Monthly Archives: November 2014

Indian Made 37 pattern belt

Tonight we are looking at an Indian made 37 pattern belt. This is the first of three blog posts for some new items I picked up off a friend yesterday. As we have seen before Indian made webbing is a distinct subset of equipment which the brave or foolhardy try and track down. The 37 pattern belt is the same as its British counterpart, but in the usual softer Indian cotton:


The metal fittings are much poorer quality than British webbing. This is the male fastening:


And the female:



Whilst on on the back are two buckles that fasten to the cross straps when a full set is made up:



On the reverse of the belt are loops to allow the length to be adjusted, and on this example evidence of where damage has been repaired:



This belt allows me to finally assemble my Indian 37 pattern set. Tomorrow is my 100th post, so I have something special for you all.

British Army Jack Knife

The humble jack knife was issued to nearly all soldiers in the second world war. It was a useful tool that many of them kept after their return to civilian life, consequently it is not hard to find. There are several variations on the jack knife depending on period, service and manufacturer, including examples with spikes for opening out ropes, but tonight we look at one of the most common WW2 types.

The jack knife is around three inches long, with black plastic grips and a loop to fasten a lanyard to:BF47119D-77FF-4944-97DD-EC8BD527FA9DThe lanyard was passed around the waist, through the belt loops, and the knife dropped through the loop at the end, allowing it to be stored in the trouser pocket with no danger of it getting lost. The knife itself is more compact that its WW1 counterpart, which was nearer to 5 inches in length.

Once folded out there is a blade:E9DEBA48-9361-4C4E-A033-1A95F3A2F007And a combined tin opener and screwdriver:6A44BD6D-64F6-4D76-81CB-90CB53ECB51AThis also has the /|\ mark, a date of 1944 and a manufacturer’s mark of S.S.P. which is short for Sheffield Steel Products. This company was a massive concern and produced 2 million clasp knives in World War 2 alone, a full history of the company can be found here.

These knives are very easy to find and prices start at around the £5 upwards. Earlier examples and oddities do fetch more and an interesting collection of different types can be put together. I have four or five different types now and at some point I will photograph them together to highlight some of the varieties.

Territorials on Summer Camp Postcard

Although I have only been seriously collecting militaria for the last six or seven years, I have been picking the odd bit up since I was a child and tonight’s postcard is one I’ve had since I was seven or eight years old. This is the first WW1 postcard I ever bought (although I can’t remember where!) and so it is a bit special to me, its also a very interesting image in its own right.

The Territorial Army was set up in 1907 to replace the previous volunteer force and yeomanry. Part of the commitment made by members of the Territorial Army, or ‘Terriers’ as they were known, in the years before the Great War was a two week annual camp. By all accounts this camp was a popular event with good humour and comradeship going hand in hand with the training. The image below is of a group of terriers at their annual camp just before the First World War:

SKMBT_C36414112708260_0001The chaps are wearing a mixture of uniforms, both the newly introduced khaki service dress and one chap in the old home service uniform:SKMBT_C36414112708260_0001aIn the background we can see the bell tents they were using as accommodation during their camp, and several of the chaps are holding mallets for putting in tent pegs:SKMBT_C36414112708260_0001bInterestingly there is also a chap larking around with a knife:SKMBT_C36414112708260_0001cIt is worth noting that the shirts worn by the men without jackets vary considerably, this suggests that some are wearing civilian items rather than issue shirts:SKMBT_C36414112708260_0001dUnder a magnifying glass the cap badges show these terriers come from the Durham Light Infantry, backed up by the address on the back to Gateshead:

SKMBT_C36414112708270_0001The back of the postcard reveals it was sent from Scarborough on 3rd August, unfortunately though the year is missing from the postmark:SKMBT_C36414112708270_0001aThe message reads, ‘Dear Louisa, We are still having fine weather here, in fact it is to (sic) hot. Think you should pick me out of this lot of Terriers (?). Tell Mother + Pa to ???? them is all right. Hoping you are all having fair weather as well too.’ Unfortunately I can’t make out the signature so we can’t put a name to the sender.

There is something very poignant about this postcard as many of the faces here, enjoying their last few summers of sunshine, would not have survived the coming storm.

Gloves and Mittens

Soldiers have to fight in all weathers including extreme cold. The extremities are at particular risk in cold weather so some form of protection is needed and gloves have been used to protect fingers since ancient times. The problem with gloves is that the more effective they are at protecting against the cold, the harder it is for a soldier to fire a rifle due to their bulk. Whilst the Russians and Germans came up with elaborate trigger mechanisms to allow riflemen to continue fighting, the British continued issuing simple knitted woollen gloves and mittens.

