This week sees the final part of our mini-series on Indian jungle green 37 pattern webbing when we take a look at the bayonet frog:In design this exactly matches the description from the 37 pattern fitting instructions:
This is made of narrow webbing with a loop for suspending from the waist belt and has two horizontal loops for suspending the scabbard:The scabbard is inserted and pushed through until the stud on the outside comes out between the two loops.
A second loop is sewn at the top to allow the handle of the bayonet to be slipped under to prevent it from bouncing around excessively:As with the other pieces of jungle green webbing we have looked at, the piece is very faded and the markings on the rear are very badly stamped and hard to read:There were a number of webbing manufacturers in India, Bata and ‘KEF’ being two whilst ‘CA’ is often seen marked on webbing and is the mark of the Cawnpore Government Harness and Saddlery factory. This manufacturer was based in Cawnpore and was a government run equipment company dating back to the First World War. In addition to this factory, the company had branches at Calcutta and Cossipore, whilst yet more satellites were set up in Amritsar, Bombay and Madras when the threat of Japanese invasion was at its height.
This then concludes our look at Indian jungle green webbing for now, I am still missing some components such as the small and large packs but rest assured, when I add examples to my collection I will bring them to you here.
We return for a second week to look at another piece of Indian produced jungle green 37 pattern webbing, with a pair of shoulder braces:These are faintly dyed green, but would have been more vibrant when new. Dyes were a constant problem in India, with many being supplied from the United States as lend-lease. Chemicals used in the dyeing process included Sodium Bichromate and Potassium Bichromate, neither of which had been produced in India before the war and acetic acid which was only a tiny industry before the war (the Mysore government rapidly set up a plant producing 600 tons a year once the war began). The country also looked into what it could produce from its natural resources, as outlined in the post war review of Indian production and supply:
In the field of drugs and dyes, the failure of imports from abroad resulted in the initiation of research projects for the utilisation of the country’s indigenous resources. Glandular products were prepared from slaughter house wastes. Atoxyl and carbarsone were synthesised from easily available raw materials. Various vegetable dyes were extracted from the country’s forest wealth.
I suspect vegetable dyes, derived from plants such as bamboo, sabai grass and munji grass, were used extensively to dye jungle green webbing which would explain why the colour has often faded quite markedly in the individual pieces.
Even through the jungle green dye, the distinctive ‘striped’ look of Indian webbing comes through, as does the slightly looser weave that gives Indian made webbing its softer feel:As with last week’s components, the brass fittings on these shoulder braces are blackened to aid the camouflage of the piece in the field:One of the two shoulder braces has a set of stamped numbers on the reverse:These are again typical of Indian produced webbing and are most likely inspectors’ marks. All items of jungle green Indian webbing are scarce and this pair are in typical condition. Some pieces do turn up in vibrant green, and these I suspect were produced with chemical dyes, whereas the majority are like these and I think it’s fair to say they were produced with vegetable based dye.
Tonight’s item is in desperate need of restoration and is in very poor condition, however it is a very interesting object so I am including it now, before I replace the rusted metal and repaint the exterior which will of course obliterate the remains of the original marking. At first glance this wooden box looks like an ammunition box:It has the same wooden and metal construction as the H51 case we looked at here. It is however longer and was originally used for carrying individual insecticide sprayers. The box is made of thin plywood, with metal reinforcing strips around all the edges. The lid is a separate piece and is secured with a pair of wire spring clips at each end:A folding metal handle is included for carrying the case:The markings on the front of the box are very worn:An example in better condition shows how it should read:From this we can see it held 234 individual insecticide sprayers in packs of three. Volume 2 of the Official History of Special Weapons and Types of Warfare gives a description of what these sprayers consisted of:
The individual “sparklet” was a small aerosol sprayer similar to a soda water sparklet bulb. The content consisted of ‘anti-mosquito spray’ with carbon dioxide to provide the pressure; it was sufficient to deal with 1000 cu.ft. Of confined space such as weapons pits or tents. It was operated by a metal break off top, in appearance somewhat like an empty .22 cartridge case. The content was ejected in the form of a fine mist which diffused quickly, with an immediately lethal but local effect. The majority of “sparklets” were manufactured in the United Kingdom, but a few firms in the U.S.A. made some on our behalf, although they were not an item of U.S.A. equipment. (In 1944/45 some 32 million were produced in the United Kingdom, the majority in 1945, and some 8 million provided from the USA)
The lid of the box gives instructions on how to store the sprayers correctly:The RASC were warned to keep the box cool and away from direct sunlight.
The base of the box indicates who manufactured the sprayers:This appears to read ‘Luralda Ltd, 1945’.
This box is obviously very badly damaged and so needs repairs and a complete repaint, once this has been done it will be a nice addition to my jungle collection.
