The New Zealand (NZ) Army entered the 1950s with combat clothing based on the World War Two Battle Dress (BD) and Khaki Drill (KD) uniforms. Both these uniform types had limitations, such as the BDs being too heavy for wear in summer, tropical and jungle climates but too lightweight for the temperate NZ Climate. Combat operations in Southeast Asia from 1955 had further highlighted the inadequacy of NZ combat clothing, leading to NZ soldiers equipped with an eclectic range of United Kingdom (UK), Australian and NZ-manufactured variants throughout the 1950s and 60s. To achieve a measure of sustainability and self-sufficiency when purchasing uniforms, NZ undertook extensive research and development on tropical combat uniforms during the 1960s. However, by the early 1970s, the requirement for temperate climate uniform became a priority leading to the adoption of the UK 1968 Pattern Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) combat uniform. As the NZ Army transitioned from its World War Two legacy combat clothing to the most modern combat uniforms available, the transition was never complete, with elements of the older combat clothing remaining in service to be mixed and matched with the latest items as they were introduced. This article provides an overview of the NZ Army’s combat clothing transition from 1955 to the 1980s and how the requirements and types of combat clothing evolved.
Following World War Two, with Ordnance Stores well stocked and NZ industry well positioned to support any surge in demand, the NZ army retained the familiar combination of woollen serge Battle Dress (BD) and KD and Demin range of uniforms that had served it well during the war years. However, by 1955 the high tempo of training required to maintain a division supported by Compulsory Military Training (CMT), operations in Korea, and a likely commitment to ongoing operations in Southeast Asia highlighted deficiencies of the current ranger of uniforms. While the BD uniforms remained suitable for use in temperate and colder climates, the Army Clothing Committee identified a requirement to develop a summer training dress for use in NZ that would also be satisfactory for jungle operations. In response to the Army Dress Committee, Captain J.A Dixie of the Defence Scientific Corps of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) provided a comprehensive report on Tropical Clothing. Reviewing World War Two and post-war scientific research on the problem of tropical clothing by the United States and Commonwealth, Dixie’s report provided the principles that guided the selection of a suitable NZ Army range of tropical uniforms and equipment.
Following the deployment of the NZ Special Air Service (NZSAS) Squadron to Malaya in November 1955, NZ felt obliged to prepare NZ’s forces for service in Southeast Asia. Based on the equipping of the NZSAS from British theatre stocks, the assumption was that initial stocks of tropical clothing for any future deployment would be available from British theatre stocks, with NZ-manufactured tropical uniforms providing long-term sustainment. Therefore, in December 1955, the Army Board approved the transition of uniforms with BDs retained as winter dress in NZ, and KDs phased out in favour of uniforms manufactured in Drill Green (DG) for summer and working dress. The 1955 orders of dress were.
The transition to the new range of DG clothing was in the following sequence:
- Waste out stock of KD garments by CMT issues, with the first issue to CMT recruits by 1959, with the process completed by 1960.
- For other uses, convert stocks of KD material (not yet made up into uniforms) and waste out.
- Undertake all further uniform manufacture (except BD and Greatcoats) in DG.
- Build up a working reserve sufficient to equip 10,000 soldiers.
NZ’s DG uniform pattern was the 1950 Pattern British Jungle Green (JG) uniform. The 1950 pattern uniform consisted of shirt and trousers made from a green-coloured cotton drill material. Fitted with a cross waist belt fastened by adjustable buckles on each side designed to account for the wearer losing weight in hot climates, the trouser style was known as ‘Gurkha pants.’ The trousers included a twin pleated front, pockets on each hip, twin rear pockets and a map pocket on the left leg.
Due to the financial outlay required to provide a measure of fiscal control over future uniform changes, on 9 April 1956, Cabinet decided that “No new items in uniform scales of officers and other ranks are to be introduced or material changes therein made without the prior approval of the Minister of Defence in concurrence with the Minister of Finance to the finance involved.”
Granted approval on 2 August 1958 and deployed to Malaya in October 1957, the 1st Battalion, The NZ Regiment (1 NZ Regt), was NZ’s first regular Infantry battalion and NZ’s land commitment to the Commonwealth’s Far East Land Forces (FARELF). The initial scaling of 1 NZ Regt was from NZ stocks with equipment, including clothing (four sets of NZ DGs), weapons and eighty-nine vehicles and trailers. However, with the approval of the Ministers of Defence and Finance, £59000 (NZD 3,359,047.60 in 2022) was expended to procure additional theatre-specific items not held in the NZ inventory from British theatre stocks in Malaya. Given the distance involved and the complications of holding sufficient clothing stocks to cover all size ranges, it was decided in September 1957 that NZ-specific uniform items would be maintained from NZ, with the UK supplying and maintaining items on the FARELF clothing scales, managed under a capitation system where NZ reimbursed the UK for the equipment provided. This arrangement was extended to include Australian equipment provided to the NZ Forces and remained in place until 1974. The initial items maintained by NZ with 1 NZ Regt provided with stock to allow 100% replacement were:
Still, a novel item under development as part of the NZ Army inventory, the evaluation and development of the NZ DG uniforms was ongoing. One of the first large-scale user trials in NZ was on Jungle Course No1 at Burnham Camp from 8 September to 31 October 1958. Feedback from Course participants was positive, with observations that DG items were satisfactory for NZ’s temperate conditions. Instructions for distributing DG Uniforms were issued in October 1958, with three sets of KD approved for exchange with three sets of DGs for Regular Force (RF) Officers and Other Ranks.
