was the Canadian Army's first all-purpose field uniform intended to be worn in
all weather. It was also the first uniform not patterned after British garments,
and was designed over a period of three years by the Directorate of
The combat uniform was introduced
in 1963, consisting of a General Service combat jacket, a blouse (called a
"shirt coat" officially, the concept was a departure from previous combat
garments), GS trousers, and new boots. Battle Dress was relegated to
non-operational uniforms, along with the heavy wool greatcoat, though like all
Army-wide issues, it took several years for new uniforms to filter through to
all units of both the Regular Force and the Militia.1 Canada's
brigade in NATO, 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, received the new
uniforms that year.2
The combat uniform would remain
the standard field uniform of the Canadian Forces into the 21st Century.
Shirt Coat, Man's, Combat,
The olive green combat
shirt-coat was introduced in 1963 and began seeing widespread issue the
next year to units of the Regular Force. The material was a nylon-cotton
twist, and the shirt-coat was issued in twelve sizes.
Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat, OG 107,
General Service, insignia of corporal of The Royal Canadian Regiment,
The NATO Stock Number was
All ranks wore the pattern of
shirt-coat, which was approximately hip length, fastened with 6 plastic buttons,
though the top button was generally left undone. Button up cuffs were provided,
with medium (18mm) plastic buttons securing them closed; the sleeves could be
rolled up for summer dress. A v-neck t-shirt in olive drab was worn in
conjunction with the shirt-coat.
Lower bellows pockets were roomy,
with nylon subdivisions custom made for two FN C1A1 assault rifle 20 round
magazines apiece, with the upper pockets sized and angled to accommodate one
20-round magazines apiece also. These were necessary due to the newly designed
1964 Pattern Web Equipment's lack of magazine pouches. The left breast pocket
(from the point of view of the wearer) had a small pocket along the side to
place a dosimeter, though many soldiers found it a handy pen or pencil
receptacle. All four pockets were closed with large (25mm) buttons.
Two interior breast pockets was
located on the shirt, and a drawstring was provided at the hem of the shirt.
Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat, OG
107, General Service
In 1970, the designation of the
shirt-coat changed, and was produced in a variant colour of Olive Green known as
Olive Green 107. Some modifications to the new shirt-coat had been made,
including shortening of the elbow patches by 25%, adding vertical vents to the
cuffs, and reducing the number of interior pockets to one, on the wearer's left
Shirt-Coat, Man's, Combat OG
107, General Service, Mark 2
In 1972, a Mark 2 shirt was
introduced, further modifying the combat shirt-coat. Two finishes for the
nylon-twist material were provided. An additional drawstring was added at the
waist, the elbow reinforcements were deleted, and buttons on the front, cuffs
and shoulder straps were now attached by cloth loops in the same manner as the
pocket buttons. Velcro was added to the interior breast pocket, which was
generally reserved for personal items such as wallet, identification, 404s
(military driver's license), etc. An experimental version of this shirt-coat in
camouflage material was never widely issued.
Final modifications to this
pattern occurred in the 1990s with the addition of reinforced elbows once again.
Variants in light olive and tan were known as Coat, Combat, Light Weight Mk II
Type A, and Type D, respectively, and were issued to The Canadian Airborne
Regiment Battle Group in Somalia. A tan version of the combat uniform was also
issued to Canadians in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Coat, Combat, Light Weight, Mk
A new combat shirt was
introduced in 1983, once again influenced by a new style of load bearing
gear, in this case 1982 Pattern Web Equipment. With ammunition pouches
officially introduced, a new style combat shirt was introduced with just
two external pockets on the upper chest, flatter and wider than the
previous magazine-carrying pockets. Several slots were included for
carrying writing utensils (or other items), the number of buttons on the
front increased to seven and larger reinforcement patches on the sleeves
were introduced, which actually encircled the entire arm. The new shirt
was nicknamed a "tuck-in" though it was rarely worn that way. Other
unflattering nicknames included "maternity shirt."
The Mark III was never
issued in large numbers and saw service side by side with the older
The trousers were in
matching olive drab material and featured belt loops as well as buttons
for suspenders, a zippered fly, and large cargo pockets (sometimes
called "map pockets") on the outer legs.
Coat, Combat, Light Weight, Mk III,
insignia of sergeant of The Calgary Highlanders, 1990s.
A Combat Cap in matching
material was issued with Combat Dress, though other soft caps were
permitted in field such as the toque, skull cap, or
regimental/corps/branch headdress. Soldiers of the Royal Canadian
Armoured Corps were particularly fond of wearing their black beret in
lieu of the Combat Cap.
The Combat Cap (also
called Combat Hat or Bush Cap) was issued as part of Combat Dress from
the 1960s into the 21st Century when replaced by a CADPAT hat. It was an
olive drab coloured cotton hat, worn with the brim down, or less
commonly seen, folded up "Robin Hood" style.
