About ten years ago I bought a copy of Martin Brayley’s excellent book “Khaki Drill and Jungle Green.” One picture instantly jumped out at me of an officer showing a selection of new kit to a soldier from the 1944 jungle kit. I was fascinated by this image and it inspired me to try and pick up all the bits shown. Over the years I have managed to pick up most items, but one or two pieces eluded me and one I have repeatedly missed out on has been the jungle barber’s kit. This month I have finally managed to get an example to fill out my collection. It was missing its hair brushes, but I managed to find a couple in my stocks and I am now the proud owner of the jungle barber’s set. The kit is housed in a waterproof green case:
This un-ties and folds out to give two large side pockets and a central set of loops. One side holds the two hair brushes, the other a cardboard box with the clippers in and the scissors and combs in the centre:
The Official History of the Second World War’s volume on Special Weapons and Types of Warfare explains the decision to include the barber’s set:
The Lethbridge Mission found that there was a pressing need for this in forward and isolated detachments. A set (weighing 1lb. 12oz.) was developed containing 2 hair brushes, 6 combs, 2 pairs of scissors and a pair of clippers with an oil bottle containing rust proof oil. It would have been desirable for the clippers to have been made of stainless steel, but firms manufacturing them could not turn over to this without a very large fall off in production. The set was carried in a rot-proof canvas wallet with an inner waterproof roll for the clippers. After the war the issue was extended to one for each field force unit (or equivalent).
This set is missing a few items, but is pretty complete:
The clippers are hand powered and have a separate head to offer a choice of hair length:
The clippers are dated 1946 and have a /|\ mark on one arm:
The other arm has a stores code and the fact that they were made in England:
The set also has a pair of hair clipping scissors:
These are again /|\ marked and dated 1951:
The set should have six combs, sadly this has only one left, but as they are simple black plastic combs I should be able to pick up some replacements to fill out the set:
Finally there are a pair of hair brushes. These are ones I have added to complete the set, but are of the correct date and /|\ marked so fit in well with the set:
I wonder how much use these kits actually got, they all seem to show use so I am guessing they were actually taken into the field and used by soldiers to cut each other’s hair.