Gregory Peck as Captain Keith Mallory, experienced Allied spy and mountain climber
“Navarone Island”, Greece, Fall 1943
Film: The Guns of Navarone
Release Date: April 27, 1961
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Wardrobe Credit: Monty M. Berman & Olga Lehmann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
After leading his scrappy team of British Army commandos through Greece, Captain Keith Mallory finds himself at the crucial point of his mission, the infiltration of an enemy fortress on the fictional Navarone Island. Mallory and his team had been briefly detained in Mandrakos, where they turned the table on their Nazi captors and stole the German military uniforms to provide them ideal cover as they sneak into the fortress and disable the guns and, ideally, escape with their lives.
Mallory and the cheeky Corporal Miller (David Niven) breached the island while still dressed as officers of the Heer and Waffen-SS, respectively, but abandon the enemy uniform tunics to complete their heroic task in nondescript shirt sleeves. The job complete, Mallory and Miller bundle up in duffel coats and share a smoke on the deck of a British destroyer returning them to safety, ostensibly for their next mission.
Corporal Miller: To tell you the truth, I didn’t think we could do it.
Captain Mallory: To tell you the truth, neither did I.
What’d He Wear?
In Dressing the Man, Alan Flusser defines the duffel coat as “a three-quarter length, loose-fitting coat with a hood fastened with loops and toggles of wood or horn.” Apropos the maritime nature of the mission’s conclusion, the duffel coat derives its name from the Belgian seaport town in Antwerp where the coarse, heavy woolen fabric originated in the early 19th century. By the 1890s, it had been adopted by the British Royal Navy, who issued these “convoy coats” in a camel shade of khaki through both major world wars. Though it was fielded and authorized to a greater degree by the RN, the duffel coat maintains its association with one of the most famous British Army officers, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, resulting in its “Monty coat” nickname. Original Montgomery, self-described as “the oldest surviving company chosen by the British Admiralty in the early 1890s to make the first duffle coats,” still offers its original toggle coat design more than 120 years later, albeit in a blend of 70% Italian wool and 30% polyester as opposed to the locally sourced wool construction of the earliest British military duffels.
For other modern and affordable alternatives to the duffel coats worn in The Guns of Navarone, I recommend exploring the latest article from Iconic Alternatives.
By the time production was rolling on The Guns of Navarone, the hard-wearing duffel coat had evolved from its military origins to become a popular campus staple on both sides of the Atlantic. Thus, it served both fashion and function to dress Gregory Peck and David Niven in duffel coats—no doubt supplied by their Royal Navy brethren—when keeping warm aboard a British destroyer following the successful completion of their mission.
Peck and Niven wear matching khaki duffels that appear to be made from genuine duffel, the coarse, double-woven woolen cloth that originated in Belgium as opposed to the softer Melton cloth used on many modern duffel coats. Each have the jacket’s signature oversized hood, so designed to accommodate naval headgear, if needed.
The shoulders are reinforced with a horizontal yoke that extends down each front side of the coat, just below the first toggle. There are four double-braided hemp fastenings, extending from the left side to connect with corresponding wood toggles on the right. The set-in sleeves are roomy through the arms with a wide strap at each cuff that fastens onto one of two traditional sew-through buttons (rather than toggles). The coats have two large patch pockets at hip level, just below the lowest toggle on the front.
The coat replaces the German uniform tunic that Mallory had worn for the latter stages of his mission, taken earlier from Oberleutnant Muesel (Walter Gotell). As Muesel was an officer of the Heer, he wears the traditional wool gabardine field uniform in feldgrau (“field gray”), the distinctive greenish-gray color associated with the various German armed forces from the start of the 20th century through World War II.
The standard Wehrmacht feldbluse (field tunic) was modified several times throughout the war, often to simplify manufacturing, though Muesel’s tunic appears to be an original Model 1936 with its five-button front and the bottle green felt collar for the traditional double-braided “litzen” collar patches. All four pockets are box-pleated with a single-button flap, though the squared corners of the flaps differ from the scalloped flaps common to most pre-1943 uniforms. Above the right breast pocket, Muesel wears the standard Wehrmachtsadler (“armed forces eagle”) of a gold silk-embroidered eagle clutching the a wreath against a bottle green ground, though the filmmakers seem to have replaced the infamous Nazi swastika that would have been inside the wreath with a different design.
Muesel’s rank, Oberleutnant (“Senior Lieutenant”) is roughly equivalent to the NATO OF-1a grade, which translates to Lieutenant in the British Army and First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The rank insignia is worn on the epaulettes (shoulder straps), denoted by a single gold star on a gray-braided shoulder board with the plain white piping suggesting that Oberleutnant Muesel was an infantry officer.
Mallory also takes Muesel’s wide black patent leather belt, worn outside the tunic and closing through a double-prong buckle in a gold finish (possibly an error, as I believe gold belt buckles were reserved for generals while officers below them wore silver-toned belt buckles.) Mallory wears Muesel’s dark brown leather holster for his Mauser 1934 “pocket pistol” attached to the belt.
Naturally, Mallory completes the look by donning Muesel’s Schirmmütze (peaked cap) with a feldgrau wool cover to match the uniform, piped in white Waffenfarbe to indicate Muesel’s infantry service with a gold-embroidered eagle at the top of the crown. The bottle green fabric band is decorated with the silver-embroidered oak leaf wreath and cockade insignia and silver-braided bullion indicating Muesel’s status as a field-grade officer, and the cap is finished with a shiny black patent leather visor.
