Category Archives: Post WW2

Voltmeter

A voltmeter is an electrical device to measure the voltage of electricity in a circuit. Today voltmeters are usually digital, but half a century they were analogue devices that used a form of galvanometer. The galvanometer has a coil of fine wire suspended in a strong magnetic field. When an electric current is applied, the interaction of the magnetic field of the coil and of the stationary magnet creates a torque, tending to make the coil rotate. The torque is proportional to the current through the coil. The coil rotates, compressing a spring that opposes the rotation. The deflection of the coil is thus proportional to the current, which in turn is proportional to the applied voltage, which is indicated by a pointer on a scale.

Tonight we are looking at a military marked voltmeter from the late 1950s:imageThis large device was designed to be mounted on an electrical panel and has a series of screw holes around its rim to allow it to be attached. The dial itself is /|\ marked with a date of 1958:imageThe scale allows a voltage of between 0V and 20V to be measured in 1/2V increments. The rear of the voltmeter has a pair of brass contacts to allow the voltmeter to be wired into a circuit:imageAlso obvious is a large paper label attached to one of the contacts. This label dates to when the voltmeter was last tested to see if it worked. This is an RAF label, indicating that this voltmeter was from their stores, rather than the army:imageThe date on the rear indicates it was tested in September 1960:imageThe fact that this label survives on the voltmeter shows that it has never been used and is in fact what is often referred to as ‘new old stock’. Vintage military electrical gear is available to the collector very cheaply and seem to hold little interest to most militaria collectors- I on the other hand rather like these instruments as there is something very attractive and ‘retro’ about these old, chunky dials and switches that I find appealing…

72 Pattern Right Hand Pouch

The 72 pattern web set was a trials webbing set that was experimented with in the early 1970s. It was designed to be easier to decontaminate in an NBC environment and to address some of the shortcomings of the 58 pattern design. It has been several years since we last looked at any parts of this set, looking at the yoke and the left hand pouch. Tonight we look at the right hand pouch. imageThis pouch is a mirror of the left, but does not have a set of loops for a bayonet frog. The waist belt is also a female fastener rather than a male:imageOther than that the design is identical so there is a ready use pouch for a single SLR magazine secured with a press stud:imageAnd a larger utility pouch that can hold either L4 magazines or a water bottle:imageThis pouch is fastened with a black plastic two prong fastener:imageThis was highlighted as a weak point in the design as the fastener easily broke in service.

The rear of the pouch has a sewn on panel to add a name and number to, originally white this example is now very worn:imageA pair of eyelets are fitted to allow a machete to be slung using a wire hanger:imageAs this would be right above the wearer’s thigh, this does not seem the most practical of designs!

The pouch fastens to the rear pouch with a set of tapes and plastic and in lieu of a bayonet fixing, the right hand pouch has a couple of loops to attach other equipment to:imageIt goes without saying that the 72 pattern was not a success. One soldier who tried it recalls:

I tried a set on once. It was alles über der platz. Unlike trusty ’58 it was very awkward to don with any kind of speed and looked fit to fall to pieces under any kind of strain. Gash.image

Spithead Silver Jubilee Fleet Review Mug

1977 marked twenty five years since the Queen had ascended to the throne. To mark. The Silver Jubilee the Royal Navy held a fleet review at Spithead. A fleet review saw many ships of the Royal Navy, plus vessels from friendly nations, come together at Spithead which was a large sheltered anchorage for the Queen to inspect. These events were becoming increasingly rare in the modern era and so a variety of commemorative items were produced for the sailors taking part to commemorate the event. Tonight we have an example of a china mug that was given out to some of the participants. Being the 1970s, an attractive brown colour was chosen!imageOn the front is the official Silver Jubilee logo with the Queen’s head in the centre:imageThis design is seen on many different Silver Jubilee items; more unusually however is the design of warships in the background.

This mug was produced with many different designs on the rear for different ship’s companies. In this case it has the badges for the Royal Navy hospitals on it:imageThe mark on the base of the mug indicates it was manufactured by Lord Nelson potteries:imageMy guess is that this firm specialised in making commemorative ware for purchase by Royal Navy ship’s companies.

The fleet review was a major event with the obligatory runs ashore, as remembered by one sailor:

wuz there – HMS Plymouth, bastard to get ashore, pubs rammed, loads of pissed septics and other nations, didn,t bother after that

The RNR were on the Rothesay next door and had pussers rum – went around there

Made you proud to be a matelot though……………………………….

The full programme for the review is available online here.

