The New Zealand Army uniform has changed over the years from that of the original Armed Constabulary of the 1800s to the modern Army Combat Uniform style in use by the majority of world armies today. While British Army influence has always been strong, distinctive New Zealand features have gradually developed. From 2013 the New Zealand Army uniform underwent a complete redesign with a new and distinctive camouflage pattern unique to the NZDF.
During the New Zealand Wars of 1846–1886, settler militia and Maori allies in a variety of clothing styles served alongside the British Imperial forces who wore their red and blue undress uniforms until plain dark blue field uniforms were adopted after 1860. Uniform consisted of “blue shirt, a cap similar to that worn by sailors, and any kind of trousers”. Maoris served throughout the wars in the 1860s, generally in tribal groups, or as members of the European volunteer forces.In the later stages of the Land Wars the government passed the Armed Constabulary Act of 1867, replacing the British Regular and local militia regiments. The Armed Constabulary had combined military and police functions and was the forerunner of both the NZ Army and the New Zealand Police. Members wore a blue woollen uniform with a red stripe down the trouser seam and a kepi-like headdress. In the field this was often worn with a kilt or Māori Piupiu for convenience in wading across streams and rivers. By 1870 the last British regiment had left New Zealand.
The New Zealand contingent serving in South Africa from 1899–1902 sometimes wore the British pith helmet with standard khaki drill uniform and puttees. The usual headdress however was the Australian style slouch hat, worn at this stage in its history without the turned-up brim. The New Zealand and other colonial contingents in this war affected a more casual dress style than the more strictly disciplined British regulars.
The Volunteers were created by the Militia Act of 1858, and continued until 1910. The force consisted of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and was usually formed for specific tasks and duties. The various volunteer militia units in existence until 1910 wore a variety of scarlet, dark blue or rifle-green dress uniforms, generally closely following contemporary British Army patterns. Some units, recruited in coastal areas, favored Royal Navy style dress.
The Volunteer forces became unpopular and the Defence Act of 1909 called for the Volunteer Force to be replaced by a Territorial Force manned through compulsory military service.
Since 1902 a khaki serge service uniform had been general issue. The regional regiments of the new Territorial Army, which replaced the militia, wore the universal "1912 Uniform" of khaki in a greenish/brown shade, worn with a slouch hat. Officers frequently wore the peaked cap of the British Army.
Units were distinguished by regimental badges attached to the turned up brim of the hat; and branches by colored piping on tunic shoulder straps and trouser seams.Dark blue dress uniforms were authorised for officers and members of the small Permanent Staff (regular cadre).
New Zealand’s Territorial Force formed the basis of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) sent to help the British in World War I although there was no formal military connection between the Territorials and the NZEF. Most volunteers who joined the NZEF had received military training in the Territorials.
From 1914-1915 New Zealand soldiers wore the Territorial Force uniform issued in 1912. Coloured piping on the shoulders of the New Zealand-made jackets indicated branch of service.
During the Gallipoli campaign New Zealand troops wore a variety of hot-weather khaki drill uniforms with either slouch hats or the Peaked cap of the British Army.Supply difficulties and the harsh nature of terrain and climate during this campaign meant that little emphasis was placed on smartness or uniformity of dress.
After the Gallipoli campaign the New Zealand Expeditionary Force replaced the Territorial Force uniform with khaki uniforms of British style together with the distinctive campaign hat that would come to be nicknamed the "lemon squeezer" in New Zealand. The "lemon squeezer" was adopted by the Wellington Regiment about 1911 and became general issue for all New Zealand units during the latter stages of World War I. The different branches of service were distinguished by coloured puggaree or wide bands around the base of the crown (blue and red for artillery, green for mounted rifles, khaki and red for infantry etc.).
The uniforms worn on the Western Front included a mounted service pattern greatcoat, the Brodie helmet when in combat, and the universal combat boots and puttees wrapped around the legs.The conspicuous coloured branch facings were phased out after 1916, although surviving on the campaign hats.
The reduced peace-time New Zealand forces of the period 1920–39 retained what was essentially a smartened version of the Western Front uniform of 1916–18. Puttees however were replaced by short anklets during the 1930s and a dark-blue dress uniform was approved in 1938 to encourage voluntary recruiting for Territorial units. Only bands resumed the scarlet parade uniforms of the pre-1910 Volunteer era.
The lemon squeezer with a wide range of coloured "pugaree" hat-bands to distinguish branches and units was retained in most orders of dress.