Throughout the mission, Captain Mallory wears a long-sleeved khaki shirt with point collar, epaulettes, and button cuffs. The box-pleated chest pockets each close with a single-buttoned flap.
The shirt more closely resembles what Mallory wore with his off-white linen suit during the opening scenes than anything issued by the German Army during World War II, so it’s likely that the Allied captain wears his own shirt as it would be completely covered when he correctly buttons the uniform tunic over it anyway.
In 1940, the Heer began issuing feldgrau uniform trousers to match the tunics as opposed to the contrasting steingrau (“stone gray”) trousers that had been issued by the Reichswehr since 1922. Even after he discards the tunic, Captain Mallory continues wearing the uniform’s flat front trousers, which are fitted with buckle-tab side adjusters on the waistband and are finished with plain-hemmed bottoms. The only pockets are the frogmouth-style front pockets.
Mallory wears tall russet leather lace-up boots, likely standing in for the Schnürschuhe (“lace-up shoes”) that had been issued by the German Army since 1937 and had effectively replaced the Wehrmacht’s infamous jackboots by 1943. Worn with light gray socks, Mallory’s ten-eyelet boots are closed-laced, oxford-style, with a cap toe and a slightly higher rise than the ankle-high Schnürschuhe boots.
As he and Miller plan to infiltrate the fortress, Mallory checks the time on his Gruen Precision wristwatch. The Gruen Watch Company’s founder, the German-born Dietrich Grün, had been making timepieces since the 1870s and finally founded a company under his own name in 1894, becoming one of the first U.S. watchmakers to offer basic Swiss movements. Gruen introduced its wristwatches in 1908, around the time that they were mostly fashionable for women as they had another decade to grow in popularity among men. The construction of the Precision Factory in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, led to the development of the Gruen Precision, using the highest-quality movements the company had to offer.
Mallory’s steel Gruen Precision watch has a round silver dial with Arabic number markers and is worn on a brown leather strap.
You got me in the mood to use this thing, and by God, if you don’t think of something, I’ll use it on you!
When Captain Mallory takes Oberleutnant Muesel’s uniform, he also commandeers the officer’s sidearm, a Mauser Model 1934 semi-automatic pistol.
Less famous than its Walther contemporaries, specifically the PPK that would become famous due to its association with James Bond, this compact series of Mauser pistols dates back to the years before World War I when Josef Nickl designed the Mauser Model 1910, a “pocket pistol” chambered for the anemic 6.35x16mmSR (.25 ACP) round. Four years later, the slightly larger Mauser Model 1914 entered production, chambered for the slightly more powerful 7.65x17mmSR Browning (.32 ACP) ammunition.
While the Mauser 1910 would continue production through the beginning of World War II, the Mauser 1914 was superseded by the almost identical Mauser 1934 during the early months of the Third Reich. The Model 1914 and 1934 pistols were nearly identical in size and weight, both striker-fired with the ability to carry eight rounds of .32 ACP in a box magazine. According to an informative article for American Rifleman by Mauser 1934 owner Garry James, the sole differentiation was “the introduction of a more comfortable, rounded grip on the newer pistol.”
The Mauser 1934 was most frequently carried by German police and naval officers of the Kriegsmarine, though it was also fielded by Wehrmacht officers so it’s no surprise that Muesel would have been armed with one… though it was certainly good luck for Captain Mallory that he was able to obtain a suppressor that would fit the sidearm.
In 1941, Mauser ceased production on the 1910 and 1934 series of pocket pistols, instead focusing on the more aerodynamic Mauser HSc, designed by Alex Seidel with a look more consistent with the Walther PPK and sharing the PPK’s .32 ACP chambering. More than 250,000 HSc (Hahn Selbstspanner, or “self-cocking hammer”, design C) pistols were produced during World War II, with more than half issued to the Wehrmacht while the rest were picked up by the Kriegsmarine, police, and civilian population. Unlike the earlier Mauser pocket pistols, the HSc design survived the war with a run of pistols manufactured by the French for the First Indochina War before the Mauser factory resumed HSc production in earnest in 1968, producing Mauser HSc pistols in both .32 ACP and .380 ACP until 1977.
How to Get the Look
Captain Mallory’s hard-wearing duffel coat is just what the doctor ordered for warming up after a grueling seaside mission in The Guns of Navarone, sported with a khaki shirt, earthy gray uniform trousers, and russet combat boots apropos the jacket’s military pedigree.
- Khaki heavy woolen duffel coat with oversized hood, four-toggle front, hip pockets, set-in sleeves with adjustable straps, and reinforced shoulder pads
- Khaki long-sleeved shirt with point collar, epaulettes (shoulder straps), box-pleated chest pockets (with single-button flaps), and button cuffs
- Field gray wool gabardine flat front uniform trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, frogmouth front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Russet brown leather 10-eyelet cap-toe combat boots
- Light gray socks
- Gruen Precision wristwatch with steel case, round silver dial with Arabic number markers, and brown leather strap
I recommend exploring the latest Iconic Alternatives article for you to find the ideal duffel coat to add to your collection!
If Gregory Peck wearing a duffel coat isn’t enough to inspire you to get one, then look no further than style icon Paddington Bear, who famously sported a navy duffel coat with two or three rows of toggles in addition to his red bush hat.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
You think you’ve been getting away with it all this time, standing by. Well, son… your by-standing days are over! You’re in it now, up to your neck!