Definitely one of the quirkier items that I've had in my possession. The standard 37 pattern webbing that was issued to British forces during the war wasn't entirely well liked, and in 1942 Col. Rivers-MacPherson developed the one piece 'Battle Jerkin', a large vest incorporating front chest pockets, a rear backpack, and multiple other pockets and attachments for equipment. These were used on D-Day, but again weren't well liked due to being heavy and hot.
The answer was the scaled down skeleton assault vest - know as a Bren Vest, or Bren Bra. This was a dramatically reduced design with two chest pockets and a slot in which to carry a standard lee-enfield bayonet. It's true the front pockets on the vest were curved to allow for Bren Gun magazines, but were actually known as universal pockets, and could carry anything from grenades to sten gun mags, to binoculars. These were definitely issued and used during the war, and certainly by assault forces including the Royal Marines Commandos, and Polish mountain troops.
This is an example of the first pattern vest - the later version would have string adjustable backs. It's stamped with Castle Cole Co. Ltd makers marks, along with a 1943 date, a broad arrow and the size medium.
Deadstock and completely unused
- Stamped a medium
- Adjustable fit around the chest to max around a 42