Author Archives: hatchfive

Fat Stock P14 Rifle

Tonight we are looking at the so called ‘fat boy’ stock on the P14 Enfield Rifle. The P14 series of rifles were produced in the USA in the First World War for the British and were produced by three manufacturers; Winchester, Remington and Eddystone (a subsidiary of Remington). We have previously looked at the rifle here, that example having the standard stock. Tonight we have an opportunity to compare the standard stock with the ‘fat boy’:imageAs far as I can ascertain, the ‘fat boy’ was only used on Eddystone rifles, and then not all of them, both the rifles in the above photograph are Eddystone rifles, but the upper is the ‘fat boy’ and the lower is the standard model. The ‘fat boy’ differs in two ways, firstly the hand grooves in the fore stock have been deleted:imageSecondly, this whole area has been thickened:imageThis is particularly apparent when compared with the standard model:imageI have not found a definitive reason for this variation, but one theory is that it strengthened the stock at a weak point that then allowed the rifle to be used for firing rifle grenades with less chance of cracking. Incidentally, the wood used in the stocks is apparently American Black Walnut.

Amongst collectors, the standard rifle is generally regarded as being the more ergonomical of  the two patterns, but I cannot find any hard evidence of when the change occurred or why and it may just be a manufacturing variation, although the rifle grenade story is intriguing.

Military Provost Guard Service CS95 Shirt

My thanks go to Andrew Dearlove who very kindly gave me this CS95 combat shirt a few months back:

I will not go into details of the shirt itself, as we have covered the CS95 pattern a number of times before. Of interest to us tonight is the insignia on the sleeves of the shirt. On the right sleeve is a tactical recognition flash with the letters MPGS:

This stands for the Military Provost Guard Service, who are responsible for maintaining physical security at British Armed Forces locations throughout Great Britain. It is one of three constituent units of the Adjutant General’s Corps Provost Branch and the aim of the MPGS is to rationalise guarding arrangements at sites where service personnel normally live and work. The MPGS replaces previously civilian-held duties with armed soldiers.

The MPGS’s duties include:

• Controlling entry and exit access to a site

• Managing control room operations and ensuring all visitors are dealt with efficiently

• Patrolling site perimeters and taking necessary action to preserve perimeter security

• Security incident management, such as suspicious packages, bomb threats, protests, etc.

• Military Working Dog services at some sites.

To join the MPGS, applicants must have served for at least three years in any arm or service, including the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, Territorial Army, and Royal Auxiliary Air Force. They must have completed that service within six years of application to the MPGS, unless they have relevant service in the Police or HM Prison Service since leaving the armed forces.

To join, they have to re-enlist into the Regular British Army on a Military Local Service Engagement (MLSE). The MLSE is a form of engagement which is ideally suited to use by the MPGS. The MLSE is renewable on a three-yearly basis providing the soldier continues to meet the requirements and standards of the service, as well as there being a continued need for MPGS soldiers at that particular unit.

There are 26 police constabularies that currently have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Military Provost Guard Service in respect of the legal authority for carrying firearms on UK roads.

On the opposite sleeve is a TRF with a white swan on a black background:

This is the flash for the 30th Signals Regiment which is based at Bramcote. The Army’s website back in 2017 described the unit as:

Based in Bramcote, Warwickshire, provides out of area strategic communications to Land and Joint Task Force operations. The Regiment consists of four field Sqns, 244, 250, 256 and 258 Sig Sqns which are in turn supported by a fifth Support Sqn. Members of the Regiment regularly deploy to different theatres throughout the world, in support of both Operations and Exercises. Currently members of the Regiment are serving in Afghanistan, The Persian Gulf, West Africa, Falkland Islands, USA, Canada, Kenya and Cyprus supporting numerous Operations and Exercises. Leading elements of the Regiment are kept at a high state of readiness so that they can deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world. Deployed services include the provision of Strategic Headquarters, satellite and HF communications as well as deployed computer networks and tactical radio. 30 Signal Regiment has been involved in the majority of operations conducted by UK Forces since it was reformed in 1951. The Commanding Officer of 30th Signal Regiment is also the Commander of the Queen’s Gurkha Signals.

The combination of these two TRFs suggests the original owner worked at Bramcote on base security and was thus entitled to wear both the TRF of his parent unit the MPGS and the TRF of the unit he was assigned to, the 30th Signals Regiment.

