Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tuesday Finds

The last Tuesday Finds post for a couple of weeks as I am of on holiday next week…in the meantime:

ARP First Aid Tin

This large metal tin box is typical of those issued to ARP posts up and down the country with a basic first aid kit in. The 1939 dated box is 11”x7”x8” and is made of (sadly slightly rusted) black enamelled metal.



There is a red stripe around the box with ARP on the front in white letters:


The lid is secured by two sprung catches:


Inside is a contents list, identifying its original origin as having been in Lambeth, London:
These boxes were produced in their thousands and would originally have housed dressings, ointments and other first aid supplies to deal with casualties from bombs and gas. One imagines that if this box was used in Lambeth there is a high likelihood that it was used in anger, due to the high level of bombing in London throughout the war.

First Aid Dressing

This 8”x6” first aid dressing came from the same dealer as the first aid box, suggesting the two items might be associated. It is a blue waxed paper packet with instructions printed on the packet:
It was made by Johnson and Johnson and it seems that this type of dressing was used both by civilian services and included in military first aid kits.


Again from the same seller is this 40s era tourniquet. A tourniquet is used to stem the blood flow to a wounded limb to prevent blood loss after a serious wound. This example is unmarked and is typical of military and civilian tourniquets of the period:
A buckle is used to fasten the tourniquet, and a bamboo stick can be wound to increase the pressure and prevent blood flowing.

Indian Army Photo

This delightful photograph shows a senior officer of the British Army with a well dressed older lady in the garden of a hotel in Lucknow:
The officers rank certainly has a pair of swords at the bottom, with either a star or a crown above indicating he is either a Major General or a Lieutenant General. The rear of the photo reveals it was taken on Friday 29th January 1905. The rest of the inscription is unfortunately very hard to read:


NBC Haversack and Contents

Following on from last week’s NBC find, I have set out the contents of my mid-1980s NBC haversack, this is an almost complete set now and demonstrates one of my favourite bits of collecting. I like tracking down all the bits to fill the various bags and packs I have, In this case it wasn’t too hard as most of the contents are easy to find and fairly cheap…


1. Spare Respirator Canister- A spare canister for the respirator is carried inside the bag in a special pouch on the right hand side. These should be sealed to keep them clean and ready for use. This example is missing the foil sealing packet.

2. S6 Respirator- The first modern NBC respirator used by the British Army, the S6 was developed at Porton Down in the 1950s. It is made of soft black rubber, with a 40mm thread to allow a canister to be quickly screwed on. It was available in either a right or left handed version and has an elastic strap system to secure it firmly to the face.

3. Haversack Mk 2- The haversack is made of a nuclear and biological agent resistant Butyl Nylon with pockets for all the contents. The bag has a strap for securing it over a shoulder and a belt loop allowing it to be worn on the 58 pattern webbing.

4. Detector Paper No2 Mk1 Liquid One Colour- This is chemically treated paper designed to be attached to various points on the suit, it changes colour and spots appear on it if a chemical agent is present.

5. Kit Decontamination No1Mk1 DKP1- This is a cloth pad filled with fuller’s earth used to decontaminate uniform and equipment. The pad is blotted on the chemical agent, turned over and banged to release the powder and then rubbed to absorb the chemical agent- ‘blot, bang, rub’.

6. Survive to Fight NBC Manual- This is the 1983 edition of this simple picture handbook giving troops the basics they needed to know in how to survive and fight in an NBC environment.

7. Pralidoxomine Mesylate Tablets- See last week’s ‘Tuesday Finds’ Post for more details

8. Kit Decontamination No2Mk1 DKP2- This is a plastic puffer bottle filled with fuller’s earth. The bottle is designed to allow fuller’s earth to be blown onto areas that the DKP1 pad can’t reach.

9. Anti Dimmng Tin- This little tin, unchanged from the second world war, contains an agent that can be applied to the eye pieces of the mask to prevent them misting up with condensation from the soldier’s breath. One end has the agent, the other a cloth to apply it.

10. Gloves, Protective NBC Inner- These cotton gloves were designed to be worn under the outer rubber NBC gloves. They helped the wearer retain sensitivity under the heavy gloves .

11. Autoject Pen- See last week’s ‘Tuesday Finds’ Post for more details


Indian made underpants

As a collector of Militaria, I have bought many weird and wonderful items for my collection over the years, many of which have made my wife think I need serious medical help, however these are perhaps one of the oddest items I have picked up.

