Category Archives: NBC

DKP2 NBC Puffer Bottle

Part of the standard decontamination kit issued to British soldiers included a small puffer bottle of fullers earth that could be sprayed on a soldier’s equipment to soak up chemical agents. These little bottles were carried in a soldier’s NBC haversack and can be found with varying colours of both the powder and the stopper cap:imageWhen the DKP2 was issued it came in a heat sealed plastic bag to keep it safe from contaminants:imageWrapped around the bottle is a paper instruction sheet:imageThe top of the packet has a V-notch to help the user rip open the packet, even when wearing gloves:imageThe 1983 copy of Survive to Fight explained how to use the DKP2:

You are issued with the DKP2 which is a plastic puffer bottle containing fullers earth and is used to force fullers earth powder into places that are inaccessible to the DKP1 pad. The DKP2 is well suited to the decontamination of your webbing and over boots but it is recommended that the powder from the puffer bottle is rubbed in using a DKP1, or your gloved hand.imageKevin Mervin served in the TA and describes using the DKP2 bottle during training:

We had to blot, bang, rub the two inch pad of the DKP powder over our heads, respirators and gloves to soak up any chemical agent. We then used the DKP2 puffer bottle to decontaminate our Kevlar helmets, overboots and surrounding ground.

One interesting reference I have found is to troops using old DKP2 bottles to carry lubricating oil for their weapons, the design being able to be slipped into a pocket and brought out to oil their weapon quickly when they haven’t time to get the full cleaning kit out.image

Decontamination Kit, Personal No1 Mk1

To generations of squaddies the instructions ‘blot, bang, rub’ will be ingrained into their psyche. Part of their personal decontamination sets, every soldier was issued with a ‘Decontamination Kit, Personal’ stored in a paper wallet that folded up into a little packet about 2”x3”:imageWhen issued these were sealed in plastic to protect them and prolong their shelf life. Each wallet opens out into a long strip:imageInside are four individual white packets:imageEach packet contains a small quantity of Calcium Montmorrillonite, a highly absorbent powder better known as Fuller’s Earth. This powder is used to soak up chemical agents and decontaminate equipment. It is issued inside a small cloth bag inside each sachet. The top of the pad is blotted over the contamination, the pad is then turned over and banged hard to release the powder and this powder is then rubbed over the area. Fuller instructions on its use are printed on the packet:imageThese read:

1. Tear off edge of one sachet and take out pad. 2. Hold pad by inserting three or four fingers through the centre. 3. Rapidly blot area with the pad, then bang the pad on the suspect surface for about 30 seconds so as to cover the area liberally with powder. Follow this by rubbing with the pad to spread the powder over the whole area, especially into folds and creases in the skin, for example behind the ears and between the fingers. BLOT-BANG-RUB 4. Apply a similar procedure to boots, weapons and equipment using further pads where necessary. 5. Ordinary gloves should be discarded before starting decontamination. Re-decontaminate the hands repeatedly during personal decontamination, and as the last action always decontaminate the hands again. 6. Always be alert to the development of symptoms even after decontamination.

This particular packet dates back to January 1981:imageSince then there have been at least two further marks of this piece of equipment, although I am not aware of how they differ from one another.

Here we see a soldier carrying out his personal decontamination drills in the field:Soldier Carries Out Personal Decontamination Drills

No1 Mk 4 Three Colour Detector Paper

Post updated- My thanks to Rich for providing some more information that has now been added to the post.

The NBC detector paper sets from the Cold War are very easy for the collector to find, with millions produced and sealed examples of the three colour No1 Mk 2 turning up for a couple of pounds: we covered these here. More modern detector paper sets are harder to find and don’t seem to have been surplused off yet so are not available in the same numbers. Tonight however we have one of the No 1 Mk4 detector paper books to look at:imageThis booklet dates from 2006, as indicated by the date in the bottom right hand corner and was manufactured in Canada by a company called Anachemia. This company is a chemicals company that has contracts to produce detector papers for both the US military and the British. The NSN number on the front of this booklet has the -99- country code for the UK so we can be confident that this is a British example. Rich explains why the changes were made:

