Through the Ages

Through the Ages

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Glossary of Terms

For the purposes of this blog I have split the UNIT uniforms into six distinct eras, which will be as follows:

The Early Years: 1968 to 1970
The Golden Years: 1971 to 1975
The Sporadic Years: 1975 to 1983
The Wilderness Years: 1989 to 2005
The RTD Years: 2005 to 2010
The Moffat Years: 2010 to date

Throughout this sartorial chronology I shall use a number of terms relating to the military, so to avoid any confusion I shall outline those terms before I begin:

Officer – this refers to any member of the military who holds a commission from Her Majesty the Queen. They are therefore sometimes referred to as Commissioned Officers. Officers in the British Army have all attended The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Officers in UNIT are generally seconded from the Army (though we have also seen officers from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force). Officer ranks in the British Army are as follows (in ascending order):

Second Lieutenant




Lieutenant Colonel



Major General

Lieutenant General


During UNIT's appearance in the classic series, there was also an even more senior officer rank of Field Marshal (OF-10), but this is now defunct in the UK as it is classed as a wartime rank.

Officers wear their rank insignia on shoulder epaulettes.

Other Ranks (ORs) – this refers to anyone who is not a commissioned officer and includes Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers (Corporals and Sergeants), and Private soldiers.

The OR ranks, in ascending order are:

OR-1 and OR-2

Lance Corporal



Staff Sergeant

Warrant Officer Class 2
(Company Sergeant Major)

Warrant Officer Class 1
(Regimental Sergeant Major)
NCOs (Lance Corporal up to Staff Sergeant) wear their rank chevrons on their upper arms; Warrant Officers wear their rank insignia on their cuff (however, it should be noted that in the modern-age where UNIT ORs wear all-black SWAT uniforms, ranks are displayed differently). 

Note: the letter and number underneath each rank is the corresponding NATO code, which is assigned to every rank in the armed forces and allows different country's armies, navies and air forces to see how each of their ranks corresponds with each other, and with other country's equivalent armed forces. This is probably especially useful for UNIT who have personnel from different branches of each armed service in every UN country in the world.


For much of their run, UNIT wore standard British Army uniform. However, the British Army have a variety of different uniforms for various occasions ranging from ceremonial to combat. This is how they classify them:
Full Dress – This is the most elaborate uniform available, and is only worn these days by the Foot Guards and Guards Regiments. It is the scarlet jacket you will see being worn by soldiers guarding Buckingham Palace, for example.
Full Dress Uniforms of the Guards Regiments
From Left to Right: Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards, Welsh Guards, Irish Guards, and Coldstream Guards
No. 1: Temperate Ceremonial Uniform (also referred to as Dress Uniform, or Dress Blues) – This is a universal ceremonial uniform worn on specific ceremonial occasions. For most regiments it consists of a midnight blue tunic and trousers, worn with a peaked cap.
Various different patterns of No 1 Dress being worn at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Front row (from left to right) A Major General, a General, a Royal Artillery officer, and a Royal Navy officer
Stood to attention behind them are Officer Cadets; the mounted soldier belongs to a Scottish regiment
No. 2: Service Dress – This is the standard khaki jacket and trousers that many people associate with the army. It is used as a temperate parade uniform. Current regulations specify that all ranks wear the same style of Service Dress, but previous regulations had separate patterns for officers and ORs.
This is a uniform that we will see being worn by UNIT a lot.
Two styles of Service Dress
The old OR pattern uniform (left) and the new all-ranks pattern (right) known as Future Army Dress

No 3: Warm Weather Ceremonial Uniform – This is the equivalent of the No 1 Dress Uniform, but worn on overseas assignments in climates that are considered “hot-weather”. It consists of a white tunic over No 1 Dress trousers. Most recently, this style of uniform was seen being worn by Prince Harry whilst in Australia.
Captain Wales (Prince Harry) in the No 3 Dress of the Blues and Royals
No 4: Warm Weather Service Dress (officers only) – Similar to No. 2 Dress, but stone-coloured and made of a lighter fabric.
General Sir David Richards (former Chief of the Defence Staff) wearing No 4 Dress
No 5: Battledress (now obsolete) – Worn between 1939 and 1961 this is the woollen combat uniform worn throughout Word War II and will be most familiar to people who enjoy Dad’s Army as it is the uniform they wear (from Series 4 onwards).
The cast of the BBC TV series Dad's Army dressed in No 5 Battldress uniforms
No 5: Desert Combat Dress (now obsolete) – This was jacket and trousers in sand-coloured DPM, worn in desert environments such as the First Gulf War and the early years of Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2011 it has been replaced with a new style of Combat Uniform.
Lieutenant Wales (Prince Harry) and other officers wearing No 5 Dress

No 6: Warm Weather Parade Uniform (also known as a Bush Jacket) – In Australia it is known as the “safari uniform”. It is issued to all officers and ORs on posting to a warm weather station and consists of a tan-coloured jacket and trousers that can be worn with or without shirt and tie underneath.
No 7: Warm Weather Barrack Dress – A tropical stone-coloured shirt and trousers uniform.
No 8: Temperate Combat Dress – The current No 8 Dress was introduced in 2011 and is known as Personal Clothing System – Combat Uniform (PCS-CU) and is based around a multi-terrain pattern that is interchangeable with both woodland and dessert environments.
General Sir David Richards wearing the new No 8 Dress, known as PCS-CU
Previous to 2011, No 8 Dress consisted of Combat Soldier 95, which was similar to the new uniform, but patterned in the old-style of DPM camouflage, which was only suitable for woodland warfare.
Lieutenant Wales (Prince Harry) dressed in Combat Soldier 95
Before CS95, soldiers wore an older style of combat gear (which can be seen on UNIT troops in the Seventh Doctor’s era, as well as being worn in the TV series Soldier Soldier).
1990s-era No 8 Dress, as seen in the TV series Soldier Soldier
Before that an even older style of combat fatigues were worn, which date back to the 1960s.
No 9: Tropical Combat Dress (now obsolete) – This was a shirt and trouser combo patterned in DPM, but made from a lightweight material suitable for wear in tropical environment.
No 10: Temperate Mess Dress – The military equivalent of a Dinner Jacket; Mess Dress uniforms come in a variety of different cuts and colours, depending on regimental traditions, and are usually worn with a black bow tie and dress shirt. This uniform is worn for formal evening functions.

Each regiments has an individual style of No 10 Dress. Here are a small example of the variety of Mess Dress patterns available:
The Life Guards

Coldstream Guards

Royal Artillery

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)

Intelligence Corps

Parachute Regiment

No 11: Warm Weather Mess Dress – In tropical environments, a white jacket is worn instead on the coloured one of No 10 Dress.
No 12: Protective Clothing – This order of dress includes clothing such as overalls, worn by engineers and technicians, to specialist kit worn by aircrews, chefs and medics etc.
I suspect the black SWAT gear worn by modern UNIT troops would fall into this category.

Protective coveralls fall under No 12 Dress
No 13: Temperate Barrack Dress – This is the thick woollen jumper worn over shirt and trousers that was often worn by the Brigadier in Doctor Who. In real life, the pullover worn by some Regiments and Corps are cut differently or come in a variety of colours, depending on tradition.
Officer of the Life Guards in No 13 Dress

No 14: Shirt Sleeve Order – The same as No 13 Dress but with the jumper removed and the sleeves of the shirt rolled up. This dress is allowed during the summer months.
Officer of the Life Guards in No 14 Dress

NCO of the Life Guards in No 14 Dress

So, I think that covers the basics. Without further ado, let's delve into the world of UNIT's sartorial development.


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