The hat was very often
personalized, by the addition of drawstrings looped through the
ventilation holes, "cat's eyes" reflectors, nametags, and grenade pins,
to name the most common modifications. Officially, the only insignia
worn on the Combat Cap was a combat cap badge, an embroidered olive drab
disc with a simplified version of a corps, regiment or branch cap badge.
A soldier of Communication Command during disaster relief efforts
following Hurricane Hugo in 1989. DND Photo ISC89-543, WO John Blouin.
Insignia worn on the
combat uniform was limited. CANADA titles were worn sewn to the upper
sleeves initially, in 1990 a low-visibility national flag was located on
the left sleeve. Red-white-red flags were traditionally worn only by
soldiers on operations outside of Canada.
Rank insignia for
Officers was worn on slip-ons on the epaulettes, along with "combat
titles". Before Unification, olive drab rank stars and crowns were worn,
and after Unification, slip-ons with embroidered rank rings replaced the
older style slip-ons.
Rank insignia for
Non-Commissioned Members was at first worn on the sleeves, even for
warrant officers who had traditionally always worn them on the lower
sleeves of other uniforms; for a period in the 1980s they were worn on
slip-ons on the epaulettes; over time they migrated back to the upper
Various combat insignia, showing variants on Combat Cap badges and short
titles, as well as the olive drab officers' stars in use
Name tapes came to be of Olive
material, similar to US Army name tapes and worn over the right breast. A drab
version of the parachute wings was worn over the wearer's left breast if
qualified. No other trades badges, decorations or insignia was worn on the
combat shirt-coat, or combat coats.
The shirt-coat was
universally referred to simply as a "shirt".
Over time, unwary recruits
were sometimes told that the plastic buttons on Canadian combat uniforms or
arctic gear were edible "survival" buttons; these stories are of course
Care and Maintenance
Care and Maintenance was
discussed in Canadian Forces Administrative Order (CFAO) 17-4. The reference to
"puttees" suggests that at least part of these regulations were written shortly
after the introduction of Combat Dress.
CFAO 17-4 -- COMBAT CLOTHING CARE AND USE
1. This order prescribes the policy for the care
and use of combat clothing.
2. Combat clothing is worn by:
a. all ranks of the land element while engaged in
operations or training; and b. members of the sea and air elements to meet
3. Training refers to field oriented military activity and instruction
normally conducted outside of the unit lines.
4. Combat clothing should not be worn for fatigue
duties, work of a dirty nature, or light training when other clothing meets
the dress requirement.
5. The concept of combat clothing is based on the
layer principle. Items of clothing are designed to fulfil the Canadian
Forces needs within a specific climatic environment. As temperature
decreases, additional items of clothing are added to provide the warmth and
comfort necessary to allow the combat soldier to carry out his tasks
DESCRIPTION AND METHOD OF WEAR
6. The following items comprise combat clothing:
a. Coat, Man's Combat, GS, OG 107. This
coat is designed to provide climatic protection, in conjunction with the
liner, shirt-coat, sweater, scarf, and thermal underwear, down to -13C.
b. Liner, Coat, Man's Combat, GS, OG 107.
The liner is not worn by itself but only when buttoned into the Coat,
c. Shirt-Coat, Combat, GS, OG 107. The
shirt-coat is worn under the coat as a shirt or as the outer upper
garment in hot weather. The shirt-coat can be worn with the tail in or
out of the trousers. When worn as the outer garment, it is worn tail out
to take advantage of all pockets. Ties are not worn with the shirt-coat.
Shirt sleeves may be rolled if not contrary to unit policy.
d. Singlets, Men's Cotton, OG 107 V-Neck
and Drawers, Men's Thigh Length Cotton Broadcloth, OG 107. The
singlet and drawers are the undergarments worn with combat clothing
except when thermal underwear is required for climatic protection.
Sweater, Crew Neck, Rifle Green. The sweater crew neck, rifle
green, may be worn under or over the shirt when required for extra
warmth, but is not worn as the outer garment.
f. Trousers, Men's Lightweight, OG 107.
The trousers are designed for wear in temperatures above + 16C. In
extremely hot temperatures, when extra ventilation is required, the
bottom of the trousers may be worn loose outside the top of the boot.
g. Boots, Combat, High, Black, GS.
These boots are designed to dispense with puttees, require no major
repair and provide a high degree of water repellency. The Mk III boot
incorporates a nylon mesh insole as part of the improvement over earlier
models of the boot.
h. Cap, Utility, Field, Combat. The
cap, utility, field, combat, with peak and ear flaps, is designed for
wear in all temperature ranges when the steel helmet is not required. It
cannot be worn under the steel helmet. When not worn, the cap can be
folded and carried in a pocket.
j. Scarf, Combat, OG 107. The scarf is
designed to provide additional comfort under temperate and cold weather
k. Parka and Trousers, Wet Weather, Field
type, OG 107. The parka and trousers are made from polyurethane
coated ripstop nylon, and are intended for wear over the shirt combat,
coat combat GS, and trousers combat lightweight, as dictated by
environmental conditions. The parka has an integral hood and carry
pouch, magyar shoulder/sleeve styling, zippered front closure, and
button down flap. The trousers have an elasticized waist, pass-through
openings at each side, and fly front.
