Monthly Archives: February 2017

64 Pattern Grenade Pouch

Having spent the last couple of weeks taking an overview of the post war Canadian 64 pattern and 82 pattern sets, tonight we start looking at the individual components in more detail with the 1964 pattern grenade pouch. The pouch is a simple box shape, made of green cotton webbing with a plastic coating to waterproof it:imageThis plastic coating was notorious for flaking off in use, so this example is in particularly nice condition. The pouch has a box lid, secured with a plastic post and loop and a webbing quick release tab:imageThe back of the pouch has a large belt loop:imageThis is secured with Velcro so it is particularly easy to add and remove the pouch from the rest of the set:imageNote also the extra loop of Velcro on the base of the pouch, this was designed to carry the grenade launcher for the FN C1 rifle. The pouch is marked inside the flap with a date of September1982 and a manufacturer’s name of Manta:imageThe pouch was designed to carry two M26 or M67 (C13) fragmentation grenades:m-67grenade

However it was too small fopr this and they were an incredibly tight fit. It was far better holding V40 ‘mini frag’ grenades, five fitting into the pouch:replica_v40_mini_frag_hand_grenade_600-500x400The pouch was also frequently used to carry a cleaning kit for the wearer’s weapon rather than for its intended purpose.

40mm UGL Ammunition Bandolier

Over the past year we have looked at a number of different pouches used by the British Army to carry ammunition for the 40mm underslung grenade launcher. As well as individual pouches to attach to a MOLLE system, there was also an eleven round bandolier that was sometimes issued to personnel with the launcher:imageThis bandolier is made from the same infra red resistant Cordua nylon as PLCE equipment, and each pocket is secured with a flap fastened with Velcro and a press stud:imageThe flap is actually a piece of tape that passes right down through the individual pouch, when pulled it forces a round to rise up out of the bandolier to be easily removed. The bandolier has a shoulder strap and a waist strap to help hold the weight of the ammunition:imageThese are adjustable and use Fastex buckles to secure each strap:imageOddly the bandolier does not have a label with an NSN on it, just a manufacturer’s label:imageDespite this, these are certainly British Army issue, the stores catalogue gives them a nominal auditing price of £47.23 each and the official NSN number of 1310-99-246-1848. The bandolier can be seen being worn in the photographs that accompany the SA80 weapons pamphlet:sa80-grenade-launcher4sa80-grenade-launcher3As with much modern equipment, these bandoliers are available cheaply and easily, with this one coming from eBay for less than £10. I just need one of these now!sa80-grenade-launcher

The weapons pamphlet gives some basic information:

The grenade launcher is accurate and lightweight. It can be mounted underneath a variety of weapons. In UK service it is issued to certain units and is mounted underneath the L85A2:

a. The grenade launcher is a 40 mm single shot weapon with a side opening breech loading action, which is capable of producing:

(1) Accurate fire against point targets such as bunkers and windows up to 150 metres.

(2) Effective fire against area targets and troops in the open up to 350 metres.

(3) Its maximum effective range is 400 metres.

b. It is fitted with a quadrant sight, for use by day or night.

c. It can be fired from any of the conventional fire positions.

d. It fires a variety of 40 mm munitions including practice rounds.

e. It is fitted with an ambidextrous safety catch.

f. A removable muzzle cover is fitted to prevent the ingress of dirt, snow etc down the muzzle.sa80-grenade-launcher2

Photograph of HMY Victoria and Albert

This week’s photograph is of HMY Victoria and Albert:skmbt_c36416120815480_0001-copyThis royal yacht was the predecessor of HMY Britannia and served from 1901 throughout the reigns of Edward VII, George V and George VI. Built at Pembroke Dock and launched in 1899, she was completed in the summer 1901, seven months after the death of Queen Victoria.

The vessel measured 380 feet (120 m) in length by 40 feet (12 m) in the beam with a tonnage of 4,700. She was powered by Belleville water boilers, which exhausted through two elegant round funnels:skmbt_c36416120815480_0001-copy-copyThe ship had a particularly elegant prow, reminiscent of late Victorian sloops, the curves implying an impressive turn of speed:skmbt_c36416120815480_0001-copy-copy-2The total cost of the ship was £572,000, five-sevenths the cost of the battleship HMS Renown. During fitting-out the yacht had significant extra weight added including concrete ballast and even a large traditional capstan so the Queen could be entertained by watching the sailors work. This extra weight proved to be beyond the original design parameters and resulted in the ship tipping over when the dock was flooded – causing significant damage to the ship.

