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milhistry

South African green veld uniform

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Does anyone have an example or good photos of the Green (or Grey) Veld uniform worn by some units of the SA Army during the 1930s. I have conflicting sources about when & by whom it was worn. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

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Does anyone have an example or good photos of the Green (or Grey) Veld uniform worn by some units of the SA Army during the 1930s. I have conflicting sources about when & by whom it was worn. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

There's a colour pic of a cigarette card (circa 1938) showing a soldier in this uniform at : http://samilitaryhis...g/vol122as.html.

According to an article by Col M. de Villiers in Commando magazine (Jan 1954), the veld- green uniform was introduced in 1922, though I've also read that it was introduced when the PF was reorganised in 1923. A khaki gaberdine uniform was introduced in 1934, and I understand that the arrangement was veld-green in winter and khaki in summer. During WWII, some officers began combining the veld-green tunic with the khaki trousers, and after the war (De Villiers says 1948) this 'two-tone' colour scheme became the norm, and it remains such today.

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There's a colour pic of a cigarette card (circa 1938) showing a soldier in this uniform at : http://samilitaryhis...g/vol122as.html.

According to an article by Col M. de Villiers in Commando magazine (Jan 1954), the veld- green uniform was introduced in 1922, though I've also read that it was introduced when the PF was reorganised in 1923. A khaki gaberdine uniform was introduced in 1934, and I understand that the arrangement was veld-green in winter and khaki in summer. During WWII, some officers began combining the veld-green tunic with the khaki trousers, and after the war (De Villiers says 1948) this 'two-tone' colour scheme became the norm, and it remains such today.

Thanks for that. I've seen references to "veld green" and "veld grey" and was wondering whether these were the same uniform or not. I've seen a grey-green uniform (simmilar colour to the service dress worn by SWATF in the 1980s) which as far as I can determine was worn, in South Africa at least, up to WWII.

I've also seen pictures of the SSB other ranks wearing khaki drill, step-collared jackets in the mid to late 'thirties (with polo pattern helmets), which would be the summer dress you describe above.

What I would really like to establish is when the drab (i.e. greenish-brown) service dress replaced the green-grey version (or were they worn concurrently)?

The drab, barathea service dress seems to have been almost universal during WW2 (along with the light khaki gaberdine version). I've seen numerous photographs (including ones of my grandfather) wearing the greenish-brown barathea SD jacket with khaki shorts and long stockings (possibly hose-tops) during WW2 which supports de Villiers' suggestion, except that (in my grandfathers case at least) it was the green-brown jacket not the grey-green one. I had not until now made the connection between the wearing of drab jackets with KD shorts to the two-tone Whipcord uniform introduced in the 1950s. I had assumed that the inspiration was the US Army Class A "pinks" uniform worn by US oficers in Korea as the changeover to the two-tone uniform in South Africa coincided with the Korean conflict.

My interest in the grey-green uniform is two-fold. (1) I am trying to establish what uniform would have worn when serving in the Permanent Force from 1922-1939 (2) it was, as far as I'm aware, the second attempt at creating a uniquely South African service dress uniform (the first being the short-lived Active Citizen Force uniform of 1913-14).

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My interest in the grey-green uniform is two-fold. (1) I am trying to establish what uniform would have worn when serving in the Permanent Force from 1922-1939 (2) it was, as far as I'm aware, the second attempt at creating a uniquely South African service dress uniform (the first being the short-lived Active Citizen Force uniform of 1913-14).

These extracts from De Villiers' article ('Uniforms : SA Permanent Force' in Commando, Jan 1954) may answer (1):

"At the same time [i.e. the reorganisation of the PF] the colour of the service dress uniforms was changed from khaki to veld-green. The other ranks' tunics were the same as the officers' tunics except that they had five buttons down the front instead of four. In addition except for the SA Field Artillery, webb equipment was worn. The SAFA retained their bandoliers, and the SA Permanent Garrison Artillery wore webb equipment on parade, but bandoliers when not on parade. The gunners were proud of their highly polished bandoliers.

"All mounted personnel wore riding breeches, leggings and spurs, and dismounted other ranks trousers and puttees. All officers wore riding breeches and leggings or field boots, spurs being worn by mounted officers only. Later on breeches, marching and plus-fours (for the Air force) were introdced, but very few officers provided themselves with the breeches marching. All Air force officers were required to wear plus-fours and puttees."

