Category Archives: Souvenir

World War Two Souvenir Mirror

Small pocket mirrors were an inexpensive trinket that were popular choices as charity and souvenir articles. They consisted merely of a piece of glass with a silvered back and a paper or leather cloth covering that could be decorated to celebrate a national event such as the Coronation or to show support for a charity. These little mirrors could be sold for a few pennies but were so cheap to make that they could still bring in a small profit for a charity or other organisation.

Obviously during the Second World War, a popular theme to decorate the mirrors in was the war itself and tonight we have a delightful little example to consider:imageThe design features the three allied war leaders, left to right we have US President Franklin D Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The three respective nations’ flags are also included in the design as is the phrase “Souvenir of the World’s War”.

The paper backing wraps round the edges of the mirror to protect the owner from any sharp edges from the glass:imageThe backing to the mirror has degraded now, leading to the unsightly black spots, however these items were entirely ephemeral in nature and it is doubtful anyone expected them to be used for more than a few years, never mind still being in existence seventy five years later. Sadly this mirror has no information on which if any charity it was originally sold to raise money for, but it is a delightful and probably rare survivor.

D-Day 50th Anniversary Commemorative Items

Today marks seventy five years since the D-Day landings, and thoughts turn to the brave men of the Allied Expeditionary Force that fought in Normandy on this day. Commemorations are taking place in both the UK and France and whilst impressive, these celebrations are small in comparison to the fiftieth anniversary back in 1994. There were of course many thousands more veterans alive for that anniversary and massive commemorations were organised on both sides of the channel. Personally I was ten years old and I remember watching it on television and as an avid stamp collector I was entranced by the Royal Mail commemorative stamps that were issued. The Royal Mint also issued a special 50p coin to commemorate the event and my father bought both myself and my brother a special souvenir pack.

Since then I have picked up a small collection of commemorative items relating to the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day and it seems appropriate to look at them tonight:imageThe Royal Mail’s stamps were inspired by the design of the magazine ‘Picture Post’ and a special point of sale card was produced to display in post offices to encourage people to buy the new set of stamps:imageThe stamps themselves were of course sold individually for use in the mail, but special collector’s packs of mint stamps were produced:imageAs well as the standard first day cover:imageThe first day cover included an explanatory card inside with a brief outline of the Normandy Landings:imageThe Royal Mint’s 50p was offered in a card commemorative folder:imageThis folded out and the coin itself was contained in a plastic blister:imageThe coin featured a design of the landings with gliders flying overhead and the seaborne invasion beneath:D-Day-50p-1994This particular design is often cited as one of the public’s favourite ever con designs and even twenty five years later is a striking design.

Sadly it seems unlikely that veterans will be able to return to Normandy in any great numbers for future commemorations as all are well into their nineties now, it will so be left to those of us from future generations to keep their sacrifice alive in people’s hearts and minds.

Please take a moment tonight to reflect.

Yorkshire Regiment Rugby Shirt

Regimental shops, and indeed private concerns, make a huge range of items for purchase by servicemen with the regimental or unit insignia on it. These are often also arranged by an enterprising member of the unit who collects money and arranges for small batches of clothing or souvenirs to be produced. These items help create a feeling of unit cohesion, advertiser the wearer’s allegiance and can also raise money for charity or regimental funds. Tonight we have an example of one of these souvenir pieces of clothing in the form of a Yorkshire Regiment rugby shirt:imageThe shirt is made in the regimental colours of green and black with red trim and the regimental cap badge is embroidered onto the right breast:imageA label with the word ‘Yorkshire’ is sewn into one seam:imageWhile the piping around the collar is red with black ‘Yorkshire’ lettering on it:imageThese items are often sold through the regimental shop, known as a ‘PRI’, ARRSEpedia explains:

PRI shops are unit gift shops that sell regimental badges, buttons, cufflinks, ties, leisure clothing and equipment such as shirts and fleece jackets etc., as well as presentation items such as decanters, tankards, prints and wall plaques.

The PRI shop is the place where enthusiastic nigs are ‘persuaded’ to squander their pittance on ‘essentials’ like regimental PT kit and Stable Belts, and for jaded NCOs to shop for comfy slacks and polo shirts.