As the introduction of the DG uniform continued, limitations with the current material and cut of the DG Uniforms were highlighted. Although suitable for training for most conditions found in NZ, it was not suitable for operations in the tropical conditions of Malaya. Under an existing Commonwealth agreement, Australia took the lead in researching a range of tropical clothing and equipment. As Australian research and development continued, NZ continued to rely on the UK and Australia to provide tropical clothing while remaining focused on developing a range of clothing suitable for NZ’s temperate climate and conditions.
The NZ Army Chief of General Staff (CGS) Clothing Conference in February 1960 prompted significant work in developing revised uniform scales and dress orders. A policy statement was issued in November 1960 to remove misunderstandings regarding the proposals under consideration and the obligatory and optional dress orders, with the 1960 orders of dress within NZ being:
The 1960 policy statement on orders of dress was aspirational in that it had identified additions to the winter and summer clothing scales. Driven by the realisation that harsh weather and inadequate clothing led to considerable loss of training time, investigations had identified that lighter materials with water-repellent and quick-drying qualities were available, leading to a proposed new line of uniforms and equipment superior to the current BDs and greatcoats. The proposed uniform and equipment were based on winter and summer uniforms.
The winter training uniform for RF and Territorial Force (TF) all ranks was to consist of Battledress supplemented by added items for introduction from 1962, including
- Woollen shirt
- Pullover with drawstring neck
- Waterproof over trousers.
The summer training uniform for all RF and TF all ranks was to consist of the following:
- Replacement of existing stocks of Summer Drill trousers with a new trouser pattern based on the UK 1960 Pattern Jungle Green trousers. The 1960 pattern trousers were identical to the 1952 Patten but had the addition of belt loops.
- Replace the DG Shirt with the woollen shirt used in the winter dress.
Troops posted to FARELF were issued in NZ with the standard scales supplemented by items needed for operational training in NZ. Before embarkation, NZ issue items not needed in the FARELF theatre were withdrawn and placed into base kit storage until the soldiers returned from overseas. On arrival in the FARELF theatre, additional items, including lightweight tropical and combat clothing, were issued from UK Stocks.
In addition to clothing items, boots and bivouac equipment designed to provide soldiers with maximum protection against the weather during field training were included in the initial trials from July 1961. The July 1961 trial provided a proof of concept that led to 1962 approval by the Ministers of Defence and Finance of a new range of basic clothing and clothing scales for the army to meet existing requirements with new scales approved for inclusion in NZ Army Routine and Standing Orders (R&SO) Volume 1 on 13 July 1962. The formalisation of this scale was concurrent with the Ministers of Defence and Finance jointly approving the expenditure of £38,657.14.0 (NZD 1,948,037.31 in 2022) to enable payment to be made to GHQ FARELF for items of clothing issued by the UK to the NZ battalions in Malaya since 1957. Approval of further updates of the NZ clothing scales, including the NZ FARELF scale, followed in September 1963.
By July 1964, with a continuing commitment to the Commonwealth FARELF in Malaysia and a growing commitment to the conflict in South Vietnam, the NZ Army convened a special committee to:
- Define the policy governing all items of clothing and personal equipment for male members of the NZ Army in peace and war, in NZ and overseas.
- Calculate the immediate and long-term requirements to equip the army and provide for maintenance.
- Prioritise and select essential and suitable items for use in Southeast Asia and under conditions found in NZ.
- Acknowledge that clothing and equipment needed to be specifically developed for both NZ and Southeast Asia.
- Review the NZ Army’s present holdings to determine what was suitable for either permanent or interim use in SE Asia.
- Base future scales on those already used within NZ and by 1 RNZIR in Malaysia.
- Recommend maintenance stock levels based on current usage rates experienced by 1 RNZIR in Malaysia.
The clothing and personal equipment policy statement was comprehensive and logical, with sound recommendations that identified items of clothing and equipment for use by the NZ Army at home and overseas, with recommendations for new scales, stock and maintenance levels. Approved in principle by Army Headquarters, the clothing and personal equipment policy statement was submitted to the Ministry of Defence for approval in November 1964. Following further analysis by the Ministry of Defence, it was recommended on 15 June 1965 that The Minister of Defence and Minster of Finance approve the new scales of clothing and personnel equipment for the NZ Army based on the expenditure of £1,425,00 ($6,698,087.41 in 2022) over the financial years 1965/66, 1966/67 and 1967/68.
