Army Full Dress Uniforms 1935 – 1955

by

Glenn Thompson – National Museum of Ireland

After the First World War military ceremonial uniforms appeared generally for officers, bands and guards regiments throughout Europe. Ireland was no exception and the 1930’s could be described as a golden era as far as officer’s full dress uniforms were concerned. In 1935 press photographs were published depicting prototypes of uniforms worn by two officers of the Cavalry Corps and the Supply and Transport Service, both of whom were members of the Army Jumping Team. These were influenced by the style worn by Belgian officers of the same period and were then introduced for officers of all corps and services in the Army.

The shako and tunic shown in the accompanying photograph here were worn by Major General Michael Brennan, Chief of Staff of the Army from 1931 to 1940.
The shako and tunic was worn by Major General Michael Brennan, Chief of Staff of the Army from 1931 to 1940.

The basic colours were black and dark blue, with medium blue for the Air Corps and medical blue in respect of the Medical Service.

The headdress was the cylindrical and peaked shako, which was common to all. Tunics were either double or single breasted, which denoted a mounted or dismounted corps or service respectively.

Irrespective of the colour of the uniform, black cloaks with black velvet collars were worn by all concerned. Each Corps or Service had their own facing colour, which appeared on the crown of the shako, the collar, cuffs, overall stripes, piping and the artificial silk lining of the cloaks. Badges, buttons, embroidery and lace were either gold or silver.

Some of these beautiful uniforms are on display in the Soldiers and Chiefs Exhibition at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin.

These illustrate the high standard of workmanship involved in the tailoring of these distinctive uniforms, which were officially worn until 1955.

The Museum is anxious to complete the full range of these dress uniforms and would be very happy to obtain, either as a donation or as a long-term loan, one each of the following: The Army School of Music; the Ordnance Service, the Supply and Transport Service and the Military Police Service. Glenn Thompson can be contacted at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin