Today’s Tuesday market brought up three nice finds, one of which I am saving for later in the week. The other two are interesting bits of paperwork. As ever ephemera like this is incredibly cheap, £1 each in this case.
WW1 Munitions Letter
This letter dates from July 1915 and was sent by ‘West’s Gas Improvement Co. Limited’ to an unknown engineering firm enquiring about acquiring a copper banding press for the manufacture of six inch high explosive shells:This letter has an impressive Edwardian letterhead giving details of the firm:West’s Gas Improvement Company had been founded in 1874 by a John West and become a private company in 1894. It specialised in large air compressors and other machinery for municipal gas companies, but clearly at the outbreak of war production was moved over to munitions. The shortage of munitions on the Western Front led to a ‘shell crisis’ which in turn resulted in the setting up of the Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George. Within a year the shortages had disappeared due to the ministry buying up world supplies of raw materials and directing firms and labour as needed. By 1918 the Ministry of Munitions has a staff of 65,000 and employed 3 million workers in 20,000 factories. From the letter we can see that one of the departments in the ministry was the Tool Department which was responsible for advising companies of the best way to acquire the machine tools they would need to make the shells themselves.
RAF Short Service Commissions Guide Book
Following the Second World War Britain introduced conscription, known as National Service. Normally young men went into the services after they finished school and served for a few years, however they did allow deferrals for those going to university to study. Once they had completed their studies, they were still expected to complete their National Service, but the military was determined to take advantage of their new skill sets. In the case of those who had trained in medicine they were fast tracked to an officer’s commission in the medical branch. This pamphlet sets out the process for the RAF:As can be seen this example is a 1948 reprint of a 1947 publication and is a simple buff booklet. The opening page sets out what the book plans to tell a prospective medical officer:A separate insert offers more details: