While many items of military equipment survive, it is those items that were most common, but disposable, that are often hardest to find- tooth brushes and period (clean) toilet paper, ration packs etc. are all scarce. Added to that are the simple wooden crates used to transport supplies. Ammunition boxes survive in large numbers because they were useful in workshops as tool boxes, wooden crates are much less common, with most being burnt for heat at the time. Tonight we are looking at one of these rarer survivors, a crate originally used by the army for condensed milk:This crate is profusely marked; in 1947 RASC published a book with instructions for contractors in how to store tinned food being supplied to the military, Janet McDonald explains in her book From Boiled Beef to Chicken Tikka: 500 Years of Feeding the British Army:
The case was also to be marked with the description and the nett weight of the contents, the initials of the contractor, the month and year of packing, the month and year of the expiry of the warranty period, all this to be in one-inch-high characters in good oil paint or stencil ink, in the middle of one side. They were also to be marked in 1 ¼-in characters in light royal blue ‘RASC SUPS’ (Royal Army Service Corps- Supplies) horizontally and centrally about one inch from the upper edge on both the top and bottom and on each end. There should be no other markings except, if desired, identity marks such as batch or case numbers, these to be smaller characters.
As instructed then, this crate has the main description on the front:From this we can see that the crate contained 48x 16oz cans of unsweetened condensed milk; manufactured by L.M. & L Ltd. The box is faintly dated June 1948. ‘RASC SUPS’ is marked on the ends:And bottom:Further markings inside the crate probably refer to the manufacturer of the box rather than the contents:Sadly this box is missing its lid, but nonetheless is an interesting survivor- when I acquired it there was a piece of linoleum in the bottom and evidence that it had been used to hold pot-plants in a greenhouse.
My thanks to Cal Fischer for correctly identifying this accoutrement and providing information to let me rewrite this post to accurately reflect the item.
As the age of Empire drew to a close the militaries of the colonies increasingly went their own ways, leaving behind Britain and drawing their influences form their regional neighbours. This was increasingly the case for the Australian Military who turned to the United States to supply much of their 1956 pattern webbing. Tonight we are looking at the water bottle and carrier form the 1956 pattern equipment. The set consists of a green plastic bottle with a webbing carrier:As can be seen the carrier is closely modelled on the US 1910 pattern carrier, but made in nylon. The shade is rather lighter than that used by the US Army, and on the rear is a wire hook to fasten it to a belt:And a pair of metal clips like the US ALICE system is also sewn to the rear:Beneath this can just be made out a white stamp with a NATO stores code and the /|\ mark, sadly the date is badly worn, but I believe it says 1968:The stores NSN code has the -50- indicating the carrier was made in the US for a foreign contract. The inside of the carrier is lined with felt that helps insulate it so the water in the bottle stays cool; this also adds a degree of protection to the bottle itself:
The oficial instructions on the cover read:
The cotton duck canteen cover has a felt lining and is attached to the pistol belt by means of two attaching clips located on the back of the cover.
The canteen cover accomodates the canteen. Keeping the felt material on the inside of the canteen cover wet during hot weather will help to keep the water in the canteen cool. The cover must be kept dry during cold weather, however, as the felt material will give limited protection in preventing the water in the canteen from freezing.
The bottle is made of green moulded plastic:This type of water bottle was introduced by the Canadians and copied by the US Army who introduced them in 1963 to its own troops and the bottle helpfully reminds squadies not to use it over a direct flame- the plastic would melt! The canteen was a vast improvement on the old enamelled WW2 pattern examples, but was limited in capacity so Aussies often carried two on their belt rather than the prescribed single bottle.
The 1956 pattern webbing was frequently mixed with bits of modified 37 pattern and 44 pattern webbing to make up a mixed set that suited Australian soldiers’ needs. In this view the waterbottle carrier can be seen on the belt, along with a modified 37 pattern pouch:
We haven’t had a ‘Tuesday Finds’ post in a long time, mainly as the items I have been picking up have warranted a detailed post in their own right. Today’s market did however bring up a few of those little items that I like to find so much. There was one larger and more impressive item we will return to later, but today’s three little objects were only £1 each- again proving this hobby is open to all regardless of budget.
The Kitchen Front Cook Book
One of the most popular wireless programmes in WW2 was ‘The Kitchen Front’ a five minute radio short every morning that offered simple, healthy and frugal recipes to help housewives on the home front make the most of their rations. The shows had a warm chatty style and the recipes were very popular- this little book collects some 122 of them:The book dates from 1942 and I will be giving some of the recipes a go- others such as the Roast Calves Head will remain in the pages of history!
Royal Artillery Officer’s Cap Badge
This little bronzed badge is typical of the smaller ‘flaming bomb’ cap badges used by the Royal Artillery as an alternative to the large field gun shaped cap badge:This example is finished in bronze indicating it was used by an officer. The fittings on the back of the badge have been removed and replaced by a pin to turn it into a brooch:Airborne Division Glass
This rather nice glass tankard with a chromed handle has an etched Pegasus of the Airborne division and the inscription “Royal Engineers. 1st Airborne Division’:Although I don’t think it is wartime, it definitely has some age to it and is very heavy, sadly the chrome plating on the handle is starting to wear but it remains a nice piece.
It is often the luck of the draw which items of military ephemera survive and which are consigned to the bin, tonight we are looking at an interesting little security pass that survived as it was tucked in the back of the owner’s AB64 pass book. This little pass is an identification card for British soldiers serving in France:As can be seen it is made of an orange card, with black printing. The instructions on the front suggest the pass should have been withdrawn and destroyed when the soldier left the command- happily for us he forgot to return it! The inside of the pass has space for personal information and unit stamps:From this we can see the pass was issued to Private Kenneth Marshall who was serving with No 5 Independent Station Maintenance Section, Royal Army Service Corps. He was stationed in Paris at 38, Rue Dailly, St Cloud which was presumably the headquarters for his unit. A large stamp on this pass indicates it was issued in 1947. The address is now a Volkswagen dealership in one of life’s great ironies!
The rear of the pass has a space for any changes, extensions to use etc. from the commanding officer to be entered, however there are none of these on this example:It is easy to forget that even after the liberation of France, the British Army remained in the country for a number of years helping stabilise it and assisting in the repair of infrastructure and formation of the new French Armed Forces, helping repair a country ravaged by five years of war.