There were several kinds of demob [demobilisation] suits issued to exiting RN ratings.

The first, and best known was the exit WW2 issue, when HO's [Hostilities Only] ratings were issued with the following civilian kit:-

a.  1 suit
b.  1 tie
c.  1 raincoat
d.  1 hat
e.  1 shirt
f.  1 pair shoes
g.  2 collars with front and back studs
h.  2 pairs of socks

Then came any regular rating leaving after a CS [Continuous Service] Engagement, other than to pension, meaning twelve years, an issue which finish in the early 1960's.

Here, the suit [or blazer and trousers] was the chief attraction, but other variants were negotiable subject to a cash-out value.

Finally came the discharge to pension. Here two pin stripe suits [or variants] were on offer, with again other pieces of kit subject to a maximum cash value.

The black-market operatives were attracted to these products as shown below.


Released Personnel (Clothing Issue)

HC Deb 21 August 1945

Mr. Lipson

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that persons are waiting outside Army release centres offering between 14 and 19 for the clothing package issued to released Army personnel; and if, in order to prevent this happening, he will provide more policing of the areas surrounding release centres and the railway stations affected, and see that men overseas are warned of this danger.

Mr Lawson

The men are warned at the dispersal centres not to part with their clothing rashly. Military police are on duty at the centres but these transactions take place after the men have left when the clothes are their own property. I should be reluctant to surround release centres with military police.

Mr. Lipson

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that men overseas in particular are sufficiently aware of conditions in this country to be warned against disposing of their clothes to people in this country?

Mr. Lawson

All men overseas go through dispersal centres and they are warned seriously at those centres about this matter. I should say that, having seen these clothes at one of these centres, I should be very much surprised if there were many men concerned in this matter of disposing of their clothes.

Mr. Lipson

Will the right hon. Gentleman take notice of the particular instance I sent him?

Major Nield

asked the Secretary of State for War why a free issue of clothing is not made to officers whose terminal or notice leave commenced before 8th May, 1945; and how this date came to be fixed.

Mr. Lawson

In normal circumstances officers do not receive a free issue of civilian clothing as other ranks do. But it was decided, as a special case, to give non-Regular officers the same treatment in this respect as other ranks as part of the general release benefits which took effect from the date of the end of the war in Europe. I am, however, looking further into this matter.

Major Nield

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose on reconsideration to take into account the considerable feeling among officers whose leave commenced before this date that they should receive a free issue of clothing?

Mr. Lawson

I have not been very long in the War Office, and I have given all the attention I could to personal matters affecting the soldiers, but when my attention was drawn to this matter I made up my mind to have a fresh look at the whole thing.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is it not most unfair that officers who have been serving five years, during which time moths have perhaps ruined their clothes, should not have a free issue?