Young officers are also to be found browsing through the stock – equipping themselves with the necessaries that are vital for a successful career – and to ingratiate themselves with the RSM and the CO.

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.

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.

WW1 Fundraising Dog Coat

The British have long been renowned for willing supporting charities large and small and their love of animals, especially dogs. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries these two loves came together with the extensive use of dogs to raise money for various good causes. There were several quite famous dogs who walked around large railway stations with collection boxes on their backs raising money for welfare charities (indeed one can be seen on display, stuffed, in the National Railway Museum in York). It was therefore no surprise that during World War One dogs were often used to raise money for service charities and tonight we are looking at an example of a dog coat made during World War One for these fundraising activities.imageThe coat is clearly handmade, but of excellent manufacture. It is shaped to fit a large dog such as an Alsatian or Labrador, with straps to go around the chest, stomach and rump of the animal, all sewn to the reverse of the coat:imageAn iron buckle is fitted to one of each pair of straps, wrapped in red thread to make it more decorative:imageIt is the decoration on the coat however which is particularly interesting and which helps to date the coat to World War One. Four red crosses are sewn on, suggesting that it was this charity the dog was raising money for:imageEmbroidered on the front corners of the coat are the crossed flags of France and Zsarist Russsia:imageThis alone dates the coat to World War One. The opposite side has the British and Belgian flags:imageEach of these pairs of flags is accompanied with red white and blue rosettes, picking up the colours of Russia, France and Great Britain. Belgium is represented by a single black, orange and red rosette at the rear of the coat:imageOn September 16th 1914 the Daily Mail reported:

Two very successful collectors for the Red Cross Fund are the pair of pedigree greyhounds, Nell and Finn, which appear on the stage of the Garrick Theatre every evening in Mr Arthur Bourchier’s “Bluff King Hal.” The dogs appear outside the theatre every evening before the performance and help to the collection of money which goes to the purchase of materials that are made up by the ladies of the company for the wounded soldiers

Jersey Liberation Penny

The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by Germany during the Second World War. As such the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945 had perhaps even more significance in these islands than it did in the rest of the U.K. as it also meant liberation. In 1949 the island of Jersey commemorated its liberation by minting a special coin. This was based on the standard copper 1d coin in use at the time, known in Jersey as ‘one twelfth of a shilling’, but with an additional legend of ‘ISLAND OF JERSEY LIBERATED 1945’:imageThe reverse of the coon has the crowned head of King George VI and as it was struck after 1948, the words IND IMP (India Imperator- Emperor of India) have been deleted:imageDespite the date of 1945, the coins were actually struck in 1949, 1950 and 1952 with a total production of 1.2 million coins. The commemorative coin owes its existence to Mr. J. Wilfrid du Pre of the Societe Jersiaise who lobbied for its production.

Reg Langlois was only a child during the war, living on Jersey, but he remembers the excitement of liberation:

I will never forget the day the adults started acting strangely, dancing and calling out to each other. I was playing in the back yard when my father called me indoors to listen to the wireless. “What’s a wireless?” I asked. He was indoors by then so I hurried in to join the family. In all the excitement I remember there was a lot of laughing and crying and everyone was hugging each other. My father stood over by the fire place with a strange piece of equipment in his hand that I had 

never seen before. It was attached to a dark coloured box-shaped thing on the floor and had wires attached to something I recognized as a battery. Sounds and voices came from it and my father told everyone to be quiet because 

Winston Churchill was going to speak. You could have heard a pin drop as Dad said softly “we have waited a long time for this moment “. We heard the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, say ” our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.” There was silence in the room. It was hard to 

believe that the long war and the occupation of our islands were over. When I asked my father where the wireless had come from he explained that it 

had been in the sitting room all the time, in a cupboard under the floor next to the fireplace. He went on to tell me that, when the Germans arrived in Jersey at the beginning of the occupation, they requisitioned his brand new Studebaker car but, before they took it away, he had very carefully removed the radio so 

that it did not look as if there had ever been one. If they had caught him with a radio he would have been punished or, worse still, sent to Germany. Many detainees were sent to Germany from Jersey and never returned. They died

over there. My father’s car was never returned to him but I have a memento – that radio is in my loft.