SADF Toileteries Roll

By the 1970s the British Army had dropped its traditional wash roll for storing soap, shaving kit, spare bootlaces etc. Instead soldiers tended to put these items in a useful plastic bag to keep them waterproofed and then place this, perhaps wrapped in half a towel, into their kidney pouches. The concept of the wash roll continued in some of Britain’s former colonies however, and the South African Defence Force updated the design to better suit the requirements of a modern army. The new design clearly traced its lineage back to the old design, but was made of nylon and in the ubiquitous ‘nutria’ brown adopted by the SADF:

The most obvious addition is a large zipped compartment at one end:

This has a simple internal divider:

This large pocket was presumably for items such as soap, shaving foam and anything else that was too big to fit into the standard loops. These loops were now made of elastic to better hold the items of wash kit, and were protected under the zipped flaps seen above. Unzipped these opened to show the loops which were white in colour:

At the bottom of these loops is a small stores label with an NSN number (even though South Africa was not part of NATO) and the manufacturer’s logo:

This particular toilet bag dates back to 1975, during the Bush Wars. The bag is designed to be rolled up and tied with a string to protect its contents when they are placed inside a pack:

This brilliant advertisement was used to encourage recruits to open a bank account, but in the bottom right hand corner the wash roll can be clearly seen with representative contents:

I have just started to collect SADF equipment and uniforms from this period, so expect to see more Bush Wars items in the coming weeks. This is a rather neglected area of post colonial militaria for me so I am pleased to finally concentrate on it for a little while.

One comment

  1. Awesome! I’ve recently started collecting SADF stuff myself, and a toiletry roll is one of my next targets. From pictures I have noticed a slight difference in length and material between those made in the 1970s (57cm long and of a duller color) compared to those manufactured later in the 1980s (54cm long and of a brighter nutria material). Have you noticed something similar?

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