The ‘basha’ is a popular item of equipment issued to British soldiers to act as a shelter in the field. The basha is a large nylon waterproof sheet and can be found in a number of different camouflage patterns, today’s example being in DPM:
This opens out to a large rectangular sheet measuring 255cm x 220cm:
The seams are all waterproofed to help make the basha as waterproof as possible:
The basha is used with poles or bungees to make shelters in a number of ways. At its simplest, two poles are used to support the centre and both sides pegged down to create an open ended a-tent. If trees are around then one side is pegged down towards the prevailing wind, the centre is bungeed as high as possible and the remaining side attached by its corners to trees to create a shelter. To help do this, tape loops are provided in the centre of the basha:
And at the corners, together with eyelets to attach bungees to the basha:
Although universally called a basha by troops, the official name of this is a ‘sheet, shelter, GS’ as seen on the label:
The origin of the name ‘basha’ is interesting. The word ‘basha’ is an Assamese word meaning a ‘hut’ but this term was adopted more generally for a makeshift temporary shelter by the British military. The Assmese word refers to a range of naturally fabricated shelters made of bamboo and palm materials, but it most probably first entered British Army vocabulary to mean a temporary shelter by Chindits operating behind enemy lines in Burma, with the sheet taking its name from this usage. Wider usage and adoption then came during the Malayan Campaign (1950–1959) where many ex-Chindits were recruited to fight the communist insurgents in the jungles.