Victoria and Albert was commissioned at Portsmouth 23 July 1901 by Commodore the Hon. Hedworth Lambton, who hoisted his broad pennant. Nearly all the ship’s company of 230 men of the old HMY Victoria and Albert II were transferred to the new yacht, which with an additional 100 men had a total ship’s company of 336.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited their new yacht in early August 1901, and used it for the first time when crossing the English Channel 9 August 1901 to attend the funeral in Germany of the King’s sister, Empress Frederick.

King Edward later used the yacht for summer cruises most years of his reign, visiting various countries in Europe.

Victoria and Albert later served King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI, and took part in two fleet reviews (in 1935 and the Coronation Review of the Fleet, 1937), but was withdrawn after the latter and decommissioned in 1939. She served as a depot ship during the Second World War; as an accommodation ship to HMS Excellent, and was broken up in 1954. In this painting from the National Maritime Museum we see the old yacht being towed away to the breakers, passing her replacement HMY Britannia:captureApparently the officer in charge of HMY Victoria and Albert on this voyage went out to salute the new yacht, and promptly fell through the deck as it was so rotten!

X2E1 Trials Magazine

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that we had already covered tonight’s object when we looked at the SLR magazine here last year. What we actually have tonight is a far scarcer X2E1 magazine that was used with the trials X8E1 and X8E2 rifles:imageThe British ordered 4000 trials rifles from FN FAL to see what they thought of them, they were used alongside the standard No4 rifles and were subjected to field trials in Kenya against the MauMau rebels. The magazines are similar, but quite distinct to those used in the later SLR, being much closer to the original FN FAL design as you would expect. As only 4,000 rifles were produced, calculating based on five magazines per rifle, we can estimate that only around 20,000 magazines were produced so this is much rarer than a standard SLR magazine.

We can tell this is a trials magazine rather than a foreign FN FAL magazine due to the X2E1 stamp on the magazine:imageThe most obvious visual difference between this magazine and a standard SLR magazine is that the front magazine retaining lug is much smaller and shallower:imageimageThe magazine is also narrower and has a different base plate (X8E1 on the left, SLR on the right):imageThe magazine feed lips have a different profile:imageAnd the rear of the magazine is slightly different:imageThe magazine breaks down into four parts:image

The original pamphlet on the trials’ rifle gives information about when and how to strip the magazine:captureFor those interested, the full pamphlet can be read here. Clearly the new rifle was a success as the British adopted it, with modifications as the L1A1 self loading rifle, with various newsreels issued at the time highlighting how superior the X8E1 was over a Lee Enfield, these stills come from a Pathé News feature and show the prototype rifle nicely:imageimageAfter the introduction of the production rifle, the trials guns were withdrawn and many sectioned to become teaching aids for the new rifle, the different magazine well meant they could not accept an SLR magazine. The X2E1 magazines could be used in the SLR though so I suspect they went into a common pool and were an oddity that was slowly used up over the succeeding years. Certainly they are not common now and I was very lucky to find this example, completely by chance, in Huddersfield Market a few weeks ago.

ARP Cigarette Cards (Part 1)

We have looked at cigarette cards in the past on the blog, and how obsessively they were collected by many in the interwar period. Manufacturers were always looking for new topics to cover on their cards, and in the late 1930s ARP procedures became a very popular subject, no doubt with tacit approval from government who were keen that as many British subjects as possible were aware of what they could do to help themselves in the case of an attack on the civilian population. One of the most common sets was produced by Wills and although I have only thirty of the fifty cards, we are going to take a look at them in detail. Due to the number of cards, this will be split over three posts, each looking at just ten of the cards, the text accompanying each comes from the rear of the card.

Card 1   Choosing your Refuge Room

The picture shows the rooms which should be chosen in typical houses as air raid refuge rooms. A cellar or basement is best of all. In a small house where there is no cellar of basement, the ground floor will be safest, because top floors are always to be avoided on account of the risk from small incendiary bombs. The fewer windows in external walls in a refuge room, the better, and a room of which the window is flanked by a building or a strong wall is more advantageous than one having a completely exposed window.skm_c45817021416021-copy-7Card 2 Rendering your refuge room gas-proof

The red arrows in the picture show the danger points at which gas may enter; these must be sealed as instructed below. Cracks in ceilings and walls should be filled in with putty or pasted over with paper. Cracks between floorboards, round the skirting or where pipes pass through the walls should be filled in with pulp made of sodden newspaper. All ventilators and fireplaces should be stopped up with paper or rags. Windows should be wedged firmly to keep them tight, the frames sealed around with gummed strip or paper, and any broken panes boarded in or pasted over with strong paper. The cracks round doors should be covered with stout paper and the keyhole plugged.skm_c45817021416021-copy-8Card 3 Making a door gas-proof

