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!On the front is the official Silver Jubilee logo with the Queen’s head in the centre:This 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:The mark on the base of the mug indicates it was manufactured by Lord Nelson potteries:My 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.
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:This 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:Zips 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:The 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:With the 320 set, the radio sits above, with the battery stowed beneath:The lid portion has a small pocket to allow a folding aerial to be stored here:A single label is sewn inside with NSN number and details, sadly badly faded in this example:Of 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.
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:Tonight we are looking at a souvenir ashtray produced during the Aden Emergency from a spent shell casing from one of these 76mm rounds:The 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:The 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:HESH 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:The reverse of the coin can also be see and this dates from 1964:This 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.