Wool garments have the advantage that they are cheap, easy to make and can be repaired by the soldier in the field with the same darning needle and thread he uses for his socks. They are not always the warmest items of clothing though, and manual dexterity is limited as with any glove that covers the finger tips. There seem to have been two main designs of hand protection issued to the British Tommy in World War 2. The first was a traditional fingered glove in olive green knitted wool:

 0D255ECF-D682-4725-865B-C9BF53F5E069As the fingers are separate this glove allows a rifle to be used much as usual, however the separation of fingers does not allow the same level of warmth to be achieved as in a mitten. Mittens though make it impossible for a soldier to use a rifle as he can’t fire the trigger. Therefore a half-way house was developed with separate thumb and trigger finger and a mitten type covering for the other three fingers:A9440A22-F825-4188-A2F1-A3A2A387DD37Both these designs seem to have been used simultaneously throughout the war and indeed for many years later. These gloves and mittens are not marked and seem to be pretty easy to come by, and I can attest to the effectiveness of the mittens having used them on cold early mornings at WW2 shows!

RAC Holster Mk II

The British Army has long created bespoke pieces of equipment for troops with specialist roles. Where once cavalry had their own equipment optimised for warfare on horseback, by the Second World War tank crew had also received specialist clothing and equipment designed to help them fight as easily as possible in the tight confines of the inter-war tank. One area that needed to be addressed was that of side arms and their carriage. If a tank were to be hit and the crew forced to bail out, they would need some form of personal protection. The standard British Army revolver was chosen to fulfil this need, but the standard holsters worn on the belt were not ideal as they had a habit of catching on every protrusion going.

To get around this, a new ‘tankers’ holster was introduced that was worn low on the upper thigh and strapped to the leg in an attempt to prevent it snagging. This holster was still not ideal and many were modified by shortening the top strap so it rested closer to the hip and removing the securing strap so it hung lose. This unofficial modification was to become a standard type in 1943 and new holsters started being manufactured in this style. The official title for the holster, in British Army nomenclature is Case, Pistol, web, RAC, MkII. The modified pattern continued to be worn and produced after the war and my example is one from this post-war production:645F378F-2421-45D7-B2EF-84B6C76C14FE

The holster is made of standard webbing with an open top, the revolver being secured by a strap that fastened with a Newey Stud:0BCF3E43-EF7F-49A7-8843-394B48950898The stud here is in black- during the war this had been brass, but this was altered in the late 40s or early 50s to a black bonderised fastener. On the body of the holster are six loops for additional ammunition, removing the need to carry an ammunition pouch:135B5283-F736-4758-ACEC-25DAD5CF82C4And a tube to hold a cleaning rod:835FC190-1A63-4801-BEAC-9D33D1F62BC0The printed stores details and manufacturer’s information date the case to 1955, produced by CW&S Ltd (?) :0535202F-9A1E-4BFD-9D80-11B246D1D711

There are two loops on the rear of the holster that allows it to be worn either slung below the belt:2028BC99-6C1F-4836-BCDD-BFF15A1EB181Or level with it:EB6199FC-B026-4BA1-AE2D-CCC8D69DEFC8

 Apart from being able to hold six rounds of ammunition, one does wonder what benefit there was in continuing manufacture of the MkII holster as there was very little difference in its eventual position between the RAC holster and a standard 37 pattern example. A far more detailed history of the holster can be found as ever on Karkee Web.

Tuesday Finds

Another Tuesday, another couple of ammunition boxes…

Ammunition Boxes

Those of you who have been reading for a while will be aware I have a weakness for the humble ammunition box, these two cost me a fiver each so I couldn’t leave them there! Some restoration is needed, but I have done enough of these now that it doesn’t present any difficulties- its a messy job but its just sanding them down and a repaint. The two examples I picked up today are some of the easiest to find, indeed I already have examples of both in my collection. However they are a useful place to store items of my collection and always look good on a display at a show so at that price I was more than happy to pick them up!.

The first box is a 1943 dated B166 box used to carry either 6x 3” mortar dbombs, 6x PIAT bombs or 10x No73 grenades:

63DE6FF3-E126-4C00-B43D-B83D365D9934I already have a couple of these boxes, but due to their size and depth they are very useful- they are one of the few boxes you can fit a full set of 08 webbing for one thing!

The second box is a 1944 dated H50 box that was originally used to carry a pair of wooden H51 small arms ammunition boxes:

D5F1EC08-66E9-46BD-9611-0E0A5307B805Inside each of these wooden boxes would have been 6 cotton bandoliers of 50 rounds each, resulting in this box holding 600 rounds of .303- quite a weight when full!