Deccan British War Hospital Postcard

In the First World War it became clear that for troops injured seriously in the fighting against the Ottomans in places such as Mesopotamia, the journey back to England was too great. The authorities decided that India was a better place to evacuate soldiers to and a number of hospitals were set up on the subcontinent. Tonight’s postcard depicts one of these, the Deccan Military Hospital:The rear of the card captions the image and dates this picture to 1918:Pushkin Sohoni, writing in the Pune Mirror, describes the history of this building:

On Ganeshkhind Road (University Road), at the intersection of Ferguson College Road is the College of Agriculture, which was founded in 1907. The main building is set about half a kilometre inside from the main gate. While it continues to serve the function for which it was built, few know that between 1916 and 1919, it was transformed into a hospital serving convalescing soldiers from the theatre of war in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) during World War I. The patients came from the front by ship and were treated in multiple hospitals across British India, including the 34th Welsh Hospital at Deolali and the Deccan British War Hospital in Pune. The latter was the main building of the College of Agriculture, which was expanded to have over a thousand beds serving soldiers and prisoners of war. The doctors and the orderlies were English, but interestingly, the nurses came the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS)…

‘First Type’ Mk III 37 Pattern Basic Pouch

The introduction the Sten gun in 1940 gave the British Army a minor headache when it became apparent that the magazines were too long to allow them to be carried in the standard 37 pattern basic pouches then in service. This therefore led to the introduction of the MK III pouch, which was 1/2 inch longer than the earlier model to allow the magazines to fit in. Later models would be produced with quick release tabs, like the example here, but the early versions retained the press stud to secure the lid and it is an example of this pattern we are looking at tonight:imageApart from its length, the pouch conformed to the standard design that had been in use since the start of the war, described in the 37 pattern webbing manual as:

Basic Pouches- these are interchangeable, and are rectangular in shape to contain two Bren gun magazines each, or a number of grenades, or S.A.A. A buckle is provided at the top of each pouch for attachment of the brace;imageThis buckle has a loop at the top which serves for connecting the hook on the shoulder strap. Two double hooks are fitted to the back of each pouch for attachment to the waist belt:imageAs mentioned earlier, these early MK III pouches retained the brass press studs to secure the lid:imageThis particular pouch is marked on the underside of the lid as having been manufactured by BG Ltd in 1943:imageThese pouches saw service after the war and the following instructions for what to carry in them come from a Royal Navy publication of 1950:

These are designed to carry ammunition or Bren magazines. A typical ‘carry’ for the rifleman of a section is two Bren magazines in each pouch, or two magazines in one pouch and fifty rounds of rifle ammunition in the other. Grenades cannot be carried in the pouches with other ammunition. There is no specific place for grenades to be carried, but they are usually placed in the haversack. The pouches are fitted with metal prongs that fit in the canvas sockets in the inside of the belt. They are worn on the front of the equipment, equidistant from the central buckle and so that the arms are free to move across the body.

Black Kestrel Patrol Boots

The Kestrel patrol boot was a medium weight set of boots issued to soldiers as a general purpose boot for short to medium patrols and exercises. It was not as good in cold weather as arctic boots, nor designed for use in extremely hot temperatures, but fitted into the mid-range where most exercises and indeed combat was expected to occur. These boots were designed to be lighter weight and more comfortable than earlier designs and incorporated fabric panels for breathability and robust soles for marching in. The boots were also produced in both brown and black, and it is the black pair we are looking at tonight:The boots were issued in a standard cardboard shoe box:On the outside a stores label has been attached with NSN number and sizing:Opening the box it can be seen that packaged in with the boots are a number of accessories:These include insoles and spare laces:A tube of boot polish:And an instruction leaflet:The boots themselves feature a deeply cleated rubber sole:And fabric panels let into the uppers to make the boots both softer and more comfortable and to aid the movement of air so the wearer’s feet don’t overheat:The boots fasten up the front with laces in a mixture of standard lace holes and quick lace hooks:A stores label is sewn into the tongue of each boot:One cadet user has given a detailed assessment of this pattern of boot that makes interesting reading, covering its use by cadets in detail:

Looking at them they looked a good pair of boots and felt very light when compared to the good old assault boots that were issued in the past – not a bad thing at all! 

Looking at MOD literature, the YDS Kestrel boots are a patrol boot which means they are suited to situations where the threat of combat is medium to low with a temperature range of -10º to +35º. Which makes them ideal for cadet use!  

It is also recommended that they are used with gaiters in wet weather which is something to keep in mind, although you don’t need to rush out a buy a pair.

First test was how they fit. After adjusting the laces, an easy job with the lacing loops on the upper part of the boot and the lace locks as well, I put them on had a quick walk around the house. No problems at all and no squeaking or creaking either!  

I decided to put them through a series of different environments to simulate the sort of things you’d come across in cadets: a two mile road walk, a two mile walk through muddy fields and woodland close to where I live, a two mile walk with a 10kg pack on and lastly a quick go on the outdoor ‘gym’ trail in the local park. 

On the first two mile walk I found the boots to be comfortable and I didn’t feel that my feet got ‘hot’ while walking. I stopped after about half a mile to adjust the laces – something I do with every pair of boots when heading out to ensure they fit snugly without rubbing.

At the end I had no rubbing or pinching on my feet and they still fitted nicely.  

Next up was a trek through a muddy field and through a local woodland. Now looking at the MOD advice I did this with gaiters on and again I found the boots comfortable to walk in. 

One thing I did note was that the soles held a lot of mud, but I purposely went through all the muddy patches to see how they did at the extreme end of muddy so it’s not a surprise they clogged up.

Now I didn’t go through any puddles deeper than about 50mm and in all honesty I avoided trying to wade through a stream as I know the fabric upper would get my feet wet and to be frank I don’t think doing that would be a true reflection of how they perform on cadet type activities.

