UK Jackets Parachutists Size No.6- lot 0224
Sleeveless oversmock of khaki-green denim with a stand collar. It was designed to be worn over the equipment to stop it from it getting caught on rigging lines, as well as to keep it in place during the jump.
The jacket was intended to be discarded after landing, but was often kept as it was found to be a generally useful garment.
During the early days of the Airborne Forces, the uniforms and equipment were experimental. The Royal Air Force naturally had an inventory of parachutes for escaping damaged aircraft, and the first paratroopers had to manually pull a ripcord to deploy their canopy. It was not long before this method was determined unsuitable, and a static-line parachute was developed. The volunteer paratroopers during those early days were certainly brave, as there were a number of injuries and even fatalities; each incident was thoroughly investigated and often resulted in a modification to the equipment or the training program. The X-type static line parachute, also called the “Statichute”, eventually developed an impressive reputation for reliability. However, there was still the occasional mishap, including incidents of the parachute canopy not fully opening and deploying; this dreadful situation was known as the “Roman candle”.
Both the oversmock and the step-in smock it replaced were also called “jumping jackets”, which can easily cause confusion when reading original source material.
To reduce the number of accidents, it was considered vital to prevent any entanglements between the paratrooper, his equipment, and the parachute. In 1942, the Denison smock and the parachutist’s oversmock were both adopted and entered production; together, these items replaced the earlier “step-in smock”. The Denison was worn over the wool battledress uniform, but under the webbing equipment. The oversmock was then worn over all other uniform and equipment items, separating them from the parachute harness and rigging lines.
The parachutist’s oversmock was a sleeveless garment made from green denim material, with a full-length zipper. Like the Denison smock, it had an “ape tail” to be snapped up between the legs to keep the garment in place during the jump. However, the fasteners had a somewhat different arrangement; while the Denison’s ape tail snapped to the inside of the smock, the oversmock’s tail fastened to the outside. The oversmock also had a pair of elasticized pockets near the bottom hem, each intended to hold a single grenade to assist in an opposed landing.
While the Denison was designed for paratroopers, it was also issued to glider troops and, eventually, the Commandos. By contrast, the oversmock was only ever used by paratroopers, as it was specifically designed to be worn during the parachute descent. In training, the oversmock could be collected and returned to stores, but on operations, it was considered disposable and was to be removed and abandoned on the drop zone.
This is a scarce 1945 dated example of the sleeveless green denim oversmock or Parachutists jacket as it is otherwise known.
Worn over all other jump gear without the Denison or over the Denison in some cases.
With its working full-length zipper & two elasticated ' Grenade pockets to the front the label is intact giving the details 'Jackets Parachutists 1942 Pattern Size No.4' with size details & broad arrow & date of 1945 . Made by the well-known firm ' L. HARRIS Ltd.' .
Jacket is in great condition, all intact & very difficult to find.