Folding Saw

I am very pleased with this find as its something I have been after for a while now. This is an example of the folding saw issued as part of the standard kit on British Army tanks and fighting vehicle and to engineers. Originally introduced in WW1 this saw is housed in a leather wallet:45D8D983-F9B9-4E46-8033-04EDBA8B7985

With two belt loops to the rear:C60451C6-9F6C-458F-BDB2-27291E4796ECOne of which shows the pouch to have been made by Jabez Olliff & Co of Walsall in 1918 (?):3971743C-A573-4060-8FA0-AA0D10CFACB1Inside is a folding saw with triangular teeth and brass loops at each end:

2D6F1757-3DD0-40C0-A352-2575FA7689DDThe stampings on the brass ends reveal the saw was made in Sheffield in 1916 by Francis Wood & Son:

90E70C93-FF6D-4A88-B730-CD9B4E650BCCAlso in the pouch are two wooden handles:

B75CCD1F-2410-4050-AECF-2CF435C28D23A file for sharpening the teeth on the saw:


And a tool for setting them at the correct angle:

33BAF423-645D-4117-ADBB-B413BB44A7D5The pouch needs a bit of TLC as the leather is very dry and dirty, but its a nice complete set to add to my growing collection of British Army pioneer kit.

French Language Book

This battered little book was printed in Algiers sometime in the Second World War and as the cover says it was aimed at helping Allied Soldiers learn French:B83042F4-BF86-4448-B306-C930CCBEE314Although I can’t find a date on it, the book refers to the current tragedy facing France (The Occupation). As Algeria was invaded by the allies and the Vichy regime overthrown in late 1942, and France was liberated in 1944 it would suggest this book dates from either 1943 or 1944.

Royal Navy Sweetheart Compact

This delightful little compact has a King’s Crown Royal Naval Oficer’s badge affixed to the front:

48C3DB25-4B0B-4AF4-9511-8E4B58F796E1This sort of item is typical of the many types of souvenirs produced as ‘sweetheart’ items for soldiers, sailors and airmen to buy as gifts for their loved ones. One the rear of this compact is scratched, ‘Mrs McWalter, 22 Hermitage Road, Crumpsall, Manchester’:4E692556-5C49-4202-8657-CDC4844676A5

The Windsor Magazine

This rather battered magazine dates frm 1915 and amongst the usual stories and articles that made up the typical Edwardian magazine, are many on different aspects of WW1. We start with ‘The Spirit of Our Army and Its Moral Force in the Conflict’

16299C0E-075E-476D-A8FB-F3AA5BAE1F1FBefore going on to ‘The Dog in Modern Warfare’:


‘Men of Mark in the War’:09E95B1A-A680-41A4-9F5E-74E48CB754AEAnd ‘India’s Active Part in Medical Relief ‘

7F4A4284-90D4-43F8-8C6B-8D53B7A6B402All very uplifting stuff, interestingly, there are also some great period cartoons and adverts that use the British Tommy:


General Service Cap

A uniquely WW2 form of headgear is tonight’s object. The ‘Cap, General Service’ was a short lived replacement for the Field Service Cap introduced in 1943. Despite its apparent similarity to a beret, the GS cap is made of several pieces of khaki fabric rather than one piece of cloth as in the beret and is more akin to the traditional Scottish Balmoral cap:

772B4C07-6F10-4338-ADD9-360F2C1914CBThe cap was issued initially to those troops going abroad, but was later rolled out to all units. Two metal grommets form air holes at the rear of the cap:3873E197-9E0E-4390-A71D-9092A997A609Whilst to the front is fitted a plastic economy cap badge for the East Yorkshire Regiment:CA1025BD-548A-4BEC-99A6-858AA499AF48Various brass and plastic badges were worn depending on the unit, with many adding coloured felt backings such as the Royal Artillery who used a vertically divided diamond of red and blue felt behind their flaming grenade badge. The interior is quilted with the manufacturer’s mark for J Collett of London Ltd, the date 1945 and the size of 7 ¼”. There is also the WD /|\ mark:F2A059D9-DF5E-4D55-B89E-BB346A228837These caps were never popular being large and difficult to shape into any shape that looked at all military. They were soon nicknamed the ‘Cap Ridiculous’ and with no tears were quickly dropped after the end of the war to be replaced with a proper beret. They were supposed to be worn one inch above the eyes, but photos often show the GS cap pushed back on the head into all sorts of different positions. The picture below shows the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry wearing their GS Caps in March 1945 in Elst:The_British_Army_in_North-west_Europe_1944-45_B15008The caps were also issued to various allied armies, accounting for even more varieties in the way they were worn, and some women’s units- nurses were issued these along with male battledress before travelling to Europe in the wake of D-day. These caps were generally ignored by collectors until recent years, but are now starting to command quite high prices and have been reproduced for the re-enactment market.