DPM Radio Carrier Backpack

Alongside the standard PLCE webbing sets were a number of specialist rucksacks and carriers for particular pieces of equipment. Radios were one of those items that needed specialist carriers and tonight we have an example of the rucksack issued for use with the 320, 350, 351, 352 and Cougar radio systems:imageThis large pack is made of DPM infra-red resistant Cordua nylon and is fitted with a pair of padded shoulder straps, a padded backrest and a waist belt to help support the weight of the radio:imageZips are provided to allow two 10 litre PLCE bergan side pouches to be attached to the pack to increase capacity, and a further small pocket for a spare battery on the bottom of the front piece. This is secured with a black plastic nexus fastener and Velcro to secure the pocket flap:imageThe main compartment of the pack opens with a long single zip that allows the whole pack to open up into two parts. The main, padded, part has a selection of securing straps to allow the different radios to be secured inside:imageWith the 320 set, the radio sits above, with the battery stowed beneath:dpmframeThe lid portion has a small pocket to allow a folding aerial to be stored here:imageA single label is sewn inside with NSN number and details, sadly badly faded in this example:imageOf all the radios carried in this rucksack, the 320 is probably the best known- part of the Clansman family of high frequency radios introduced in the mid-1970s that lasted in service until the 2000s. The 320 could be carried with a (not very) light metal frame carrier or in a rucksack such as this one which was presumably much more flexible and comfortable for use in the field. The metal GS pack frame weighed 3.5kg, this rucksack just 0.5kg so there was a clear advantage in the field to using the lighter fabric rucksack.

SLR Sight Protector

When used on parade it is not unusual for specialist accessories to be used with rifles to prevent them from damaging expensive and intricate parade uniforms. Rifles are hard metal objects with many protruding parts that can easily catch and damage lace, embroidery and epaulettes on a parade uniform so special covers are often developed. The SLR was no exception and a special pressed metal cover was available to go over the front sight:imageThis was designed to slip over the front sight and attach to the barrel to keep it in place:imageThe connection to the barrel was through a stiff spring clip:imageThis clip was notorious for damaging the blueing on a barrel with repeated use and following advice from my fellow collectors I have decided that mine will not be going back on the rifle after these photographs were taken.

Inside the top of the cover are a pair of small triangular metal tabs that go either side of the front sight blade:imageThe stores number and date are stamped across the back of the cover, here dating it to 1960:imageIn this photograph of a corporal of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment at Buckingham Palace in 1971, the sight cover can be clearly seen on his rifle:FullSizeRender

Aden Emergency ‘Trench Art’ Ashtray

Between 1963 and 1967 British Troops were deployed to the Aden Protectorate to help support local troops in suppressing an Egyptian backed rebellion. Amongst the equipment deployed to the region were Saracen armoured cars, equipped with six wheels and a powerful 76mm gun:1024px-Aden,_Sheikh_Othman_1967Tonight we are looking at a souvenir ashtray produced during the Aden Emergency from a spent shell casing from one of these 76mm rounds:imageThe ashtray has been made by cutting the casing down just a fraction of an inch above its base, three cuts have then been made to provide rests for the cigarettes and a local South Arabian coin soldered in the centre:imageThe quality of this work is excellent and indicates access to machine tools. My suspicion is that this ashtray is the work of army machinists such as REME mechanics who would have the skills and tools to produce these pieces. They would have been made in the soldiers’ spare time and sold to their colleagues to raise extra beer money.

The base of the shell casing shows stencilling indicating that the shell was originally an L29A3 HESH round:imageHESH stands for ‘High Explosive Squash Head.’ HESH rounds are thin metal shells filled with plastic explosive and a delayed-action base fuze. The plastic explosive is “squashed” against the surface of the target on impact and spreads out to form a disc or “pat” of explosive. The base fuze detonates the explosive milliseconds later, creating a shock wave that, owing to its large surface area and direct contact with the target, is transmitted through the material. In the case of the metal armour of a tank, the compression shock wave is conducted through the armour to the point where it reaches the metal/air interface (the hollow crew compartment), where some of the energy is reflected as a tension wave. At the point where the compression and tension waves intersect, a high-stress zone is created in the metal, causing pieces of steel to be projected off the interior wall at high velocity. This fragmentation by blast wave is known as spalling, with the fragments themselves known as spall. The spall travels through the interior of the vehicle at high velocity, killing or injuring the crew, damaging equipment, and/or igniting ammunition and fuel. Unlike high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, which are shaped charge ammunition, HESH shells are not specifically designed to perforate the armour of main battle tanks. HESH shells rely instead on the transmission of the shock wave through the solid steel armour.

The stamped markings on the base of the ashtray indicate that the round was 76mm in calibre and manufactured in 1963:imageThe reverse of the coin can also be see and this dates from 1964:imageThis all ties in with the Aden Emergency and helps date the ashtray to that conflict. Souvenirs from Aden are of course pretty scarce as it was a short lived conflict with only limited British troops deployed over the period so this is a rare and interesting find.

Large Military Marked Padlock

A few weeks ago I picked up a very large military padlock. Seen here in the palm of my hand you can see that this impressive lock is about six inches from top to bottom and being made from steel it is suitably heavy:imageThe padlock itself is zinc coated to prevent rust with a brass plate around the key hole:imageA sliding brass cover is loosely fitted which is designed to slip down under gravity to seal the keyhole from debris:imageThe front face of the padlock has a /|\ mark and a date of 1962:imageAs with many other padlocks, this example was produced by the Walsall Locks and Cart Gear Ltd. The padlock is also marked with the last two parts of the NSN stores code:imageI suspect that this padlock would have been used on a storage bunker, magazine or main gate on a military facility and whilst it is visually very impressive, I am informed that it is by no means the largest padlock used by the British military- I will look out for a larger one with interest!