Monthly Archives: November 2016

Indian Made 37 Pattern Shoulder Braces

It seems like a while since we last looked at some Indian 37 pattern webbing, so tonight we are going to take a look at a pair of Indian made shoulder braces:imageThese two braces are made by different manufacturers, but share some common characteristics. Both has the distinctive ‘striped’ webbing typical of Indian manufacture. Note also the three part construction of the shoulder braces:imageThis design was adopted because the machinery in India could not do the reduction weaving that Mills in England could do so a different method of assembly was needed. Both these braces are clearly stamped, one with a letter and number code:imageThe ‘N’ indicates that the length is ‘normal’. The other shoulder brace is marked with the manufacturer’s name ‘Bata’:imageMy thanks to Karkee for the following potted history of Bata and its webbing marking:

Czechoslovak industrialist Tomas Bata set up the first experimental shoe production plant in Konnagar, West Bengal with 75 Czechoslovak experts in 1931. Jan Antonin Bata then built an industrial manufacturing city called Batanagar (near Konnagar) in 1934 and another factory in Bataganj in the Digha neighborhood of Patna, the capital of the Bihar state in 1942. Bata webbing often features a letter code of ‘N’ or ‘D’ after the date, which may represent different factories. Other markings include the maker mark (B.S.C. in 1941-42 and BATA in 1943), date and inspector mark (often in the form of C##).

Here we can see Bata Shoe Company Factory in Batanagar, West Bengal:id13895-batanagarNote the slogan ‘Keep Smiling’ painted on the gable ends of the factory buildings. This rather wonderful advert for the company dates to 1945 and celebrates the company’s part in the war:skmbt_c36416092611470_0001

MOLLE Medical Pouch

We return to the MOLLE system again tonight, with a detailed look at the personal medical pouch. This pouch is made of lighter weight nylon than the ammunition pouches we have looked at before, but has the same IRR desert DPM finish to the outside:imageThe lighter weight material is unsurprising as the pouch is designed to hold much lighter contents than a regular ammunition pouch. In service it was expected to carry two field dressings and a pair of morphine injectors, loops being provided inside the pouch for the latter:imageA special panel is attached to the lid of the pouch for the soldier to write his name, number and blood type on:imageThe lid is secured with a black plastic Fastex fastener:imageAs is the case on all these pouches, an eyelet is fitted in the base to allow water to drain out:imageAnd on the rear are a pair of MOLLE straps:imageThese differ from other pouches in having plastic ‘T’ clips inside them that can be accessed by unvelcroing the straps:imageThis allows the pouch to be worn on a PLCE belt, often worn in theatre as a trouser belt. This allows all troops to carry their medical kit with them, even if they are out of armour and not wearing a MOLLE vest. This particular pouch was manufactured in 2006:imageIt appears that the standard practice was to wear the medical pouch on the right hand side of any belt of vest. By having everyone wear them in the same place it was easy for a casualty’s oppo to find his first field dressing and apply it quickly. Clearly this rule was not heeded by the owner of this set of Osprey body armour, where the pouch is mounted centrally:505px-osprey_body_armour

1949 Pattern Battledress Trousers

In the past we have looked at the 49 pattern battledress blouse in a couple of variations, tonight we finally get around to looking at the trousers for the 49 pattern set. These trousers are an obvious development form the earlier 37, 40 and 47 pattern designs, with a number of changes. At first glance the trousers look very similar:imageNote however that the first field dressing pocket visible on earlier patterns just below the waist has been removed. The large front mounted ‘map’ pocket has now moved to the side of the leg:imageAdjustment buckles have been added to each side of the waist:imageAnd unlike the austerity 1940 pattern trousers, belt loops have returned as last seen on the 1937 pattern trousers but these fasten with a button at the bottom rather than the top and the 1940 trousers had a single flapped pocket in the seat, the 1949 pattern has two:

imageThe fly of the trousers is secured with plastic buttons:imageNote how the lining is a definite green shade compared with the lighter khaki shade used in earlier patterns. A label gives sizing and manufacturer’s information:imageThis pair of trousers date from 1955 and were made by The Mourne Clothing Company were from Belfast. These trousers were to be the last main change to the pattern of battledress and remained in use until battledress was dropped form service in the 1960s.