One of the reasons for change was that it was found that two of the three dyes which reacted the presence of agents used in the earlier marks of detector paper were discovered to be mutagenic, and replacements sought to reduce the risk to those working at the manufacturers.
The instructions on this example suggest that they have a self-adhesive backing, but earlier marks used by the Army lacked this as they were intended only for use in identifying liquid agents, and not for initial detection. There was a three colour detector paper which had an adhesive backing, but it was marked as ‘RAF issue only’ on lists of NBC equipment

The coloured spine has now been deleted and the whole booklet is made in off white card. The back of the booklet gives instructions on how to use the detector paper:imageThe inside of the cover explains what colours the paper would turn if exposed to various chemical agents:imageThe papers themselves are perforated to allow them to be easily torn out of the book and attached to the user’s NBC suit:imageThe importance of rapid detection of chemical and biological agents was explained in this article from the BBC back in 2003 when the fear of Iraqi chemical weapons was at its height:

Fast detection is crucial as some nerve agents can kill within minutes, while the effects of mustard gas can remain unnoticed – and so unprotected against – for hours after exposure.

British troops usually carry two types of chemical detector paper. Both work only with liquid chemicals and respond in less than a minute.

One-colour paper changes colour in contact with any harmful chemical.

Three-colour detector paper turns either red, yellow or green to indicate two types of nerve agent and one blister agent.

Agents in vapour form can be detected using a more complicated “residual vapour detector” which sucks air over paper or through tubes containing indicator chemicals.

Other devices are available which analyse particles to determine the presence and concentration of chemical agents, or the presence and type of biological agents.

One of these, the Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM), is widely used but is reported to have given some false readings when exposed to other substances such as engine exhausts.

S6 Respirator Spectacles

The S6 respirator was introduced in 1966, however it was not until 1968 that serious trials began into developing corrective lenses that could be worn with the mask. Previously spectacles with thin flexible arms had been used, such as the example we looked at here, that did not interfere with the respirator’s seal around the face. For the S6 a different approach was taken and a pair of lenses that ‘plugged’ in to the mask were issued instead:imageThe lenses were provided in the wearer’s prescription and came in a standard green plastic hard case to protect them:imageThe box has a /|\ mark and NSN number moulded into the top:imageI am unsure if the ‘Mark 5’ refers to the case or the spectacles it contains. The lenses are actually quite a loose fit inside the box and rattle around a bit:imageThere is at least one variation of the box and it can be found made of black rather than green plastic. The spectacles do not have any traditional arms to go over the ears and are sprung in the centre between the two lenses:imageThe opposite side of the spectacles have a pair of metal pegs in this position:imageA selection of corresponding holes are moulded into the S6 mask above the nose, allowing the exact positioning of the lenses to be adjusted for the best sight picture:imageThe two metal pegs are pushed into a pair of these holes and the spectacles are then held securely in the mask:imageIt has actually taken me quite a while to add these spectacles to my collection, I did purchase a case off of eBay a few years back in the hope it would come with the contents, but sadly when it arrived it was empty. I am therefore very pleased to have added another little component to my Cold War respirator haversack and it is now looking far more complete than it did when I first did a kit layout for it nearly four years ago- perhaps an updated layout is in order.

NBC Repair Patches

I always enjoy adding the small bits of kit to fill out my packs and haversacks. Often they end up containing a far better range of equipment than the average soldier ever saw but it is fun tracking the items down and the completest in me likes to know I have all the right bits. My Cold War NBC kit is fairly extensive now, helped by the fact that it is very cheap and not many of us seem to be collecting it! One item I have not had until now though has been a set of repair patches:imageThese patches were issued to troops to allow running repairs to be made to NBC suits in the field. Ideally if an NBC suit got damaged it would be replaced with a new one to ensure the best protection possible for the wearer. The military understood however that this might not always be possible in a combat situation so soldiers were issued with small packet of patches to allow them to stick them over any small rips or tears in their suits as a temporary fix. These repair patches do not seem to have been on general issue, but were distributed before major exercises as recalled by Steve martin in his book ‘Stab in the Dark’ where he recalls their distribution prior to the large Exercise Crusader:

We were given our NBC kit, repair patches, spare canisters etc.

