During the Second World War South Africa was, and indeed remains, a bilingual nation. Whilst many in the population spoke English there was also a large proportion of men who spoke exclusively Afrikaans. This therefore meant that the army had to be bilingual, with written instructions in both English and Afrikaans including these first field dressings:
The dressings themselves are similar to those produced elsewhere in the empire and have two pads in the packet, one for the entry wound and another for the exit wound. The front of the packets have instructions for their use in English:
Note also the date of ‘1942’ in the bottom left corner and the manufacturer B Owen Jones Ltd of Boksburg. The company of B Owen Jones was founded by Benjamin Owen-Jones who was onetime mayor of Boksburg. He had arrived in the town in the 1880s as a chemist and founded a company producing medical supplies. Although he had died in 1920, the company was still in business in the Second World War and was ideally set up to produce medical dressings for the South African Army’s contracts.
Returning to our field dressing, the same instructions are repeated on the rear in Afrikaans:
Unlike British field dressings that were secured by a single stitch, these are secured with a row of small stitches and have a pair of tapes to pull the packet apart to allow access to the dressings within:
South Africa was not the only nation to issue bilingual dressings, Canada producing them with English and French instructions. Compared to Canadian made dressings however, these are far scarcer in the United Kingdom so South African first field dressings are something I have been wanting to add to my collection for a while.