Despite the considerable financial commitment required, following the joint approval of the Ministers of Defence and Finance, on 21 March 1966, Cabinet approved in principle expenditure to allow the provision of clothing and personal equipment for the NZ Army’s future requirements over the next three fiscal years:
- £1,425,00 ($66,980,874.05 in 2022) over the budget year 1965/66,
- £430,000 ($19,569,115.53 in 2022) for the budget year 1966/67.
- £430,000 (18,385,342.62 in 2022) for the budget year 1967/68.
Approved by Cabinet, the clothing and personal equipment programme was a three-year programme to issue to troops and build up stocks over the years 1967 -1969 and was to:
- Provide an initial issue to the Field Force of ten thousand soldiers, plus a three-month reserve stock at war wastage rates for immediate maintenance in the overseas theatre.
- Hold sufficient materials and components to allow manufacturers six months of supply at war rates.
- Additional stock of training clothing to meet needs in NZ.
With the 1961 trials identifying items for training in NZ, experience gained in Malaysia and later South Vietnam saw additional items of tropical combat clothing added to the clothing scales.
The Pullover with a drawstring neck was trialled in 1961 and, although undergoing minor modifications, was ready for introduction into service by March 1964. Based on the British 1960 Pattern tropical shirt and trousers, the NZ-manufactured variants were the base of NZ’s summer and tropical dress orders. Although suitable for summer use, a shirt more suited to NZ’s temperate climate was desired, and from the three types trialled in 1961 with two types selected for further trials:
- Type A 100% wool.
- Type B was a wool/nylon mixture.
Introduced into servicer for a year-long trial from April 1965. 3703 type A shirts were Issued to RF personnel, excluding those posted to FARELF. The scale was one Type A Shirt Training per Officer and Soldier in exchange for one Shirt DG. Thirteen Hundred of the marginally more expensive Type B Training shirt introduced for concurrent troop trials in October 1965. A revised Trial instruction was issued in December 1965, detailing the requirements for the trial, for completion by 31 August 1966, with trial reports submitted to Army HQ by 30 September 1966.
The trial reports on both training shirts revealed faults related to the materials used, with the Type B shirt identified as an acceptable item in its current form. With a sufficient stock of the Type B shirt in circulation, trials were extended until 31 October 1966, with the Type B shirt included in the clothing scale by 1967.
As NZ’s commitment to the conflict in South Vietnam increased from mid-1964, the lack of suitable materials or shirts for use in tropical conditions became an issue. To meet the immediate needs of NZ’s overseas forces, continued reliance on the UK with additional items provided by Australia was necessary.
An early contribution to developing an NZ tropical combat shirt was in November 1964 when ten shirts made from a new acrylic fabric (trade name “Cashmillon”) were issued to the First Battalion of the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in Malaysia for initial troop trials. The trial NZ shirt was Intended to be rot-resistant, more robust, quicker drying and less chilling to the body when wet while providing warmth in cooler weather. T 1RNZIR trials were favourable, with the trial shirts preferred to the current British combat shirts and strongly recommended as a future combat shirt.
By August 1965, adverse media coverage on the quality of Australian Combat Clothing of the type issued to NZ’s Vietnam Force (V Force) prompted NZ Army Headquarters to approach the United States for samples and specifications of combat clothing used by United States Forces in South Vietnam, with feedback also obtained by HQ NZ V Force from United States Forces in South Vietnam on their satisfaction with their tropical combat uniforms. Feedback from the United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and two United States advisors with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) identified that United States Army personnel in Vietnam were issued with two sets of Tropical Combat fatigues. The United States uniform was light, comfortable and quick-drying, resistant to rot under tropical conditions, with a combat life of about twelve days. Although having an apparent short operational life, this was comparable with the commonwealth experience with uniforms in jungle operations in Southeast Asia.
The view of the NZ Army was that although the United States tropical uniform material was the best of those in use by allied armies and was supported by a continual improvement programme, prudence directed that based on the preliminary trials of the NZ acrylic cloth by 1RNZIR extended trials were required to be conducted. With the NZ acrylic cloth being potentially superior to other cloths in use and likely to be suitable for NZ training conditions, the Army Development Section proposed that a further 300 yards of the cloth be purchased to enable further trials to be conducted.
However, feedback from the 9th Commonwealth Defence Conference and the flammability risks of the acrylic material ceased meaningful development of this cloth. The UK and Australia both had large stocks of drill cloth, which, while not ideal, were still suitable for use as research to find a replacement material continued. Concurrent with NZ acrylic trials, Australia was in the preliminary stages of experimenting with a cotton/nylon mixture. However, the UK and Canada were concerned with the NZ trial as the cloth had little flame resistance. Based on this feedback, NZ reviewed its requirements and requested that the DSIR and industry undertake further development of the acrylic cloth to improve its fire resistance qualities. NZ’s requirements for tropical uniform material were satisfied by purchasing bulk stocks of the same material used by the UK for tropical clothing.
