Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

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    Stepi
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    Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by Stepi on Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:22 am

    Here's a real treasure that recently fell into my possession, a 5 Commando beret and Belgian Jigsaw smock, both originally belonged to the same Belgian who served there and went back to Belgium afterwards. I'm still waiting for some papers from the previous owner, should have names, service history etc. info on them, will update this topic as I get them.

    The beret, the blue backing disk went missing "somewhere over there", otherwise this is in as good a condition that one could hope for.





    And the smock, a standard 1958 Jigsaw with button up front. Lots of wear on this, the neck is greasy, shiny and rotten through in a few sports, as are the cuffs. Lots of small hand made repairs (never seen this kind of repairs on regular surplussed Belgian items, they're always machine sewn), the crotch flap has been cut off, some small tears in seams here and there and some "suspicious" small dark dripply stains on the sleeves and the front.

    The epaulettes puzzle me a bit, these are not the "common" 5 Commando green felt (which appear to have existed in lots of different sizes and construction variations) or Katangese red ones, instead they are sand coloured felt, the onderluitenant star is embroidered. The Commando daggers are identical in detail and construction to all 5 Commando dagger pins in photos I´ve been able to find for reference, right down to the wire attachment pins. Has anybody got any info on this type of (possibly Belgian) epaulettes? From photos it is evident that some mercenaries wore their own rank epaulettes, but this specific model is a stranger to me.

    The original owner came back home with the pants too, but the story goes they were so shredded that he had them exchanged for a fresh pair (which came with the smock), a shame really but I guess he wasn't thinking about the future collectible value of those rags at the time!  Crying or Very sad











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    Camonut314
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    Re: Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by Camonut314 on Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:55 am

    VERY cool!
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    CollectinSteve
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    Re: Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by CollectinSteve on Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:03 pm

    Well now, that is an interesting piece of history you have there!

    The condition of the jacket is not surprising to me. I've seen much worse Smile The crotch flap, and even the epaulets, were frequently removed. The frayed cuffs is expected for a jacket with this much wear. The light canvas fabric was tough, but not indestructible.

    The real points of interest are the beret and rank. Here's a webpage you might find interesting:

    http://www.oocities.org/madmikehoare/

    Note the shoulder rank looks the same, though on black instead of khaki.

    Steve
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    Stepi
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    Re: Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by Stepi on Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:55 pm

    Thanks for your reply Steve!

    I too have seen worse than these, I reckon I must have dug through hundreds of these smocks in search of any interesting or unique ones. The interesting thing is that I can't recall ever seeing such handmade, and only handmade repairs as this one shows, and those shiny grease spots have always been washed off. This one clearly has not made it through the "proper" ABL surplus channels, that's for sure.

    I've been staring myself blind at my nearly 600 photos strong collection of photos from the Congo trying to find this exact style of shoulder boards. The "common" 5 Commando shoulder boards were green with the daggers, earlier in Katanga Mike Hoare's Commando wore bright red shoulder boards with the daggers and Katangese saltires. But since most photos from the era are black and white exact colours are difficult to tell.

    I have however also seen what appears to be much paler coloured shoulder boards worn, could be sand coloured even, mostly in Katanga.

    For reference here is a 5 Commando shoulder board, note the identical dagger. These came in all shapes and sizes, hand made, factory made etc.:



    And here are two mercenaries from Katanga, the man on the left has clearly lighter colour shoulder boards while the man on the right most probably wears the common Katangese red ones:


    zvez
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    Re: Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by zvez on Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:23 pm

    very nice!
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    loski
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    Re: Congo 5 Commando mercenary beret and Jigsaw smock

    Post by loski on Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:39 am

    Stepi wrote:Thanks for your reply Steve!

    I too have seen worse than these, I reckon I must have dug through hundreds of these smocks in search of any interesting or unique ones. The interesting thing is that I can't recall ever seeing such handmade, and only handmade repairs as this one shows, and those shiny grease spots have always been washed off. This one clearly has not made it through the "proper" ABL surplus channels, that's for sure.

    I've been staring myself blind at my nearly 600 photos strong collection of photos from the Congo trying to find this exact style of shoulder boards. The "common" 5 Commando shoulder boards were green with the daggers, earlier in Katanga Mike Hoare's Commando wore bright red shoulder boards with the daggers and Katangese saltires. But since most photos from the era are black and white exact colours are difficult to tell.

    I have however also seen what appears to be much paler coloured shoulder boards worn, could be sand coloured even, mostly in Katanga.

    For reference here is a 5 Commando shoulder board, note the identical dagger. These came in all shapes and sizes, hand made, factory made etc.:



    And here are two mercenaries from Katanga, the man on the left has clearly lighter colour shoulder boards while the man on the right most probably wears the common Katangese red ones:




    Here is an Image that may interest it is studio portrait of Ian Yule who served with 5 commando taken in the Congo, The epaulettes appear to be of the dark green variety with the single silver star of an adjutant (senior NCO) the dagger probably was silver as well but its imposable to tell.

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