WW1 British Army MkV Binoculars

At the outbreak of the Great War the British Army expanded very rapidly, too rapidly in fact for the supply of equipment and uniforms it needed to keep pace. Expedients were quickly found for much of this, with alternative designs, commercial equipment and foreign orders taking up the strain. One area that the Army found itself deficient in was good quality optics for its officers. The best lenses and binoculars were made in Germany, which obviously was not an option for supply. The British optics industry was relatively small so the army turned to French manufacturers and tonight we are looking at one of the most common pairs of French made binoculars for the British Army:imageThese binoculars are made of brass, with a leather grip around the main body:imageTwo mountings are fitted for a neck strap:imageThe focal length is adjusted by a central ridged knob, which moves the lenses back and forth to adjust them for different people’s eyes:imageAn extending brass sleeve over the ends of the lenses helps reduce glare and reflections:imageThat these binoculars are French is clearly seen from the eye pieces which have ‘l’Petit Fabri Paris’ embossed upon them:imageTheir use by the British Army is revealed by a /|\ mark, here cancelled by a second arrow facing it to make a >|< shape indicating they had been sold out of service:imageThe opposite barrel has a stamping indicating that these are a Mk V Wide pair of binoculars:imageThese French binoculars are known as Galileans; their lenses are weak in magnification compared to prismatic lenses, but they are good at gathering light and work well for people with eye defects. The optics on this pair are exceptionally clear for a hundred year old set of binoculars and although the magnification is not great (x5 supposedly) they are perfectly functional. These binoculars seem pretty common and not overly expensive, but they are an attractive object with an interesting story to tell.

3 thoughts on “WW1 British Army MkV Binoculars

    1. hatchfive Post author

      If they didn’t have the /|\ mark on them I would never have clocked it either and just assumed they were civilian. It was only when I did a bit of research I found out their origins.

      Reply
  1. Pingback: 1917 Dated Binoculars and Case | Tales from the Supply Depot

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