The packets are vacuum sealed clear plastic and contain six repair patches, each about 4” long by 1 ½” wide:imageA ‘V’ notch is cut into the packet at one end to make it easy to tear it open:imageInstructions are printed on a piece of white paper and explain how to use the repair patches:imageI imagine that this is the sort of item you would never want to have to use, as the last thing a soldier would want in an NBC situation is to have a failing in his suit and need to repair it! Having said that, if the worst were to happen these patches would have given men at least a chance of survival until they could get into a replacement NBC suit.

DDPM NBC Trousers

At the time of the First Gulf War there was legitimate concern that Saddam Hussein would use chemical weapons against coalition forces. He had already used them against his own people in the 1980s and was known to have stockpiled them, so troops were issued with NBC kit, masks and suits. Initially the British Army only had NBC kit in woodland green shades, however Remploy was set to work producing desert DPM versions of the suits and seem to have produced them to the exclusion of all other goods. These were rushed into theatre and arrived just in time to equip British troops before they began assaulting Iraq. In terms of design the DDPM NBC suits were identical to the standard British Army issue design, but in a tan camouflage suitable for use in the deserts of Iraq and it is a pair of trousers from one of these sets we are looking at tonight:imageThe trousers have large patch pockets on each leg:imageThese have top flaps secured with two pieces of Velcro:imageAngled Velcro tabs are fitted to the bottom of each leg, by twisting the trouser leg and securing the Velcro a tight seal can be created around the ankle:imageBlack patches are fitted to each leg to allow a piece of chemical detection paper to be attached:imageThe trousers are heavy, so a set of straps are fitted to the rear that can be passed over the shoulder like a pair of integral braces:imageThese can then be passed through loops on the front and tied to hold up the trousers:imageA Velcro strap also helps draw in the waist:imageA label is sewn into the trousers indicating they were made by J Compton & Webb in November 1991:imageThis was after the initial batches produced for the Gulf War, which seem to have been made exclusively by Remploy. This suggests that it was part of a later contract and then stockpiled in case of a future conflict in the desert. These DDPM NBC suits were to be reissued in the invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s and even today are still commonly seen in service. Here we see a soldier responding to the recent poison attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, he is wearing the DDPM NBC suit with the modern GSR mask:image

Early Mk 2 S6 Haversack

There are a number of different variants of the haversack issued to carry the S6 respirator. The earliest style was a kidney shaped bag we looked at here. The final version was a stiff butyl nylon example, very square in shape that we considered here. In between these two designs though was another variant, more practical than the Mk 1, but softer and less rigid than the last pattern. This design is the one we are looking at tonight:imageFeatures to notice are the different type of fabric used, it is far less ‘shiny’ and stiff than the later models. There is also a distinctive brown tape edging to the seams that is missing on the later pattern, which uses green. I am loathe to say that this is categorically an entirely different design to the later example on the blog- I suspect they are just variations on a theme and the softness of the fabric could be as much to this example having had a rough service life, whilst the later example is mint out of the factory. They do look very different though and it does seem that the brown edging is indicative of earlier production. Most of the other features of the haversack are the same though. The lid is secured with a press stud and two squares of Velcro:imageThe underside of the lid has a pair of elastic loops to allow items such as NBC gloves to be fitted here for quick use. The back of the haversack has a channel to allow it to be slid onto a belt and a pair of ‘D’ rings to attach a shoulder strap to:imageA small side pocket is fitted to allow a DKP1 packet to be carried easily for easy access. The pressed metal disk below is part of the steadying system when the haversack is carried by the shoulder strap:imageA piece of string is attached to the other side of the haversack and when it is carried at the hip this is passed around the wearer’s body and wrapped around this metal disk to prevent the haversack from bouncing around when running.

Inside are the usual pockets for spare canister, anti-diming kit, auto-injectors and other NBC kit:imageFor more details of the exact contents I refer you back to the earlier post on the final variation of this haversack.

I would be interested to know for sure whether the change in appearance between the early Mk 2 and later Mk 2 haversacks is just a manufacturing difference or whether they are genuinely different patterns of haversack. There is certainly a version of the haversack for those with the canister on the opposite side of the mask, but I am still looking out for that version…