CARE OF COMBAT CLOTHING
a. Combat clothing shall be worn as issued and not
be altered in any manner.
b. If any modifications or alterations are made at
non-public expense to any item of combat clothing, the complete cost of the
item shall be recovered from the individual who ordered the modification and
disciplinary action shall be taken.
8. Laundering: a. All clothing can be laundered by
normal means including automatic washers, commercial laundries and coin
washers; bleach and starch must not be used in the process. Soap, detergent,
grease or dirt will adversely affect the water repellency, therefore it is
important to keep the clothing as clean as possible and to ensure that the
garments are well rinsed after washing so that traces of soap or detergent
are not left in the fabric. b. Combat clothing shall not be dry-cleaned,
pressed, or ironed.
9. Removal of Badges and Name Tapes. Rank badges,
cap badges, and name tapes shall be removed before the coat, shirt-coat, or
cap is returned to a supply facility or exchanged for a new item.
10. Water Repellent Treatment. The coat, combat,
GS and cap utility, are made from heavy-weight cloth treated at the plant
with an oil and water repellant finish. These garments may require periodic
application of NSN 8030-21-112-7271, Water Repellant Compound Textile
11. Replacement Standards. Combat clothing is
designed as an operational ensemble with stress placed on utility and
durability rather than appearance. Small tears shall be repaired and
detached buttons replaced by the user. Fading and minor repair work shall
not be considered as a basis for replacement of combat clothing. Boots shall
not be replaced on the basis of scuffed or scratched uppers or faded colour.
At the discretion of the Unit/Base Supply Officer, boots showing extensively
worn soles or heels, broken seams, deep cuts or scratches, etc may be
12. Maintenance of Parka and Trousers, Wet
Weather, Field Type. To clean, wipe with a damp cloth. Do not launder or
dryclean. Do not use bleach, starch, or detergent. Do not press. Do not
treat with NSN 8030-21-112-7271, Water Repellant Compound Textile Finish.
13. Re-Issue of Combat Boots. Combat boots used
for training purposes by training centres where re-issue practices are
established may have replacement heels installed to extend boot life,
provided the remainder of the boot is suitably serviceable to warrant such
action. Repairs will be carried out under local arrangements.
14. Combat boots shall not be shined or treated
with any compound other than NSN 6850-21-874-0593, Silicone Compound, Water
Repellant, Clear. Scuff marks should be touched up with NSN 6850-21-874-4527
coating compound to preserve the soldierly appearance of the boots. Unlike
boot polish or dubbin, the silicone compound does not reduce the breathing
properties of the leather. If applied excessively, the blackening compound
will cause leather deterioration.
15. A stiff brush or a damp cloth shall be used to
remove dirt, dust, mud, etc from the boots. Silicone compound shall be
applied only if water will not form beads on the uppers of the boots. Daily
application of the silicone compound shall not be made because the silicone
compound contains an oil which, while acting as a vehicle to transmit the
silicone to the pores of the leather to provide water resistant properties,
cumulatively tends to degrade the leather. For this reason, only necessary
applications of the silicone compound to retain the water resistant
properties shall be made.
16. The latest model of the combat boot, the Mk
III, incorporates a nylon mesh insole (8355-21-857-8914) as part of its new
features. This insole shall not be worn with earlier models of the boot but
must be worn in the Mk III boots at all times to ensure comfort and proper
fit. When the insoles become soiled from perspiration they should be removed
from the boots, washed in warm water with a mild soap, and rinsed
thoroughly. Under no circumstances shall the insoles be subjected to extreme
heat or placed on hot surfaces to dry.
17. The inside of the Mk III boot should be
cleansed as required with clear water. Where foot sweat is heavy, salt
deposit can be high; this will reduce the water repellent property of the
silicone and, in turn, may lead to too frequent application of the compound
with resultant damage to the leather upper.
18. The practice of retaining one pair of combat
boots for parade and special use only and keeping the other pair in
continuous daily use is no longer permitted as it leads to accelerated
deterioration of boots and potential foot hygiene problems. Frequent
periodic rotation of the two pairs of combat boots on issue to an individual
is required and should be done on a daily basis when possible; this will
prolong boot life by ensuring that each pair has relief from continuous
perspiration and can be properly cleaned, dried and aired before being worn
19. Units shall ensure that the information in
paras 7 to 18 is brought to the attention of all users through Routine
Orders at six-month intervals. (C) 1605-17-4 (DLR) Issued 14 Nov 86
See Tyler, Grant Drab Serge
and Khaki Drill: The Foreign Service, Universal Service, Battle and Combat
Dress Jackets of the Canadian Army 1899-2003 (Parks Canada, 2003)
for a good summary of Canadian combat clothing of all types in the 20th
4 CMBG: Canada's NATO
Brigade (Gesamtherstellung: Moritz Schauenburg GmbH & Co. KG,
Graphicher Großbetrieb, Lahr,/Schwarzwald, 1983)