional Specification No. E/1022, Sheeting Cotton, 40", for Sheets, Ground Mk.VIII, Pattern No. 11303, issued 27th September, 1938). Sad I know but there you have it, it's taken me years to discover all these files and now that I'm in them I just can't stop.

    Another one of my bug bears is the old internet saw that the String Vest was designed an an escape aide to be unraveled to allow a man to scale down from a tall building. As if any sane thinking man would ever trust his body weight to such a flimsy piece of string. I've been going over all the files covering the development of the cold climate gear and all this stuff, the string vest, the Windproof suits etc. were based on a Norwegian layering system called the Brynje System. As early as 41/42 they are talking about lining the inside of the windproof suits with a mesh material to help wick away sweat, pretty much similar to what we find in modern ski-wear. Fascinating stuff!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I would pay quite strongly for an updated, indexed, Davis.
    Actually all of his uniform books gone over by modern production & info. (How the hell they all came out sans index boggles my mind.)
  18. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Some years ago there was an MP, Tory obviously, who was trying to get a law passed to force all publishers to include a coprehensive index in all books. Sadly he was unsuccessful for I share your pain when it coms to un-indexed, and even badly indexed, books! And don't get me started on the IWM's strangle-hold on research! Poor old Dick Taylor's books, "The Men Inside the Metal" were held up by wrangling with IWM over photographs. In the end he had to go into print without all the photogrpahs he wanted to use and all he could do was add printed references to the Photo ID's at IWM. I actually provided some pics and research to Dick on some of the stuff I've discovered but this was just prior to publication and I think by that stage he was so worn out by the delay that he just didn't want to hold it up any longer or re-write some of the sections. I think the person to take on a Comprehensive update of Davis would probably be either Dick or Martin Brayley, although Dick might well not wish to throw his hat back in that ring for the time being. Maybe I'll suggest it to Martin and see if he's amenable to the idea!

    As an aside, I might add that I never set out to research specialst clothing of the British Army, as is the case with all these things I simply fell into it by accident. Some years back I was in France with the family and we stopped off at Arromanche to see the Mulberry's and have a look at the Bassett-Lowke model (all part of my Engineers/Bailey Bridge affliction). It was when we were coming back on the RORO Ferry that I was struck by how similar it was to the Mulberry and that got me musing on the uses of wartime engineering inventions which made huge contributions in the Post-war world, obviously Bailey Bridging played a part in this too. However, whilst researching this I realised that it wasn't just confined to engineering concepts and the thing that took me to clothing was British Battle Dress which, of course, inspired the Ike Jacket, which in turn played a part in inspiring the denim Jackets that became popular in the post-war period. There's a huge difference between US pre-war denim jackets and those that appeared post war and the popularity of the Ike Jacket had a lot to do with that!
    Chris C likes this.
  19. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I appear to have developed a sticky M on the Keyboard of my aging laptop, which explains the issing M in soe words! ;-)
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    You say:
    "I remember you said you'd got in the Winter of 44."

    I'm sorry but your memory plays you false there.

    When my Ack Ack mob was disbanded in December '44 I was retrained at Rieti for 12 weeks and did not arrive at the 4th QOH until Feb '45 when I was immediately issued with my tank suit.

    Just for the record, I just loved it !

    You could unzip it at night (whereupon it formed an extra layer of insulation from the cold ground) and then zip it up in the morning and you were ready to go into battle.

    As for any other type of outerwear, the answer is NO.

    The photo I've attached was taken immediately after hostilities and in the Trieste area after we had swapped our Honey for a Bren Gun Carrier.


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