Dragoon Uniforms


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Denim Battle Dress Uniform

Here is an example of the denim utility battle dress uniform. This was originally meant to be worn over the wool BD during dirty work. The Poles and British alike however found it more suitable for wearing during warm temperatures. It should be remembered that unlike the U.S Army, summer uniforms were not general issue to British, Canadian, Commonwealth and Government in Exile troops. That being said, the denims were the uniform of choice during the hot August days during the battle of the Falaise Gap. This corporal wears a pair of private purchased sun glasses which are not part of the standard uniform.

Below is a picture of a Dragoon from the summer of 44. Notice not only is he wearing his denims without the wool battledress beneath, but he’s also using captured German binoculars and pistol case. Being a utility working uniform the denims are generally devoid of any insignia. Sometimes the Poles did put their national titles on the sleeves however this was not mandatory. Scan and caption from General Maczek Polish Cultural Foundation Ltd, London 1991.

Service Dress Uniform

The service dress uniform was a privately purchased garment generally reserved for officers but sometimes worn by very senior enlisted men. This was basically a uniform to be worn while in garrison, around the office or when ceremonies or reviews required attire more formal than the standard battle dress uniform. Being a privately purchased and tailored uniform there was a certain amount of leeway allowed in the officer’s mode of dress. For example, the Dragoons considered themselves members of the cavalry harkening back to prewar days. That being the case Dragoon, Lancer and other armoured officers often chose to wear riding breeches of Bedford cord with brown riding boots instead of the standard straight leg trousers to associate themselves with their mounted days. The tunic illustrated in the photo is from the early part of the war before the “austerity” pattern of service dress was made. The upper pockets are scalloped and pleated, these extra refinements were generally done away with as a means of conserving the precious barathea wool material. The Sam Browne belt was often omitted during the later days of the war and replaced with a cloth belt the same colour as the tunic. The regimental badge was worn centered on the left, breast pocket on both SD and BD uniforms by all ranks within the regiment after having served an honourable one year with the unit during peace time or 30 days during war. In addition, a black braided cord was worn on the left should by members of the regiment.

Pictured below is an original photo of Jan Karcz  in service dress from 1941. This was taken upon his transfer into the Polish army as an officer cadet. Notice he is not yet wearing his regimental collar pennons or any unit insignia to distinguish him as a member of a particular regiement. He is however wearing privately purchased Polish eagle buttons on his tailored tunic. He also has a black cloth eppaullette on his left shoulder. That combined with his distinctive Polish rank insignia show that he is not a member of the British or Commonwealth forces.

Officer vs Enlisted Uniforms

This photo shows the differences between the officer’s and enlisted battle dress and web equipment. Both men wear the standard Canadian produced P37 uniforms. The material is the same however the officer at left has taken his tunic to a tailor or seamstress to open the neck closure area and add lapels to expose his necktie. Until 1944 the King’s Regulations forbade enlisted and NCO’s from wearing neckties in uniform. The Polish troops however were not subject to those guidelines and so many privates and NCO’s wore neck ties when off duty or in their “walking out” uniforms for excursions on the town. In addition to the notations in the picture it should also be mentioned that Dragoon troopers being vehicle borne, did not generally wear their small packs (back packs) or entrenching tools on their person.

Cold Weather Outer Wear

     The photo below shows a Dragoon trooper standing in the ring mount of his White M3A1. His outer garment is an issue leather “jerkin.” This leather vest was lined with OD wool and closed with four plastic buttons. The thick leather stopped the wind from cutting through the wool BD top. The advantage of the jerkin was two fold in that it kept the wearer much warmer but also provided greater freedom of movement than that of the cumbersome overcoat.

     The picture above shows a two man Dragoon Bren team. The #2 gunner is wearing the standard issue enlisted P37 overcoat mentioned in the previous paragraph. This coat was double breasted and carried the same regimental markings as the battle dress tunic with the exception of the black shoulder knot. The rear of the coat was sewn with an expandable vent in the back to allow for more movement. The tails of the could be buttoned from the small of the back, straight down for added warmth. While these coats were very warm their extreme weight made them somewhat impractical.