Category Archives: Body Armour

Z.18 Certificate of Employment During the War

My thanks go again to Michael Whittaker who gave me tonight’s document for the collection. At the end of World War One men were demobilised and returned to civilian life and naturally began looking for employment. In 1918 references were essential for employment, with former employers writing a testimonial for leaving staff to help them acquire a new position. It would of course be impractical for commanding officers to write a bespoke reference for every soldier under their command, so the army prepared forms that could be quickly filled out and authorised before being issued to leaving soldiers. The use of the form, officially known as the ‘Certificate of Employment During the War, Army Form Z.18’, was described as:

The object of this certificate is to assist the soldier in obtaining employment on his return to civil life. The form will be complete as soon as possible in accordance with Demobilization Regulations.

As soon as signed and complete it will be given to the soldier concerned and will remain his property. He should receive it as early as is compatible with making necessary reference in order that he can either send it home or keep it in his possession.

One form will be issued to each man, and no duplicate can ever be issued.

This particular form was issued to an infantryman, Private Gershom Albert Davy of the 51st Battalion Sherwood Forresters:

His employment before he joined the army is listed as a ‘cotton pattern hand’. The rear of the form gives the testimonial which states that Private Davy is:

Very reliable, trustworthy and conscientious. Has performed his duties in a satisfactory manner.

The form is signed by the captain commanding B Company, 51st Battalion, Sherwood Forresters. These forms were obviously important documents to men seeking work and have survived in boxes of family papers up until the present day. They are useful for historians in identifying men’s professions when they joined up, although the level of detail on the forms varies depending on how conscientious the officer filling them out was.

Osprey Mk IVa Side Armour Carrier

It has been quite a while since I last covered the Osprey Mk IV set on the blog, we ran a major series of posts last year covering a lot of the different components. One item we did not look at then were the side armour panels and it is one of these we are considering tonight. These are a pair of add on panels that are used to fit extra hard plate side armour to the Osprey set to protect a soldiers flank. Each side panel consists of a flat piece of MTP cordua-nylon:imageThe front is covered with a set of PALS loops to attach pouches to:imageThe main feature of the side plate carrier is a large pocket that a ballistic plate can be slid into:imageThis is secured by a Velcroed flap. The rear of the panel has a set of straps to attach it to the rest of the vest:imageA small label indicates stores details:imageInterestingly the Osprey manual does not list these side plate carriers at all, instead just showing the larger cummerbunds that wrap entirely around the wearer’s body. This is a smaller and lighter alternative that just adds the plates to the side and was introduced as part of a mid life upgrade of the Osprey Mk IV to Mk IVA standard and allows the front ops panel to be retained whilst flank armour is worn.

Osprey Mk IV Shoulder Brassards

After nearly six months of posts, I am bringing our series on the Osprey body armour to a close tonight. There are still components I need and as I get these we will look at them on the blog, but not as a regular weekly post. Our final post is for the shoulder armour issued with the Osprey Mk IV set:imageThis may look familiar to you from the Mk II set we looked at here. The basic design is almost identical, however it is made in the MTP pattern of camouflage to match the later vest. The underside of the brassards has the same ribbed anti slip fabric as the interior of the vests:imageThe brassards are not a matched pair, one having a small Union flag secured to it with Velcro:imageThe other has a small pocket sewn on:imageThe straight end of the brassard has an elasticated strap that is wrapped around the upper arm to secure the brassard:imageThese particular covers date from 2011:imageWorn with the brassards are a pair of shoulder pads that cover the gap between the armour and the brassard:imageLike the brassards, these open up to allow a soft armour filler to be fitted, the opening being on the rear of each one:imageAgain a label is sewn to the rear of each component:imageSetting up the brassards and shoulder armour is quite involved and a detailed diagram is included in the Osprey user’s manual:CaptureThere are still quite a few Osprey components left to cover, and as I find them we will revisit the set. I hope this set of posts has been informative and covered the individual components in a bit more depth than other online resources.

