Officer’s Camp Chair

Officers were permitted to carry a number of items of camp equipment with them when on active service, usually being carried in unit transport. These items included folding camp beds, wash basins, folding tables and stools, canvas buckets and a small folding chair. These chairs were designed to be as light as contemporary materials would allow, to fold up into a convenient size, but to open out to a (reasonably) comfortable seat. The pre-war catalogues offered the young officer a number of different designs, but the most popular had a wooden and iron frame and a canvas seat and back and was known as the ‘X’ chair, priced at 12/6 in the 1939 Army and Navy Store’s Catalogue, with a weight of about 5lbs:

During the Second World War with many more officers than in peacetime, the War Department started producing its own camp equipment and issuing it, and this was the design of chair chosen for wartime military production. Today we are looking at a 1944 dated example of one of these chairs:

The frame if made of wood, with iron bars connecting the four legs:

The back of the chair is made of canvas secured to the frame with nails and with an articulated iron bar to tension the two sides:

The seat of the chair is a separate piece with a wooden rail at front and back, with iron hooks that secure into metal loops on the chair:

The seat is taken off the chair and the main frame folded down to give two components:

The seat can then wrap around the legs and is secured with a webbing strap and buckle, a handle being provided to allow it to be more easily carried:

This is but one of around a dozen different types of folding chair in use during the war, some were simple stools without backs, others had arms to them but all were designed to be as light as possible but to provide a modicum of comfort to the officer in the field. This pattern however seems to be the most common survivor today, possibly because so many were issued to short term officers who retired straight after the war, put them in the attic and forgot about them, leaving them in relatively large numbers for collectors to find eighty years later.

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