10 November 2011

Camouflage In Canada

Misspelled but treasured

L to R: Lance Cpl Lodge, Sp4 Tinseth (Woodland Pattern), Major Campbell

Canadian Jump Smock

British Para Smock

Night Jump

It was a beautiful evening view of Edmonton from the open doorway of a C 130. And night did not last long. As a visiting American, I was given the honor of going first and standing in the door. I stared open mouthed at Edmonton's bright white lights while red and yellow streaks cut low lines in the dawn sky. The sun was coming up at 3AM. Days were long and nights were short.

Wings were awarded later that afternoon on Buxton Drop Zone followed by a celebration known as a 'Prop Blast.' Everyone remained in uniform. The US camouflage pattern then was called Woodland. It anticipated action in Western Europe and WWW III against the Warsaw Pact. It was also dark and dull. The Canadian Jump Smock was almost bright in comaprison. A wonderfully made jacket with gravitas and substance compared to flimsy US stop-rip cotton.

Neither held a candle to the British Para Smock of L/Cpl Lodge of the 22nd SAS. It combined '70s Rhodesia, '50s Malaysia and a smattering of contemporary Italian Para all in one pattern. I understand a US Army T.M. of world camouflage patterns is the new 'Take Ivy' among NYC designers. Who knows? Maybe Tommy Hilfiger will finally disappear.


Oyster Guy said...

I've got a Canadian Para Smock (unbadged) you can borrow if you ever want to street test it out on the fashion runways of NYC. It'll probably fit you, NATO Size 3 Short Large, Height 63 to 67, Breast 41.6 to 45.5. Made in Dec.1978.
Yes, the Canadian camo patten was brighter. It was a pattern originally made for the Tanzanian Armed Forces. All that was changed was to reverse two of the colours within the pattern. It wasn't about effectiveness, the CAR just wanted to look snazzy.
The smock was originally made and paid for by the Regiment itself and when the grown ups upstairs got wind of it, there was a bit of a squawk. The Regt was going a bit rogue and using the face saving logic of adopting what you can't prevent, The Dept of National Defence officially took over the production contract. It's a very interesting bit of Canadian sartorial history. I think the pattern should see wider use as a "heritage" item.
If you want camo that works, the best stuff is made in Canada: hyperstealth.com

Anonymous said...

Misspelled, yes, but you're just one letter omission away from a car vanity tag. That para smock is badass. I actually still have the Canadian jump wings you "secured" for me - justly deserved bragging rights from a skydiving friend to a scuba diving friend.


Anonymous said...

The Canadian army actually revived the camo smock (or something very similar)for awhile in the early 90s. It contrasted nicely against the OD green pants. This was when the Somalia scandal was grippin the country (some Canadian paras tortured a Somali teenager to death for stealing materials from their camp), morale was at an all time low. The powers that be decided a nice jacket was just what was needed to buck up the troops.

Oyster Guy said...

Anon, what you are referring to was known as Garrison Dress. The coat was a green 4 colour camo heavy polyester monster that was never intended for wear in the field, strictly around barracks or offices. Why camo was thought appropriate in built up areas is beyond me, I think it was simply the leg outfits and DND HQ were jealous of the CAR's jump smock. Never popular, Garrison Dress was tossed after about 5 years. Somalia is a story for another day and one that is still largely untold in public.

Anonymous said...

MultiCam is the new khaki !

j.mosby said...

I'm partial to the WW2 British Denison Smock! The Denison design lead the way to all current smock designs.

tintin said...

Oyster Guy-
I should put you on payroll. Can you spell? Thanks for the details. Back in the early 90s the US Cavalry Store offered the OD Green Canadian winter parka as well as the Abn smock. I always meant to purchase both but never got around to it. Don't send me yours. If it fits I'll never return it.

DB- Did I get you a pr of wings? I'll be darned. Metal or cloth?

Anon 16:40- I'll let my new editor, Oyster Guy handle this. Go ahead Oyster.

Oyster Guy- I never understood Somalia and what exactly happened. All I know is that it didn't square with the people I knew and respected. In fact, my instructor was Roger Scully. He just passed away. Don't know if you knew him. He's someone I'll never forget. Obit here:

Anon 13:55- You must work for McNairy.

j mosby- Thanks for bringing the Denison up. I wanted one badly after seeing A Bridge Too Far. I have a book that details the intro of the US Army's WWII airborne jkt, testing, etc and how the jungle fatigue jkt from the Vietnam era was descended from it. I just can't find the book. Just as well. I'm afraid I'm getting too geeky. Anyway, here's a nift web site with color shots of the Denison pattern. http://www.kamouflage.net/camouflage/00073.php

tintin said...

Sorry Osyter, here's Roger Scully's obit:

Anonymous said...

it's cold outside, snuggle cakes.