Osprey Mk IV Rank Slide Attachment Strap

This week’s piece of Osprey equipment is one of the simplest items ever covered on the blog, being the strap issued to allow a rank tab to be worn on the Osprey IV body armour:imageThis is made from woven nylon tape, printed in MTP camouflage, with a press stud fitting to allow it to be made into a loop:imageThis is passed through the MOLLE straps on the chest of the armour cover to allow a rank slide to be worn if the commander’s pouch is not used. Despite its simplicity, the manufacturers felt it worthy of inclusion in the instructions that accompanied the Osprey Mk IV armour:imageQuite why this warranted a full page of pictorial instructions is beyond me, however one must never forget that some squaddies are not the brightest in the bunch and without clear instructions could possibly fail to understand the strap’s purpose! I apologise for this post being so short, but there is really very little to say about this one…

ECBA/Osprey Small Armour Plates

This week’s Osprey item is a little different in that although it was widely used with the osprey system it was never designed for it. The Osprey Mk IV armour can be up-scaled by fitting a pair of cummerbunds, each of which holds a plate of ceramic armour:CaptureIt is this armour plate we are considering this week. The plate was first developed for use with the enhanced combat body armour, ECBA. The first versions of the plates had square corners, but the example here is the Mk 2 plate where the corners have been rounded off to make it slightly easier to slot into the pockets on a set of armour:imageThe material inside the plates is sintered alumina and each plate weighs 1.16kg, making them surprisingly heavy for their size. The plates are slightly dished as they were originally designed to fit over the chest:imageIn the ECBA they are fitted to the pockets on the front:imageAnd rear of the vest:imageECBA was used at the start of Operation Telic, however ECBA was not initially available in sufficient quantities so some men had to make do with the older CBA without the armoured plates. After a number of high profile deaths an urgent operational requirement was put in to secure more of the armour plates to allow ECBA to be issued to all troops in theatre. With armour plates it is essential to be able to track their manufacture and history as a defective batch could have fatal consequences for its wearer. The front of the plate has space for contract numbers to be written and is printed with the NSN number and instructions as to which way round the plate should be fitted to the vest:imageThese plates were considered too valuable to discard when ECBA was replaced with Osprey so they were retained and used to provide the supplemental armour for the flanks on the new system. As such these plates are much harder to find on the collectors market than the soft armour, with the plates being kept in British Army inventory in large numbers. So far I just have the one plate, so I will be looking out for a second as regardless of whether they are worn in the ECBA or in the Osprey cummerbund a pair is required.

Osprey Mk IV Full Collar

This week we have another short post on the Osprey system as we look at the full size collars for the Osprey Mk IV:imageWe have covered most of the details for these collars on the posts on the DDPM version of the collars here and the half collars for the MTP version and filler here. Details then will be familiar with the same Velcro and press stud arrangement for attaching the collar to the vest:imageAlong with a loop on the rear to secure this section:imageA Velcro tab is provided to secure the front of the collar when worn, which can be tucked away on itself when not needed:imageThe inside of the collar has two labels, one for each part:imageIn close up we can see that the collar dates from 2012:imageAgain, I am lacking fillers for this collar, but they do turn up from time to time so I will keep my eyes out for some and it’s another osprey component I can tick off the list.

Osprey Pistol Magazine Pouch

Among the many pouches produced for the Osprey IV system was a small pouch to carry spare 9mm magazines for the service pistol. By this stage traditional holsters had been largely replaced by hard shell plastic designs so a soft holster was not part of the Mk IV complement of equipment, however extra magazines would be required to be carried so a set of dedicated pouches was clearly desirable. The pouch is made of an MTP printed fabric with a top flap that has a more open weave than many of the other pouches in the Osprey IV set:imageThis change of fabric was presumably to give extra strength on a thin top flap that would otherwise be in danger of breaking if the more standard fabric had been used. The large top flap covers the base of the magazine and is secured with a large Velcro fastening to make it harder for the pouch to be accidently opened:imageThe magazine itself slides inside to make a secure fit, but one that allows it to be easily withdrawn:imageThe magazine used here is for a Browning Hi-Power, in service more modern magazines would have been carried, but this is the only double stack pistol magazine I have access to and illustrates the concept just fine.

A single MOLLE strap is fitted to the rear to allow the pouch to be secured to the vest:imageThe weight of even a full pistol magazine is negligible so one strap would be more than adequate. Under the strap is the standard Osprey label, printed on fabric and sewn to the rear of the pouch:imageThese pouches were not only used for carrying pistol magazines, but also occasionally saw service on operations to carry morphine syringes in a safe and secure pouch that allowed easy access in case of emergency. Although not what the designers had originally envisaged this sort of adaptation is typical of how soldiers use equipment when deployed on active service and this seems a very sensible secondary use for the pouch.