Monthly Archives: February 2016

08 Pattern Belt

When the 08 pattern webbing set was introduced it was noticeably more comfortable to wear than its predecessors, in large part this was down to its belt that took much of the weight. The belt was wide and comfortable to wear and can be seen in use both as part of a full webbing set and on its own:WW1-Royal-Sussex-Regiment-Soldier-Wife-UnusedTonight we are looking at an example of the 08 belt from my collection, as ever we turn to the fitting instructions, in this case from 1908:

Waistbelt: This is issued in two sizes, large and small, the overall length of the webbing being 48 and 40 inches respectively.  FullSizeRenderThe width in each case is the same, viz., 3 inches. It is fitted with a large buckle in front FullSizeRender1and with two smaller buckles and two end pieces in the centre of the back. FullSizeRender2The length of the buckle is adjustable about the buckle end. FullSizeRender4The initial sizes of the belt were expanded in 1909 to include a 44 inch medium sized version. This example is a large, as indicated by the large ‘L’ stamped on the inside of the belt:FullSizeRender3Also just visible is a /|\ mark, a date of 1918 and a makers stamp for I believe MW&S which is Martin Wright and Sons Ltd. There are several different ways to fasten the buckle on the 08 webbing, the simplest method illustrated below:2015-06-26 08.08.42Other methods tucked the loose end of the belt behind to neaten up the appearance:skmbt_c36415091109260_0001-copy-copy-3The straps on the back of the belt were also folded back on themselves to neaten the appearance when the belt was worn on its own. These belts were popular and produced in large quantities for thirty years so they are not too hard to find- reproductions are also available but the webbing is often thin and does not stand up to use with the heavy 08 pouches as well as an original.

Second World War Amateur Poetry

Although it is the First World War that is most associated with poetry, amateur poets were also active in the second and tonight we have a pair of hand written poems that came to light on Huddersfield Second Hand Market this week. They are written on either side of a single sheet of writing paper and are not bad poems, especially considering some of the doggerel written at the period! This poem came as part of a large grouping relating to a RASC driver, and I suspect they were written by him. We will look at other items in the grouping over the next few weeks.

The first poem expresses the serviceman’s desire to see his home again:SKMBT_C36416021609520_0001Have you ever driven neath a blazing sun,

From dawn until the day is done,

With water scarce, your throat so dry,

You curse like hell at the cloudless sky

Each time you halt, your thoughts will roam,

But always to that place called home.

You swallow a lump as you snatch a look,

At a loved one’s photo in your pocket book,

Then on your way over that sandy track

You deliver your load and then get back,

Each journey over, each duty done,

Is another blow at the dirty hun.

The day will dawn, we hope ere long,

When you mount your truck with a cheery song,

The war is over, thank God says you,

And forget the misery you’ve been through,

Then you hand it back to the V.R.D.

And turn your steps towards the sea.

No perils await you on the foam

You’re on your way to home sweet home.

The other poem is written for his wife and expresses the pain of being parted:SKMBT_C36416021609521_0001I sit and dream neath the starry sky,

Of the lands we wondered in day gone by,

The smell of clover mixed with hay,

The wonderful things we had to say,

The years rolled on the children came,

Our love my dear remained the same,

Many troubles and trials came our way,

But like true pals together we won the day,

We never thought the day would dawn,

When from each other we’d be torn,

That I would sit on desert sand,

Miles away in a distant land,

But the day will come we hope ere long,

When once again you will hear this song,

Of people free with joy in life,

Again together my darling wife.

Neither may be a great piece of literature, but they express the feelings of this man in a very profound way.

