Everything Bar the Kitchen Sink…A Soldiers Equipment (Part 2)

Today we move onto the entrenching tool cover. typically this was worn on the webbing either on the opposite side to the waterbottle or across the back, resting on the bum. As the name suggests the main purpose of the cover was to store the entrenching tool, however inevitably other items were also normally to be found inside.

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Entrenching Tool Cover

Made of webbing, this cover was based on the earlier design for the 08 webbing. It consists of a large pocket in which the head of the tool goes and a loop and buckle arrangement at the top which secures the handle or helve of the entrenching tool:

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Buckles allow it to be fastened to the bottom of the cross straps on the 37 pattern webbing. This cover is dated 1944:

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Entrenching Tool

The entrenching tool comes in two parts, the head and the helve. the head is made of cast iron and has a small shovel-like end and a small pick end. The helve is a wooden handle that slots into the hole in the centre of the head:

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This helve is a later war version with a bayonet slot that allows a spike bayonet to be attached to turn it into a mine probe for clearing mine fields:

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Boot Polish

Typically troops also stored their boot polish in the entrenching tool cover. This period example is ‘Big Ben Brand’:

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Dubbin

Throughout the war Dubbin was issued by the army both to waterproof boots and to act as an anti gas seal for footwear:

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Dubbin is a sticky wax traditionally used to feed and waterproof leather.

Rifle Pull Through

Rifle barrels get dirty quickly through firing, so each soldier was issued a pull through to help clean them. A piece of cloth would be put in the loop at one end and the metal weight at the other would be dropped down the barrel. The cloth could then be pulled through to clean the barrel of any residue:

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Although officially to be carried inside the butt of the rifle, many soldiers found this an awkward place to put the pull through as space was very limited, therefore it was very common to see it stored in the entrenching tool cover.

Sandbag

Another common addition made by troops in the field was t secure a sandbag under the strap on the entrenching tool cover. If all the men in a section had one, even if cut off from the rest of the army, a small firing position could be improvised:

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Next time- inside the Small Pack

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