Until mechanization, the Mounted Rifles regiments wore their own version of the slouch hat, with a green pugaree.
During the earlier stages of the War the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force wore the traditional "lemon squeezer" Campaign hat with the universal "NZ" badge. The hat with its conspicuous coloured pugarees and wide rigid brim was largely replaced by more practical forage caps and berets during the Italian Campaign of 1943–44.
A high-collared khaki service uniform, drawn from peace-time issue, was soon replaced by British battle dress in common with other Commonwealth forces (with the exception of Australia.) In late 1939 large scale manufacture of Battle dress uniforms was started in New Zealand by numerous local clothing manufacturers. The New Zealand version was almost identical to British 1937 pattern, made in Serge twill but of a darker brown, while the stitching was a contrasting light colour. The NZ blouse had a six button fly front, rather than the British five.In North Africa the New Zealanders wore light khaki Drill cotton short-sleeved shirts and shorts.
During the Pacific Campaign in 1943-1944, members of the 3rd New Zealand Division were issued New Zealand-designed and manufactured light-weight khaki shirts and pants in plain drill material. A second New Zealand-made blouse with four front pockets in a camouflage pattern consisting of dark green, chocolate brown, black, and lime green was issued for combat use.
In combat the Brodie helmet was also worn. The helmet was assembled in New Zealand from Australian materials and could be worn with a hessian cover held with a draw-string.A black diamond was sewn on the helmet cover, usually with the NZ Forces badge with "NZ" and "Onward" mounted on the diamond. Latter-war helmets were also imported complete from Australia.
New Zealand committed an artillery battery and a company from RNZASC in the Korean War. New Zealand uniforms were basically the same as other participating Commonwealth forces, as all Commonwealth forces served in the British 1st Commonwealth Division. British, Canadian, New Zealand, and South African forces entered the war wearing World War II-style battle dress with different headdress, such as berets, forage caps, and slouch hats to distinguish each other.Australia never adopted British Battle dress during World War II but did eventually adopt it later in Korea. The colours of each nation's Battle dress differed. Canadian Battle dress had since World War II been more green than the British, and New Zealand Battle dress was always a darker brown. The Battle dress worn by the South African Air Force serving in Korea was more of a tan colour.
Due to the harsh and freezing conditions of the Korean winter Allied forces had to source suitably protective clothing by any means available. The British issued the "1950 Combat dress" which was based on the U.S. Army M1943 UniformCommonwealth troops often had to wear a mix-and-match of British and American cold weather clothing, depending on supply, proximity, and availability.
British-pattern Battle Dress was worn until the late 1950s, with British-issue "Jungle Greens" being used as field wear with Beret or Khaki Cap and British Boonie hat (usually called a "J hat") during the Malayan Emergency, Borneo and the earlier stages of the Vietnam War.
In Borneo in 1966, the New Zealand rifle companies wore coloured bands on their jungle hats as a means of recognising and identifying friendly forces in the jungle. The C Company band was black. C Company and D Company formed the basis of the first infantry deployment into Vietnam, Victor Company, with black becoming the colour of the Company. When Victor Company arrived in 1967 the Company members wore a black cravat embroidered with a small white Kiwi bird. At first this was worn as part of the formal dress (although never official) but as the "JGs" worn by New Zealand were almost identical to their Australian counterparts, the cravat was then sometimes worn on operations to distinguish the New Zealanders from the Australians, especially with the first Victor Company. The New Zealand artillery battery serving in Vietnam also used a black cravat with an embroidered white Kiwi bird for both dress uniform and sometimes as field wear.
New Zealand adopted Australian JGs from 1967 and were initially supplied from 1 ATF stocks. Subsequent New Zealand-made JGs were made with one difference in that the shirt pocket flaps were V-shaped and the pockets pleated, otherwise they were identical. In 1968, the Australian military replaced the straight breast pockets of their field shirts with slanted pockets and the shirt was designed to be worn outside of the trousers, in the style of American jungle fatigues. Additional pockets were placed on the upper sleeves of the shirt. The Australian soldiers nicknamed this updated uniform the "pixie suit" (for the slant of the pockets resembling pixie ears.)The new uniform was adopted by both Australian and New Zealand forces but both remained in use, depending on supply. The New Zealand-issue "pixie suits" were made in New Zealand.
Although Australians were forbidden by 1 ATF Command, some local acquisition of U.S jungle fatigues and other equipment from the U.S quartermaster by New Zealanders also occurred. The American uniforms were more suited for carrying maps and other documents and items and were thus popular with RNZIR platoon leaders, mortar crew, and artillery men.