Desert DPM CS95 Shirt

The history of British Army combat uniforms over the last thirty years is a complex one, that does not always leave the army procurement system glowing in praise. Following the first Gulf War a new combat uniform was trialled and developed and introduced as the ‘Combat Soldier 95’ or CS95 uniform. In some respects this was a logical development of earlier uniforms, but introduced a number of innovative features that have been carried forward to the current MTP uniform. Tonight we are looking at a shirt in Desert Disruptive Pattern material (DDPM):imageThis pattern of camouflage had first appeared in the Gulf War when it was rushed to troops in the field, the British Army not having needed desert uniforms up until that point. This uniform has two large bellowed breast pockets with slots for pens:imageEach is secured with a button, held on with cotton tape:imageThese buttons are the most distinctive feature of the uniform and are designed to prevent soldiers losing buttons when the thread holding them to the uniform breaks. The uniform also does away with shoulder mounted rank slides, and instead provides a place for them to be secured on the front of the chest:imageButtons on the cuffs allow the shirt to be secured around the wrist:imageThis example is particularly nice in having a pre-sewn tactical recognition flash for the 11th Light Brigade, which uses a bull as its symbol:imageThis is position beneath a small Union Flag indicating the wearer is British. The inside of the shirt has a sewn in label giving sizing and contract details:imageAs can be seen this shirt appears to be unissued. These uniforms were worn in both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns and have now been superseded by Multi Terrain Pattern camouflage that works better in the contrasting terrains that can be found in both these theatres.

The CS95 uniform is based on the layering process, as illustrated by this Army poster from 1995 when the new uniform was introduced: imagejpg1_zps0541eae3This shirt was worn over a t-shirt and a jacket could be added over the top is required, although the quality of British Army uniforms has been on a downward spiral since the 1960s, the sophistication of their wear has been increasing and offering more flexibility to troops.!Btm2-oQBWk~$(KGrHqQH-CQEvdkN4B3lBL8sf6mzl!~~_35

Denison Book Review

I must confess that the clothing and equipment of the elite regiments has never really appealed to me; I have always been more interested in what the majority of ordinary troops experienced and wore. I am not sure why I have this prejudice, possible years of seeing very old and overweight paratroopers at re-enactment events has coloured my judgement…Therefore I have very little knowledge of what is undoubtedly an interesting facet of British military history and I came to Brian Wilson’s excellent work Denison as something of a novice.51+TF6T7+OLAlthough the book is advertised on Amazon as ‘Denison’ its sub title better conveys the scope of the work: ‘British Airborne Specialist Clothing from WWII to the Present Day’. Whilst the majority of the work does cover the Denison Smock, there is plenty of other pieces of specialist clothing covered in exquisite detail. The Denison Smock is such an iconic piece of clothing that it makes sense to use this as the title of the book, but be aware of the greater scope covering prototype clothing, oversuits for jumping and parachutists trousers amongst others.Denison 1The book is published by Military Mode Publishing, and in common with their other military history books from this publisher the production values are high. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout, with clear period and modern photographs presented on high quality gloss pages. As mush of the text refers to colour variations in the early camouflage material the clear colour reproduction is especially welcome. The text that accompanies them is well written and very detailed and the author has made a point of using post-war collectors terms to refer to the garments themselves.Denison2Not having much knowledge of the subject, I occasionally struggled to see all the subtle variations between garments referred to in the text, but I have no doubt that the author is correct! Happily this book does not end in 1945 but also covers the post war period from 1959 pattern smocks to modern MTP examples, all with the same detail as the more well-known wartime examples. I would have liked a few more captions to some of the period photographs, as although they were being used to illustrate types of uniform they were interesting in their own right and context would have been nice. This however is a very minor point and I can thoroughly recommend this book not only to the airborne enthusiast but also to the more generalist collector as you will learn a lot! I can’t say I am going to rush out to collect Parachute Regiment militaria, but I feel better equipped to recognise any pieces that come my way and if I come across a cheap DPM smock I will be happy knowing what I am looking at! I will definitely look into getting the two accompanying volumes on airborne headgear and insignia now.Denison3The book is available from Amazon and Military Mode Publishing here for £39.99.

