Carpenter’s Square

Another recent addition to my growing collection of War Department marked tools is a delightful carpenter’s try square:imageA try square is an instrument used to ensure that lines and thus cuts are exactly 90 degrees to each other. It is called a try square because it is used to ‘try’ the squareness of a piece of work. This example is made in the traditional manner with a metal edge attached with rivets to a wooden handle. A piece of brass is fitted to prevent the wood from becoming damaged through use:imageAs befits a military owned tool, this example is marked with the /|\ mark, a date of 1945 and a stores code:imageAll the services employed carpenters to perform wood working tasks for them. Fred Connington was a carpenter in the RAF and here explains something of his profession:

I went up to Redcar for training and it was very, very cold at the beginning of 1942. An extremely cold patch, and it wasn’t very comfortable at all. And then I went to South Wales to a little crash and salvage unit. Acting as their carpenter, I made them a couple of offices from the crates that hurricanes were being delivered in from Canada. They wanted some more office space and it occurred to me that perhaps these big cases might do the trick so we got a couple and I put doors and windows in, partitions for them, and that’s the sort of work I was up to. The Unit itself was very, very busy going up into Cheshire and places and bringing back little Tiger Moths. There was a training school up there and these Tiger Moths were coming to grief and our large lorries, the Queen Marys we called them, used to go up to this area and bring them back. And my job as far as aircraft were concerned was to salvage parts of them that could be used again in production of other aircraft.

My next move was to Sealand near Chester where I started as an aircraft carpenter and I spent the next three years in Chester and in Henlow, Bedfordshire working on Mosquitoes. And I’m very sad to say there don’t seem to be many Mosquitoes about now. My job, part of it, was to modify Mosquitoes and put into them the racking and equipment necessary to put a lot of the new identification radar equipment that was going to be used. Also one of the jobs was to repair the bits that the Germans knocked off. Mosquitoes were coming back with damaged wings, damaged fins, damage to the fuselage and I had the job of putting that back into good order. So the aircraft would come in damaged, when it went off again it should have gone off as new.

As a carpenter in Chester I was very, very pleased to be given the first job ever of providing kennels for the German Shepherd dogs. They had 6 German Shepherd dogs, so I made 6 kennels. I put a shutter on the front and I was asked by the sergeant, ‘what have you done that for, why have you put a shutter on the front?’ I said, ‘well at night-time it will keep them warm and keep them in’. ‘Oh right leave it then’. The first night they put the dogs in these kennels, they must have been a bit worried about it because when morning came there were 6 dogs running over the airfield and the whole front of the kennel had been chewed off. They didn’t like being put away.

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