Price = n/a
Royal Navy Lieutenants Working Dress Blouse NO 5B
A genuine late war/early post war period RN Officers Working Dress (BD) blouse in totally original condition from the small collection we have listed this week. This one carries Lieutenant rank shoulder boards which are laced in place and were made by the top London manufacturer of Joseph Starkey. Whilst the blouse is unnamed the original owner clearly had a 'busy' war and his pin back medal bar is attached showing 1939-45 War Medal, The Atlantic Star, The African Star with rosette (for North African service 1942–43 and awarded for service with the 18th Army Group Headquarters between 15 February 1942 and 12 February 1943 inclusive, for Navy and Merchant Navy personnel in shore service 23 October 1942 to 12 May 1943 inclusive). In addition campaign medals issued for Italy plus the Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45 which my Dad told me everyone got 'for just turning up'!
In the opening years of the Second World War the Royal Navy refused to adopt battledress for officers aboard ship but despite this Battledress type uniforms were worn by naval officers from 1941, as a non-regulation uniform, sometime utilising dyed army battledress. Finally their Lordships at the Admiralty conceded and authorised officers to wear 'Working Dress'; they could not bring themselves to call it 'Battledress' as was adopted by both the Army and the RAF. The Working Dress, designated '5A'was immediately popular and officers could either obtain it from the stores or have a set made up by their tailor. It was introduced for wear at sea in preference to the rather formal No. 5 uniform and the design is based on the Army and RAF battledress featuring a short waisted jacket.
This fine example is a development from this and is referred to as a' Number 5B Working Dress Blouse '. It was Introduced in 1944, and saw limited use in the war; it was similar to 5A, except that the buttons on the blouse are of standard design and are fly fronted as opposed to exposed buttons and the waist is closed by means of a short strap and buckle fastening. Our research indicates It was developed for use by the Air Branch aircrew, as they found the exposed buttons on the earlier blouse had a tendency to get caught on pieces of cockpit equipment and a potential risk in the event of a rapid departure from the cockpit! This blouse is neither named or badged so we have no idea to whom it was issued. It does not carry and issue label but the waist band is ink stamped L, a WD arrow and 679 below. Seeing the full medal ribbon it would appear to have been in use in the early post war period. Interestingly it has an inner zipped pocket fitted (zip is marked 'Swift') which also carries a WD and board arrow stamp. We can't establish if this was a standard fitting or a period customisation; if the latter it would have been perfect for aircrew to keep important items secure. No size is marked but it is on the small size but would be perfect on a Fleet Air Arm mannequin. The jacket is in exceptional condition throughout with the fabric in crisp and unstained and amazingly has completely avoided the attention of the dreaded moth. A scarce example that certainly meets the old collectors maxim of 'always buy the best example you can afford'.