British Army Fibre Suitcase

The British army fibre suitcase was a particularly long lasting item of military equipment, being manufactured from before the Second World War right through until the 1980s. Examples with dates indicate manufacture at least as early as 1938 and as late as 1985. The suitcase was issued to officers and men alike and seems to have been used by the army, air force and navy. This example is undated, but I suspect it dates to the 1950s:imageThe case is made of canvas covered fibre and although a mucky cream colour now, was originally made in a pale green:imageFew of these cases seem to retain their original colour and it seems the dyes used in their manufacture are particularly susceptible to fading. The corners of the case and the edges are reinforced with leather and the case is secured with two lockable spring clasps:imageThe handle is again made from leather:imageThe inside of the case is lined in white canvas and the lid hinges back to allow access to the cases contents:imageThis case has been used by a soldier of the Royal Corps of Transport, a Driver Johns, who has written his name and posting onto the outside of the case in ball point pen:imageDavid Fowler was a National Serviceman in the Royal Navy and was issued a suitcase as part of his kit, travelling with it presented some difficulties:

The actual journey was a nightmare. This was not due to the inadequacies of the then British Rail but to the great expectations of the Royal Navy. My luggage included a large suitcase, a heavy toolbox and a bulky hammock, which I was never to use. The Navy acknowledged there was a problem by providing me with transport to Portsmouth station, but after asking how I was supposed to transport all these items across London, I was told, “That’s your problem.” It was and I had to resort to a taxi, with no hope of any reimbursement from the Navy

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