Category Archives: Jungle

Anti-Malarial Dust Gun

The British Army used a variety of methods to control malaria, with anti-mosquito creams and mosquito netting being two of the best known. However it was far better to destroy the mosquitos before they even became airborne, so it was common to treat stagnant pools of water to kill the insects larvae. Oil was often used which clogged up the larvae’s breathing tubes, however other methods were also employed, as described by the 1934 Army Mannual of Hygiene and Sanitation:

Paris Green is a green powder containing arsenite of copper, is practically insoluble in water, and is a most effective larvicide. It is mixed with road dust, sawdust or some other similar material to keep it afloat and is then sprayed on the surface of the water. The particles are eaten by anopheline larvae, which are surface feeders, and the chemical acts as a poison. To be effective against culicine lavae, which feed below the surface, Paris Green must be mixed with wet sand or some other material which will carry it below the surface of the water.

Paris Green is most effective for large areas of water which cannot be controlled effectively by oiling. The quantity required is about one pound of Paris Green to the acre and the dilution with dust should be about 5 per cent. For large areas of water and about 1 per cent for small.

It has no effect on domestic animals, fish, or crops such as rice, and the water treated is not rendered unfit for domestic purposes; its disadvantages are that it does not kill pupae and, as it contains arsenic, care must be taken by persons handling it.

Tonight we are looking at a dust gun, used by the British military, to deliver this compound. My thanks go to Owen Thompson who kindly helped me add this one to the collection. The dust gun is a large tinplate pump, painted green, designed to spray out the dust and Paris Green mix:imageAt the front is a large screw on lid that can be removed to refill the dust compartment:imageOnto the main dust container is riveted a small maker’s plate:imageThe words ‘TOP’ are stencilled onto the dust gun canister to ensure it is used the right way round:imageAt the end of the dust gun is a wooden handle:imageThis is connected to a metal rod inside, with a rubber bung on the end:imageThis creates a seal so that as the pump is moved back and forth the air pressure forces the dust mixture out of the nozzle at the opposite end:imageThis nozzle has snapped off, a similar dust gun on the IWM website has a nozzle almost twice as long. The handle has stamped onto it the /|\ mark and a date of 1946:imageAlthough the 1934 hygiene manual described Paris Green as safe in the prescribed quantities, it is now known to be highly toxic if used in higher concentrations, as discovered by some users in North Africa during the war:

Mosquitoes and malaria were a big problem in that area, and so very strict measures were taken to control them. We had already lost one driver, Albert Fairclough, from Yorkshire. He was sent back to England as incurable, having had constant malaria over some nine months.

The main control was to mix up one shovel full of Paris Green arsenic with 50 shovels full of sand, mix well and spread over all the pools of water within half a mile of the camp. When the anopheles mosquito larvae finally came up for air, this poison was sucked in, and it was goodbye to yet another mosquito before it could take flight.

One poison party was supervised by a corporal, not the brightest star in the firmament, who confused the instructions. Thus, when the villagers’ cattle came to drink, they keeled over … dead! Naturally, the buzzards came to clean up the environment — they also keeled over … dead. Now the North African vulture is a gourmet meal for many villagers, and so we had a local hospital full of very sick villagers.

It was understood by many that a promissory note was handed over to the headman of the village. The note had been signed — on the spot — by one Winston S Churchill. It was just as well that we were on our way to the real war in Italy.