"On occasions such as Royal or Governor-General's Escorts, Guards on Royal or Governor-general's residences, Guards of Honour or other special occasion, Review Order 'A' was worn. It consisted of service dress with field boots (and not leggings), Sam Browne belts with swords in leather scabbards, helmet with dome (or spike) and chain, medals and brown leather gloves. Officers of the Staff Corps wore the same dress but wore a spike (instead of the plume) andchain, and in addition aigulettes. However they seldom, if ever, paraded with the troops.

"Other ranks had only Review Order 'A' and they wore domes (or spikes) and chains on their helmets, and medals and stripped webb equipment. Otherwise their dress was the same as service dress. Lanyards with whistles were worn with all orders of dress except mess dress by officers, WOs and non-commissioned officers, the lanyard being worn around the right shoulder in mounted units and the left shoulder in others. Gunners, riflemen and privates did not wear lanyards."

"In 1925, the tunic of the other ranks was altered from the open-neck officers' type tunic (with 5 buttons instead of four) to a closed-neck stand-up collar pattern with breast pocket only."

"In 1932, the uniforms undewent a drastic change and khaki was re-introduced. Officers wore gaberdine tunics, a gaberdine cap and gaberdine shorts with Fox puttees for summer wear and a barathea tunic, barathea cap, gaberdine shorts with Fox puttees for winter wear. Other ranks wore khaki drill tunics, shorts and puttees all the year round. In addition, officers and other ranks were permitted to wear shirts only with their shorts.

"The veld-green uniforms were retained as Review Order 'A'. The khaki uniforms were optional, but everyone welcomed the change as the veld-green uniforms were very hot in summer, and very soon all officers and other ranks had provided themselves with the khaki uniforms. Shortly after, khaki canvas leggings repalced the puttees. Only members of the SAAF were permitted to wear stockings and shoes."

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Thanks! That certainly fills a lot of gaps in my info. I'm trying to work out what a relative of mine would have worn when in the PF and that gives me a much better picture.

I've managed to find a few, fairly poor, photos of the grey-green uniform that I'll attempt to post a few here for interest.

The first (SAAF one with helmet) shows the step collar (I took this photo in the SAAF Museum several years ago). I assume this is the 5 button step collar type? The 5th button must be hidden under the webbing belt. (If this is the case, the polo helmet would be out of place however as they didn't come onto the scene until the 1930s).

Edited by milhistry

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This one was (I think in the Natal Museum). It's the high collared type with breast pockets only. This one has red tabs though, which if de Villiers is correct about dates, would be out of place.

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A picture of various senior officers taken sometime in the 1930s. Note the variety of dress.

This picture is included to illustrate some of the other uniforms mentioned.

e.g. Colonels Dan Pienaar & George Brink (seated L & R ends respectively) are both wearing shirt sleeves. Pienaar with putties and Brink with canvas leggings.

Colonel Frank Theron is wearing light khaki gaberdine with shorts and canvas leggings. Brig-Gen Wakefield appears to be wearing the green-brown barathea jacket with khaki shorts and leather leggings. Maj-Gen Andries Brink is wearing breeches with field boots. Brig-Gen van Ryneveld... hard to tell whether breeches or plus fours but they seem to be much lighter in colour than AJ Brink's.

Colonels Naude' and de Waal (back row) are wearing light khaki gaberdine. The two unknown standing officers are wearing the polo pattern helmet which puts this photo after 1934.

I'll see if I can find a nice picture of the other rank's khaki drill uniform.

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Glad that De Villiers' article was helpful.

Thanks for the photos. The group pic is particularly interesting - it shows practically everyone who was anyone in the UDF in the late 1930s.

Brig-Gen van Ryneveld... hard to tell whether breeches or plus fours but they seem to be much lighter in colour than AJ Brink's.

They look like Bedford cord riding breeches, like Col George Brink is also wearing.

The two unknown standing officers are wearing the polo pattern helmet which puts this photo after 1934.

As H.S. Wakefield (third from left, next to Pirow) is wearing a general's cap badge, this photo must date from between 1937 (when he was appointed Deputy CGS and promoted to brigadier-general) and September 1939 (when Pirow resigned).

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Yes, indeed. My relative who was in the PF during this period was attested by Pienaar, nearly got transferred to van Ryneveld and later worked for Brink.

