New Re-enactors

(A.T.S. Remembered)

www.ATSRemembered.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk


Uniform

Deciding to collect the full uniform of a member of the A.T.S. is quite a big undertaking. If you look at the details on my Uniform pages you will see that A.T.S. were issued with Service Dress, Battle Dress, Kit and different types of fatigues. Of course, what was issued to you depended on what trade you were.

As re-enactors you have a different decision to make. First of all, you should think about what sort of re-enacting you are going to do. As I see it, people generally fall into three categories. They either want to wear the A.T.S. uniform because it looks smart and they want to look authentic for dances. Other re-enactors want to dress in the right uniform of the period because they or their partner have a military vehicle and they want to look right when they are with it. The final category undertake to portray the A.T.S. in living history situations. I have, therefore decided to split this page into those various sections.

Service Dress
ATS Skirt and Shirt

Soft Cap

Field Cap

Authentic Uniform for 1940s Dances
Starting out What you should aim for

A.T.S. would have gone to dances in their Service Dress (S.D.). They would have been proud of their uniform and would have been as smart as possible. Your basic uniform should, therefore, be:

  • Service Dress jacket with brass general service buttons*
  • Service Dress skirt (this should be the 6 paneled skirt with a concealed pocket in one of the front seams. A W.R.A.C. skirt is not the same.)
  • Khaki shirt (it is difficult to get hold of original shirts, so a plain khaki shirt with no epaulettes or pockets will be OK)
  • A.T.S. tie
  • Seamed stockings or tights
  • Plain brown flat lace up shoes
  • Appropriate badges - an easy option to start is:
    • 2 ATS epaulette brass badges
    • 2 AckAck Command 'archer' shoulder patches - these are red with a black bow and arrow. Replicas are available
    • 1 white string lanyard on the right-hand shoulder
  • A.T.S soft cap with brass cap badge

 

 

 

 

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Ultimately you should aim for :

  • Service Dress jacket with brass general service buttons*
  • Service Dress skirt. If you are wearing early pattern uniform, the skirt should come to mid-calf length. If your uniform is later it can be a little shorter.
  • Khaki shirt - see my uniform pages for full description
  • A.T.S. tie
  • Seamed lisle stockings. A.T.S. ones were khaki, although the colour did wash out eventually.
  • Suspender belt (corset shaped) this will give you the correct 'profile'
  • A.T.S. shoes - still available at collectors fairs etc.
  • Appropriate badges - decide which regiment you want to be associated with. A.T.S. were only either in the A.T.S. or the Royal Artillery. They did sometimes wear the badges of regiments that they were associated with, but they were still A.T.S. For example:
    • 2 ATS epaulette brass badges. An alternative to this is the cloth A.T.S. epaulette slip-on badges or the Auxiliary Territorial Service embroidered shoulder badges. Do not use shoulder badges which only say A.T.S. they are NOT for the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
    • 2 shoulder patches as appropriate.
    • 1 A.T.S lanyard on the left-hand shoulder. This is plaited green brown and beech.
    • 1 regimental badge over the left breast pocket. For example R.A.O.C.
  • A.T.S field cap. This is brown, green and beech. General A.T.S. did not wear the Royal Artillery Field cap.
Battledress
Service Dress with F.A.N.Y. badges
Khaki Denims
Authentic Dress to partner vehicles
Starting out What you should aim for

What you have to think about here is what sort of vehicle are you with.

If you are with a staff car, you would wear S.D. as outlined above. Do remember, however, that if you are the driver you would wear a soft cap with a leather band, which you put up over the top of the hat.

If you are with a truck you could go for a couple of options:

  • Act as mechanic and wear A.T.S. khaki denim overalls and a soft cap, or
  • Wear full Battledress (B.D.) consisting B.D. blouse (the name for the jacket) and trousers. If you are unable to find original B.D. you could have one made by one of the companies that produce reproduction uniform or you could initially get away with wearing male B.D. When the A.T.S. were first issued with B.D. they were given male issue but this was changed as the war progressed. There would be no need to wear any badges or lanyards, but you would have to wear a khaki shirt and an A.T.S. tie underneath and boots and gaiters. Again A.T.S. brown boots and brown gaiters are difficult to get hold of but you could use black boots and webbing gaiters (the same as men) initially and change to the brown ones when you find them. Wear the soft cap with this uniform NOT the field cap.
  • A further alternative is B.D. trousers with the S.D. jacket, boots and gaiters and soft cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ultimately you should aim for:

Staff car Driver -

  • Service Dress jacket with brass general service buttons*
  • Service Dress skirt. If you are wearing early pattern uniform, the skirt should come to mid-calf length. If your uniform is later it can be a little shorter.
  • Khaki shirt - see my uniform pages for full description
  • A.T.S. tie
  • Seamed lisle stockings. A.T.S. ones were khaki, although the colour did wash out eventually.
  • Suspender belt (corset shaped) this will give you the correct 'profile'
  • A.T.S. shoes - still available at collectors fairs etc.
  • Appropriate badges - many drivers were transferred in from F.A.N.Y (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) who were allowed to wear their fabric shoulder badges with their A.T.S. Service Dress. So you could wear, for example:
    • 2 ATS epaulette brass badges.
    • 2 F.A.N.Y. shoulder patches, placed about 3 inches from the top of the sleeve.
    • 1 A.T.S lanyard on the left-hand shoulder. This is plaited green brown and beech.
  • A.T.S cap with leather hat band placed over the top of the hat.
  • A.T.S. Driver's gauntlets.

