ATS Holdall

Most British troops in the Second World War were issued with a traditional kitbag for transporting their uniform and possessions in from one posting to another. Some troops however, most commonly the women of the ATS, were instead issued a holdall with handles that was far easier to carry, even if its capacity was somewhat smaller. Today this holdall is most commonly associated with the ATS and is thus referred to as such amongst collectors, even though it was also issued to male troops on occasion. There are two distinct patterns of the holdall and tonight we are looking at the first pattern:

The holdall is made from tan canvas, although a blue version for use by the RAF can also be found. It is broadly triangular in shape when viewed from the end:

Two heavy duty handles are fitted, the tapes of which pass right under the bag to help support the weight of its contents when being carried:

Whilst the later pattern of holdall would have a full length opening, the first pattern only has a top opening in the centre half of the bag, covered by a flap secured by a pair of Newey press studs. Under this flap is a series of eyelets that allow a cord to be threaded between them and used to pull the bag tight:

The underside of the top flap is marked with the date of manufacture, maker’s initials and the broad arrow mark indicating Brtish military ownership:

Here members of the ATS, preparing for embarkation to Antwerp in November 1944, can be seen with the holdalls. Interestingly they each seem to have been issued two of them:

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