Thanks for the comments. Always good to get additional info. I've found an interetsing picture of the khaki drill uniform. It's from "Camera in my kitbag" and shows SA troops at Buckingham Palace in 1937.

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Hello, saw your post about green veld uniforms and thought I would chime in to see if anyone else can help. I posted is a pic of a green veld helmet with ear flaps . This style helmet was used by RAF and other commonwealth air units prior to ww2. Was known as the type A "East of Malta" flying helmet. It has an SAAF badge as well as an as of yet to be determined helmet flash. The green over grey/light blue indicates atransvaal mounted or air unit of the active citizen force. Why a mounted unit would use an airforce helmet is unclear to me as is the red over black diagonal that is present on the lower grey/blue half of the flash, so I did some additional research - as was stated previously, the helmet flash is divided into an upper and lower halves, suggesting that it is from the Citizen Forces as oppsed to the Permanent Forces. The green upper half indicating Transvaal and the light blue or light grey indicating the branch of service. If the lower half is considered light blue then it would suggest air force, if light grey then ( I assume) Cavalry. The helmet having earflaps is the type issued to airforce units, so this would suggest it would belong to a citizen air force unit from the Transvaal as opposed to mounted or cavalry units.

I found the following on the SA airforce website regarding Citizen Air Force in the years immediately preceding WW2, around the date stamped on the interior of the helmet (1928/1929) and during the period the green veld material was used ( 1930's)- see below

"Abridged History of the Citizen Aviator in South Africa

(A more detailed history is available from Directorate Air Force Reserve 012 312 2295)

The first involvement of citizen-aviators in the military environment in South Africa can be traced back to 1912. Cecil Compton-Paterson was appointed as the first instructor at the Military Aviation School established to train aviators for the South African Aviation Corps. A while later the Transvaal Air Training Squadron (TATS) was established to train aviators for the Regular Air Force, this was a slow process and by1923 only 17 officers and 218 other ranks were serving in the fledgling force. To speed up the process a Special Reserve of Flying Officers (SRFO) was established in 1923 to do refresher courses for aviators and in 1926 to do cadet training. (The SRFO existed for several years after World War II.)

In 1925 the SAAF began training cadets to supplement the SRFO pilots. Ground subjects were presented at the Military College and flying training at Zwartkop Air Station. Ten student pilots were awarded SAAF Flying Badges (wings) after qualifying in 1927 and were absorbed into the TATS. Two courses followed in 1930 producing a further 38 cadets. At the same time a scheme to train 50 artisans was initiated.

In July 1927 a scheme of part-time courses for undergraduate pilots and later for artisans was started at the Transvaal University College (presently University of Pretoria) who formed the TUC Air Squadron as part of the SRFO. In 1928 this squadron was absorbed into the TATS and flying and ground training was done before and after normal working hours.

In Europe the rumblings of an impending war were being heard and South Africa, along with other European nations, began to look at military resources. In 1935 the One Thousand Pilots Scheme to train 1000 pilots and 700 aircraft mechanics was launched with a view to training 1000 pilots and 700 mechanics by 1942. To achieve this the TATS was expanded beyond the University of Pretoria to include ab-initio training at civilian flying clubs with advanced training at SAAF Flying Training Schools. In July 1938 the TATS was reorganized into 13 flights located at strategic points in the country and renamed the Union Air Training Group."

Given the aforementioned, I wonder if this helmet may be from one of these Transvaal Air Squadrons that preceded or were contemporary to the SAAF.http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-13589-0-77268600-1383100318.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-13589-0-98426200-1383101779.jpg

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I have a few tunics and a pith helmet in my collection.

I will request some photographs from home.

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-3034-0-80781300-1383208945.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-3034-0-02081600-1383208965.jpg

Pretoria Regiment pith or "polo" helmet.

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A senior or general officer's tunic when the blue gorget patches were still worn in the U.D.F.

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http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-3034-0-96358900-1383212515.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-3034-0-45348300-1383212530.jpg

Jodhpur or riding breeches that were with the tunic.

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General service collar badges, worn 1940 to 1945?

The material colour is very visible in this photograph.

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Beautiful items, very helpful thanks for posting.

The green fabric on my helmet appears to be identical to the ones you,ve posted.

I was wondering, if the flash of my helmet doesn't match with known SA units, could it be from rhodesia/Nyasaland?

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It is very possible, unfortunately the research available on these helmet flashes are not complete and I have some in my collection that I have not been able to identify.

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