Members of the NZ SAS officially wore American jungle fatigues in ERDL camouflage pattern as standard issue during the Vietnam War period and through the 1970s thereafter.Some local acquisition of South Vietnamese Tigerstripe camouflage pattern uniforms occurred also but this was very rare and never official.
Australian and New Zealand troops wore the British jungle hat until 1968 after which local versions were produced. The New Zealand-made boonie hat was slightly different to the Australian one in that it had press studs so the brim could be folded up.
The two New Zealand Army training teams, 1NZATTV serving in 1971 and 2NZATTV serving in 1972, additionally wore name tags above their right shirt pocket and "NZ ARMY" above their left pockets in the same convention as the U.S Army.
While New Zealand Army dress has historically shared similarities with British and Australian uniforms, the high crowned "lemon squeezer" campaign hat remains the most identifiable New Zealand distinction. Having been in abeyance since the 1950s, the "lemon squeezer" was reintroduced for ceremonial wear in 1977..
British Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) was adopted in 1980 as the camouflage pattern for clothing. The new camouflage uniforms were in the British 1968 Pattern, fully replacing the olive-green Australian JGs. The original DPM colours were further modified several times to better suit New Zealand conditions. This evolved pattern is now officially referred to as New Zealand disruptive pattern material (NZDPM.)
In the mid-1990s a quantity of British windproof smocks were purchased as the indigenously developed DPM camouflage woollen "Swanndri" had never really found favour due to its weight (especially when wet), bulk and impractical cut.
In 1997 a new uniform was issued which resembled the cut of the British "Combat Soldier 95" jungle DPM shirt and trousers. The shirt and trousers feature double knees, elbows and seat. Rank slides were worn on the shoulders. NZDPM remained the camouflage pattern. A lightweight 100% cotton NZDPM windproof smock was issued, which had a rank slide on the front, covered buttons and an integral hood.
A wide brimmed khaki slouch hat with green puggaree, of a pattern formerly worn by the New Zealand Mounted Rifle regiments, replaced the khaki "No 2" British Army peaked cap as Service dress uniform headdress for all branches in 1998.
The M1 steel helmet was the standard Combat helmet from 1960–2000.With the introduction of DPM camouflage pattern for clothing in 1980, helmet covers in NZDPM pattern soon replaced the helmet covers previously used which were earlier Vietnam War-era reversible USMC Standard ("Vine Leaf") and Mitchell ("brown clouds") and latter U.S ERDL pattern covers.
In the 1990s a universal pattern mess uniform comprising a scarlet mess jacket with blue-black trousers replaced the various regimental and corps mess dress uniforms previously worn, and is worn by officers and senior NCOs for formal evening occasions. The universal mess dress also replaced the white jacket and black Barathea trousers previously worn in summer or tropical cClimates. The mess uniform is based on the British "infantry pattern" mess uniform.
The dark blue "No 1" dress uniform formerly worn by officers before the general adoption of mess uniforms, was last worn in the early 1990s, although it was nominally retained for wear by the chief of army on appropriate state occasions. Scarlet and blue full dress uniforms of slightly differing patterns are worn by both the New Zealand Army Band and the Officer Cadet School, together with "lemon squeezer" hats respectively in khaki or dark blue. Highland orders of dress (glengarry, kilt, and sporrans) are authorised for wear by the New Zealand Scottish Squadron of the RNZAC, at the discretion of the squadron commander. They are also authorised for the pipes and drums of the 5th (Wellington, West Coast and Taranaki) Battalion Group.
General trends over the past two decades have included the appearance of distinctive New Zealand features in uniform details, combined with the reduction of corps and regimental distinctions in favor of standardised items of dress for reasons of supply rationalization and economy. With the adoption of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) by the United States in the mid 2000s many, if not most, world militaries have been influenced by the concept and cut of the uniform and have copied it to varying degrees. The ACU has had an influence too on New Zealand uniform changes during the 21st Century.
Until 2002, berets were in various colours according to branch or unit. Since then, under a "one beret" policy, rifle-green has become the universal colour for this headdress, except for the tan beret of the New Zealand Special Air Service and the blue beret of the New Zealand Defence Force Military Police.
The dark blue (formerly red) sashes worn by sergeants are now embroidered with a traditional Māori motif or mokowaewae denoting speed and agility.On the infantry sash, the mokowaewae appears in black, white and red diagonal 'steps', and on that of the New Zealand Scottish, in green, black and white. Short Māori cloaks are sometimes worn by senior officers as a mark of distinction on occasions of special ceremony, though they are not part of the regulation uniform.
