Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tuesday Finds

Today’s Finds

Well its back to the second hand market today, after too long an absence. Whilst it was a bit quiet, I did pick up some nice bits including yet another ammunition box! My wife is very tolerant of these, but they do start to take up a bit of room after a while…

Ammunition Box

This ammunition box is made of wood and covered in stencil markings. It is worth remembering that ammunition boxes came as often in wood as they did in metal. Metal was a strategic resource, so if a box could be made of wood and be as safe as a metal one then this was the preferred policy. Wood was the traditional material for munitions boxes as it was cheap, durable and most importantly couldn’t cause sparks like metal boxes could.

imageThis box is dated 1943 on the base:

imageHowever it has been repainted and re-stencilled for reuse in 1953. I haven’t tracked down which type of box this is yet, so if anyone knows the model number, then please let me know so I can carry on my research.

40mm Shell
One of the best and longest lived anti aircraft guns in service is the Bofors 40mm. This was introduced into the British Army in 1937 and became the standard light anti aircraft gun in service throughout the Second World War. It was used as a standard towed artillery piece and on a variety of vehicles to become self propelled:

imageThis casing is dated 1942 and has a profusion of ordnance stamps on the base:imageTrench Whistle
Following on from last week’s pickup of a Metropolitan type Trench whistle, this week I was lucky enough to pick up the ‘Snail’ type to go with it. Its marked ‘J Hudson & Co, Birmingham, 1916’:imageRAF Observer Photograph
This rather elegant portrait photograph is of an Observer from the RAF in the Second World War. Sadly the chap isn’t identified, but his insignia is clearly visible:imageBritish India Passport

Finally we have this passport. Its not strictly military, but as it was issued in April 1944 I hope you will forgive its inclusion here. British subjects born and domiciled in India needed passports just like anyone else, and the government of India issued them with these:imageThis example was issued to a Miss Jayne St: Pierre Bunbury:imageThis particular example is stamped as having been issued in the North West Frontier Province and is overstamped as ‘cancelled’ presumably following Indian Independence.:image

Trench Whistle

I’m back from training in Cyprus and posts to the blog will now start again. Today I picked up this WW1 trench whistle:

imageThe whistle is dated 1915 and was manufactured by J Hudson & Co, Birmingham. Whistles such as this are of a type called ‘The Metropolitan’ patented by J Hudson in 1884. Originally they were used by police forces to give a clear audible signal between constables on the beat. The loud sound would prove equally useful in the noise and confusion of trench warfare. Officers and sergeants would have been issued or purchased whistles like these and used them to signal men to go over the top.

Police whistles tended to have chains, so the leather thong on this one suggests its military. The thong should be longer, but the end is missing and a new hole cut further down the thong to allow it to continue seeing service.

Indian Helmet Mosquito Net

One of the most debilitating effects of the tropics on men serving in them was the risk of tropical diseases. Many of these were carried by Mosquitos, the most dangerous of which was malaria. To combat the threat the British military spent a lot of time, effort and money developing a variety of ways of combatting this little insect.

As well as insect repellents and insecticides, personal protection was developed such as gloves and boots to keep the insects at bay. One of the most awkward parts of the body to protect though was the head, whatever was developed needed to be light, flexible, see through and allow a man to fight as un encumbered as possible. To do this a light weight net was created that could be worn over the helmet to protect the face. This design was then refined by the Indian army who added rattan hoops to keep the net away from the face:image

 The hood has cloth tapes to go under the arm pits to secure it and prevent Mosquitos flying under:

imageInside is the standard Indian acceptance stamp showing this hood was made in 1943:imageThe hood was also produced in green to go with the jungle equipment introduced later in the war, but one questions how useful they would have been on the battlefield.

This will be the last post for a couple of weeks as I am away training with the RNR, but don’t worry I will be back with new post after that…

Tuesday Finds

This will be the last Tuesday Finds post for a few weeks as I am away in Cyprus with the Navy for a couple of weeks. Despite that, today has brought up some very nice finds…

Ointment Anti Gas Jar

This huge stoneware jar is clearly marked ‘OINTMENT ANT-GAS’. One of the problems faced in the First World War had been with gasses in their liquid state, especially mustard gas, which clung to skin and clothes and inflicted terrible chemical burns. To counter the effects of this, special ointments were created that could be applied to affected skin to neutralise the gas or dilute and wash it 1This jar is probably for civilian ARP use, and is impressed with a maker’s mark for Doulton and a date of 11/56:photo 2Magnetic Marching Compass Mk1

This bakelite compass was standard issue to officers throughout the Second World War. It has a hard shell to protect it:photo 4On the other side is a description and the broad arrow showing it is WD property:photo 3Inside there is a basic compass with which to take bearings and for map reading:photo 2Map reading and compass have been seen as essential military skills from the eighteenth century onwards and the increasing sophistication of maps over this period is directly attributable to the military mappers of the Ordnance Survey.

Respirator Glasses

These glasses were issued to short-sighted troops and were specially designed to be used under gas masks. The springy steel holds the glasses tight to the face allowing a good seal:

photo 1Inside the case is a set of instructions to the soldier issued the glasses:

photo 2Royal Signals Cap Badge

This wartime cap badge is for the Royal Signals and features the messenger of the gods, Mercury, representing communication, the corps raison d’être:photo 7Sweetheart Brooch

This little brooch is made from three WW1 uniform buttons soldered onto a simple pin clasp:photo 6photo 5

This is a particularly common design of ‘trench art’ brooch. I am unsure if this is actually true trench art, or a commercial piece produced as a souvenir for the battlefields of France and Belgium in the 1920s.


One thing I always pick up if they are cheap are general service buttons. these are the most common form of button used on British Army uniforms and have the royal coat of arms on them:photo 1

These were used on woollen uniforms and on tropical uniforms and it is especially on the latter that you find the buttons missing as they were designed to be removable. I normally have a small supply in stock though to replace them and restore a uniform to its former glory.