Quite possibly the most iconic and enduring piece of British military clothing ever made. The Denison smock's history lies in the early part of WW2. Having seen the success of the German's airborne forces in Norway, Churchill ordered Britain's parachute regiment to be formed and expanded quickly. Initially the British copied the German parachute oversmock, called a knockensack, but soon developed their own large overfitting garment known as a Denison smock. The first iteration was introduced in 1942, and whilst there would be small changes, remained largely unchanged into the late 50s.
This is a stunning example of that first iteration from 1942. These very first versions were produced in a 'handpainted' camouflage, with rumour being that the fabric was camouflaged using brooms and done by hand. The dyes that were used were far from colourfast, and of the few of these rare pieces that still exist, many have lost all their camouflage colour.
The first pattern is known for its single panel front construction, brass Newey studds, knitted cuffs and free hanging tail (known in the army as the 'under fork'). This is the classic ww2 pattern, produced in 1942 & 43, before the more common second pattern was introduced in 1944. The vast majority of the photos you see of the paras in Normandy or Arnhem has them wearing these first patterns. To find one these days in this condition is hard indeed.
The Denison itself has amazing unwashed colour to the camouflage, plus the label & acceptance stamps are all strong and very visible. I would suggest that this one was unissued. It's been surplussed, as evidenced by the red cross on the label, and has had an AM stamped Dot zipper applied to the front - interestingly they've retained a windflap behind the zipper made of a combination of printed denison fabric and British army green denim. There are patches to both sleeves, a postwar jump wing and WW2 Warrant Officer 2 sleeve insignia, and a shadow of a Glider Pilot patch removed from above the right pocket. It still includes a manufacturers labels around the hem, army acceptance stamps - interestingly from 1943 which suggests this was made in late 1942 and delivered in 1942. There is also a 7, assuming another size indicator stamped onto the fabric.
Overall this is in excellent mint-condition, and is a hard-to-beat example of these much desired smocks.
- Tagged a size 7, height 6'0 - 6'2, chest 39-41
- Fits very large
- Pit to pit: 30" approx
- Shoulder to shoulder: 24"
- Shoulder to cuff: 30"
- Collar to hem: 38"