Blanco????(A Trip Down Memory lane)

IMG_0001Who knows what blanco is??? Certainly sailors from my era and earlier will. When I joined the Navy in March 1955 we wore black caps in the winter and white caps in summer. There was no such thing as plastic cap tops back then, we had to whiten our caps white blanco. It is best described as a white paste that we painted on the top part of the sailors cap. We also used blanco on our white web belts and gaiters. I remember when it rained, which was often in the UK, the blanco ran and dripped onto our blue uniforms. The belt and gaiters left a white residue on bell bottoms and  the tunic waistline. Around mid 1956 the Navy changes the rules and we wore white caps year round. Caps belts and gaiters were made a newer plastic type material and could be kept clean simply by washing the items. The days of blanco were over, and we sailors could not have been happier. Other uniform parts changed too, replacing the skin tight uniform jacket that we  struggled to pull on and off, indeed often needing help to get it off, suddenly had a zipper. The scratchy blue wool sweater (sea jersey) we wore in winter ceased at the same time as the black caps and was replaced with a white front (gun shirt). Uniform material also improved from  thick woolly serge, to a lighter smoother material.  Life became much easier! I recall shipmates trying to shave the old serge uniforms to make them appear more like the more expensive Doeskin cloth. Those were indeed the days, a time when it seem the Royal Navy was far behind the other Navies of the World. We envied the RCN with their modern zippered easy to wear uniforms, and even the Yanks with with their loose fittings uniforms. Both had that amazingly fast and convenient zipper fly.  You probably don’t want to hear of the difficulties we encountered when needing to pee.  I will not draw you a picture, suffice to say after a few too many pints, peeing seemed to become an ever increasing emergency trying to undo too many buttons etc. Nevertheless, I still look back on my time in the Royal Navy with fond memories, and in case you are thinking, no! I always managed to pee without wetting myself, but it was sometimes close!!!ganges_0006

God Bless and keep reading


About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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