Wartime men

From uniform to demob

By Wally Kersey

Photo:Wally Kersey in Navy Outfit

Wally Kersey in Navy Outfit

Photo from the WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Wally's Blue Suit

Wally's Blue Suit

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Clean and tidy

Most men wore their uniform when they went out: No.1 dress. The important thing was to be clean and tidy.

I used to have a hat with fur around the edge and big flaps that you could fasten up, or let hang down over your ears to keep them warm. I used to wear it during the winter when I took the dog for a walk. I've still got my Army beret somewhere.

Saving up the coupons

We were given 'demob' clothes when we left the army - a suit, a trilby, shoes and socks. We had clothing coupons then, so you would save your coupons for your fiancées wedding clothes. I was a reservist in the army. When anyone was finishing up their service, they'd sell you their uniform so it cost much less, because they were really expensive. When we got married, I wore a blue suit made at a shop in Brighton. It was made specifically for the wedding, and I had a couple of fittings. I had new shoes too. I didn't wear my demob suit. Nancy's dad wore his demob suit to our wedding. They were all a certain style. You could tell they were a demob suit.

Canadians better equipped

We used to scrounge uniforms from the Canadians as they were much better equipped than us, and towards the end of the war our uniforms were of very poor quality.

We still had clothing coupons in the early 1950s, so if you went to southern Ireland, you'd take an empty suitcase and buy clothes, including American imports, to bring back. I got a pair of blue suede shoes.

Turning shirt collars

Mum would unpick a coat so she could reverse the material and the worn cloth would be inside and unseen. Shirt collars would be 'turned'. This was especially common between the wars.

This page was added by Susan Morrison on 08/02/2008.

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