There are many accessories to find to go with my WS19 set radio, not all made in the United Kingdom. The radio was also produced in Canada and there were some specialist accessories only developed and produced in that country. The breast plate adaptor we are looking at today is one of those accessories. The WS19 set had a number of different microphones that were compatible with it, including the ‘lollypop’ style of hand held microphone. This worked very well, but could not be used hands free. The Canadians decided that there was a need to have the microphone supported in front of the mouth without the need to hold it, especially for those in armoured vehicles where they were often required to use both their hands at the same time as trying to speak into the radio set. What the Canadians developed was a special breastplate that would hold the microphone on the chest and position it in front of the mouth without needing to hold it:
The microphone here should be the No7 type, however as I do not have one of those yet, this is a No3 which does not quite fit correctly but serves to demonstrate how the system worked.
The adaptor has a metal base plate that sits on the chest with an angled holder for the microphone. This has space for the connecting lead to pass out the back and can be adjusted to hold it securely. As the microphone is gripped, the talk button is depressed, activating it:
Note the large thumbscrew to tighten down on the microphone:
A pair of straps are provided, one to go around the chest to prevent the holder from bouncing, and a second around the neck to support the weight of the assembly:
Both straps can be adjusted for length with friction buckles, here in the distinctive colour of many items of Canadian webbing:
To allow the set to be quickly detached, especially important in armoured vehicles where men might need to bail out quickly if the vehicle were to be hit, the straps are secured with simple lift the dot fasteners:
The Canadian WS19 manual noted that each set would be equipped with two of these ‘Breastplates, Microphone, Hand, No C1.’ It is not clear how much use these microphone breastplates saw in reality, they certainly don’t appear much in original photographs and most surviving examples seem to be in mint condition like this one.
I suspect the real use of those was with the vehicle intercom, probably by the commander when giving briefings or (in action) directing the crew. The button on the side is so that you can lock the microphone in the ‘on’ position. There’s a similar holder for the round “fist mike” (No.13) that is part of the later headset assembly, but that clamps onto a rod of some sort and may be for wireless trucks or very long messages.