No 4 IAWD and No 5 Work Dress

Blue - No 4 and No 5 Dress. No 4's which took over from No8's are referred to as IAWD, meaning 'Improved Action Working Dress', improved meaning that they are fire retardant.

Just for info, the modern navy's QRRN is now called BR2 and the Management of Naval Personnel, BR3.  It is in this latter volume that we find modern day uniforms.

See below to "Dress Rig Numbers in 2013" to view the contents of the relevant pages. I  must admit that I find the logic in the numbering of these uniforms far better than the system used in the 20th century

But first...................

The mentioning of No 4's IAWD [Improved Action Working Dress] and notwithstanding that the rig is fire retardant whereas our AWD wasn't, leaves one in some doubt about why they have reduced the number from 8's to 4's. Is it, I wonder, that they only do half the WORK  we did and only see half the ACTION we saw which of course included world wide travel ? Or, is it the cuts, the halving of their resources which has led to this down sizing ?  The rig No 5 has been reintroduced for ordinary work. In 1947, a trial started which introduced No 8's AWD to replace No 5's, No 3's and overalls. For BTE's [boys training establishments] No 8's would replace the white duck suit which was a spill-over from the Victorian/early Edwardian navy when all seamen [blue jackets] and stokers wore duck suits for working duties.  However, it had more or less been decided that when boy's returned to Shotley, to St Vincent, to Impregnable in 1946, that duck suits would no longer be used or issued, using instead the No 3 rig, and issuing an extra blue serge suit in lieu of the duck suite. The word of change had be mooted in the early post-war period, and very early on in 1948 boy's were issued with No 8's, but from 1946 to that time, duck suits were used and issued. DofV {Director of Victualling} Letter 622/47/DGNT-AUCC Letters 1947 cover this point. The trial of the No 8 AWD rig was successful [although never universally agreed by senior officers as to the specifics] and an AFO {1475/50} was issued in May 1950 making No 8's the official rig for all occasions of ACTION and WORK except for cold climates and when doing particularly DIRTY WORK: in the latter case, overalls were the official rig. The AFO gave details of initial issues including VOCAB numbers, KUA, washing instructions, badges to be worn and the threats implicit if one dared to puts one's name or initials over the shirt pocket. Adding one's name stamped on a white tape over a breast shirt pocket, came much later on.

During the 1930's and right up to 1943, naval officers wore their traditional uniforms on all occasions; ceremonial, duty, work and action stations. The officers rig for duty, work and action stations was called No 5's. Ratings wore serge {No 3's} or overalls for duty, work and action stations, with only anti-flash gear and steel helmets compulsory items. No3's, a rough serge suite, had red badges and the jumper was worn usually without a blue jean collar or a lanyard, but with a silk. No3A's was a relaxation of No3's when the jumper could be discarded leaving just a seaman's jersey [winter months] or a white front [summer months] and bell bottom trousers. Later, this rig became known as "night clothing"*. In 1943, after much frustration experienced by officers, the Admiralty caved into a lobbying which brought about AFO 4669/43 introducing the rig No 5A's.  No 5A's was essentially a type of serge top [a blouse] with normal service trousers, and this, officers used for work and action stations when onboard their ships.  They could not leave their ship wearing this rig. At this point, no rigs other than serge {No 3's}/overalls were worn by ratings when in non ceremonial roles. However, some officers refused to wear No 5A's and stuck with their jackets often worn over the top of white sweaters, which I know as a submarine jersey/sweater.  Shortly after the issue of  AFO 4669/43,  as AFO 5817/43 was issued indicating that the navy had put out to tender a requirement for a totally new pan-navy rig for working and for fighting in [action working dress]. By 1944 and well before D-Day, a firm in Leeds West Yorkshire [PJ Bros] has developed a shirt and trouser rig which was dubbed No8 Rig by the Admiralty. At the time, the Admiralty had other much more important things on its mind than the 'trivia' of uniforms, and whilst accepting the principle, were not prepare to fund it, choosing instead to spend every available penny on prosecuting the war. PJ Bros had made it known that the trial rig was approved and had sold the new clothing to naval tailors and to other commercial outlets. The naval SLOP's system did not take up the offer! In 1945, almost coinciding with VJ-Day, the Admiralty issued AFO 4487/45 which gave the green flag for the Fleet Air Arm [Naval air crews] to purchase their own set[s] of No8's from outfitters [Naval Tailors] to be reimbursed at a latter date by Stores 'S' Form action.  That action in itself, gives a clue that the Admiralty had every intention of adopting the uniform, and when it did and issues commenced, those who had purchased their own kit [on reimbursement] were not eligible for a gratuitous issue later on. This is the text of that AFO:-

4487.—Working Dress  for Naval Air Crews and Action Working Dress—

Purchase from Outfitters by Ratings

(V. 11/5437/45.—9 Aug. 1945.)

Dress No. 3A (Working Dress for Naval Air Crews) and Dress No. 8 (Action

Working Dress) may, if desired, be purchased from outfitters on the authority of

Form S.110.

2. Pending a reprint of the form, officers authorizing the purchase of either

of these items should add the item in manuscript on the back of Form S. 110 as

follows :—

t 23A Working dress for Naval Air Crews, or

f 23B Action Working Dress.

(A.F.Os. 5817/43, 1283/45, 212&/45 and 2647/45.)

