1 Introduction 1
2 Military Uniforms and the Making of a National Industry 23
3 The Government Takes Control 47
4 The Clothing and Woollen Cloth Factories Following
the First World War 71
5 The Clothing Factory During the 1930s and the Second
World War 83
6 Building a New Clothing Factory—1950s to 1971 99
7 Science Takes Command 111
8 Driving Forces of Military Innovation 153
9 Military Control over Intellectual Property 187
10 The Government Relinquishes Control 207
11 Conclusions 223
Appendix A: The Uniform of the Australian Imperial Force
in the First World War 237
Appendix B: Contracts with Private Clothing Firms Accepted
by the Government—1911–1913 245
Further Reading 251
Army uniforms in every part of the world have evolved over time, ranging from the frocked leather skirts worn by Roman soldiers or the long tunics and pants worn by the Chinese warriors as displayed in Xi’an, the iron-plated and mesh vests worn by the Crusaders, the tailored red coats seen in Napoleon’s army and in the Union army of the American Civil War, to the brown woollen belted tunics of the British and Australian armies in the First World War, the green jungle outfits worn by United States and Australian troops in the Vietnam War, and, finally, to the loose camouflage gear worn by most present-day armies. The evolution of military uniforms provides rich material for illustrated publications, which seem to always occupy an eye-catching place on the shelves of dedicated bookshops.
Displays of uniforms or uniformed soldiers in action during battle also occupy a significant floor area at military or history museums. Today, many families in the Western world will have photographs of ancestors in uniform who participated in recent wars and this has brought them closer to war histories. Clearly, military uniforms attract the interest of many people. The literature contains many descriptions and illustrations of the vast range of military uniforms, covering all ranks and functions within the three Services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and many of the uniforms are on display in the same museums that contain the military hardware.
However, while the book illustrations and the museum displays point implicitly at the importance and changing design of the uniform, the literature from disciplines such as military history or design history neglects to identify the reasons for these changes. Symptomatic of the gap in the literature is the fact that in his Official History of Australia in the War, 1914–1918, Charles E.W. Bean, the official observer and later historian and author, devotes only four pages to the uniform worn by the men of the Australian Imperial Force. He does not favour the description with further comment or analysis other than to proudly announce that It was commonly said that no troops ever went to the front more generously equipped than this first Australian contingent. The cloth of their jackets was strong; their clothing was woollen all through… their boots were as pliable as civilian boots, and far stouter. In France countless favours were obtained in exchange for Australian boots.1
Illustrated books showing the uniforms worn in Australia are plentiful and it would be presumptuous to claim knowledge of all of them. For those interested in these illustrations, in particular, those of the Australian armed forces, I refer to the works of Monty Wedd, John Perryman, David Miller and especially Alfred N. Festberg. Monty Wedd illustrates the uniforms worn from the Australian colonial era, continuing its journey to the early 1980s.2 The illustrations are hand-drawn and very colourful. This work is best regarded as a sampling of some of the uniforms and is by no means complete. John Perryman’s book of uniforms, badges and categories of the Australian Navy also has an early start date for its contents.3 It begins with the uniforms of 1865 and, like Monty Wedd’s work, is a good sampling; it is, however, far more in-depth in nature and also describes the badges worn. However, it covers only the Navy. Both books provide a good indication of the changes that have occurred over almost two hundred years, although none of the changes are explicitly discussed and no rationale is given for the decisions to alter the uniform designs. An example of a work that describes the uniforms worn during the Second World
War is David Miller’s book covering the Allied Forces dress, equipment and weapons.4 It contains only a small section on the Australian uniform, but is indicative of the close collaboration between US and Australian forces in the type of uniforms adopted during the war. One of the most complete illustrated works for uniforms worn during the Second World
War in Australia is a publication by the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Museum, edited by Alfred N. Festberg.5 It contains a photographic record of all uniforms manufactured in Australia that were worn in 1943. This work is particularly interesting for its vast coverage of women’s uniforms. The book includes uniforms for the Royal Australian Navy (including the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service), the Australian Military and Imperial Force, the Australian Women’s Army Service, the Australian Army Nursing Service, the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, the Australian Women’s Land Army and the Australian Men and Women Munitions Workers.