D/DD Ops(M)(RAP)/59/5/1



A. OTA/OTT/102140 Mar 82

l. Before another winter sets in. I again make a plea for alternative underwear for MRT personnel. The current issue ECW underwear. whilst doubtless satisfactory for dry Arctic conditions, lacks the qualities required for use in the cold conditions found in the UK. I consider it unsatisfactory for all the reasons stressed in Reference A, mainly that it wicks water, retains perspiration and by stretching, quickly seems to lose shape thus giving little heat retention. Standing in wet/ very damp underwear following heavy physical effort such as an ascent with a large rucksack soon produces body chill. I understand your objections to thermal underwear, but I can only repeat that I and many MR personnel have used it for years and find such underwear satisfactory in every respect; it works as advertised. I also sympathise with your view that some clothing research “experts” consider thermal underwear a fire risk. However, to be near enough to a fire that melts underwear is not a normal scenario for mountain rescue, and they are unlikely to be shot at, may be a valid reason for combat troops not being issued with such clothing. One other aspect is in a volunteer organisation I think it would be wrong to not allow volunteer airmen to wear underwear they have bought themselves and many do wear it. I also consider it wrong that airmen who give up so much of their own time, should have to provide equipment out of their own resources. The current clothing issued to MR is first class and apart from underwear they are equipped to carry out their task with the most suitable clothing obtainable. Furthermore, if the underwear problem could be solved. I foresee little requirement in coming years to attempt any further changes to clothing. We have it right, but could have it almost perfect

I therefore again request that you consider scaling MR personnel with North Cape thermal underwear and balaclavas, for all the reasons stated in Reference.

3. Finally, should my request be rejected, would you consider scaling MR personnel with the current olive drab aircrew underwear? This underwear has a much better sizing range than ECW, is more body hugging and shape retentive, and would at least be a step forward over the current issue ECW underwear worn for MR duties.