World War II General Service Spade

The most common digging implement seen with British and Empire troops in the Second World War was the General Service spade. This was a full length spade, but had a slightly smaller head than the round edged spade we have covered previously. This slightly reduced the capacity of the spade, but shaved 1lb off the weight and this handy digging implement comes in at 2.5lb:

The blade of the spade is more angular than its big brother and the top edge has been turned over to make it slightly easier to apply pressure from the boot when digging:

The handle is slightly narrower in profile, but retains the t-shaped end to aid digging in the field:

The maker’s initials, /|\ ownership mark and a date of 1943 (?) are stamped into the metal of the spade head:

One amusing story regarding spades comes from a Veteran who was still in the army during the harsh winter of 1946-47:

I was awaiting demob in Barnard Castle in that awful spring of 1947 —-we were invited to dig out a train which was entombed in the Kirkby Stephens area – and an old friend relates the tale as he was a recruit at that time with the DLI and was packed in with some old sweats awaiting demob – they duly packed a truck with all they would need to sustain themselves – tea -sugar – milk – sandwiches -more food and jerkins – gloves – scarves – all they would need to dig a train out of a cutting- and off they set for the 35 mile drive – on arriving they were stunned to learn that they had forgotten the shovels ……but did find the jug of rum !

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