Since the early 1970s soldiers have been issued with small sealed packets containing booklets of detector papers. These papers are designed to be stuck to the soldier’s uniform and change colour in the presence of chemical agents, warning him of the dangers around him. Two different sets of detector papers are available:The most common has a blue spine to the booklet and consists of ‘one colour detector paper’:Also available is a more sophisticated type of paper that can detect and identify a greater variety of chemical agents, this comes in a book with a green spine:The NBC guidebook ‘Survive to Fight’ from 1983 explained the use of the detector paper:
You are issued with 1 colour detector paper as part of your NBC IPE. It is your personal chemical detector which is why you wear it in a prominent position on your suit. It is possible the paper will detect the liquid chemical agent before you experience, see or hear any other indication you are under attack by chemical agents. The paper is grey in colour and any type of liquid chemical agent will cause the paper to turn navy blue.
Newer papers are now being introduced as explained in the latest CBRNDC aide memoire:
Currently One Colour Detector Paper indicates BLUE, it is planned that future stock will indicate RED:The change to a red indicating colour will bring it into line with other NATO countries so preventing potential confusion when on joint operations. These new books will have a red spine. The indicator patches can be seen attached to NBC suits on exercises, as small dark grey squares:Here they can be seen on the knees, wrists and upper arms. I have tried to find out any information on the three colour detector paper, such as which three colours it changes to and what each represents, but information seems to be sparse and as ever if readers can help please get in contact.