A carpet or blanket should be fixed over the door opening as shown in the illustration. This should be kept wet and at least twelve inches allowed to trail on the floor. Such an arrangement reduces the risk of gas when the door is opened for use. In addition, if there is a large crevice under the door, a wooden strip covered in felt should be nailed to the floor to make a gas proof joint. The keyhole and all cracks must be stopped up.skm_c45817021416021-copy-9Card 4 Window protection

This illustration shows three methods of preventing fragments of glass flying round a room when the window is damaged by a bomb explosion. (A) By two layers of transparent wrapping material gummed all over the inside of the glass. This admits light. (B) By mosquito netting gummed to the glass. (C) By stout paper pasted on the glass. Should the glass eb completely shattered, then attach by means of thumbscrews to the inside of the window, a frame (D) in which there are two thicknesses of blanket with ½ in. mesh wire netting on each side. Another simple method is represented by a curtain (E) which is let down and fixed around the edges by strips of wood nailed to the window frame.skm_c45817021416021-copyCard 5 Window protection against blast.

Ordinary blast may be shattered by the blast effects of high explosive bombs, but there are various substitutes for ordinary glass that are more resistant. The left hand panes in the picture are of a specially strengthened glass and the right-hand panes are of non-inflammable transparent celluloid 1/10 in. thick reinforced on the inside by ½ in. mesh wire netting. Both offer considerable resistance to blast pressure, although they may be penetrated by steel splinters form bombs. If this should occur, the holes and cracks in the damaged pane should at once be pasted over with stout paper to make the pane gas-proof.skm_c45817021416021Card 6 Types of splinter-proof wall

In the event of an air raid, steel splinters and fragments form high explosive bombs may cause many casualties. It is therefore important to take protective measures against such fragments. The picture shows three types of wall (including methods of improvisation) which will afford protection. The first (right) is brick 13 ½ inch thick. The second (centre) consists of broken brick, rubble or shingle 2 ft. thick between corrugated iron sheets. The third (left) consists of these materials in boxes.skm_c45817021416021-copy-2Card 7 Protecting your windows- a sandbag defence

Walls of sandbags or sacks filled with earth, sand etc., are the best protection for window openings of refuge rooms on the ground floor. The picture shows how this should be done. Walls should be 2ft 6in thick at the top and should overlap the window opening by at least 12 in all round; the base should be wider to prevent the wall collapsing. Such a wall will keep out splinters from high explosive bombs and protect the glass of the window from being shattered by blast. The window must still be sealed against gas.skm_c45817021416021-copy-3Card 8 Equipping your refuge room (A)

Having chosen your refuge room and rendered it gas-proof, you should furnish it with the following articles: Table and chairs. Gum and paper for sealing windows and cracks. Tinned food and a tin to contain bread etc. Plates, cups, knives, forks etc. Books, writing materials, cards etc. to pass the time with. Wireless set, gramophone, etc.skm_c45817021416021-copy-4Card 9 Equipping your refuge room (B)

In addition to those listed on Card No 8. your refuge room should also contain the following articles: Washstand and basin, towels, soap etc. Plenty of drinking water in jugs for drinking, washing, fire-fighting etc. Chamber pots, toilet paper, disinfectant. A simple hand pump for fire-fighting. A box of sand with a shovel. Overcoats, rugs etc. for warmth. Mattress to lie on. Gum boots and mackintosh to go out in after a raid.skm_c45817021416021-copy-5Card 10 A garden dug-out

The picture shows a dug-out which is gas-proof and will give protection from blast and splinters from high explosive bombs. The excavation is in the form of a trench 7 ft. deep and 6 ft. wide at the top and 4 ft. wide at the bottom. The earth sides are supported by corrugated iron sheets held in place by uprights as shown in the picture. The roof consists of corrugated iron sheets resting on wooden joists laid across the excavation. Inside the entrance is an air lock formed by 2 gas curtains. Outside the dugout, steps lead down from one side to the entrance.skm_c45817021416021-copy-6

Grenades Ammunition Box

Update: Sean Featherstone has kindly been in touch to help with the markings on this box and given me a lot more information about their meaning. I have updated the text below to reflect his information.

