During the Great War, the British Army set out extensive guidelines on where and how articles of clothing and necessaries were to be marked by each individual soldier. The holdall, used to carry a soldier’s knife, fork and spoon, razor, comb etc. was to be marked in ½” high lettering in marking ink with the name of the owner’s regiment or corps as well as their number. This was to be marked down the centre band. This World War One example is marked up to a soldier of the West Riding Regiment:
As can be seen, the markings exactly match the requirements in the Clothing Regulations, with the soldier’s number being 1594:
This number was used by a number of different soldiers, so getting an exact owner for the holdall is not possible. My thanks to Toby Brayley and David Whithorn who came up with these possibilities:
- A J Furnish , 6th Bn West Riding Regiment
- Henry Taylor who was 18 in 1885 when he joined the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
- Albert Soothill 4th Bn West Riding Regiment
- Pte (later Sgt) Thomas D.Eagles. Clearly a Territorial (49th Divn, to France April 1915), his number later (early 1917) became 265071, he was discharged in Feb 1919.
- Pte George R.Kitson, another Territorial…who also went to France in April 1915…He later became 27266 of the Royal Lancaster Regt and finally 6194 of the Lincolnshire Regt.
This unfortunately is one of the problems of trying to identify early military equipment as numbers were used multiple times across different regiments or battalions. What can be said with certainty is that this wash roll dates to the Great War and living close to Halifax, the home town of the West Riding Regiment, this is a great local piece for my collection.
In the interests of being helpful … you may want to revise your list of possible owners. As you rightly point out, several soldiers would have been issued this number but for the Great War period the four Territorial battalions are most likely. Both Kitson and Eagles however were issued 1924, NOT 1954. Soothill is correct, though he spent most of the war working in Brighouse – if you found this locally, he must be a good possibility, and would explain the nice clean condition.