Monthly Archives: September 2014

Victory Show Finds

For those of you not familiar with big World War Two events, don’t go there expecting to find bargains- they are few and far between. However with dealers from around the country they are ideal to find specific items you need to fill in gaps in your collection. They might not be cheap, but its much more likely you will find that elusive item than at a second hand market. I went to Victory show looking for two things- I didn’t find one (Bren magazines cheap enough to warrant buying 12 to fill out last weeks box), but although not exactly what I wanted I did find something suitable for the other (improving my RAF 25 Pattern) as well as a couple of other nice bits:

Indian Large Pack

This rather nice large pack is Indian made and helps add another piece to the set of Indian 37 pattern I am putting together:
imageThe large pack was a hangover form the earlier WW1 era 08 pattern webbing and was used to hold large items of kit such as the greatcoat and the blanket. It was not taken onto the battlefield and most large packs were left with unit transport. This one isn’t marked, but has the distinctive look and feel of Indian webbing- its a lot softer and floppier than other commonwealth webbing and has quite a distinctive almost ‘striped’ appearance. On the rear there are the faint traces of a name and green blanco, now virtually all gone:
imageThe giveaway for Indian webbing though is that sometimes (but not always) the brass fittings have a date stamp on the back of them. As far as I’m aware India was the only country that actually stamped its buckles. This example is dated 1942:image
Canadian 37 Pattern Brace Attachment
One thing I did go looking for was a blue-grey RAF 25 or 37 pattern brace attachment, to replace the green army one that has been standing in on my 25 pattern set for the last few months. For an item of webbing that no one wants, they are surprisingly hard to track down and the only example I could find was a Canadian one, which is wrong for 25 pattern webbing, but indistinguishable from the correct one when worn as part of a set. The Canadians designed their brace attachments with a distinctive one piece brass section for attaching to the belt rather than the more typical design used by the rest of the Empire with a rectangle and moving bar (see Karkee Web for more information on the standard pattern).imageOn the reverse, under the RAF blanco, is the faint trace of the Canadian acceptance stamp of a /|\ in side a ‘C’ (trust me its there and clearer on the actual item)image

Dubbin Tin

Throughout the war the British Army used dubbin both as a waterproofing agent for boots and as part of the anti-gas equipment. It was issued to troops in small tins and carried in the entrenching tool cover. I have a couple of the standard green tins of dubbin, but this is a variant I haven’t got. Unfortunately the tin is a little battered, but it will fill a hole in my collection until a better one comes along. Like most of these tins, the contents are complete and unused, with the thick grease still inside and still as useful as the day it was made.image

Victory Show

Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend Victory Show for the first time. The Victory Show is situated in Cosby, Leicestershire and is one of the largest WW2 events in the UK. I went with high hopes and wasn’t disappointed. Spread out over several large fields and woodlands, the site is impressive in its scale, however the nice thing is that groups can dig in and make realistic trenches and emplacements. I spent the day with the East Yorkshire Regiment Living History Group, a group I have been with for a number of years. We had two trenches and a mortar pit dug out:


The main arena was used for a large set piece battle, based (apparently) on the Falaise Gap. It’s hard to understand how effective one of these battles is when you are a part of it. However even in the midst of everything it was clear this was an impressive display- how often do you get to play with a Sherman Tank:



You can just see my back in the photo above, second from left, possibly the best view of me…

As well as the displays and battle there was an impressive selection of traders ( I will post my finds later), vehicles, remote controlled and real aircraft and entertainment for the whole family. I found the Victory Show one of the best I’ve been to in a long time- I just wish I could have spent a bit longer as I didn’t get to see half of what was on offer!