Rigs were sometimes confusing post war. For example in the tropics No10 rig for a junior rates was white shorts, white front, black stockings, black shoes, seaman's blue belt [though rarely worn], and cap, known as a duty rig. No10A rig, was a No8 shirt, blue shorts [the rest as for No10's], a working rig, and this was more often than not relaxed by taking off the shirt and stockings, replacing the shoes with sandals. In this case, it was officially No10AR. For senior rates No10's were white short sleeved shirts, white shorts, white stockings, white shoes and cap.  1OA's were the same as for junior rates. As a general rule, senior rates and officers did not go shirtless when a relaxation [R] was ordered although they did shed their stockings and shoes in favour of sandals. The shirt was adorned with symbols of rank and authority. That appeared to count for nought when a leading hand [who had authority over many ordinary/able rate sailors] took off his shirt thereby negating his symbol of authority manifest in a single anchor [a killick] being worn on his left sleeve. Flipflops, were never part of the naval uniform and were worn as slippers on the messdeck or in bathrooms and dhoby-houses. They were considered as dangerous foot wear and many injuries occurred to various parts of the foot.

The story starts in March 1949 a considerable time after the first trials issue, and after the collation of the various reports submitted by the Commanders-in-Chief and Flag Officers. The first PDF file you will see covers a loose minute from the Chairman of the Admiralty Uniform Clothing Committee [AUCC] to the Director of Victualling.


The Director of Victualling [DofV] appears pleased, writes a loose minute and passes it on to other Directors of other Admiralty Departments for their comments.


They too agree and finally the 'big boy' signs it off APPROVAL LETTER.pdf, but, as we will see in the next PDF, something that started back in 1947 only gets the blessing {from the 4th Sea Lord} on the 2nd May 1950 to approve the necessary AFO. This remember, is just a shirt and trousers and not something like the design of a new attack submarine. We have seen this many many times and two such events which I have reported upon recently are the introduction of the Fleet Chief which took over 16 years before they got around to calling him a warrant officer and the white plastic top cap which took many years also to introduce.  What follows is the staff work, in loose minute form, from the Collation period above to the final approval of issuing the AFO.


The numbers game for the gratuitous issue of No 8's to the fleet.


Now a sample of the reports on No 8 Dress from the Commanders-in-Chief, Flag Officers and Captains. Some of them are rather petty but I suppose that is what happens when opinions are sought from far and wide and there is nothing of substance to comment on.

1 Admiralty
2 C-in-C Nore 1949
3 F.O. Air Home 11th January 1949
4 F.O. Air Home 18th August 1949
5 C-in-C Plymouth 8th December 1948
6 C-in-C Plymouth 19th July 1949
7 F.O. Scotland and Northern Ireland 22nd November 1948
8 F.O. Scotland and Northern Ireland 13th July 1949
9 C-in-C Home Fleet 1949
10 #C-in-C Portsmouth  7th December 1948
11 *C-in-C Portsmouth 23rd June 1949
12 *C-in-C Portsmouth 23rd June 1949 - Command Standing Orders [CSO] 1949
13 COMBRAX Chatham 1949
14 HMS Excellent 12th November 1948
15 Admiralty - modified design ready for testing 1949
16 Admiralty - ditto 1949 - NOTE BLUE SHORTS in para 3 ready for Rig No 10A's
- #Admiral
- *Admiral of the Fleet


The Naval Ratings Handbook [BR 1938] dated 1951, had unfortunately being re-written and had gone to press at the time of the 1950 AFO saga.  As such, a whole host of us were told that page 41 of the BR was to be ignored and yet they never issued a replacement glue-in page. Below I have copied that page.  You will readily see that No5's before No 8'S were introduced, can hardly have been the No5's which No8's replaced and that is why I have stressed above that the No 5's/No 5A's referred to was an officer rig. Note that No 8's in this BR points to overalls - for particularly dirty work.  The No 3's which No 8's did replace in certain circumstances is listed correctly as a blue serge suit.

DRESS RIG NUMBERS - 1951 NAVAL RATINGS HANDBOOK.pdf - NOTE. Classes I and III are 'fore and aft rig' wearing peaked caps, and Class II is 'square rig' often referred to as "men dressed as sailors" with round caps and bell-bottom trousers. Class I were chief petty officers and petty officers and Class III were junior rates of the supply and secretarial branches {Writers, Cooks, Stewards, Stores}, CODERS E & S, Sick Bay ratings and junior apprentices in the artificers branches.

DRESS RIG NUMBERS IN 2013. The cells run sequentially left then right and are numbered bottom left and bottom right as they go down the table.

Dig the boat shoes for Dress Rig 3CW.  Very comfortable and in the summer months I often wear them when sandals are inappropriate. Although used for leisure [footwear for night clothing] in my early days [early 1950's], brown canvas shoes were issued to junior rates, but they were far from comfortable and with smooth soles, often dangerous!

 Note of Caution!  Do not be tempted to read across the page because you will become disorientated.  The norm is that the Dress is explained [followed by any notes pertaining to the explanation where necessary] followed by the associated Dress photographs. So, for example, in the line below, the left hand plate is the explanation of 1A Dress, the right hand plate are the notes for 1A Dress, and the left hand plate in line two are the associated photographs for 1A Dress. The right hand plate in line two introduces a new Dress i.e., 1B Dress. Therefore, make sure that the plates you are viewing [explanation and photographs] have the same Dress outfit codes.



Good bye.