A US Navy Vietnam veteran remembers : "As a young third class petty officer I once had a set of Navy dress blues "tailor-made" in San Francisco, California. They were embroidered with my first "liberty cuffs". Liberty Cuffs were those embroidered patches sewn inside the cuffs of Navy dress blue uniforms. These uniforms were worn by Navy enlisted men, pay grades E-2 through E-6. The embroidered patches were non-regulation- "illegal" - and often resulted in sailors, if caught (usually by the Shore Patrol personnel), having their liberty cancelled and their being sent back to their ship or shore station.
The patches (liberty cuffs) were sewn, usually by a uniform tailor using a hidden stitch. This resulted in a regulation looking uniform when the cuffs were in place and buttoned, but displayed when the sailor was on liberty, and unbuttoned and rolled the cuff up one roll to display the fancy designs. Liberty cuffs were found all over the fleet, and in many stateside uniform tailor shops. In actuality, though, they were most commonly made in Asian ports. In fact, the oldest versions of these fancy inside cuffs were often attributed to "China Station sailors", "China Fleet sailors", or "China sailors", for short. Gunboat sailors on the Yangste probably were the first to wear liberty cuffs . From The Yangtse Patrol website: "Gunboat sailors prided themselves as a breed apart and their uniforms showed it. They were issued a size or two too large on purpose. When the sailor got his uniform he took it to one of the custom tailors ashore . The uniform was tailored to fit like a second skin. The sleeve cuffs had elaborate fire-breathing dragons embroidered into them in vivid golds, greens, yellows and reds. With his sleeves rolled back and the dragons breathing fire from both his wrists, he announced to the world who he was". Liberty cuffs on Navy jumpers were immortalized by Steve McQueen in the rowing on the lake scene (pictured) in the early 60s movie "Sand Pebbles". Around the 1970s, liberty cuffs became less prevalent, as sailors were allowed to wear "civies" on liberty, and eventually this time honored sea faring ritual began to dissappear.This Vietnam Navy blue wool jumper is a size small, in excellent condition. It has the names JIM and CURTIS on the inside of the cuffs, with a dragon inside the neck, all beautifully embroidered. The dragon is almost the exact match of the style of embroidery well known as the classic dragon ( also pictured). Bid with confidence and please view our other great military and aviation classics. Click Double your traffic. Try Vendio Gallery Risk FREE!