In 2003 a desert DPM pattern, also based on the British pattern was in use with New Zealand peacekeeping forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. Visually the NZDDPM pattern has dithering between the brown and sand colours whereas the British pattern has none.NZ SAS soldiers serving in Afghanistan were seen in Australian-issue uniforms in Crye MultiCam camouflage consisting of Under Body Armour Combat System (UBACS) shirt and Crye Gen2 combat pants.
In 2000 the M1 steel helmet was replaced by the U.S PASGT helmet. New Zealand-issue PASGT helmets made by UNICOR were identical to the U.S Marine Corps Lightweight Helmet (LWH) in that it too uses a four-point retention strap system (compared to the two-point retention of the PASGT) and the velcro-attached pad system otherwise used in the U.S MICH 2000 and ACH helmets, rather than the traditional PASGT suspension system.
Helmet covers for the PASGT helmet were locally-made in NZDPM and NZDDPM patterns by long-time NZDF contractor Hills Hats.
In late 2008, the New Zealand Army commenced issue of a new combat uniform. Still in NZDPM and NZDDPM camouflage, the cut of the uniform leaned towards the concept and style of the U.S Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and is made in ripstop material. Patch pockets on the shirt were replaced by internal, vertical closure pockets and the shirt was cut for wear outside the trousers, and a camouflaged rank slide was worn on the front tab.Velcro patches on the arms enable the wearer to display removeable identifying badges, such as the New Zealand flag and the round black and white Kiwi bird emblem, and the United Nations, International Security Assistance Force or Multinational Force and Observers badges as used in overseas deployments and peacekeeping missions. When worn in the field, the uniform sleeves were rolled down, and camouflage face paint was worn. The NZDDPM version of the 2008 combat uniform was issued for use in Afghanistan, the Sinai and Lebanon.
In 2012 it was announced that the Mounted Rifles Hat (MRH) was to become the standard Army ceremonial headdress with the "lemon squeezer" being retained only for colour parties and other limited categories.
NZDPM and NZDDPM were replaced in 2013 by a single camouflage pattern and a new uniform called the New Zealand Multi Terrain Camouflage Uniform (MCU) for all branches of NZDF.The camouflage pattern is a variant of the Ghostex family of camouflage patterns by Canadian company Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. The cut of the MCU is in the ACU style, with mandarin collar, Velcro closures, slanted arm pockets, and removable elbow pads. However, the MCU pants are instead similar to the Crye G3 combat pant with additional forward-facing thigh pockets, removable knee pads, and velcro-adjustable cuff flaps for ease of blousing - the style of which is otherwise usually associated with contemporary Special Forces and Police tactical unit assault uniforms. The MCU, with the addition of a beret or sometimes the MRH, is now the working uniform. After several years of use, modifications to the uniform have since followed with a change in material to Teredo (polyester/cotton twill) for both uniform and boonie hat, a return to covered buttons, and the removal of the elbow and knee pad pockets.
From 2009 the Israeli-made, Australian Enhanced Combat Helmet (RBH 303 AU) became the standard issue combat helmetalthough the PASGT helmet is not fully phased out and is still used in training and with reservists. From late 2019 the Army began replacing the ECH with the Viper P4 ACH by Revision Military. NZ SAS continue to wear SOF-specific headgear such as FAST and other helmets.
In June 2019, the New Zealand Defence Force announced that NZMTP, a variant of the UK Armed Forces’ MTP camouflage, itself a variant of Crye Precision’s Multicam, would replace the current issue MCU camouflage pattern and the uniform will revert back to the 2008 cut. These changes apply to the whole of the armed forces with the changeover to be fully completed by 2023. Reasons for the change include material sourcing challenges, poor uniform fitting for female service personnel, subpar performance of the camouflage pattern itself, as well as material pattern commonality with Crye Precision’s Multicam pattern that is used by over 40 countries, allowing exploitation of current off-the-shelf military clothing and equipment for faster entry to service.
A slouch hat is a wide-brimmed felt or cloth hat most commonly worn as part of a military uniform, often, although not always, with a chinstrap. It has been worn by military personnel from many different nations including Australia, Britain, India, New Zealand, Southern Rhodesia, France, the United States, the Confederate States, Germany and many others. Australia and New Zealand have had various models of slouch hat as standard issue headwear since the late Victorian period.
