‘Tommy’ Lighter

Being able to light a flame is a very useful thing for a soldier so that he can heat through some food or give himself some light. Matches are of course one possibility, however if they get wet they are useless and the flame they produce does not last particularly long. Small petrol lighters were therefore a far more practical solution and by the Second World War many soldiers carried one in their pockets, usually of a ‘windproof’ design that would work even with a strong wind blowing. One of the most popular brands of the 1930s and 1940s was aimed squarely at soldiers and carried the brand name ‘Tommy Lighter’:

The design originated in the First World War and has a small petrol reservoir in the bottom with a piece of cotton wool. This is soaked in petrol and under the lid is a flint and wheel striker to light the flame:

This example has suffered a little and has a large dint in the side, right over the brand name ‘Tommy Lighter’:

This example has been made of plated brass, other examples can be found made completely of brass and there is also an issue version that has a /|\ mark embossed into the lighter body. This example would have been a private purchase item, but they were so popular and ubiquitous that it seemed worth showing it off as an example of typical personal kit.

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