A very rare original British Army 1902 Pattern Service Dress Tunic which belonged to a Bombardier of the Royal Field Artillery who served during the Great War.
This pattern of jacket was introduced in 1915 and saw extensive issue throughout the First World War. It is made from a khaki coloured wool serge material which has a dusky hue which is typical of jackets made in this period. It features pleated breast pockets, lower pockets with flaps and a five button front. All the buttons are the correct Royal Field Artillery pattern with the crown surmounting the gun and have been heavily tarnished with years spent in storage. Rifle patches are located to each shoulder and large twin pleats are found below the collar which is one of the most notable features of a 1902 pattern tunic. The collar itself has been converted by the original owner and it appears to have been a professional job. This style of conversion was very popular during the Great War and can be seen in many period photographs. It involves having the fall of the collar stitched down which creates a very smart looking collar. The collar has also had a lining added, most likely at the same time as the alterations were carried out.
The tunic is fitted with all of its original wartime insignia which is undoubtedly original to the jacket. Brass Royal Field Artillery shoulder titles have been fitted to the epaulettes and are backed with a blue material. Corporal stripes are fitted to both sleeves and a cloth embroidered signaller's trade badge is fitted above the stripe on the left sleeve. There are three blue overseas stripes fitted to the lower portion of the right sleeve which denote that the original owner landed in France after the 1st of January and served there for three years. The jacket is also fitted with a white lanyard to the left shoulder which is again clearly original to the jacket.
Inside the jacket the lining is made from two different materials. The pocket reinforcing strips are made from a glazed linen and are a single piece construction which dates this jacket to being made in 1915 or later. The First Field Dressing pocket is also made from the same material whilst the pocket bags are made from cotton drill. These parts would have originally been white but have become very grubby with extended service use. The original label is no longer present due to this but the War Department acceptance stamp is. Like the rest of the interior it is worn but it is still legible. Crucially, it has the letter below the War Department broad arrow confirming this is a wartime example as the letter was moved to be above in 1918. The original owner has also marked his serial number and 'RFA' a number of times which may offer the prospect of further research.
The tunic is in well worn condition and has an incredible look to it which is impossible to replicate. It is heavily worn and shows signs of soiling etc but this is clearly genuine service wear. There are some small holes to the serge but these are from wear and not later damage caused by moths or similar. The jacket was clearly worn in France and when it came back to England was preserved in the same state. The only thing which isn't original is the lowest front button which is a period replacement added by myself to complete the jacket. Picture 11 illustrates some items found in the pocket and it could be assumed that the stones had some sentimental value to the original owner.
This is a truly stunning example of a Great War tunic which was worn by someone who took part as it has been extremely well preserved. This would make an excellent addition to any collection without a doubt.
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