These are an indian made pair of pants, made out of a lightweight khaki cotton fabric:


Unfortunately the buttons are missing, with rusty marks where they had been, I do have some replacements somewhere and when I find them I will restore them. Inside is a standard indian circular date stamp, dating them to January 1943:


There is also a makers stamp for a ‘PM&Co’:


I haven’t been able to identify who this company was, so if anyone has any more details please let me know.

This pair of pants is the first pair of Indian made ones I’ve come across, australian made ones seem very common, but I’m guessing these are much rarer. As has probably become apparent I like indian made kit, and these are a nice addition, but I fear getting a full set of indian made personal kit is going to be a long job…


Tuesday Finds

Today’s finds have a definite theme to them, chemical and biological warfare. Since the First World War this form of warfare has caused terror amongst civilians and soldiers alike- despite any real evidence that it is an effective weapon of war.

Defence Against Gas book 1935

This little book predates the Second World War by a few years, but shows that throughout the interwar period defence against Gas was taken seriously by the War Office. The title sheet within the book dates it to 1935 and the price of 1/- indicates that it was not considered restricted material so was available for anyone to purchase and read:
Included in the book are a number of official amendments and updates- indicating an ongoing effort to improve knowledge on the defence against different gases:
Most of the pamphlet is words, however there are a few diagrams, including this intriguing one of modifications to the respirator haversack to allow it to be used by cavalry:

Radiation Calculator

This frightening little mechanical computer dates from the cold war and was used to determine how long soldiers could be exposed to NBC material depending on the background radiation levels. The Calculator is stored in a green cover with the title ‘CALCULATOR RADIAC No 1’, the crows foot acceptance mark and the NATO stock number 6665-99-911-011 on the front:
Inside is a mechanical calculator consisting of three discs:
Instructions on its use are printed on the back, along with the previous owners details- a WO2 Wroe employed at the Defence NBC Centre:
The Defence NBC Centre is a facility at Winterbourne Gunner in Wiltshire and is responsible for training all personnel in CBRN matters
More details on the calculator can be found here: according to this site my calculator dates to the late 50s or early 60s.

Pralidoxomine Mesylate Tablets

This sealed pack of tablets dates from 1975 and contains four tubes of tablets used as an antidote to nerve agent in case of an attack. It was carried by troops in their respirator haversack and was only to be opened in times of need. The outer packet gives instructions on the use of the tablets and shows they were made by Glaxo- one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of the period- now merged into the Glaxo Smith Klein Beecham conglomerate:


Autoject Pen

This autoject pen was also carried by troops as protection against nerve agents. It is a plastic pen identical in operation to those used by allergy sufferers. Inside it Atropine Sulphate:


Around the pen is a printed set of instructions and the whole thing is secured in a plastic packet to ensure it remains protected from any damage or contamination:

The pen is dated June 1976 and the contents worked against most phosphate based nerve agents. These pens are incredibly rare as most were handed back in and destroyed. I have never come across another one. Reassuringly the contents of both this pen and the tablets are more commonly used as medical treatments prescribed by doctors, however their use here illustrates a dark and frightening time in our recent past.

Binoculars Cases

We have looked at British Binoculars a few times on this blog, however today we are going to consider the cases they went into. I have two binocular cases in my collection- a 37 pattern and a later 44 pattern example. The similarities and differences between these two cases show the development of the two webbing sets, with the 44 pattern benefiting from the practical experience of the Second World War.


37 Pattern Case

The 37 pattern case is a hard fibre case, covered in tan webbing secured at the front with a press stud:


On the rear are ‘c’ hooks to secure it to the belt and at the top to allow it to attach to a compass pouch:


Inside the lid is stamped the manufacturer’s mark M.E.Co and the date of 1941:


The two buckles on the sides of the case indicates its a second pattern case, as the buckets allow a shoulder strap to be attached so the case can be slung over the shoulder.


44 Pattern Case

The 44 pattern case is a green soft case rather than being made of the stiff fibre of the earlier case. It is fastened with a quick release buckle on the front:



The buckles are in rust proof metal and the webbing is rot proofed as it is designed for the jungle. The rear has the same style of hooks as the earlier design- clearly showing that we are looking at evolution rather than revolution:


Inside is the stamp for the manufacturer (not readable unfortunately) and the date 1952:


I like both these cases and yes I have a pair of binoculars for each one…








Tuesday Finds

Today has been, pleasingly, a day or Royal Navy finds. The second hand market is very much a case of pot luck, and I seem to find Army and Air Force items far more easily than I do RN ones so any day with naval finds is a good one!


