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Origins of Black in the Pakistan Army

Desert Fox 1

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Origins of Black in the Pakistan Army


Crews of the Royal Tank Corps introduced the black beret to the Indian Army when they were operating the Vickers tanks and the Crossley armoured cars. Here the soldiers are seen celebrating Christmas with bee
r.

The psychology of any colour, especially black, is complicated. There are many negatives associated with it and is often used as a symbol of menace or evil, representing treacherous characters. In many cultures it is also associated with death and mourning. However, it is also popular as an indicator of power. And when it comes to clothing, black is ranked as the number one favourite color for both genders combined. In the continental armies of mass formations it was seldom seen, and the closest that uniforms came to being back was dark blue. With the odd exception e.g. the Rifle Battalions, regiments generally wore bright distinctive colours – both of the uniform and gear, so that they could be identified from a distance. But more about them later.
In a book on the soldiers and uniforms of the British Indian Army, Paul Chater notes:

“In any army, in any century, the way in which a soldier is dressed is determined by the interaction of four factors – Economy, Impressiveness, Recognizability and Utility […] All armies tend to change their uniform to conform with those of the army which was most recently successful.”
Sowars of the 19th Lancers wearing the black beret and the black belt when it was introduced in 1956. Note the formation sign of the 14th Army was still be
After each war the British Army adopted some headdress belonging to its allies or enemy. The Bearskin of the Guards came from Napoleon’s Imperial Guard; the Lancer’s Cap came from the Poles; the Shako for the infantry after the Napoleonic Wars; the spiked helmet from the German victors of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, etc. And the Black Beret was not an exception. It was the last six months of the First World War and General Hugh Elles (the first commander of the newly formed British Tank Corps) and Colonel Fuller (the great military captain), were discussing over dinner the future of the Tank Corps and its uniform. The drivers and gunners had been issued with a primitive brown leather helmet, and also with tin helmets with a chain mail visor to protect their eyes against metal splash – both of which were seldom worn.
The beret looks a little like the bonnets worn by the Scottish Highland Infantry regiments of the British Army but it is a distinctively French headwear. The French 70th Chasseurs Alpins were billeted close by, and Elles tried on one of their berets. Many of the Chasseurs Alpins were training at British Tank Schools and had a particularly close liaison with the Tank Corp units. Of the various proposals subsequently put forward, Elles strongly favored the Black Beret. It allowed tank crews to comfortably wear radio headsets and push their faces against the telescope. Made of woven wool with a sweatband, it was warm and comfortable to sleep in and the colour was also least likely to show oil stains. After much resistance, it was approved for wear with the Royal Tank Corps (RTC) in 1924. German Panzer crews in the late 1930s also adopted a beret with a padded crash helmet inside that made it look oversized. Till 1939 the British cavalry regiments that had been mechanized were called the Cavalry Wing and they looked with disdain at the Black Beret. However just before the Second World War, the Cavalry Wing was combined with the RTC to create the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) and the black Beret was adopted by all – though officers generally wore the serge peak cap even in the field.
Through the decades the Pakistan Armoured Corps has carefully guarded its right to be the only arm authorized to wear the black beret
The black beret was introduced to the British Army in India in the 1930s by the RTC squadrons operating their Vickers light tank and the Crossley armoured cars in the Tribal Areas and elsewhere. When the Indian Cavalry started to mechanize in 1939-40, it changed its dress from breaches, puttees and riding boots to shirts, khaki shorts and ankle boots. In the early stages of the war, the rank and file continued with the various designs of turbans of their castes/clans whether it was Skinners’ Horse operating against the Italians in Sudan or the Guides and 13th Lancers in the Middle East or the regiments of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade against the German Afrika Korps in North Africa. However, as time went on the regiments adopted side caps as a more practical headgear and the officers continued their peak caps that had replaced the ugly and impractical Solar Topies [hats] worn in the Tropics. In 1943 the British India Army made the far reaching decision of forming the Indian Armored Corps (IAC) and it may be that Major General Messervy, the Director Armored Corps, was instrumental in introducing the black beret. In any case, by the time the regiments of the Indian Armoured Corps deployed in Burma, the beret in black was firmly part of the dress of the soldiers and officers.
Not so was the case with the gear – belts, braces, pouches etc. – which remained in a khaki finish. For many centuries they were of leather but as weaving and fabric technologies improved, and with the heavy demands generated by the First World War, leather was replaced by a thick cotton fiber weave called “web (short for webbing) equipment”. However, in the barrack room language of the soldiers in British India and in the Pakistan Army, the web equipment was still called “chamra” i.e. leather. The soldiers coated them with a wet paste of water and Fuller’s Earth, which is a clay material that decolorizes oil or other liquids without the use of harsh chemical treatment. When it dried, it produced a uniform color and finish on the web equipment. The 1937 Pattern Web Equipment (also known as “‘37 Webbing”) was worn throughout and after the Second World War, and for warfare in the jungles of Burma and the Far East, it was dyed with Blanco, giving it a pea green or darker shade.
Beret shapes from European armies during the two World Wars (clockwise) – Scottish infantry, French Chasseurs Alpins,
German Panzer troops and the British Tank Regiment
There was one exception to wearing bright colours of the massed infantry and the khaki web equipment introduced later. They were the Rifle Regiments who originated with the advent of the rifle which had a longer range than the previous muskets – and thus their title. Their role was introduced by the Americans during their War of Independence. Riflemen were employed as skirmishers ahead of the ‘battalions of the line’ to inflict casualties before the main forces clashed. They had to be well concealed and mostly wore green uniforms with a similar or darker colour of belts, pouches and strapping. The troops of the Rifle Brigade in the British Army wore dark green instead of scarlet jackets (hence their subsequent title of Royal Green Jackets), a black stripe down the outside of each trouser leg instead of red, black horn buttons instead of polished brass, and black belts instead of white. In the British India Army, a number of battalions were designated as Rifles from the Gurkhas, Garhwal and Moplah infantry regiments. Probably the most well-known Rifle regiments belonged to a single group of the Frontier Force Rifles whose origin lay in the five regiments of infantry raised in 1849 by Colonel Henry Lawrence, and designated as 1st to 5th Punjab Infantry Regiments. They were transferred to the Pakistan Army at Independence and continued to wear black.
From the head, now down to the feet. It was during the Napoleonic War that the British reduced the length boots from the calf till the ankle. Called Ammunition Boots, they had an iron heel-plate and toe-plate, and an iron-studded leather sole. They were the standard footwear (within the Commonwealth Armies too), till replaced by the Boot DMS in the 1960s. They were termed “Ammunition” because they were procured by the Master Gunner and the Munitions Board at Woolwich, the headquarters of the British Regiment of Artillery. Except during the First World War, the brown leather was polished black, but officers were still required to wear polished brown boots to match the leather Sam Browne belt worn with the field service uniform.
Officers and JCOs of the 19th Frontier Force Battalion with black belts and dark green berets introduced by the Rifle Battalions, circa 1967
Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander of the 8th Army, in his black beret – with a tank crew of the Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa during the Second Wor
During the Second World War when the later Gen Zia-ul-Haq was being interviewed by the selection board for attending the Officers Training School, he was asked why he wanted to join the armoured corps. His spontaneous answer was, “I like the black beret”
As a consequence, in the post-Independence Pakistan Army, there was a hodge-podge of colours related to the trappings of the uniform – black, green and khaki. However, this was set right in 1956 when the Pakistan Army framed its Dress Regulations (ADR). As a first, both boots and shoes were now in black though the old armour regiments with the title of Frontier Force like the Guides, 11th Cavalry PAVO and 12th Sam Brown’s Cavalry continued to wear now non-military-pattern brown shoes with their service dress till they were strongly disciplined by Lieutenant General Atiqur Rahman, who became the Adjutant General in the early 1960s. The armoured corps was authorized black web equipment to match the black beret which still continued and the ordinance nomenclature of “Cap RTR”, after the Royal Tank Regiment.
The framing of the 1956 ADR also coincided with the reorganization of the army and the merger of the battalions of the Pathans and Frontier Rifles with the Frontier Force which was now allowed to wear black web equipment. The rest of the army wore khaki. The discerning reader would ask – what about the black dungaree? Dungarees were never considered as a ‘uniform’. Inherited from the navy, they were a practical dress worn while carrying out repair/maintenance of vehicles by the technical branches but adopted for field service by tank crews during the Second World War. Their khaki colour was gradually replaced by black, which did not show oil stains and with prolonged periods spent by the Pakistan Armoured Corps in the field during the 1965 and 1971 Wars, it was accepted as a field dress. However, within the peace station it was not allowed to be worn outside the unit lines.
During the Second World War, the dress of Indian tank crews progressed from shorts, stockings and side caps (left),
worn in the desert – to khaki dungaree and black berets (right), in Burma
Through the decades the Pakistan Armoured Corps has carefully guarded its right to be the only arm authorized to wear the black beret. As per the ADR, officers above the rank of lieutenant colonel wear a dark blue beret but the officers of the armoured corps continue with the black because there is a marginal difference in shade. General Zia-ul-Haq was very fond of the Black Beret from the outset. During the Second World War when he was being interviewed by the selection board for attending the Officers Training School, he was asked why he wanted to join the armoured corps. His spontaneous answer was, “I like the black beret”. He continued wearing it even with his service dress and even when he became Chief of Army Staff. Many decades earlier even Field Marshal Montgomery, a staunch infantryman, could not resist wearing the black Beret RTR.
The author Paul Charter is rightly of the opinion that, “Active service tends to simplify uniforms while a prolonged peace makes for elaborations” and that “No soldier will fight the better for feeling he looks old fashioned”.