Diamond Jubilee Victorian Soldier Postcard

This week’s postcard is a particularly early example, dating from the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 and depicts a young soldier:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001This style of commemorative postcard was very popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, indeed I have another one from Dublin in 1916. The photographers studio developed teh portrait onto a preexisting design the sitter could chose from. The design around this soldier is clearly very patriotic with a large Royal crown and cypher:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copyRoyal Coats of arms:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-2And standards:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-3The soldier himself is dressed in a typical uniform of the period:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-4With a pill box hat:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-5Elaborate lace frogging to the tunic:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-6White facings to the collar:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-7And a white sash:skmbt_c36416111509090_0001-copy-8The white facings and the frogging on his chest indicate that this soldier was a member of the 13th Hussars- the frogging would have been yellow but early photographic techniques mean it appears as being black. The regiment had been raised in 1715 and fought in the Napoleonic Wars, Crimean and Great War before being amalgamated with the 18th Royal Hussars in 1922 to form the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. The following potted regimental history comes fomr the National Army Museum’s website:

On 23 July 1715, less than a year into his reign as king of Great Britain, King George I authorised 11 noblemen to form dragoon regiments. One of these regiments was Richard Munden’s Regiment of Dragoons, named after its founder, who had command experience from the War of the Spanish Succession 11 years earlier.

The new unit saw its first action on 12 November 1715 against a Jacobite roadblock in Lancaster during the Battle of Preston. It was given the numeral 13 in 1751 and by the end of the 18th century it had become a light dragoon regiment, fighting the forces of Napoleonic France at Albuera, Vittoria and Waterloo.

It then took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea in 1854 – its personnel there included Lance-Sergeant Joseph Malone, who won the Victoria Cross for his actions, and Troop Sergeant Edwin Hughes, who became the oldest survivor of the Charge, dying in 1927. Its Crimean engagements also included Inkerman and Sevastopol.

Soon afterwards, in 1861, it was renamed the 13th Hussars. It then served in India, where it was the first regiment ever joined by Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement and later its regimental colonel.

Later it served in the Boer War and on the Western and Mesopotamian fronts in World War One – at Sharqat it made a mounted charge and then a dismounted one, less than a month before the Armistice. In 1922 it merged with the 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) to form the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own).13h7

Third Pattern 58 Pattern Ammunition Pouches

There were a number of problems with the first design of 1958 pattern basic pouch. The pouch hung vertically like 37 pattern pouches, but much lower than the earlier patterns. With the adoption of armoured personnel carriers it was found troops had to push the pouches out of the way to prevent them digging into their thighs when seated. It was therefore decided to modify them with angled waist attachments so they sat at an angle rather than straight down. Tis became the most common variant of the 58 pattern ammunition pouch. As ever we turn to the fitting instructions for a description, note however that this refers to the Mk1 pouches, not the Mk III so there are some minor changes pointed out as we go along:

Pouch, Ammunition Left

This is approximately 10 inches deep, and 4 ½ inches wide with 2 ¼ inch gussets.  imageIt is closed with a ‘box’ lid having a quick-release fastening.image

The top back of the pouch has metal fittings for connection of the pouch to the belt and the yoke.  imageOn one side of the pouch are two webbing loops to hold the bayonet scabbard, imageand on the same side near the bottom there is a metal loop for connection to the cape carrier. imageInside the pouch there is an adjustable strap and buckle to support short magazines on a level with the top of the pouch (quickly deleted and not present in these pouches)

Pouch, Ammunition, Right.

This pouch is similar to the pouch, ammunition, left, excepting that is has an external pocket on one side instead of the bayonet scabbard loops. This pocket is for a grenade launcher or a 1 inch signal discharger and is closed by a hooded flap with a turn button closure: imageThie pouch was designed for the Energa launcher, but was usually used for knife, fork and spoon in later years. Turning the pouches over we can clearly see the angled ‘c’ hooks on the back:imageAnother point to note is the usual metal grommet in the base of each pouch to let the water run off:imageI apologise for the ‘salty’ nature of these pouches- I do have better examples but they are built up into webbing sets. The condition of these pouches though is not untypical as these webbing sets were used heavily first by the army, and then even after the introduction of PLCE by the reservists and cadet units. The cotton webbing is not as durable as some more modern materials and hence some of these pouches can get pretty worn and ratty.