By December 1967, the NZ clothing scales and the range of clothing supplied had become complicated. Each NZ soldier was issued clothing and equipment based on the NZ Training scale. Although the NZ Training scale was based on maintaining an integrated RF and TF Field Force, a 1967 study of the training clothing scales found disparities between the combat, training and walking out uniform scales of the RF and TF. To correct and align the RF and TF scales, a two-phase programme started in 1967 to correct the scales. Phase one, initiated in 1967, began the disposal of all wartime-style garments (items from World War One and Two were still in service) and rearranging the scale issue to the National Service Training Unit (NTSU). Beginning in December 1968, NTSU and TF recruits were to be issued the same combat clothing as the RF.
On selection for deployment overseas, additional items were issued as part of the emplacement scale depending on the theatre. Items not required overseas were held in the soldier’s Base kit.
- NZ Troops to HQ FARELF and 1 RNZIR. NZ Troops posted to HQ FARELF and 1 RNZIR issued from the NZ FARELF Scale with items drawn from stocks supplied by the UK and NZ. The solder retained items such as the UK tropical Shirts (Flannel or Cellular) and Trousers OG on return to NZ.
- Victor and Whiskey Company troops, drawn from 1RNZIR and deployed to South Vietnam. Items of the FARELF scale not required in South Vietnam were placed into base kits. Additional Australian combat clothing was issued from Australian FARELF stocks, with maintenance provided by the Australian Logistic Support Group (ALSG) in South Vietnam.
- HQ V Force, 161 Battery, Med Team and other troops deployed directly from NZ. In addition to NZ items, Australian combat clothing was issued, with maintenance provided by the Australian Logistic Support Group (ALSG) in South Vietnam.
The Australian combat clothing issued to NZ troops in Vietnam consisted of two types of uniforms: Shirts and Trousers Tropical Combat (JGs) and Coat and Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical.
- The Australian JGs were modelled after the British 1950 pattern tropical uniforms and made from lightweight green fabric. The shirt was long-sleeved with two chest pockets, and the trousers had the crossover “Gurkha” style closure with buckles on the sides and fitted with a single map pocket to the left thigh.
- The Australian Coat and Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical was inspired by the United States jungle fatigues and developed over 1965/66 with the Mark 1 version introduced into Australian service by January 1967. The coat (shirt) had pockets on the upper sleeves for shell dressings and slanted breast pockets. This new uniform was soon nicknamed “pixie greens.”
In the interests of standardisation and leveraging from the operational experience gained by the Australians in Vietnam, the NZ Army considered adopting the Australian range of combat clothing for use in tropical combat conditions and as a replacement for DG items in NZ. Combat clothing trials were initiated in January 1967, with forty sets of the Australian prototype “Pixi Greens” issued to Waiouru Camp and the 1st Battalion Depot in Burnham.
As a result of the NZ “Pixi Green” trial in September 1967, the Australian design, with modifications, was accepted for use in NZ as a training dress and as a combat dress in the tropics. The modifications required included using UK-sourced DG Cloth and a slight redesign of the trousers. The final acceptability trial report completed on 31 October 1967 established the acceptability of the UK Cloth and decided on a preference between the two slightly different trouser styles; one type had elastic cuffs and cargo pockets on the front of the legs; the other type had draw-cord cuffs and cargo pockets towards the sides of the legs.
User trials established that the UK-type DG material was a satisfactory material for both shirts and trousers in tropical combat conditions and suitable as a replacement for the current heavier NZ DG for summer wear in NZ. A good design for the NZ version of the “pixie greens” shirt and trousers had been achieved, with the trousers having draw-cord cuffs and cargo pockets towards the sides of the legs. Following sizing trials conducted in Vietnam and NZ in 1967, it was established that the Australian size range was compatible with NZ’s needs and was adopted with nine sizes of Shirts and trousers provided.
NZ Purchase Description No 106 was issued on 4 January 1968, providing the minimum requirements for manufacturing Shirt, Man’s, Drill, Green, Field Combat, Tropical 1967 Pattern, the NZ version of the Australian Coat Mans Field Combat Tropical “pixie green”.
The NZ purchase description providing the minimum requirements for manufacturing Trousers, Mens, Drill Green Field Combat, Tropical, (1967 Patt), the NZ version of the Australian Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical (Pixie), was issued on 5 February 1968.
Although the trouser design was agreed to and was ready for introduction into service, the initial design was a compromise. In some examples, Velcro replaced all buttons and buckles in the waist area. The trials of the Velcro fastenings were not exhaustive, with further trials to evaluate the practicability of using Velcro fastenings under all conditions of tropical combat required facilitated by the dispatch of six pairs of combat tropical trousers with Velcro fastenings to the Infantry elements of NZ’s V Force in March 1968 to allow further trials. With negative feedback from V Force, further development of Velcro fastenings was not continued.