After bit of a clean I headed out for a walk with a 10kg pack on to see how much support the boots offered and how comfortable they were walking in with a little weight on. 

Again I thought they were very comfortable and the high leg provided a good level of support for my ankle with no rubbing etc. and the boot flexed enough to allow my feet to spread slightly with weight as well.  

Lastly I headed out to the outdoor gym trail in the local park and went over the various obstacles to stretch and twist my feet to see how supportive these boots are over obstacles and the like.

As I expected having gone over the last few tests with them they were fine, comfortable and supportive with the fabric upper coming into its own moving and flexing with ease.  

So after putting the boots through a few tests and wearing them generally for a while I’d have to sum up by saying that I think these are a good cadet boot.

Yes they have a fabric upper which means wading through water may be an issue but in all honesty that’s not something that will happen a lot, if at all while on cadet activities. But that fabric upper also makes them comfy and easy to ‘break in’ as well – good news for cadet feet!

They are comfortable to walk and march in and clean up easily which is a big plus.

World War Two Souvenir Mirror

Small pocket mirrors were an inexpensive trinket that were popular choices as charity and souvenir articles. They consisted merely of a piece of glass with a silvered back and a paper or leather cloth covering that could be decorated to celebrate a national event such as the Coronation or to show support for a charity. These little mirrors could be sold for a few pennies but were so cheap to make that they could still bring in a small profit for a charity or other organisation.

Obviously during the Second World War, a popular theme to decorate the mirrors in was the war itself and tonight we have a delightful little example to consider:imageThe design features the three allied war leaders, left to right we have US President Franklin D Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The three respective nations’ flags are also included in the design as is the phrase “Souvenir of the World’s War”.

The paper backing wraps round the edges of the mirror to protect the owner from any sharp edges from the glass:imageThe backing to the mirror has degraded now, leading to the unsightly black spots, however these items were entirely ephemeral in nature and it is doubtful anyone expected them to be used for more than a few years, never mind still being in existence seventy five years later. Sadly this mirror has no information on which if any charity it was originally sold to raise money for, but it is a delightful and probably rare survivor.

58 Pattern Webbing Overview

The 58 pattern webbing set was the mainstay of the British Army throughout the Cold War and although we have covered odd pieces on the blog before, a recent purchase of a nice clean set of webbing has given the opportunity to go back and look at the set as a whole and then study the missing components not previously covered.

When it was introduced the official list of changes from 1959 described the set as:

The above items of web equipment are hereby introduced to meet the requirements for an improved pattern of equipment for use in temperate and tropical climates. The equipment will enable the soldier in the field to carry his ammunition, rations, water, personal clothing and necessaries. Issue will be restricted to units as nominated by War office from time to time.

The new design comprises two orders, Fighting and Marching.

The main features are:-

  • Transference of the weight from the shoulders to the hips
  • Transference of the ammunition pouches from the front of the body to the sides of the waist belt.
  • The fitting of a yoke to the shoulder straps to provide greater stability


The design was to remain in manufacture for over thirty years and many of the components were updated and their design tweaked with experience. This example is a very late set, but shows the basic principle and the primary components:58 PatternThe water bottle and its carrier were not originally included in the set, and had to be retrospectively added. This component is not shown above, but we have covered it here. Also not illustrated is the large pack, which was universally detested for its poor design, again this has been covered previously here.

The web gear was attached using a combination of traditional wire ‘c’ hooks and also straps with metal hooks and loops that secured each piece to the belt or yoke:imageThe yoke itself was a major advance for this set of webbing as it was padded and far more comfortable than previous webbing sets and the 58 pattern set was to see service right through until the mid-1990s, with the Falklands campaign being its shining hour. By the fist Gulf War it was partially replaced by PLCE, but was still used by many troops who had not yet received the new PLCE web set.image76The first set of fitting instructions gives the following, comprehensive, overview of the set:

With this equipment a considerable part of the load is normally borne by the waist, but the import of the old adage “a change is as good as a rest” can be brought into effect by the simple expedient of unfastening the buckle of the belt, thus transferring the load entirely to the shoulders. The equipment can be assembled in “fighting order” or in “marching order” and by means of easily adjustable straps the load can be shifted whilst the wearer is on the move. The front of the body is kept free from encumbrances which might restrict certain movements.

The items of this equipment, which are not interchangeable with similar items of earlier types of webbing equipment, have been designed to accommodate the latest types of arms and accessories issued to the Services, including the lightweight pick and shovel.

Description of the Equipment

The main items of equipment are made of rotproofed and water repellent lightweight webbing, dyed to British Standard Camouflage Colour no 15.

The metal fittings are principally of light alloy with a dull protective finish which should not be removed. Quick release fittings have been used wherever possible to give quick access to the contents of the pouches etc.

The following are the component parts, which can be assembled in a variety of combinations to meet differing load carrying requirements:

  • Belt, Waist
  • Carrier, Cape
  • Pack
  • Pouch, Amunition, Left
  • Pouch, Ammunition, Right
  • Pouches, Rear (pair forming one item)
  • Straps, Utility (two)
  • Yoke