eBay is home to a host of military uniforms and accessories. Military uniforms are bought by those who wish to re-enact scenes of conflict with the upmost accuracy and a high level of realism. They are also purchased by collectors who own extensive compendiums of military uniforms from a variety of eras and conflicts.
British military uniforms are available from auction sites such as eBay for prices that are affordable to both those wishing to buy new or used. The range available for collection is vast, with almost every historical period and conflict being represented in the marketplace. From World War II to the early modern period, the British military is well represented in terms of uniform available for purchase.
With the options being so plentiful, it is important to know what to look for and the specifics of a desired military uniform or piece of British military clothing.
British Military Areas of Service
There are British military uniforms available from the following areas of service:
- Special Forces (SAS)
- Royal Navy
- Royal Air Force (RAF)
- Royal Marines
Individual Components of British Military Uniform Clothing
Individual items of British military uniform can be purchased and worn separately for fashion purposes or for their sturdiness in certain weather conditions. Here are some of the components that make up British military uniform:
Item of Clothing
Military jackets are widely purchased as individual pieces. Whilst re-enactors may purchase jackets separately to complete a collection, people often buy them as part of their regular wardrobe. The likes of combat jackets with the camouflage print are popular, as well as 19th century ‘red coat’ jackets.
Military helmets and hats are a very collectable item. They are popular amongst those who wish to collect items of clothing from a number of different conflicts. Some military helmets and hats are rare and can be the only item missing from a full uniform. Due to this, it can be found that some British military headwear can reach high prices.
Much like military jackets, trousers from the British armed forces are extremely popular for everyday use. However, trousers from pre-World War I are considered to be of an antique nature so can only be found to be of high value.
Boots that were originally intended for use in the British military are popular everyday shoes that are recognised for their robust nature. Whilst replicas may be made, original British military boots are available at affordable prices regardless of their intended use.
Eras of Military British Uniform
Another way of categorising British military uniform is by separating it into the different eras it was worn and issued in. The historical range of British military uniform is vast. Excluding some of the modern non-conflict periods, here are the eras from which British military uniform can be purchased online from sites such as eBay:
Early Modern Period: This period is generally considered to be between 1500-1800. Whilst the category is vast and a number of different military uniforms were worn, there is very little available to buy online. Replicas and reproductions are available but for some collectors these are not fully representative of the true nature of British military uniform worn during this period.
19th Century: British military uniform from this period can be purchased at reasonable prices. ‘Red Coat’ jackets from the 19th Century are popular buys amongst collectors and helmets can be found in reasonable condition from this period. ‘Red Coat’ jackets are still used in modern military dress but this is mainly for ceremonial and non-conflict purposes. These jackets were worn in famous conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars and were sported by British soldiers in the American Civil War. Boots and trousers from this period are rarely found but when they are, they are considered to be of a high collectability.
Pre-World War I: Whilst rare, there are some British military uniforms available for purchase from this period of time. Tunics and coats can be found amongst the vast amount of medals that feature prominently on the likes of eBay from this period.
Inter-War: This is considered to be the time between the two World Wars that British soldiers fought in. Much like searches for pre-World War I, there is not that big of a range for military uniforms from this period. They also don’t tend to be considered very collectable.
1946-1960: During this period of time, British military uniform became much more similar in design and material to the uniforms that are considered to be ‘modern’. There is a large selection of military jackets that can be acquired and helmets from this era are also popular amongst British military specialist collectors.
British Military Uniforms Worn in Conflict
British military uniforms that were worn in conflict are considered to be more collectable than those worn during times of peace. This may be due to the popularity of battle re-enactments and down to the fact that original pieces worn in conflict are rare to find. Collectors of conflict issue British military uniforms tend to acquire pieces from wars such as these:
- Boer War (1899 to 1902): British military uniforms from the Boer War are extremely hard to find. Replica pieces can be found affordably but it is original pieces from the uniform that are sought after by collectors. Helmets are the most commonly found component of British military wear from the Boer War.
- World War I (1914 to 1918): The First World War is a conflict from British military history that is commonly re-enacted. Uniforms were simple in design and because of this plenty of replica pieces have been made. Helmets, hats and jackets are all widely collected from this era. Soldiers who fought in the First World War wore a 1902 issue Pattern Dress tunic and trousers. They were made from thick wool that was khaki in colour, so look out for product descriptions that suggest otherwise. Helmets were originally made of cork but then later on in the war manufactured from steel.
- World War II (1939 to 1945): There were two different kinds of military uniform worn by the British soldiers who fought in the Second World War. The first was labelled as ‘temperate combat uniforms’. These uniforms were used for fighting in weather conditions that were similar to those in Britain, such as France. They were made of khaki and the original issue was thought to be from 1937. The second type of uniform worn by soldiers in the Second World War was the ‘tropical uniform’. These were worn by soldiers who were fighting in the likes of Egypt and India. Shorts were often worn by soldiers wearing this uniform and the materials used were a lot lighter in both colour and thickness. Both types of uniform can be found as either originals or replicas from auction sites such as eBay.
- Falklands War (1982): The Falklands War between Britain and Argentina saw the introduction of camouflage pattern dress into British military uniform worn in conflict. Whilst military uniforms from this conflict may not be as popularly collected, there are still jackets and trousers available for purchase.
Buying British Military Uniform Online
- The market for British military uniform is huge. It caters for many different buyers, such as collectors, re-enactors and those who like to use the British military uniform for fashion purposes.
- There are a number of websites that are specially designed for the sale of British military gear and these can be useful. They can be used in the process of ensuring that either a bargain is found elsewhere or that a price paid on an auction site such as eBay is not over the odds. Compare these prices to gain a better understanding of the true value of certain pieces of British military uniform.
- It may also be a wise idea to browse websites dedicated to the history of the British military so as to deepen one’s knowledge on the options available for purchase. Re-enactors and collectors play host to discussion boards that talk of the best pieces to go for and how to spot replicas and originals.
Buying British Military Uniform on eBay
An auction site may be the best option in terms of finding British military uniform at affordable prices.
Finding British military wear on the site is made easy by eBay. Simply click on the Collectables category and then find the Militaria section. From hereon, one can use the filter tabs to find British military uniforms or singular pieces such as jackets, helmets and boots.
When a product is found, check the following things to make sure that the exchange is honest:
- The seller’s product description. Make sure it correlates to the images that should be provided.
- The seller’s previous transaction history. It is best to go with sellers that have sold similar items in the past and that have positive feedback.
- Check that the seller can be contacted directly.
- Check as to whether the product is up for Bid, Buy It Now or Best Offer.
Buying British military uniform is a process that whilst should be carefully considered, need not be complicated. Hopefully this guide has provided the necessary details to help the purchase of British Military Uniforms, whether they are helmets, jackets, trousers or boots.
Using eBay can bring the best results in terms of condition, price and age of British military uniforms, and being aware of eBay and PayPal’s Terms and Conditions is a practice that will go further to ensuring a secure and smooth purchase.