Australia’s development of its tropical combat uniform was ongoing. In August 1968, user dissatisfaction with the Mark 1 version led to the development of the Mark 2 version. Including some minor design improvements, the size range of the Mark 2 versions was increased from each type having nine sizes to twelve shirt sizes and eighteen trouser sizes. Development of the Australian tropical combat uniform continued until its withdrawal from service in the late1980s. Taking note of the Australian developments of the Mark 2 pattern, NZ modified its specifications and introduced the Coat, Mans, Drill Green Field Combat – 1969 Pattern with twelve different sizes into service in October 1969. It remains unknown if 1969 Pattern trousers were concurrently introduced.
As the NZ clothing and personal equipment programme authorised in 1965 was nearing completion, the NZ FARELF Clothing scale was updated in late 1969, replacing most UK and Australian-sourced items with NZ-manufactured items. However, given the scale of the NZ scale changes, it was not envisaged that NZ would not be able to support the new scale until early 1970. With the British intention to withdraw east of Suez by 1971 likely to become a reality, a revaluation of Australian and NZ reliance on British logistical support was undertaken. By October 1969, Australian planning for any future Australia and NZ (ANZ) Force clothing and personal equipment was underway, with Australia aiming to assume responsibility for the whole Australian component by mid-1971. NZ now had a significant clothing and personal items catalogue, although initially unfavourable to NZ maintaining its stocks in the FARELF due to inadequate NZ resources. As NZ allocated adequate resources, Australia soon warmed up to NZ’s plans. Australia eventually had no difficulty supplying NZ troops in the ANZ Force with Australian pattern clothing and personal items if NZ items were not available. To ensure the Supply of NZ items, 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot (5AOD), Singapore, under the NZ items under specially allocated catalogue numbers alongside the equivalent Australian items.
The UK’s east-of-Suez departure was delayed until 1974 when, along with Australia, both nations withdrew their Singapore garrisons, leaving NZ as the only foreign force in Singapore. By the time of the UK and Australian departure in 1974, the NZ supply system had evolved into a sustainable and autonomous system, with most clothing and personal items supplied direct from NZ. However, the NZ Advance Ordnance Depot (NZOAD) in Singapore had inherited British and Australian stock lines that took time to waste out, ensuring that the NZ Force in Southeast Asia (NZFORSEA) remained equipped with a mixture of British, Australian and NZ equipment.
Further review and refinement of the NZ Army clothing scales took place in 1971 with the announcement made to
- Introduce a Dacron uniform as a summer walking out and, where appropriate, working dress to replace DGs.
- Replace BDs with a temperate/winter combat working/training uniform.
The Secretary of Defence agreed to the proposal to upgrade DGs and BDs to a new Combat Dress. Authority to cease any further procurement of BD Jackets followed, with existing stocks progressively disposed of. To compensate for the loss of the BD Jacket, an additional Training Jersey was authorised to be issued as a BD jacket replacement. However, pending further justification, the replacement of DGs with Dacron’s as a summer walking out/working dress did not progress. As the winding down of NZ’s commitment to the Vietnam War precluded the widespread introduction of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniform, in 1971, a pilot scheme was conducted by units at Papakura camp to evaluate the adequacy of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat Uniform as combat working/training uniform for use in NZ Garrison and training conditions.
The Combat Clothing pilot scheme utilised 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniforms but met with mixed results. Compared to the existing DGs, the 1967/69 Pattern Combat Uniform was unpopular, with variations in colour, texture and strength found. Although a minor redesign of the trousers and remedial work to correct the variation of colours followed, it became accepted that the attempt to follow Australia’s lead in developing a tropical combat uniform had failed. With large stocks of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniforms in the NZ Army supply system, the pilot scheme was abandoned, and future development and procurement of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniform ceased.
As no suitable alternative clothing item existed, the NZ DG Shirt and Trouser had, by default, been satisfactory as an “in lieu” item for warm weather and tropical training. Although inappropriate and not intended for such use, the DG Shirt and Trousers would continue as NZ’s JGs for warm weather and tropical conditions until the late 1980s. However, the requirement for a modern temperate combat uniform still existed. To identify a temperate combat uniform, the Director of Infantry and SAS (D Inf) initiated formal trials of a combat uniform designed explicitly for temperate use in August 1974. Keen to evaluate a proven uniform pattern, the D Inf requested thirty sets of UK 1968 Pattern DMP temperate climate camouflage uniforms. Up to this period, the use of camouflage uniforms by the NZ Army was rare, with camouflage uniforms used by the 3rd Division of the 2nd NZEF in the Pacific during 1943/44 and the NZSAS and the NZ Army Training Advisory Teams, who had utilised American ERDL and South Vietnamese tiger stripe pattern fatigues during the Vietnam war.
