1944 British Army Camp Cot

My thanks go to Jayne and David king for kindly giving me tonight’s object for my collection. The wire framed collapsible cot bed will be familiar to many, with the design still being made today for camping and during the Second World War the British army purchased them for issue to troops as a lightweight and comfortable bed for use in the field. The design consists of a stretched piece of khaki canvas, about six feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide and a tensioned metal frame:imageThis bed folds down and can be wrapped up into a simple roll for storage and transport:imageWhilst reasonably lightweight, even folded down this is too heavy and bulky for infantry troops and so was issued predominantly to those on wheeled transport where the cot could be easily stowed and transported, before quickly being set up whilst the crew rested. Here we see a collapsible cot being used by Trooper Ernie Tester of the 12th Manitoba Dragoons at the back of a Staghound armoured car near Caen on 19th July 1944:imageThe main body of the cot hinges in the middle, with a male and female socket joint for the two halves:imageSeparating these allows the canvas to fold in two and then be rolled up:imageA pair of webbing straps sewn to the underside of the cot allow the bundle, with the legs, to be secured firmly together:imageThese straps have an unusual buckle with a folding loop that allows the tapes to be pulled very tight:imageA webbing handle is also fitted to allow the cot to be carried when rolled up:imageThe cot works by having four sprung legs that slot into female connectors on the underside of the main canvas:imageThe legs themselves are in a shallow ‘W’ shape that pushes outwards and tensions the canvas:imageEach leg has a pair of rubber feet moulded onto it:imageThis particular cot dates from 1944 and the date, a stores code and the /|\ mark are clearly stamped onto the canvas:imageThis example is in beautiful condition and unlike modern beds of the same design, it is about 6” wider so it is far more comfortable to lay on and the design is much easier to put together than modern versions which often have multiple rods that need to be slotted together and threaded into the canvas.

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