During the turn of the last century, many armies adopted a camouflage dress that, along with the gear, was uniform for all its branches and much though the Pakistan Army liked its khaki, they kept up with the fashion. In addition, the army has seen a prolonged period of active service combatting insurgency – which simplified and standardized uniforms. However, because of its practicality and a bit of the old-world feel, the black dungaree is still worn. The beret is no longer fashionable or practical – particularly in hot weather or when it rains and the wool becomes wet and soggy. It has therefore been replaced by an American-style cap … but still in black!
 

Big Tank

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Tbh we're still following the colonial mindset and its very clear seeing the Indians along. We should just MOVE ON!!
 

Desert Fox 1

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Tbh we're still following the colonial mindset and its very clear seeing the Indians along. We should just MOVE ON!!
You are right but I don't think there's anything bad in the Black danguree and berret. Other arms including Armour corps( only in the units are the armored corps personnel allowed to wear the dungaree) wear the regular BDUs.
 

Desert Fox 1

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sorry but failed to understand the title
origins of black in the Pakistan army?
:what:
Its an article which is trying to get to the truth of why only the armoured Corps wears black dungaree and Beret.
Good find.

As for your question, we found new muhabat in drones, after Azerbaijan theirs no going back, lol.
Yes i can see drones on every thread sych as vt4 , atak procurement.we Pakistanis have the instinct to get mad for anything that is in fashion. Drones (currently employed) can't replace helis similarly helis cant do what drones can
 

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