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Jungle Boots

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Jungle Boots

US pattern boot issued to UK forces before the introduction of the all black Hot Weather Boots

Environment-specific footwear didn't really make an appearance until the 1960s and prior to this, the general issue boot had to make do in all terrains and weathers. Jungles being nasty, wet, horrible places, it was decided during the Malayan Emergency to introduce a special boot designed for such an environment.

The result was a curious bright green canvas and rubber affair - looking very similar to baseball boots but with a very high leg[1]. They were not very successful, but they did have their plaudits and they were better than sloshing around the bondu in Ammo boots or Boots DMS. These boots lingered on until the superior US-manufactured classic Vietnam jungle boot became widely available.

The author first encountered the latter incarnation in the early '80s, when the bemused onlooker was astounded by a US Marine sporting a pair of the most ally-looking daps he'd ever seen. He simply just had to have a pair of those. Said Marine was not willing to part with his footwear, but it wasn't long before the author managed to get his hands on a pair.

They certainly turned heads in the mess - especially when worn in January with a set of tropical trousers and a parka! Top that! The boots really came in to their own during a Belize tour. Sashaying around Airport Camp whilst sporting the epitome of tropical pedal attire was certainly the better option than the DMS alternative.

During a visit by Phil the Greek, the Guard of Honour were issued with the elusive and mythical jungle boots - albeit the green US-made variety. They were duly ordered to polish the canvas to black - thus ruining the rot proofing and totally fucking up perfectly serviceable (and brand new) boots. After the parade, they were made to hand them back in and they were never seen again. Simply scaling everyone with jungle boots being far too obvious an option, the hapless wearers reverted to their less than sartorial DMS footwear.

Not so the author. By having privately purchased his 'genuine' junglies (from Silverman's), he'd avoided such humiliation and by the end of the tour they'd been lovingly scrubbed so much that the canvas sides were almost faded to white. Well ally. The affair could not last, however, and they fell to pieces. Efforts to exchange them were fruitless and they were last seen being sported by a Boon in The Big Apple.

Being British of course, we decided to make our own version of the US jungle boot and came out with something that looked like a DMS boot with the ankle bit removed and replaced with green canvas, thus looking like a slightly more ally NHS orthopaedic shoe.

Under rigorous jungle conditions, these lasted about 14.7 seconds and so combat arms personnel posted to Belize were finally, and very grudgingly, issued with US jungle boots which they actually got to keep. Woo hoo!

Having been a Staff Officer in Belize in my last job in the regular army, I've still got a couple of pairs of functional jungle boots together with several sets of astonishingly ally flourescent tropical combats which can be brought out and sported when ally-ness is a serious issue.

Improved models of Jungle Boots are now manufactured by Atalaia and are also avaliable in brown leather.