Which buttons would have been worn?

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by 8RB, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    From text and photographs I know that during WW2 Riflemen (at least within 8th Rifle Brigade) were allowed to wear black buttons on their battle dress. Within 8RB this was allowed after a visit by the King sometime during the war. As far as I know there were two types of black buttons (see pictures below).

    Can anyone tell me which type was used during WW2, or even better does anyone have pictures showing this?

    "Type 1"
    "Type 2"
  2. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    There are a fair few 'Line' Regiments which had Territorial battalions (usually numbered 4th/5th/6th/7th) who argued lineage to distinctive/distinguished Rifle Volunteer battalions so had Rifles distinctions - this could explain shiny black blancoed web belts with otherwise infantry kit. In their case Officer's SD, OR's if they had it (possibly as an 'issued as required from QM stocks' item) and also tropical dress when worn formally, could have buttons of your Type 1 if they, or the tailor, could get them, ordinary Brass GS if not. No distinction on BD however soft headgear may have had the buttons swapped. It gets more complicated when they were then given RA (e.g. Anti-tank or light AA) or other roles and got intakes proud of coming from their corps...
  3. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    By "No distinction on BD" you mean no special buttons on BD? See photo's attached, both 8th Rifle Brigade. Question remains: what type were they?

    RB on BD - 01.jpg RB on BD - 02.jpeg
  4. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    The saying "The exceptions prove the rules" comes to mind. It seems the 8RB were very proud of their distinctions.

    It would only work with the austerity 1940 pattern BD as the original and War Aid patterns had concealed buttons (the man on the right has the original buttons). BD embellished like these were relatively common in barracks as soldiers/units tried to overcome the utilitarian uniformity, especially in environments where unit rivalry demanded 'standing out'. It is not in any of the 'orders of dress' - however done when the occasion demands (usually someone trying to prove a point or as an expediency when the correct formal kit is not available and honour is at stake). An NCO regularly 'on parade' would be appropriate. The Officer in the lower photo looks to have a tailored example.
  5. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    The "officer" in the lower photo is an 8RB corporal or sergeant (not sure of his rank at the time) I have known, at the time of his wedding which was just after the war. He it was who in his biography tells us that the wearing of black buttons started after an inspection by the King sometime in 1942 or 1943.
  6. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Aha, so that is a post-war 1946 pattern BD. Issued with the first official collar attached shirt.

    Until the introduction of that, as the first official 'open collar' BD, It was generally frowned upon for ORs to have collars tailored open. The subject of ORs and ties was a complex and controversial one - the rules were relaxed high up in about '44 however there was a lot of variation in application. Officer's had been having their BD modified from the start, some WOs too. Even when ORs were allowed ties for 'walking out' the modifying of BD was usually strictly forbidden (the 'never say never rule' applies!).

    The wartime issue shirt was collarless and not considered smart. The largely civilian soldiers of the war wanted to look smart for 'walking out' so often had the voluminous tails cut off to make collars. Lend-lease/war aid shirts were made with collars attached and were highly sought after. It became clear that the situation was causing issues as the issue started being perceived as a class issue (Officers=Gentlemen). Whilst the WD relented, they left the issue to CO's who's attitude often didn't help. By VE day most had relented, the idea that ORs should take pride in their appearance was considered positive - especially as there were no brass buttons to shine. '46 pattern BD made it official and even though not issued in huge numbers due to wartime surpluses, set a precedent for mass alterations.
  7. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Problem solved? Rifle Brigade POW's in Normandy (given medal bar I should say 1RB, after Villers-Bocage?).
    I would say "type 2". If anyone has a more detailed copy of this photo...


    Attached Files:

  8. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    I asked around - The second button is the correct one for all Rifle Brigade Battalions - if they could get them. The first was used by non-RB Bns with rifle distinctions. As there was decreasing access to formal/ceremonial uniforms unofficial use on BD became a norm. The issue of two BD blouses was to allow one in wear, one to be cleaned. It soon became one for field, one for 'walking out'.
  9. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    And I have been checking regarding the photo of 8RB corporal holding beret...

    The marriage took place in September 1945. So I should think not a 1946 pattern blouse then, but a modified 1940 pattern?! The wearer at the time was a corporal and announcer/producer with the British Forces Network. So in spite of not being an officer he may have had some more leisure to be allowed to wear this...

    The last photo I find quite interesting because it shows this type of blouse with special buttons, which I agree one would expect to be more for walking out, was also worn in action.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    ceolredmonger likes this.
  10. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Encountered a third type on Ebay today. Had never seen this one before...

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