Since the First World War all Royal Naval ships have had a ships crest or badge. This is usually a pictorial badge representing the ship’s name in varying degrees of obviousness. The actual badge on the ship is normally made of cast metal and is quite large, however smaller plaster replicas are produced to be given on behalf of the ship to various affiliates, dignitaries and fellow units. Go into most RN and RNR establishments and the walls of the bar are decorated with different ship’s badges.

This set of four all seem to date from the late seventies and early eighties. The ships represented are HMS Hecla, HMS Waterwitch, HMS Endurance and HMS Fawn which were all in service at the same time. None were warships in the traditional sense, being instead survey and ice patrol vessels:

HMS Hecla

Commissioned in 1964, HMS Hecla was the lead ship of the Hecla Class of oceangoing survey ships. She served for 30 years, including as an ambulance ship in the Falklands before being decommissioned in 1997. The badge has four red flames on a black background, representing volcanoes- the ship being named after an Icelandic volcano


HMS Waterwitch

Originally called HMS Powderham, Waterwitch was an inshore survey vessel. She was converted from a minesweeper in 1960 and was in service until 1986, including some time attached to Liverpool URNU.


HMS Endurance

HMS Endurance was an ice patrol vessel in use from 1967-1991. Originally the Danish Anita Dan she was purchased by the Royal Navy and used in the Antarctic. She had an eventful twilight career, including being heavily involved in the opening stages of the Falklands war, two wasp helicopters form HMS Endurance were involved in putting the Argentinean submarine Santa Fe out of action. The badge depicts an albatross, a bird renowned for its long endurance flights, over an iceberg indicating the ships purpose.


HMS Fawn

HMS Fawn was a bulldog class hydrographic survey vessel that served with the RN from 1968 to 1991. Although the class was designed for service overseas, with the discovery of North Sea oil the ship and her sisters spent  much of their time surveying the British coast. The ships badge depicts the eponymous fawn with a sextant, indicating the ships survey role, behind.


Ships Photos
This set of official photos depicts a number of RN vessels and submarines. The two photos we can identify depict HMS Phoebe, a Leander class frigate:


And HMS Norfolk a Type 23 Frigate:


This picture has an official stamp and date on the reverse dating the picture to 1989.


The red ensign on the rear of the ship suggests the picture was taken whilst she was on her trials before she was commission into the RN.
The other photos depict an Upholder class submarine:


Divisional Patch

These patches, one printed and one embroidered, are for the Yorkshire and Northumberland Training Brigade. The brigade was formed in 1948 and according to the IWM:

The badge is similar in all respects, other than that the colour of the rose is white rather than red, with the sign of the 55th West Lancashire Division of WW1 and 2, itself adopted by the post WW2 TA24 Engineer Group. The connection between the Division and the a Training Brigade is not clear. Cole states that the badge represents the preponderance of Yorkshire units in the group, which contained all the Yorkshire regiments (except KOYLI) and the Northumberland Fusileers…The signs were worn on the left arm only, below the unit shoulder title.


Shaving Soap

Although a civilian item, I picked up this stick of shaving soap to add to my WW2 personal kit as it is typical of the privately purchased toiletries purchased by troops throughout the war from the NAAFI. The writing on the package dates it to the second half of the war:


Finally a use for School Boy French

It is a frustrating fact that what is in my opinion the best guide to twentieth century militaria is in French. For those of you who have not come across it Armes Militaria is a monthly French magazine with articles and reconstructions of military equipment from around the world and across the twentieth century. Whilst there is French focus (naturally) every month there seems to be at least one article on the British Army (and Empire), the German Army and the USA. There are also regular articles on other minor players- the Brazilian Army in Italy in WW2, Vietnamese forces in the French Wars in Indochina and the Hungarian Cavalry on the Eastern Front.


What makes the magazine special though are the detailed photos of actual artefacts, both laid out in kit displays and being worn by live models. This is the strength of this particular magazine, because even if your French is rudimentary (I stopped doing French after the 3rd form at school) you can admire the photographs. If something takes my eye and I want to find out more, I type the text into an online translator and get back at least the gist of what the article is on about.



What is most frustrating though is that the magazine was actually published in English for a very short time back in the early nineties. These magazines now fetch a premium, with £10 an issue seeming to be the starting price for them. I can’t say why the magazine never took off over here, presumably translation costs put a stop to it, but even in French they are incredibly useful and well worth picking up for reference if you come across them. In the meantime, I am brushing up on my French…