Twenty-Eight sets of UK 68 Pattern DPM uniforms consisting of smocks, liners, trousers, caps and hods were received in February 1975 and, following the development of evaluation criteria, were released by trial by the NZ School of Infantry and 2/1 RNZIR in March 1975. The DPM uniforms issued to the School of Infantry were distributed to the School of Infantry, the TF Depot and the RF Cadet School. The sets issued to 2/1 RNZIR were issued to Alpha Company (A Coy)
As the D Inf was the sponsor for combat clothing and personal equipment, visits and feedback from units had made the incumbent D Inf aware of deficiencies in certain types and sizes of clothing. Aware that the NZ Army did not have a firm policy regarding combat clothing, D Inf sponsored a review to inform policy and guide future sponsors and provisioners of combat clothing and equipment in 1975. The review found that:
- Supplies of Shirts DG were adequate, with stocks of trousers DG low, with deliveries of stocks on order slow.
- With the withdrawal of the BD Blouse, the training Jersey remained a popular item of clothing.
- Stocks of the Hat Utility were good, and the item remained popular.
- Developing and introducing a new parka and over trousers remained an ongoing project.
- An unpopular item of uniform, stocks of the 1967 and 1969 Pattern Combat Trousers were not at authorised levels, with procurement frozen until a firm policy on the future of combat clothing was determined.
- Stocks of the wool/nylon training shirt were low. However, as an expensive item only scaled for RF issues, procurement was on hold until a firm policy on the future of combat clothing was determined.
- BD trousers to remain as the Winter Working Dress for RF and TF and the winter walking out dress for the TF.
The initial trials of the DPM uniforms concluded in August 1975 with positive results recommending the adoption of all items of the DPM uniform except for the DPM Cap. Typical feedback echoed in the evaluation reports was that the DPM uniforms were “well-designed, very comfortable uniforms far Superior to anything else in service”.
In summarizing the trial reports and the suitability of the UK Temperate DPM uniform, the D Inf supported the uniform’s introduction, noting that the comparative trials were limited to the current range of unsatisfactory NZ combat clothing. Comparative trials were not possible against similar uniforms from ABCA (American, British, Canadian, Australian) Armies as the UK temperate climate DPM uniform was the only type available.
- Australia had only accepted a DMP pattern for open eucalyptus terrain, with further studies pending for other terrains. The Australian policy was to provide ‘add-on ‘ garments for work in temperate climates.
- Canada did not have a DPM Temperate climate uniform and had an ‘add on” policy for cold and article conditions.
- The United States offered temperate combat uniforms to NZ at a competitive rate. However, these were of the Olive Green variety. The United States Forces did have tropical DPM uniforms, and if NZ considered introducing tropical DPM Uniforms in the future, these should also be included in the evaluation process.
The D Inf highlighted that no modifications to the UK DPM uniforms were required and recommended that they be introduced as is (less the DPM Cap) and that modifications should only be considered after extensive user experience.
In recognition of the requirement’s urgency and dissatisfaction with current dress and clothing standards adversely affecting morale, approval to introduce the UK DPM uniforms into NZ service was granted in December 1975. The procurement of the new range of temperate clothing consisting of Jackets, Hoods and Trousers made from a DMP material and quilted liners was to be implemented in three phases over five years commencing in 1977/78.
- Phase 1 – 1977/78. The first phase would purchase 1000 Jackets and Hoods, 1800 Trousers and 840 Liners to provide sufficient stock for a reduced strength battalion plus two years of maintenance stocks. Phase One was also to purchase 123,974 meters of DMP material to allow the manufacture of DPM uniforms in subsequent phases.
- Phase 2 – 1978/79 to 79/80. The NZ manufacture of DPM uniforms to allow.
- The issue of one set to the RF component of the Filed Force and Army Schools (Strength 2800).
- TF Depot Pool (800).
- Annual Camp Pool (4000).
- Phase 3 – 1979/80 to 80/81. The NZ manufacturer of the UK Pattern temperate DPM uniforms to allow.
- The establishment of war reserve stocks (1800).
- The issue of a second set to all RF personnel involved in field training (3500).
- Increase the size of the Field Force training pool (1000).
On introducing the temperate DPM uniform, phasing out through normal wastage of the following clothing items was planned.
- Over trousers.
- The current service parka and commercial lined parkas. On developing a rainproof DPM parka, the replacement of unlined parkas would follow.
- BD Trousers on a diminishing basis estimated as beyond 1981
The introduction of the first tranche of temperate DPM uniforms began in August 1977 with the initial purchase of made-up uniforms issued to 2/1 RNZIR and Army Schools, with additional sets manufactured In NZ using imported material. However, a change in clothing policy and delays in receiving DPM material from the UK delayed the planned distribution and establishment of loan pools. By 1980, confusion over scales and entitlements and the resulting distribution stagnation was highly emotional, with formations command seeking resolution.
