Tonight special thanks go to Michael Whittaker who helped me secure a large and visually impressive metal soldier’s trunk a few weeks back:These metal trunks were used to carry uniforms, personal items, books and other effects on long sea journeys. The large box would have held items that were not needed on the voyage and would have been placed in the ship’s hold. This example was used by a W Mallinson:Of the Indian Army Corps of Clerks, as indicated by the letters IACC on the sides of the trunk next to his name:The Indian Army Corps of Clerks was founded in 123 under the authority of Army Instruction (India) 352 of 1923. An article in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research explains:
The corps was established to provide clerical support for the General Headquarters of the Army, and also at Command, divisional and brigade level, with military officers and Indian civilian clerks. The officers were initially transferred from the India Miscellaneous List, with British Warrant Officers also supplied from the IML and ranked as Conductors (Warrant Officer Class I) or Sub-Conductors (warrant Officer Class II). The officers filled posts in the grade of Commissaries in headquarters, while the Conductors and Sub-conductors filled posts such as Headquarter Branch Superintendent Clerks and other administrative clerical positions.
The IACC was partially a civilian service until 1933 when it became entirely military in character and junior grade civil servants were replaced with military personnel, such as the sergeant whose name appears on the trunk above. These large trunks fell from favour once the Second World War broke out so this probably dates the trunk to that small window between 1933 and 1939.
The soldier’s name and unit are repeated on the opposite side of the trunk:Across the top are instructions of the trunk’s final destination, here an address in Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, via Bombay:A handle is attached to each end of the trunk to make it easier to carry, what the lettering above this means is unclear:A third handle is attached to the front and centre of the box, beneath the clasp:Security was obviously important with a steamer trunk often having valuable contents, the lock is therefore proudly declared to have 19 levers. The interior of the box shows reinforcing ribs to help prevent the trunk form being squashed (the dents in it eighty years later show that this cannot always have been entirely successful):Note how the interior is painted blue, the same colour was used on the metal pith helmet tin we covered earlier this year and was perhaps a standard colour for the interior of these sorts of items of luggage.
Frances Ingall joined the Bengal Lancers as an officer and he decided a wooden trunk was more suitable:
When I had done the rounds of the tailors and outfitters I went out and bought a substantial wooden trunk, lined with tin, to store my clothing in when I reached India, particularly the woollens and serges. India is full of bugs of varying voracity: termites, moths and the insidious ‘woolly bear’, a minute furry insect that can ruin an unprotected drawerful of woollies in a single night. Cotton and drill garments, I was to find, were generally safe from predatory insects- but not from the dhobi, the Indian washerman.