Whilst I have built up a set of SADF uniform and webbing, it is finding a soldier’s small kit that is proving more elusive and a much slower task in the UK. Having said that, I have picked up some nice pieces and today we are looking at an example of the SADF issue mirror:
It is made of polished metal and has three holes stamped in it. The central hole allows it to be used for signaling if needed in an emergency, whilst the two holes in the corner allow a piece of string to be attached so it can be hung over a nail or branch whilst being used for shaving.
The objects NSN number, including the country code that proves it is South African in origin, is stamped across the top:
The mirror would be stored in a soldier’s wash kit and these were inspected regularly. One former SADF soldier recalls life in basic training in the early 1980s:
In front of each double bunk, we would each have our ‘Trommel’, a large metal trunk in which one kept most of one’s kit. This had to be open at inspection time and on the right hand side you had to have your ‘balsak’ (large tan coloured duffle bag) and it of course had to be perfectly square. The secret weapon was to use shaving cream on the bag and when it dried it would make the bag somewhat stiff so that the edges would stand up neatly. To the left of the balsak was our brown towel, perfectly flat and covering all the rest of your stuff that in no way could be made to match everyone else’s stuff.
To the side of the bed was your ‘kas’, a metal cabinet with two sliding doors and a shelf on one side. This had to contain your spare socks, PT vests, underpants etc. On top of the bed was to be your ‘dixie’, (mess kit), cup, ‘pikstel’ (knife and fork set), shaver, toothbrush and toothpaste. All the toothpaste tubes had to match all the others so the only way to achieve that was for everyone to scrape off the paint and have only the metal tube visible.