As the temperate DPMs were progressively introduced to NZ-based units, NZ Forces in Singapore were still required to utilise the legacy JG uniforms. As both the Malaysian and Singapore Forces were introducing camouflage uniforms, the Commander of NZFORSEA considered that there would be immense psychological value in considering the issue of a tropical DPM uniform to NZFORSEA. Since 1972 British Forces in Hong Kong and Brunei utilised the No.9: Tropical Combat Dress, which had replaced the 1950 pattern OG and JG tropical uniforms. In 1980 NZFORSEA submitted a proposal to purchase the UK lightweight DMP material by utilising the UK specification tailored locally to meet the tropical DPM uniform requirements of NZFORSEA.
After considering the NZFORSEA proposal, the NZ Army decided not to approve the NZFORSEA proposal. NZ Forces were to continue using the current JG tropical uniforms range. In justifying the decision, the following reasons were provided.
- ABCA studies demonstrated that faded JG drill provided the most effective negative response to IR sources.
- The primary reason for introducing DMP clothing into NZ service was warmth, with the psychological value ensuring its acceptance.
- The operational effectiveness of DPM uniforms remained questionable.
The upgrading of NZ Army combat clothing from 1955 to 1980 was just one of several clothing and equipment projects intended to keep the army equipped with a high standard of modern equipment compatible with its peers. The practice of adopting off-the-shelf clothing and equipment from allied nations continued, with, where possible, NZ industry manufacturing the foreign patterns, thus providing a measure of self-sufficiency. From 1967 considerable effort was made to develop the Australian Pixie Greens into an NZ tropical combat uniform. The resulting items were unsatisfactory, and the project was considered a failure. JGs introduced in 1958 and upgraded in 1961, remained in service as tropical combat clothing until 1984, when lightweight DPM trousers and shirts began to be introduced. Not wishing to repeat the prolonged and unsuccessful tropical combat clothing experience, the UK DPM temperate combat uniform was introduced with no redesign of the UK uniform with further NZ manufacture based on the UK specifications. A significant improvement on the previous uniforms provided for training in NZ, the introduction was piecemeal, with selected RF field force units fitted out first, followed by issues to the remainder of the RF and TF as stocks were made available, resulting in BD trousers and other legacy combat clothing items remaining in use well into the mid-1980s. While this article provides an overview of NZ Army combat clothing from 1950 to 1980, it provides a starting point for further research.
 Army 213/1/92 DSIR Tropical Clothing Dated 3 October 1955. “Clothing – Tropical Clothing and Personal Equipment,” Archives NZ No R17187760 (1955 – 1967); “Clothing – Policy and General – Annual Clothing Review,” Archives NZ No R17311752 (1967-1975).
 Army 213/5/320 Provision of Jungle Green Uniforms dated 2 December 1955. “Clothing – Policy and General – Jungle Green Uniforms,” Archives NZ No R17311754 (1955 – 1988).
 Army 213/5/1/ORD 7 Trouser Green Drill 1952 5 January 1962.”Clothing – Khaki Dress – Green Drill, Manufacture,” Archives NZ No R17187768 (1962-1967).
 CM (56)16 dated 10 April 1956. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting,” Archives NZ No R17187816 (1968 – 1970).
 “H-19 Military Forces of NZ Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (1958).
 Army 213/7/40/Q(Org) Clothing replacement – NZ Army Force FARELF. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting,” Archives NZ No R17187813 (1957 – 1962).
 Report on equipment used: Jungle Training Course No1. “Cookers – Jungle Warfare Equipment: General,” Archives NZ No R17189107 (1945-1968).
 Cmd 8/2/Q Introduction of New Orders of Dress – RF (Males) Trousers and Shirts, Drill Green Dated 5 November 1958. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187791 (1957-1964).
 Army 213/7/4/DQ Dress-NZ Army 16 October 1959. Ibid.
 Army 213/10/7/A4 Dress: Male Officers and Soldiers 25 November 1960.”Clothing – Dress: NZ Army Forces, Far East Land Forces,” Archives NZ No R17187820 (1957-1963).
 Army 209/3/218/Q(Org) NZ FARELF Clothing Scales 7 March 1960. “Cookers – Jungle Warfare Equipment: General.”
 Army 246/6/194/SD Trial Instructions Clothing and equipment designed for use in training 11 July 1961.”Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training,” Archives NZ No R9753143 (1961 – 1966).
 Army 213/7/40/QMG Maintenance of NZ Army Forces in SEA in Clothing and Personal Equipment November 1968. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”
 Army 213/7/4/DQ Basic Clothing Range: RF Males Dated 11 September 1962. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue.”
 Army 213/7/40/Q(A) Clothing issues – Male Personnel posted for duty in FARELF dated 8 March 1963.Ibid.
 Army 213/7/4/Adm NZ Army Clothing and Personal Equipment Policy Statement dated 10 November 1964. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187792 (1964-1967).