A military uniform is a standardised dress worn by members of the armed forces and paramilitaries of various nations.
The New Zealand Army is the land component of the New Zealand Defence Force and comprises around 4,500 Regular Force personnel, 2,000 Territorial Force personnel and 500 civilians. Formerly the New Zealand Military Forces, the current name was adopted by the New Zealand Army Act 1950. The New Zealand Army traces its history from settler militia raised in 1845.
The Army Combat Uniform (ACU) is the current combat uniform worn by the United States Army, U.S. Air Force, and United States Space Force.
A combat uniform, field uniform, battledress or military fatigues, is a casual type of uniform used by military, police, fire and other public uniformed services for everyday fieldwork and combat duty purposes, as opposed to dress uniforms worn in functions and parades. It generally consists of a jacket, trousers and shirt or T-shirt, all cut more loose and comfortable than more formal uniforms. Design may depend on regiment or service branch, e.g. army, navy, air force, marines, etc. In the army branches, fabrics tend to come in camouflage, disruptive pattern or else green, brown or khaki monochrome, in order to approximate the background and make the soldier less visible in nature. In Western dress codes, field uniform is considered equivalent to civilian casual wear. As such, field uniform is considered less formal than service dress uniform, generally aimed at office or staff use, as well as mess dress uniform, and full dress uniform.
Imperial Japanese Army uniforms tended to reflect the uniforms of those countries who were the principal advisors to the Imperial Japanese Army at the time.
Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) is the commonly used name of a camouflage pattern used by the British Armed Forces as well as many other armies worldwide, particularly in former British colonies.
The United States Army in World War II used a variety of standard and non-standard dress and battle uniforms, which often changed depending upon the theater of war, climatic environment, and supply exigencies.
The Denison smock was a coverall jacket issued to Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents, the Parachute Regiment, the Glider Pilot Regiment, Air Landing Regiments, Air Observation Post Squadrons, Commando units, and other Commonwealth airborne units, to wear over their Battle Dress uniform during the Second World War.
The Uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces are the official dress worn by members of Canada's military while on duty.
Battledress was the specific title of a military uniform adopted by the British Army in the late 1930s and worn until the 1960s. Several other nations also introduced variants of battledress during the Second World War, including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States of America and after the Second World War, including Argentina, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Greece.
The uniforms of the British Army currently exist in twelve categories ranging from ceremonial uniforms to combat dress. Uniforms in the British Army are specific to the regiment to which a soldier belongs. Full dress presents the most differentiation between units, and there are fewer regimental distinctions between ceremonial dress, service dress, barrack dress and combat dress, though a level of regimental distinction runs throughout.
The modern Irish Army uniform is based on the layer principle and is designed to provide the soldier with the right degree of protection for any operational environment.
The Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps serve to distinguish Marines from members of other services. Among current uniforms in the United States Armed Forces, the Marine Corps dress uniforms have been in service the longest. The Marine Dress Blue uniform has, with few changes, been worn in essentially its current form since the late 19th century.
The New Zealand disruptive pattern material, also known as New Zealand DPM (NZDPM), was the official camouflage pattern on uniforms of the New Zealand Defence Force until 2013. It was replaced with a new pattern called Multi Terrain Camouflage (MCU) which was exclusive to the NZDF. This was in turn replaced by the New Zealand Multi Terrain Pattern (NZMTP) from 2020.
Service Dress was the new style of khaki service dress uniform introduced by the British Army for use in the field from the early 1900s, following the experiences of a number of imperial wars and conflicts, including the Second Boer War. This variant of uniform continues to be worn today, although only in a formal role, as No. 2 Pattern dress.
The following is a general overview of the Heer main uniforms, used by the German army prior and during World War II.
The uniforms of the United States Army distinguish soldiers from other service members. U.S. Army uniform designs have historically been influenced by British and French military traditions, as well as contemporary U.S. civilian fashion trends. The two primary uniforms of the modern U.S. Army are the Army Combat Uniform, used in operational environments, and the Army Service Uniform, worn during formal and ceremonial occasions.
Khaki drill or KD was the term for a type of fabric and the British military uniforms made from them.
The uniforms of the Australian Army have changed significantly over the past century, although the accoutrements worn over this period have remained relatively similar. The forces of the Australian colonies and the early forces of the Commonwealth post-Federation in 1901 closely followed the uniforms of the British Army. Since then it has continued to be influenced by British but also US styles, as well as including some distinctly Australian designs, reflecting local conditions and trends.
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