Truck Driver/Mechanic -

  • Battle Dress blouse. No badges or insignia. Alternatively, you could wear the Service Dress jacket only.
  • Battle Dress trousers.
  • Khaki shirt - see my uniform pages for full description
  • A.T.S. tie
  • A.T.S. boots - still available at collectors fairs etc.
  • Brown leather gaiters.
  • A.T.S. Leather jerkin.
  • A.T.S. Drivers gauntlets.
  • A.T.S cap with leather hat band placed over the top of the hat.
  • A.T.S. Greatcoat for colder weather and for all those open cabbed trucks!
  • Mechanics could wear the khaki denim overalls with the leather jerkin over the top, plus brown boots and gaiters. The A.T.S. soft cap is appropriate headgear.
Battle Dress and Respirator Bag
Service Dress
Denim overalls and leather jerkin
Living History
Starting out What you should aim for

Again, you can use different items from the uniform for different purposes:

If you are portraying life on a gunsite you could wear basic A.T.S. khaki denim overalls and a soft cap with brown boots, or wear full Battledress (B.D.) consisting B.D. blouse (the name for the jacket) and trousers. Initially you could get away with wearing male B.D. When the A.T.S. were first issued with B.D. they were given male issue but this was changed as the war progressed. There would be no need to wear any badges or lanyards, but you would have to wear a khaki shirt and an A.T.S. tie underneath and boots and gaiters. Again A.T.S. brown boots and brown gaiters are difficult to get hold of but you could use black boots and webbing gaiters (the same as men) initially and change to the brown ones when you find them. Wear the soft cap with this uniform NOT the field cap.

If you are portraying a driver or mechanic, look at the details I have provided in the section on authentic dress to partner vehicles.

If you are portraying an A.T.S. cook you will need the full Service Dress as outlined in dress to wear to dances above. On top of this you will need to wear an overall. Several overalls are available. The wrap-over ones were used early in the war and the button up version was issued later. Cooks should wear the wrap-over overall in white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gunsite -

  • Battle Dress blouse;
    • 2 Royal Artillery shoulder patches.
    • 1 white Royal Artillery lanyard on the right-hand shoulder.
  • Battle Dress trousers.
  • Khaki shirt - see my uniform pages for full description
  • A.T.S. tie
  • A.T.S. boots - still available at collectors fairs etc.
  • Brown leather gaiters.
  • A.T.S. Leather jerkin.
  • Respirator and bag.
  • Tin hat.
  • A.T.S soft cap.
  • A.T.S. Greatcoat for colder weather.

All other trades -

  • Service Dress jacket with brass general service buttons*
  • Service Dress skirt. If you are wearing early pattern uniform, the skirt should come to mid-calf length. If your uniform is later it can be a little shorter.
  • Khaki shirt - see my uniform pages for full description
  • A.T.S. tie
  • Seamed lisle stockings. A.T.S. ones were khaki, although the colour did wash out eventually.
  • Suspender belt (corset shaped) this will give you the correct 'profile'
  • A.T.S. shoes - still available at collectors fairs etc.
  • Appropriate badges. For example:
    • 2 ATS epaulette brass badges.
    • 1 A.T.S lanyard on the left-hand shoulder. This is plaited green brown and beech.
  • A.T.S soft cap.

Overalls -

Appropriate overalls should be worn for fatigues:

  • Cook - white wrap-over overalls.
  • Cleaning or maintaining your own kit - brown or denim khaki wrap-over overalls.
  • Mechanics duties - khaki denim overalls for wearing over trousers.

 

*brass general service buttons were used during war time, but as the war progressed buttons were produced out of an early plastic to help conserve brass for other more important purposes.

One of the very important things and something that makes all the difference to whether you look authentic or not is your hairstyle. A nice 21st century, or very short cut will not look right. Unless you are very dedicated, it is probably best to avoid the short hairstyles of the 1940s. These can easily make you look instantly 20 years older! One of the favourite options is to go for a victory roll. This involves rolling your hair up around your head in a sort of sausage. This was often done at the time by using a bootlace around your head to tuck your hair into or an old stocking top. A book by Daniela Turudich called "1940s Hairstyles" may help to give you some ideas and this is available through Amazon (link given below) although you should remember that many of the styles portrayed are American. A sister book to this one covers 1940s Make-up called "Vintage Face" by Angela Bjork and Daniela Turudich.

What you also need to know is where to get uniform etc. If you want to get hold of authentic uniform etc your best bet is to try the militaria fairs that go on around the country. Each spring and autumn fairs are held in Malvern at the Showground. There is also an annual event at Stoneleigh at the Agricultural Showground and various of the living history events that take place often have traders. For example, Military Vehicle Trust National Show, Kemble; War and Peace Show; Military Odyssey, Detling. Other options are on-line actions, and websites such as Sabre sales, Sentimental journey, What Price Glory etc.

If you are looking for reproduction uniform a good source is Warhorse Trading.

If you are looking for reproduction badges they can be obtained from STS Embroidery.

Best of luck with your purchases. Remember - wear your uniform with pride. Make sure that your badges gleam and that your shoes and boots are polished. When you are in uniform you are representing the women who gave up their youth to defend this country - show them the respect they deserve.

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