In 1944 a new, lighter weight map case was introduced to supplement the large webbing examples then in service. This map case was produced in both a tan colour and in a dark green for jungle use and it is one of these we are looking at tonight:
Folded the case is about 2/3 the width of the webbing example. Instead of a webbing shoulder strap it has a length of cord tied through two metal eyelets at the top of the case. It folds into three parts and is secured in the front with a press stud tab and a top flap:
The reverse also has a top flap and a set of pencil loops:
Lifting the flap allows the pencils to be added or removed:
The underside of this top flap has the W/|\D mark:
Once opened out the map case has three celluloid panels, linked together with tape:
A map can be fitted across the width of the map case, protected by the celluloid. Another tab and press stud helps hold the map in place:
This early celluloid had a tendency to melt if it came into contact with mosquito cream- a real possibility in jungle environments- so a label is attached warning the user to be careful and keep insect repellant away from the plastic:
The maker’s name of RD & Co Ltd. The map case has a black stamp with year of manufacture, 1945, and the /|\ mark:
This map case is often associated with the 44 pattern web gear and wider jungle equipment introduced following the Lethbridge Commission, but whether the design was the direct result of their recommendations or it just came into service at the same time is unclear.
Map cases were reasonably durable, but could fall victim to odd forms of destruction in the jungle, as recalled by Raymond Swindell who served in Malaya during the Second World War:
One night we had gone to bed and after a while, the man next to me said that he had been bitten on the back of his neck. Shortly afterwards I was bitten. This roused the rest of the men, and when a light was shone, we could see that an army of termite ants were on the move, and were devouring everything in their path. The next morning at first light we could see the path they had taken, eating canvas webbing, clothes, and anything that wasn’t solid. They had gone diagonally across my map case leaving only the brass buckles and plastic.
One wonders quite what stores made of this explanation when he returned what was left for a replacement…