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An American Company Located in Utah
An American Company Located in Utah

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British CAMO

It is believed that some of the very first camouflage suits were developed in the 19th century for use by Scottish gamekeepers hunting deer in the Scottish highlands. This earliest camouflage "uniform," called a Ghillie suit (from the Gaelic word gille for servant) utilized loose strips of multi-colored cloth, twine or burlap attached to a canvas greatcoat or loose hooded jacket & trousers, and was designed to appear as foliage. It was the Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Regiment of the British Army, that first designed functional Ghillie suits for military use, worn by sharpshooters during the Boer War (1899-1902). This same regiment revived the uniforms during the First World War, issuing them as specialized outfits for snipers. Such hand-made uniforms were also known as "Yowie suits" (particularly by Australians). In 1917, the Symien sniper suit was introduced, following traditional Ghillie designs, and worn by British troops from other regiments in reconnaissance and sniper roles. Despite their historic origins, Ghillie suits are still used today, and their construction is a skill that continues to be emphasized in many military sniper & scout/reconnaissance schools around the world.

Britain also experimented with handpainted camouflage designs on canvas tents during the First World War, incorporating brushstrokes or streaks in brown on a khaki background. This is likely the first use of the brushstroke technique that would be revived during the Second World War mark the beginning of an entire family of camouflage patterns that continue to influence design today. Personal capes and uniforms (primarily intended for snipers and observers) were also fabricated during the war, hand-painted using blotch, spot and stripe patterns on various canvas designs. These were probably influenced by French designs.

Although British airborne personnel would continue to wear brushstroke camouflage Denison smocks well into the 1970s, the standard uniform of the British soldier remained khaki or olive green until 1966. It was at this point that Britain introduced another camouflage design, Disruptive Pattern Material or DPM, that would not only remain in service with British troops well into the present era, but would become one of the most widely-copied camouflage designs in the world. Although the basic combat uniform and the DPM pattern itself would undergo several changes and appear in many guises (including desert versions), it is one of the longest-lived single camouflage designs ever to remain in service with a single nation.