Tuesday Finds

A few nice bits, and one I’m not so sure of today…

Bren Gun Ammunition Box

One of the problems with all machine guns is ensuring they have an adequate supply of ammunition in battle. The Bren Gun was no exception and every man in a section carried a couple of magazines for it. The gunners carried additional magazines and these 12 magazine boxes were also issued allowing large quantities of ammunition to be delivered to the gunner in the field. Considering the box holds 12 magazines, each of which would have been filled with 28 rounds, that made for 336 rounds per box. Not a huge number, but enough to have made the box a heavy enough thing to have lugged around the battlefield:


This box is a Mk1* example, distinguished form the earlier Mk1 by having a horse hair seal around the rim:


A catch on the front secures the box:


Whilst on one end is a steel strip carrying handle (the Canadian manufactured example uses webbing instead):


Inside is room for 12 Bren box magazines:


The box has been repainted at some point in its army career, but the original marking have been left unpainted:


This is not the first time I have seen this done on one of these boxes and seems quite common practice.

Dog Tags

Throughout both world wars British troops wore pairs of compressed fibre dog tags on string around their necks. These tags were in two parts, a hexagonal green tag and a red circular tag. Onto these were stamped a troops name, service number and religion. Regimental details were also sometimes added, but this was by no means universal. The idea was that if a soldier was killed the red disc would be removed along with his paybook so the death could be recorded, whilst the green tag remained on the body for future identification.

These two sets of dog tags appear to be for brothers or possibly cousins, as they share the same surname. The first set is for 5520478 KG BORN, who is recorded as being Church of England. The number block indicates this man was a member of the Hampshire Regiment:


The second set is for 2206317 CJ BORN who is recorded as being Roman Catholic. Again the number block indicates regiment- in this case the Royal Engineers:


Both sets of dog tags are in lovely issue on a piece of string for wear around the neck:



I will be honest, I have my doubts about the military origins of these binoculars. They are very similar in size and design to military binoculars and I would guess they date form around the First World War:


They are manufactured by Necretti and Zambra, London and this is stamped on the front:


I have my doubts about them due to the lack of WD or /|\ stamps and the lack of range reticules on the lenses. The manufacturer is also not listed as one of the WD approved suppliers for WW1 or WW2. There is a possibility that these were private purchase items, but no proof.

This is a case of buyer beware and I should have thought a bit harder before purchasing them, or waited and done my research to be sure of their provenance before buying. However they were not expensive, have definite age to them and have good optics so I’m not too concerned with picking them up. If anyone has any further information on them I’d be delighted to hear about it.

Coldstream Guards Cap Badge and Buttons

This cap badge and pair of buttons are for the Coldstream Guards, the oldest regiment in the British Army and second only to the Grenadier Guards in order of precedence. The regiment was founded in 1650 in Coldstream, Scotland by General Moncke. The regiment’s badge, seen on the cap badge and buttons, is the Garter Star with the motto ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ or Shame on him who thinks evil of it.


RAF Officer’s Tunic

This was a particularly nice find considering how little it cost me. This is a 1953 dated RAF officer’s tunic and belt, still with King’s crown buttons on. The tunic is made of fine RAF blue cloth. The distinctive colour of RAF uniforms dates back to its inception at the end of the First World War, when the War Office purchased a job lot of cloth, destined for tsarist Russia, at a knock down price (due to the sudden replacement of the Tsar with those who preferred Red!). The colour of the uniform soon led to the new service being nicknamed ‘Crabs’ due to the supposed similarity in colour between the uniform and the underwater crustacean.

The Tunic itself is full cut, with four pockets:


The pockets and front are secured by brass ‘Kings Crown’ RAF buttons:image

One of the buttons is a flat disc as it is covered by the waist belt and needs to fit discretely behind it:


Inside is a label detailing size, manufacturer and date:


Unfortunately the rank lace is missing, but looking at the discolouration it belonged to a Wing Commander:


My aim with this one is to try and track down some lace and restore it a bit before displaying it as its in pretty good nick and it fills a hole in my collection as most of my other RAF kit is Other Airmans.

Naval Ratings Photograph

This little photo depicts a sailor in square rig. Judging by the age of him, he may well be a boy sailor. His cap tally says HMS Victory, which was used as a training ship. The black top to the cap dates him to around the Second World War, whilst on the back is the photographer’s details for a J Roberts, 83 Dewsbury Road Leeds.