Royal Marine’s Lovat Jacket

In 1964 the Royal Marines celebrated their 300th anniversary. To celebrate this event a new uniform was introduced unique to the marines for semi-formal wear, the Lovat uniform. This uniform was made of a lovat shade of serge fabric, with a similar cut to that for officers:imageThe uniform has two square pleated pockets on the chest, each secured with a bronzed regimental button:imageTwo further plain patch pockets are attached to the skirts of the uniform:imageAgain these are secured with the regimental button:imageBrass belt loops are fitted to help carry the weight of a webbing belt:imageThe cuffs are scalloped:imageAnd originally this uniform would have had bronzed collar dogs, now sadly missing, however the fixing holes can be seen in the lapel:imageShoulder straps are fitted, secured with the ubiquitous bronzed buttons:imageNote the two holes where bronzed ‘RM’ letters would have been fitted. This particular lovat jacket is quite an early one as it is still made of serge and has the traditional sizing on the label:imageThe introduction of the new uniform was recorded in V.3A/191/7/61 on 4th October 1963:

  1. Her Majesty the Queen has approved a new uniform for the Royal Marines which will replace battledress and will also be worn as an alternative to blue uniform on certain occasions. The new uniform is of a lovat shade and similar in design to the present blue service dress for R.M. Officers. The buttons and metal badges are bronze and the cloth badges for other ranks are gold on green. A new design of khaki shirt is also being introduced.
  2. From 1st April, 1964 in the United kingdom and on a date to be decided locally abroad, the new lovat uniform will become the normal dress of the day in temperate weather. The present blue uniform of officers and other ranks will be retained for ceremonial occasions, other than those of minor importance when Lovat Service dress will be worn. On 1st April, 1966 the new uniform will finally replace battledress and the second blue uniform provided at present; there will, therefore, be a transition period of 2 years during which these uniforms may continue to be worn for certain duties. Revised orders of dress will be promulgated separately.
  3. These arrangements do not apply to the R.M.F.V.R., who for the present, will continue to wear their current uniforms.
  4. It is anticipated that all entitled personnel serving in the U.K. will be in possession of a suit of the new uniform by 1st April 1964, and that entitled personnel serving overseas will have one before the end of 1964.

The uniform was worn with the prized green beret, as in this painting of a RM Sergeant in his lovat uniform:

Intelligence Corps Comrades Association Membership Card

Although it had existed in the Great War, it was the Second World War before the current Intelligence Corps was formally set up. The Corps was founded in 1940 by Army Order 112 and its members have been active ever since providing the army with the intelligence needed to run its operations. The founding of the Corps was not without its problems however; the new unit drew men in from across the army and as a new unit had no regimental traditions or ties to help form unit cohesion. One of the first organisations set up then was ‘The Comrades Association’ in October 1941 to help members of the regiment past and present stay in touch with one another, the army’s own website describes the Intelligence Corps Association (the ‘comrades part of the title has been dropped) as folows:

The Intelligence Corps Association (ICA) was formed with the sole purpose of promoting ‘Esprit De Corps’ and forming a ‘family’ atmosphere throughout the Intelligence Corps. It enables retired members to stay in touch with each other and with serving members, fostering new contacts and maintaining old ones with the annual Journal, which every member receives, playing an important part in this aspect. The funds created by member’s subscriptions enables serving personnel to take part in a wide variety of Corps-wide events, adventure training projects and certain social functions with their Units. Through liasion with SSAFA, they are used as welfare and benevolence grants.

Membership of the Intelligence Corps Association (ICA) is open to all former members of the Intelligence Corps. It is also open to members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and Woman’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) employed in Intelligence trades.

Tonight we have a membership card/book from the early days of this association. This little card booklet has a green cover with the regimental badge and title emblazoned on the front:imageInside we can see that it was issued to a William Robert Caird of Bramley Leeds:imageSewn into the centre of the members card are the rules of the association, these pages for instance cover subscriptions and the executive committee:imageInside the back of the membership card is a place to record a member’s subscriptions, this member clearly only remained with the association for a single year:imageNowadays the role of the association has broadened out into including help for former members of the Corps who have fallen on hard times, as explained on their website:

The Intelligence Corps Association is a Registered Charity that is able to provide some funds in support of members and former members of the Corps in need. There are also other bequests from former members of the Corps to assist with the education of officers and soldiers children.