 Ministry of Defence 41/3/3 Army Clothing and Equipment Programme Army Submission 213/7/4 of 4.4.65 Dated 16 June 1965. Ibid.
 Army 213/7/4 Army Clothing and Personal Equipment Programme Dated 27 May 1966. Ibid.
 Army 213/7/4/Q9C) Pullovers Dated 15 August 1963. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue.”
 Army 213/5/42/Q(A) Introduction of Shirts Training (CCN 8405-NZ-101-0588/0596) 22 April 1965.”Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training.”
 Army 213/5/42/Q(D) Trial Instructions – Training Shirts 13 December 1965. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/92/Q(D) Shirts, Tropical Combat 20 November 1964. “Clothing – Tropical Clothing and Personal Equipment.”
 1 RNZIR Trial report 28 March 1965. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/92 Tropical Combat Clothing 5 August 1965. Ibid.
 HQ NZ V Force 213/1/92 Tropical Combat Clothing 17 August 1965. Ibid.
 Deputy Secretary of Defence (Army) 213/1/92/OS1 Purchase of cloth for trial combat clothing 15 September 1965. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/92/Q(D) Shirting Tropical Combat 10 December 1965. Ibid.
 Army 213/7/4 Study: Clothing Scales outer Garments Dated 2 August 1967. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187793 (1967-1976).
 Army 246/78/5/Q(D) Trial Instructions Tropical Combat Dress (Aust) 11 January 1967. “Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training,” Archives NZ No R9853144 (1966 – 1969).
 Army 213/1/106/Q(D) Tropical Combat Clothing Trial 11 September 1967. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/106/OS9 Trouser Combat Tropical Trial 4 January 1968.Ibid.
 Army 213/1/106/ORD6 Trousers Combat Tropical 18 September 1968.”Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project,” Archives NZ No R17187753 (1968-1976).
 NZ Army Purchase Description No 105 dated 4 January 1968. “Clothing – Men’s Drill Green Field Combat Tropical 1967 Pattern 1970-71,” Archives NZ No R24510756 (1970-71).
 NZ Army Purchase Description No 106 dated 5 February 1968. “Clothing – Trousers Men’s Drill Green Field Combat – Tropical 1967 Pattern,” Archives NZ No R24510754 (1968 -1968).
 Army 213/1/106/Q899 Trousers: Combat Tropical 28 March 1968
 Army 213/1/106/ord6 Trouser Combat Tropical 18 September 1968. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”
 NZ Army Purchase Description No 105A dated 23 October 1969. “Clothing – Men’s Drill Green Field Combat Tropical 1967 Pattern 1970-71.”
 Army 213/7/40/Q Ops Brief for QMG Clothing and Personal Equipment for NZ Army Forces in the Far East Dated 24 September 1969. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”
 Commonwealth of Australia 209/B/10 Malaysia and Singapore Planning Clothing and Personal Equipment dated 14 October 1969.
 Army 213/7/40/Q Ops Brief for QMG Clothing and Personal Equipment for NZ Army Forces in the Far East Dated 24 September 1969. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”
 DOS 106/9 10 Combat Clothing and Army Dress Rationalization, dated 10 September 1973. “Army 220/5/103/Aac Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 March 1971,” Archives NZ No R9753141 (1971).
 DEP 213/1/37 Adoption of Disruptive Pattern Uniform Dated 22 September 1975. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”
 Army 213/1/37/EP Sponsor Evaluation Disruptive Pattern Uniform for use in Temperate climates Date 4 March 1975. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/104/Inf Minutes of a meeting on a sponsor review of Combat Clothing sand equipment Dated 7 May 1975.”Clothing – Policy and General – Annual Clothing Review.”
 2/1 RNZIR B5/12/2 Evaluation Report Disruptive Pattern (DPR) Uniforms Dated 15 September 1975. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”
 D Inf 213/1/37/EP Temperate Disruptive Pattern Uniform Dated 29 September 1975. Ibid.
 Army 213/1/37/EP Combat Clothing Dated 9 December 1975. Ibid.
 Army Staff Target 08 74/75 Temperate Zone Combat/Training Clothing Dated 16 July 1976. “Clothing – Policy and General – Intro of Combat Clothing Project,” Archives NZ No R17311750 (1977-81).
 ACDS (Spt) Minute SP 131/1977 Temperate Climate Combat/Training Clothing for NZ Army Dated 28 April 1977. Ibid.
 DEP 157 DPM Clothing Dated 28 May 1981.Ibid.
 NZLF 18415/Ord 1 Issue of DPM Smocks/Hoods/Liners Dated 15 July 1981.Ibid.
 Army 213/1/39/GS Tropical Weight Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) Uniform Dated 8 October 1918. Ibid.
 NZFORSEA NZF 208.09 DPM Clothing Dated 23 September 1980. Ibid.
 NZDEF Army 213/1/39 For Comd from DCGS Dated 28 July 1980. Ibid.