S10 Respirator

In 1986 the British Army started replacing the S6 respirator (here) with a new S10 respirator. The S10 is similar to its predecessor in general form, having a side mounted canister, but is a far more sophisticated design and made of a harder rubber than the earlier model:FullSizeRender5The rubber is extremely durable and has a service life of twenty years. The front of the mask is dominated by a large exhale valve which combines a speech diaphragm:FullSizeRender6Note the red fibre disc secured to the front with a split ring, this would have the owners details written on. One innovative feature of this mask was a tube that allowed the soldier to drink whilst wearing the mask:FullSizeRender7This is wrapped around the diaphragm when not in use and could be uncurled and attached to the waterbottle as required:375DrinkingS10_RespiratorA second speech diaphragm is provided on the opposite side to the canister:FullSizeRender8This mask was made by Avon in 2004, the details being moulded into the facepiece:FullSizeRender9The canister uses a standard 40mm thread, allowing any NATO respirator filter with a 40mm standard thread to be fitted to the mask:FullSizeRenderA set of rubber straps are fitted to secure the mask to the head, with adjustors allowing a ‘comfortable’ fit to be achieved:FullSizeRender10The lenses on the mask are flat and secure to the face of the mask with a plastic ring:FullSizeRender2These can be swapped out for prescription lenses or black/red tinted lenses as required. The mask had two different types of canisters; a metal one used for riot control and training and a heavier plastic type that can cope with NBC agents:FullSizeRender1These are supplied in silver vacuum packed units, a spare one being carried in the haversack:FullSizeRender3The back of this canister has a label indicating it was made in 2005:FullSizeRender4The following information about fitting comes from the manufacturer’s website:

Q: How many sizes are the S10 available?

A: There are four sizes available with a six buckle fit allowing quick donning:

Size 1 Large

Size 2 Medium

Size 3 Small

Size 4 Extra Small

Q: How do I make sure I have the right size of S10?

A. Avon can provide you with a sizing tool which helps to assign the right size of mask. Also, as a rule of thumb, your eyes should be at, or just above, the centre line of the eye lenses. Wearers must always conduct a negative pressure fit check prior to use to make sure the mask will seal to the face. Also wearers are advised to conduct a quantitative fit test, at least annually, to confirm the correct face mask size has been selected. Only use a mask if a fit check is satisfactorily completed.

Q: What is the shelf life of the S10?

A: The S10 mask has a 20 year shelf life based on the mask being correctly stored prior to use (instructions on storage are provided upon purchase). Once in use, components subject to ageing (especially valves) must be routinely replaced to maximise useful life. If any deterioration or damage is suspected to any component, replace immediately. See the user manual for component replacement intervals.

Q: Are the filters from old S10 respirators hazardous?

A: The activated charcoal in old S10 respirator canisters, designated L12A1, is impregnated with Chromium, which is a known carcinogen. Fortunately the charcoal is fully contained inside the plastic canister body and presents no hazard if the canister is intact.

These masks have now been phased out in favour of the new General Service Respirator and consequently are easily and cheaply found on the surplus market. They continue to be used by the police and other law enforcement agencies.


Malayan Emergency Kit Layout

As promised when we started our look at a large selection of Malayan Emergency Jungle kit back in January, I have now produced a complete kit layout of my collection so far. It must be emphasised this is a work in progress and there is much still to add, but I think I am doing pretty well so far and the image below will hopefully prove useful to those building up their own collections. As ever with these large images, click on the picture for a large size version that is easier to read!Publication1

WW1 HMS Vivid Sailor Postcard

Tonight we have an interesting postcard of a young sailor attached to HMS Vivid. He is dressed in typical square rig and the style of the uniform and nature of the postcard leads me to believe this dates to around the time of the First World War:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - CopyHe wears a white ‘flannel’ piped in blue:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - Copy - CopyWide ‘bell bottom’ trousers:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - Copy - Copy (2)Blue collar:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - Copy - Copy (4)A silk and lanyard:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - Copy - Copy (3)And a typical sailor’s cap, bearing the cap tally for HMS Vivid:SKMBT_C36416020912410_0001 - Copy - Copy (5)The uniform is perfectly standard for sailors of the era, and always looks a little scruffier than today’s dress uniform which is clearly based on it, being used as a working rig in this period. The story of HMS Vivid in this period is a complicated one as a number of ‘Vivids’ existed. Whilst there was a shore establishment in Plymouth by this name at the Naval Barracks in Devonport, the name was also used administratively to attach ratings who were not on a ship large enough to administer their pay and records. Hence sailors serving on trawlers, minesweepers or between postings were on the books for a shore base. During World War One those flotillas based out of Devonport in Plymouth were attached to Vivid; with Vivid 1 looking after Able Seamen, Stokers and Telegraphists, whilst Vivid 2 looked after Stokers and ERAs.

The name HMS Vivid is still closely associated with Plymouth, the name being used by the Royal Naval Reserve base in the dockyard, commissioned in 1957. The unit has moved around the city since its creation and opened its current facility in Devonport Naval Base in 2004.130701-RNR Parade 1