I have a lot of ammunition boxes, and I must confess I have largely stopped buying them as they take up a lot of room, and although they are useful for storing things inside there has to be a limit! Having said all that, if a nice one comes up at a good price with some interesting markings I will bend my rules and pick it up regardless…This particular box came up last week for £6 and although it is a very modern example, the markings are really interesting so it came home with me!imageThe tin itself is an H83Mk2, this example dating from 1978 and manufactured by Radway Green:imageThe other markings and excellent condition of the box lead me to believe this tin has been refurbished and stripped of old paint schemes and reissued. The H83 box is very common and is used for a wide variety of ordnance. The markings on the side of this box reveal it last contained 12 smoke hand grenades. The markings in the bottom left hand corner indicate the box was packed in June 2012:imageThe markings in the bottom right hand half of the box give storage instructions with maximum and minimum safe temperatures in the square box and maximum and minimum temperatures for use in the circle, the weight of a filled box and the cubic volume of the box for transport purposes are marked below. The bottom left hand corner has the ‘Batch Key Identity’ with a  mark ‘PWD’ indicating a manufacturer, ‘Pains Wessex Defence’ followed by the month, year and batch number. Similar information is displayed on the opposite side of the ammunition box:imageThe hand written note indicates that the box has been certified free from explosives before being sold as surplus. There are extensive rules surrounding certifying ammunition boxes before they go for scrap. JSP482 explains:

The Certification Free From Explosives (CFFE) regime is applicable to all packages which have contained explosives, arisings from the firing or proofing of ammunition, munitions kept in museums or as souvenirs and displays etc, and for training aids, all arisings from breakdown and disposal of ammunition and explosives and platforms and any other equipment expected to use or hold munitions. It is also applicable to equipment used to process explosives and subsequently in need of maintenance or repair. CFFE is required when such items are to be transported as non-explosives or sent to recipients for re-cycling who, because of a complete lack of knowledge of explosives, would be at risk if explosives were to be inadvertently left in a nominally empty article or package. Those at particular risk are people outside of the MoD and those who receive items for scrap. The same regime should also be used to ensure the absence of other hazardous substances e.g. White and Red Phosphorus and CS which may be associated with the Munitions.

The lid of the ammunition box has a large warning that the smoke grenades are not to be used in a confined space:imageThe hinge end of the box repeats the contents so they can be identified quickly regardless of how the boxes are stacked on a pallet:imageThe nature of the ammunition tin means that the fourth side of the tin has to have the details printed on the large catch:imageAs can be seen, for those of a geeky nature (which I am guessing is a lot of you), there is a lot of information that can be pulled off from the markings on these modern boxes. Whilst I am certainly not going to pick up loads of them, I will continue to keep an eye out for attractively marked examples.

Indian Red Cross Folding Mirror

My thanks go to Rob Barnes, who has very kindly given me tonight’s object. A small folding shaving mirror given out by the Indian Red Cross:imageThis mirror is made of heavy duty cardboard covered in a printed paper, it opens out to reveal the mirror:imageAnd this can then be folded so it becomes free standing to allow you to shave with it:imageThe folded mirror is only about 3”x2” and would easily have fitted into the soldier’s wash roll. The Indian Red Cross had been founded in 1920 and supported humanitarian aid to Indian soldiers both during their service time and once they had been made prisoners of war. The Indian Red Cross is still functioning today and it’s official role, outlined in the post war period is:

(1) Aid to the sick and wounded members of the Armed Forces of the Union in accordance with the terms and spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 12th August, 1949 and discharge of other obligations devolving upon the Society under the Conventions as the recognized auxiliary of the Armed Forces Medical Services.

(2) Aid to the demobilized sick and wounded members of the Armed Forces of the Union.

(3) Maternity and Child Welfare.

(4) Junior Red Cross

(5) Nursing and ambulance work.

(6) Provision of relief for the mitigation of suffering caused by epidemics, earthquakes, famines, floods and other disasters, whether in India or outside.

(7) The establishment and maintenance of peace among all nations in accordance with the decisions of the International Red Cross Organization.

(8) Work parties to provide comforts and necessary garments, etc., for hospitals and health institutions.

(9) The expenses of management of the Society and its branches and affiliated societies and bodies.

(10) The representation of the Society on or at International or other Committees formed for furthering objects similar to those of the Society.

(11) The improvement of health, prevention of disease and mitigation of suffering and such other cognate objects as may be approved by the Society from time to time.

During World War Two they published this leaflet explaining their work and encouraging contributions:010

009It was also published in Urdu:006005And Hindi:008007

One of the major initiatives the Indian Red Cross was involved with was preparing care packages for troops captured by the Japanese, these parcels contained:

  • 8 ounces fruit in syrup
  • 16 ounces lentils
  • 2 ounces toilet soap
  • 16 ounces flour
  • 8 biscuits
  • 8 ounces margarine
  • 12 ounces Nestle’s Milk
  • 14 ounces rice
  • 16 ounces pilchards
  • 2 ounces curry powder
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 1 ounce dried eggs
  • 2 ounces tea
  • 1 ounce salt
  • 4 ounces chocolate