The heavy, metal RAF safety torch is a consistently misidentified item of militaria, often being described as a diver’s torch due to the heavy protective grill at the front:
In fact this is an item of RAF ground crew equipment, as evidenced by the store code stamped onto the body of the torch alongside a /|\ mark of ownership:
The ‘5A’ prefix is an RAF stores code for ground lighting items and proves these were purchased by the Air Ministry. The torch itself is a safety design that helps reduce the risk of an electrical spark in hazardous environments such as where fuel vapour is present. The body of the torch is incredibly heavy to help protect it and there is a large grill over the glass lens, which itself is made of particularly thick glass:
The grill helped prevent the glass from smashing and more importantly the bulb breaking. A bulb that breaks has small hot shards of glass and open electrical fillaments that can all ignite vapour, so protetcting this part of the torch is key. Around the outside is cast the maker’s details, Oldham and Son Ltd of Denton, Manchester.
The back of the torch has a heavy duty ring to allow it to be slung from a hook or lanyard:
Details of the torch model and the batteries and bulbs it uses are cast into the main body in small raised lettering:
The top of the torch unscrews to allow access to the interior to replace the bulb or batteries:
It is intersting to note that to turn the torch on you can either depress the brass button, or screw it down to keep the beam on without needing to keep pressure on the button. This torch is unbelievably heavy and I imagine it would be just as effective as a cosh as a torch! I am not entirely sure on date, but I suspect wartime and I believe they continued in service and manufacture into the early post war period.