44 Pattern Bayonet Frog

Included in the standard items of webbing for the 44 pattern set was a bayonet frog. Interestingly a bayonet frog was also supplied on the side of the basic pouch, but clearly it was felt a separate one would be useful as well. The frog is clearly copied from the 37 pattern design, but made in the newer more rot proof webbing:imageThe official webbing pamphlet describes it thus:

Bayonet Frog- This is provided with a woven hole in the upper scabbard loop to enable the No. 4, No. 5, or No. 7 bayonet to be carried by inserting the stud through the hole. The No. 1 bayonet is held in the frog in the usual way by the stud of the scabbard being inserted between the web loops.  imageA narrow web loop is provided to slip over the hilt of the No. 1 or the No. 5 bayonet to prevent swinging. imageThis frog is clearly unissued, as can be seen by the rear which has no wear at all:imageThe markings include the frog’s store code ‘CN2006’ and the manufacturer and date:imageDespite the integral bayonet loops on the 44 pattern basic pouch, these separate frogs must have been useful as manufacture continued into the mid-1960s, with dates of 1966 observed on some examples. Ironically however most examples found today seem to be in mint condition and never issued.

WS88 Set Instruction Card

Continuing my on-going project to collect up all the accessories for my Malayan Emergency era WS88 set radio, I have recently managed to pick up the aluminium operators instruction card. This card is made of metal, with operating instructions etched into the front and the back, as the radio was designed to be used in tropical conditions aluminium was a good choice as it was more resilient than card and less prone to corrosion than steel or brass might have been. The front of the card offers some first principles:SKMBT_C36416071107080_0001aWith illustrations of the general set up of the radio system:SKMBT_C36416071107080_0001 - CopyAnd how to wear it:SKMBT_C36416071107080_0001The rear of the card gives operating instructions:SKMBT_C36416071107081_0001Including diagrams of how to set up the radio for transmitting:SKMBT_C36416071107081_0001 - CopyAnd some detailed text on how to test, operate and maintain the radio:SKMBT_C36416071107081_0001 - Copy (2)This card would have acted as an aide memoire to the designated radio operator and as a quick guide to anyone who was forced to use the radio in an emergency. The card itself slots into the back of the radio pouch and has a stores number of ZA32991.

Indian Made jungle Green Underpants

The desire to produce clothing in jungle green extended very rapidly to every item of clothing, and tonight we are looking at a pair of Indian made underpants in jungle green cloth. Previously we have considered a khaki pair of Indian made underpants here, but these are rather different in design:imageFirstly the pants are made of an open weave aertex fabric, rather than traditional cotton. Quite how essential it was to have them in green rather than khaki is open to debate, but there are stories of troops on the Chindit raids stripping their trousers off and marching with just their pants on due to contracting dysentery so there is a degree of sense. More pragmatically it might just have been easier to dye all cloth green and distribute it to the making of various garments rather than have different colours for different items. They are also of a much more generous cut than the other pair, presumably to help reduce chaffing in the hot and humid climes of the jungle. The buttons of the khaki design are replaced here by a simple drawstring, and this pair of pants has no fly:imageSadly the acceptance mark on this pair is too indistinct to make out a date:imageFurther stamps on the waistband indicate that they are a size 4:imageI am not sure how common these items of underclothing are, but I have not seen many examples in my years of collecting. Happily this pair seem unissued and are a welcome addition to my collection of wartime jungle equipment- thankfully I will not be wearing them anytime soon!

Royal Army Service Corps Driver, Kohima 1944

Over the past year or so we have looked at a large selection of uniform and equipment designed for use in the jungles of Burma in the latter half of the Second World War. Whilst the individual items are interesting in their own right, I always like putting them together to form a complete impression, so tonight we have a Royal Army Service Corps Driver, pressed into the fight at Kohima in 1944 (click on images to be able to read captions more easily):Kohima 1

Kohima 2

Kohima 3Individual items can be seen here:

JG Battledress Blouse

JG Battledress Trousers

Indian Waterbottle

Indian Aluminium Mess Tin

Indian Machete

Bush Hat

Indian ‘Boonie’ Bush Hat

1907 Pattern Bayonet

JG 37 Pattern Cartridge Pouches

JG 37 Pattern Waterbottle carrier

Indian Made Jungle Green Waterbottle Carrier

During operations in the jungle in World War Two, men tried to carry the minimum amount of kit possible, one essential they could not do without though was water and this was carried in the standard British Army enamelled kidney shaped waterbottles in a webbing carrier attached to their 37 pattern webbing. We have looked at the Indian made waterbottle carrier before, but this example is made of pre-dyed green webbing:imageAs can be seen, the webbing was clearly dyed in two separate batches as the various components are in differing shades of green:imageNote also the stitching in a contrasting colour- some webbing was dyed after it had been manufactured, but in those cases the stitching becomes dyed the same colour as the rest of the webbing. The waterbottle carrier is typically Indian and is secured by a brass buckle at the top, rather than a press stud:imageThe inside of the webbing is stamped with the manufacturer’s initials ‘KEF’ and a date of 1945, the dark colour of the webbing makes this a little tricky to see:imageThe scale of the webbing industry in India during the Second World War can be hard to comprehend, this account form the 1946 history of the Supply Services in India gives some idea of the output of these manufacturers:

In November 1941, large scale orders for the manufacture of Webbing (Personal) Equipment sets were placed. This store required 33 widths and thicknesses of Webbing and 19 different types of brass Components. One of these components called for 20 production operations. To cope with this activity webbing looms had to be built and three quasi-Government Fabricating Factories were started. 5,700,000 Sets of Webbing Equipment were produced. These required 843,600,000 Brass Components.

Some of you might have realised that this is the second waterbottle carrier I have bought (the other can be seen in the post on the cartridge carriers here), this is because it was typical to wear two carriers on active service, one for your waterbottle and one for your mess tin, the oval Indian made aluminium mess tin fitting nicely into the carrier:image

1944 Pattern Jungle Shirt

The speed of change in British Army jungle clothing in the last two years of the Second World War was impressive, with the jungle green battledress louse we looked at earlier in the week rapidly superseded by aertex bush jackets and eventually a new ‘1944’ pattern jungle shirt:imageThis uniform was based on lengthy discussions with users and tried to address the concerns raised over the inadequacies of the existing clothing provided. The fabric is a heavier cotton drill designed to hold up to the rigours of the jungle better than the aertex used previously- the Australian army estimated the average lifespan of a uniform in the jungle as being just two to three weeks. This was obviously heavier and warmer, but far more robust. Interestingly the army returned to aertex for its 52 pattern uniform so the material cannot have been an unqualified success! The design of the bush jacket is fairly conventional, but does have some unique features, the shoulders are reinforced:imageThis presumably helps protect the area where a pack’s straps would rub and wear away the fabric. Two sets of double loops are provided on the rear of the jacket:imageThese are to allow belt loops on the trousers to be passed through, securing the two halves of the uniform together and preventing the gap at the waist that was such a problem with the jungle green battledress. The rear of these loops are reinforced to help them take the strain:imageThe breast pockets are typical of the period, being pleated with green plastic buttons to secure them:imageThe lower skirt of the jacket is free from pockets allowing it to be worn tucked into the trousers if so desired. At the collar two buttons are provided to offer a choice of fastening arrangements- most photographs indicate however that these were left undone in the heat of the jungle:imageInside the shirt a single printed label dates the shirt to 1945 and indicates it was made by John Hammond and Co Ltd:imageThe interior of the shirt has a large buttonable flap inside it:imageWith a corresponding button on the opposite side:imageThis flap was a ‘gas flap’ and was designed to make the garment more resistant to vesicant gases that were absorbed through the skin- quite how many of these were expected to be encountered in the jungle is open to debate! These uniforms did not reach the far east until the very end of the war and are seen in the mopping up of the area after the end of the conflict. They also saw extensive use, alongside the updated 1947 pattern jungle uniform in Korea and at the start of the Malayan Emergency. Like all jungle uniforms, the 1944 pattern jacket is increasingly hard to find with collectors beginning to take an interest in what has until recently been an under recognised aspect of military history and thus prices are starting to rise.