I will be honest, I have mixed feelings about eBay. I spend far too much on it, but seem to always miss out on the things I really want when I get outbid with a couple of seconds to spare! The other thing that really bugs me is how certain sellers deliberately distort their descriptions to make sales, there are times when every other item for sale is ‘rare airborne issue, as used on D-Day!’ Despite my griping though I do make use of it and I do get some nice little bits as today’s post hopefully highlights.
STEN Gun Cleaning Rod
Everytime you fire a weapon deposits are left in the barrel of partially burnt propellant. In time these deposits choke up the barrel, rendering the gun less accurate and more prone to stoppages. To counter this guns need daily cleaning and it is one of those thankless tasks that soldiers throughout history have needed to do, as the next time they fire their weapon their life might depend on it.
The STEN gun was no exception and thus a cleaning rod was issued to troops. This example is made of brass, with a slot at one end into which a cleaning cloth was secured. The soldier then gripped the loop at the other, inserted the rod into the barrel and removed any fouling he could.
The rod had a neat screw fastening allowing it to be split in two to fit into a standard 37 pattern ammunition pouch:This humble little rod isn’t particularly exciting or attractive, but I rather like it as it accompanies my STEN nicely and I always like to have all the accessories to accompany my guns if I can.
The NAAFI, or Naval, Army and Air Forces Institute to give it its proper title, was set up in 1920 to provide recreational facilities to the British Armed Forces. By D-Day the institute numbered 7000 canteens and 96,000 personnel and supplied hot meals, cigarettes, writing equipment and a myriad of other services to members of the armed forces. It also ran ENSA, who organised concert parties and entertainment for the forces
This fork is clearly marked NAAFI and has the number 2904 on the end. A google search shows that this is a common number on the end of a fork so perhaps it indicates a stores number for identification purposes. It is made of a simple metal stamping and unfortunately isn’t dated. My guess is that it probably is from WW2 or the very early post war era as cutlery started to be made in stainless steel from the early 1950s onwards, but unfortunately it will probably be impossible to date it any more accurately. These forks were routinely ‘swiped’ by troops to replace lost service issue forks and have been turned up by relic hunters at battlefield sites where British troops have fought.
Neither of these two objects are particularly rare and represent the sort of cheap bits I like picking up from eBay. Despite this, like every item, there is a small story behind them and they are just as worthy additions to a collection as anything else.