Black Kitbag

Today we are taking a look at another example of the ubiquitous kitbag. Although traditionally made of white unbleached canvas, during the Second World War and the growth of aerial reconnaissance it became clear that white kit bags were very visible from the air and presented a security risk. Not only did they draw the attention of enemy aircraft who could bomb or machine gun troops in transit, but perhaps more seriously they were a security risk. Aerial photography had reached a point where they could be captured on film and by counting the number of kit bags on a quayside it would be possible for the enemy to estimate the size of a unit being moved. The simple solution was to produce the kitbags in black so that they were less obvious from the air and from 1941 onwards kitbags were also produced in black (although the white kitbags were also manufactured throughout this period so it was far from universal). Today we are looking at an undated example that almost certainly dates from the Second World War, which its original owner has stenciled his name and number on in large white characters:

The soldier’s number indicates that he was a National Service Man from immediately after the war, although I suspect the bag itself is earlier and was produced during the war itself. The lettering is particularly clear and has been done in white paint with his name of ‘Thomas’ and his number ‘19001825’ visible from a distance making it easy to spot his bag amongst hundreds of others:

As is typical with these kit bags, a weather flap is sewn into the neck:

Brass rings are fitted around the neck to allow a kitbag D-ring to be fitted to secure the bag and allow it to be carried:

Here Indian troops can be seen waiting on the dockside with their black kitbags, although these look to be Indian pattern examples with a drawstring rather than a D-Ring to secure them:

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