The New WW2 Uniforms

At the beginning of WW2 soldiers were still attired with The Great War uniforms.

The images show William Marsh as a Territorial Engineer circa 1939 in the WW1 uniforms. The newspaper cutting image from ‘Viewpoint’ (Reading Evening Post) is a picture taken of the Royal Berkshire Regiment in France before they went to Dunkirk.

William Marsh as a Territorial Engineer circa 1939 in the WW1 uniforms.

William Marsh as a Territorial Engineer circa 1939 in the WW1 uniforms.

William Marsh-new WW2 uniforms circa 1939, France

William Marsh wears the new WW2 uniforms, circa 1939, France

An expert from ‘The Lucky Shilling’ – William recalls when the new uniforms were issued…

‘I think it was about the middle of November 1939 when, one morning after parade, instead of the trucks arriving to take us over to the royal engineers, we were marched to the village square.
As we arrived, we could see that the Regimental Quartermasters’ staff had set up trestle tables that were piled high with clothing. This was the new battledress that we had been eagerly waiting for. We had travelled out from England in our old service uniforms with thick woollen tunics, stiffened peak hat with a leather strap, puttees wound up to our knees and hobnailed boots. It was the same uniform issued for the Great War and was pretty uncomfortable for modern soldiering -we had seen other units wearing the new battledress and they looked much smarter and modern and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it.
First there was a short wool serge jacket that was worn over our existing shirts – it had useful pockets and was obviously going to be easier to shoot in. The trousers were cut higher at the waist, had pockets for a map and a field dressing and were finished off with short gaiters that protected the top of your boots. The last thing was a smart and comfortable side cap that could easily be put into your pocket when you were wearing your tin helmet.

Troops Out (1936-7)

Bill arrives in France at the start of the period known as the Phoney War.

After about a two hour wait we boarded our ship, an Isle of Man steam packet called Manxman.


He is placed on general guard duty at the French / Belgium borders and works and a Navvy for the Royal Engineers, settling into a ‘limbo’ existence.  In 1937 he and his fellow men are visited by the King, then the Prime Minister and also the Duke of Gloucester.  By February 1940 the Phoney War starts to ‘hot up’ and things start to become very serious.