The floppy bush or ‘boonie’ hat has been a mainstay of British Army tropical headgear since the Second World War and we have covered numerous variations of it on the blog over the years. Tonight however we are looking at a transitional design that sits between the World War Two design we looked at here and the introduction of the DPM hat in the mid-1970s:The hat is a shade or two lighter in colour compared to the wartime design, however that may just be down to extensive wear and fading. The design is broadly similar to its earlier incarnation, with circular stitching round the rim to reinforce it:And loops for vegetation to be attached:The top vents are covered with brass grilles, however this hat has clearly had a hard life and they are heavily corroded:One new feature to this pattern of hat is the addition of two fabric tabs with metal grommets in them on the underside of the hat:These allow a chinstrap to be threaded through if required. The inside of the hat has a stamped size, 7, and both an NSN number and what appears to be an old style stores code:This suggests that the hat was made in that transitional period in the 1960s when NSN numbers were just starting to be introduced. This boonie hat was clearly used, as the original owner has written his name and regiment inside in permanent marker:The boonie’s longevity is due to a number of factors. It is comfortable, effective at protecting the wearer’s head from sun and rain and can easily be folded flat to put in a pocket:It also has that indefinable ‘allyness’ that soldiers are always seeking- the wearer of a battered boonie is automatically a grizzled veteran who has seen much action (regardless of whether he used his boonie for years in the jungle or had just bought one from Silvermans…). These hats are then customised as one ex-regular explains:
They’re cut down – it’s a fashion statement with a modicum of practicality. It is important to remember that all British soldiers strive to look “Ally” at all times. There are three levels of Ally (1) not-Ally (2) Ally (3) Ally as Fuck.
Issue kit or cheap civvie stuff is Not-Ally. Issue kit altered or supplemented with expensive or special forces stuff is Ally and rare, foreign and very cool stuff whilst standing over the body of a terrorist and chomping a cigar whilst staring 1000 yards into the distance is Ally-as-Fuck.
The issue bush hat has a large brim. It is there to protect against sun, fire ants dropping down the back of your neck and provide shade when fighting those ungrateful ex-colonies in South East Asia.
The problem is that the brims get wet and droop and look shite (the trick is to sow in some copper wire to keep it rigid). However, that big brim will maintain not ally and prevent moving to the hallowed Ally status. Therefore soldiers cut them down (or have tailors do it) – Three reasons in order of importance.
- It allows you to get a better tan increasing your chance of getting laid on R&R or on your return.
- The long brim is too long and flops annoyingly, shorter is smarter and more soldier like
- There isn’t a rule against it, therefore it is fashionable to do it.
We seem to have covered a lot of different pairs of boots on the blog this year, we round out our selection though with a pair of American made Wellco jungle boots:The British Army purchased these boots in quite large numbers form the US for issue to troops on jungle deployments and in training in jungle environments. The boots are lightweight, as is so often the case with jungle boots, and feature a two part construction with leather for the lower portions, and fabric for the area above the ankle:Leather reinforcing goes up the whole of the front of the boot in order to mount the eyeholes and clasps for the laces:As befits boots that are likely to get very wet and then need to dry rapidly, two drainage holes are fitted to the lower portion of the boot:The soles of the boots are made of heavy duty rubber and have a pattern known as a ‘Panama Sole’:This design was invented by a US soldier called Raymond Dobie in World War II and uses a series of angled rubber lugs in the soles to push soft mud from the soles, clearing them and providing much better grip in greasy clay or mud. Each sole has the size (here 12) moulded into the rubber, indicating that these were manufactured for the British Army rather than for the US military as the sizes are those used in Britain, not America. The official stores catalogue describes the boots as:
Boots, Combat, Jungle. Hot weather. Calf length derby style boot with black leather uppers and nylon leg. Speed loop & eyelet lace closure. Rubber moulded sole. Drainage plugs inside arches.
The inside of the tongue has a white stamping indicating size, NSN number and date of manufacture. As this is an area of high wear, these can be hard to read sometimes:Each boot also has a maker’s tag with the US flag and the name Wellco embroidered on it:As ever we can rely upon Arrsepedia to give a humorous and not necessarily accurate reason as to why the British Army adopted US produced boots:
Being British of course, we decided to make our own version of the US jungle boot and came out with something that looked like a DMS boot with the ankle bit removed and replaced with green canvas, thus looking like a slightly more ally NHS orthopaedic shoe.
Under rigorous jungle conditions, these lasted about 14.7 seconds and so combat arms personnel posted to Belize were finally, and very grudgingly, issued with US jungle boots which they actually got to keep. Woo hoo!
These boots were produced in sizes from 3 to 15, in half size increments and each size was offered in regular, wide and extra wide. This resulted in a bewildering 74 different size and width combinations for this design of boot!
The British Army has recognised the need to protect troops from insect bites in the field, especially in tropical areas where malaria is rife. A number of different mosquito nets designed to be worn over the head have been issued over the years and tonight we are looking at the most modern design of these:This net is made of a nylon mesh, in olive green. Rather than being a simple bag, a round piece is sewn into the crown to give it a little more structure and fit better over a head and under a cap:An elasticated drawstring is provided to allow the net to be closed off around the neck and prevent insects from flying up underneath it:These nets are issued in small polythene bags from the manufacturers:These have a sticky label with a stores barcode and details of who made them:Coneen Defence Ltd is a Northern Irish company specialising in the manufacture of military uniforms and accessories and they have been supplying the MoD for over fifteen years, with manufacturing bases in India, Bangladesh and China. Their advertising material describes their company as:
Cooneen Defence provides the clothing needs of military and police personnel across the world both combat, patrol and operational garments.
Military and Police Authorities demand clothing solutions which will perform in the most challenging environments. With more than 15 years’ experience in providing UK Ministry of Defence with the vast majority of their clothing requirements, from cargo trousers to berets, parade wear, to medical wear, flights suits to marine coveralls, Cooneen have an institutional wealth of experience and knowledge in the design, manufacture and supply of high volume garments to authorities with a remit to protect the public and national interests.
Although the name of the contractor appears on the outer label, it is not mentioned on the label sewn into the net, instead there is just a contract number:The insect head net is one of the standard pieces of equipment a soldier would expect to receive when deploying in the so called ‘black bag’ of essential equipment. The accompanying Army pamphlet has this, admittedly brief, information on the net: