Category Archives: WW2

‘First Type’ Mk III 37 Pattern Basic Pouch

The introduction the Sten gun in 1940 gave the British Army a minor headache when it became apparent that the magazines were too long to allow them to be carried in the standard 37 pattern basic pouches then in service. This therefore led to the introduction of the MK III pouch, which was 1/2 inch longer than the earlier model to allow the magazines to fit in. Later models would be produced with quick release tabs, like the example here, but the early versions retained the press stud to secure the lid and it is an example of this pattern we are looking at tonight:imageApart from its length, the pouch conformed to the standard design that had been in use since the start of the war, described in the 37 pattern webbing manual as:

Basic Pouches- these are interchangeable, and are rectangular in shape to contain two Bren gun magazines each, or a number of grenades, or S.A.A. A buckle is provided at the top of each pouch for attachment of the brace;imageThis buckle has a loop at the top which serves for connecting the hook on the shoulder strap. Two double hooks are fitted to the back of each pouch for attachment to the waist belt:imageAs mentioned earlier, these early MK III pouches retained the brass press studs to secure the lid:imageThis particular pouch is marked on the underside of the lid as having been manufactured by BG Ltd in 1943:imageThese pouches saw service after the war and the following instructions for what to carry in them come from a Royal Navy publication of 1950:

These are designed to carry ammunition or Bren magazines. A typical ‘carry’ for the rifleman of a section is two Bren magazines in each pouch, or two magazines in one pouch and fifty rounds of rifle ammunition in the other. Grenades cannot be carried in the pouches with other ammunition. There is no specific place for grenades to be carried, but they are usually placed in the haversack. The pouches are fitted with metal prongs that fit in the canvas sockets in the inside of the belt. They are worn on the front of the equipment, equidistant from the central buckle and so that the arms are free to move across the body.

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.

Air Ministry Callipers

Whilst the most common War Department marked tools that turn up are spanners, for Air Ministry marked tools, measuring devices seem to be some of the easier items to find. A few weeks back I was lucky enough to find a pair of Air Ministry marked callipers in a tool box and for the princely sum of £2 they were mine:imageCallipers are mainly used for measuring the diameter of cylinders, although have other uses in light engineering work. This pair have a crown and AM marking on one of the legs, together with a maker’s name of Buck and Hickman Ltd:imageInterestingly they also bear a /|\ mark and an inspector’s code 60 on the reverse:imageUsing callipers correctly requires a little practice and a 1930s engineering manual gives this advice:

Measuring with Callipers

Callipers, either spring or firm joint types, are convenient tools for measuring a number of jobs which are not required to be extremely accurate. Firm joint callipers have two legs fastened together with a rivet or bolt of a special design. To give a smooth joint thin fibre-washers are interposed between the legs, and when purchasing callipers this point should be looked for.

The legs of inside callipers are curved outward at the extremities to facilitate measuring small holes, whilst outside calliper legs have a large curve inward to increase their capacity for large work.

Firm joint callipers are adjusted approximately by the hands and then set to the “feel” of the work by tapping them on a metal surface. It is common practice when opening callipers by this means to tap the top of the joint. It is better, if possible, to tap the inside of the legs, as repeated blows, though light, tend to burr the edges of the joint. Care should be taken when using callipers to hold them square across the job, or an incorrect reading will be obtained. The interference between the work and the instrument should be very slight as distortion of the legs occurs if force is used. The application of callipers for good results calls for a certain amount of practice.

The book also illustrates another use for this instrument:image

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.

Modified 37 Pattern Bayonet Frog

We have previously seen how the British Army had introduced leather and brass tabs to allow spike bayonets to be carried in the 37 pattern bayonet frog that was designed for the very different SMLE sword bayonet and scabbard. This was an expedient design and many troops also solved the problem by simply cutting a small slot into the frog to fit the boss of the No4 scabbard. In many cases this was simply done with a soldier’s knife and the threads left loose to fray. In May 1944 this expedient was made official when an army instruction was distributed that formalised this modification. The order stated:

Open one side of the upper loop by carefully cutting the stitching. Lay the loop flat and cut a slit 1/2″ long horizontally in the desired position 3/4″ from the top edge of the web. After the slit has been securely reinforced by means of button hole stitching, the loop must be carefully re-sewn in its original position.

A diagram was provided to explain how this modification was to be made:imageIt is one of these modified bayonet frogs we are looking at tonight:imageThat this started out as a standard frog for the SMLE bayonet is evident from the upper loop to secure that bayonet’s handle under:imageThe modification itself can be seen on the upper loop where the slot has been cut as per the instructions and the hole stitched around with button hole stitching:imageThis then allows the scabbard of the No4 spike bayonet to be secured through this little hole:imageThis little modification is one of those fascinating cases of the War Office recognising a common practice undertake by troops and deciding that it was better to just formalise and regulate the practice as it was the simplest and most practical solution to the problem rather than trying to outlaw it.

Air Ministry Ammeter

We have looked at various military electrical gauges over the years and tonight we have a small example of an RAF ammeter:imageThis gauge is different from previous examples we have covered due to its small size and four mounting holes in either corner of the square face. This suggests that this particular ammeter is taken from an aircraft rather than being for some ground based purpose.

The front face of the ammeter is marked with the AM and crown mark of the Air Ministry and a stores code of 5A/1663:imageI have tried looking up this code and come across several eBay auctions describing this as being a ‘rare early Spitfire instrument’. Unfortunately I cannot find any corroborating evidence for this description yet and sellers are notorious for trying to attach militaria to an interesting unit, person vehicle in a bid to boost sales. A list of Air Ministry stores codes however suggests that it is actually for ground lighting and miscellaneous equipment:

Air Ministry Equipment Codes:

4A = Workshop Equipment
4C = Airfield Equipment
4F = Air Compressors and Servicing Trolleys
4G = Aircraft Servicing and Ground handling Equipment
4K = General Ground Equipment (including Refuelling Equipment)
4N = Sparking Plug Testing and Servicing Equipment
4FZ = Air Compressor Spares

5A = Ground Lighting and Miscellaneous Equipment
5B = Aircraft Wiring Assemblies
5CW = Aircraft Electrical Switches, Switchboxes, Relays and Accessory Items
5CX = Aircraft Electrical Lamps, Indicators, Lampholders and Accessory Items
5CY = Aircraft Electrical Plugs, Sockets, Circuit Markers, Suppressors and Accumulator Cut-outs
5CZ = Aircraft Electrical Miscellaneous Stores
5D = Aircraft Armament Electrical Stores
5E = Cable and Wire Electrical Stores
5F = Insulating Materials Electrical Stores
5G = Special Ground Equipment
5H = Standard Wiring System
5J = Batteries Primary and Secondary
5K = Electrical A.G.S and Bonding Stores
5L = Electric Lamps
5P = Ground Charging, Transforming Equipment and Motors
5Q = Ammeters, Micro-ammeters, Milli-ammeters, Voltmeters and Milli-voltmeters
5S = Strip Wiring Components
5UA = Aircraft Engine and Air Driven Electrical Current Producing Equipment and Spares
5UB = Aircraft Electrically Driven Electrical Current Producing and Transforming Equipment and Spares
5UC = Aircraft Electrical Current Control Equipment and Spares
5UD = Aircraft Electrical Motors, Blowers and Spares
5UE = Aircraft Electrically Driven Pumps, Accessories and Spares
5V = Aircraft Electrical Domestic Equipment
5W = Aircraft Electrical Actuators, Accessories and Spares
5X = Component Parts of Wiring Assemblies

6A = Aircraft Engine and Flying Instruments, Accessories and Spares
6B = Aircraft Navigation Equipment, Accessories and Spares
6C = Instrument Test Equipment, Tools, Accessories and Unit Equipment Spares
6D = Aircraft Gaseous Apparatus and Ancillary Equipment
6E = Miscellaneous Instruments, Accessories and Unit Servicing Spares
6F = Aircraft Personnel Equipment
6H = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 4 and 8, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6J = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Types A3 and A3A and A.L.1, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6S = Automatic Stabilisers, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6T = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 9, 10, 10A, 13, SEP 2, 14 and 17, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6W = Instrumemnt Ancillaries to Radio Equipment
6Z = Radio activity Detection Equipment and Accessories, Unit and Major Servicing Spares

9 = Bomb and Torpedo Sights
9A = Aircraft Towed Target Gear
9B = Armament Ground Instructional Equipment

10A = Miscellaneous Radio (Wireless) Equipment
10AB = Miscellaneous Radio (Radar) Equipment
10AC = Unassembled Items peculiar to Radio with Generic Headings similar to those in Sections 28 and 29
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AF = Calculating, Indicating and Measuring Equipment
10AG = Tools and Tool Boxes peculiar to Radio
10AH = Telephone Head Equipment, Microphones and Receivers
10AJ = Mountings and their Component Parts
10AK = Dials, Handles, Knobs,Plates, Escutcheon, Pointers, Pressbuttons and Scales
10AL = Screens and Insulating Components and their Assemblies
10AM = Labels (Radio)
10AP = Boxes, Cases, Covers and Trays, other Cases, Transit
10AQ = Furniture, Tentage, textile Materials and Ventilator Equipment, peculiar to Radio
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AT = Windows and Visors
10AU = Strip Metallic
10B = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10BB =Radio (Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10C = radio Chokes, Capacitors and Inductors (see also Joint-Service Catalogue)
10CV = Joint Service Common Valves
10D = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Equipment, Modulators, Panels, Receivers, Transmitters etc.
10DB = Radio (Radar) Equipment, panels, Power Units, Racks, Receivers and Transmitters
10E = Magnets and Radio Valves (Industrial Types)
10F = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Starters and Switch Gear
10FB = Radio (radar) starters and Switch Gear
10G = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment
10GP = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment – Post Office Pattern
10H = Radio Connectors, Discs Indicating, Fuses, Leads, Plugs and Sockets and Ancillary Parts, Holders and Terminals.
10HA = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Connectors, Cords Instrument and Leads
10J = Radio Remote Controls
10K = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10KB = Radio (Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10L = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Control Units
10LB = Radio (Radar) Control Units
10P = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10PB =Radio (Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10Q = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Indicating Units
10QB = Radio (Radar) Indicating Units
10R = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Transmitter Units
10RB =Radio (Radar) Transmitter Units
10S = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Test Equipment
10SB = Radio (Radar) Test Equipment
10T = Radio Monitors and Wavemeters
10U = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Amplifying Units, Loudspeakers and Sound Reproduction Equipment
10UB = Radio (Radar) Amplifying Units and Loudspeakers
10V = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Oscillator Units
10VB = Radio (Radar) Oscillator Units
10W = Radio Resistors and miscellaneous Spares
10X = Radio Crystal Units
10Y = Cases Transit (general Radio purposes)

11A = Aircraft Bomb Gear
11C = Rocket Projector Gear

12A= Bombs (Live)
12B= Bombs (Dummy)
12C= Ammunition
12E = Torpedoes
12F= Misc. Armament

13 = Drawing Instruments

14A = Cameras
14B = Photographic Processing Equipment, Enlargers and Accessories
14C = Projection, Assessing Apparatus and Epidiascopes
14H = Photographic Test Apparatus

15A = Man-carrying Parachutes
15C = Equipment-dropping and Sea-rescue Apparatus
15D = Air Sea Rescue and Equipment, and Supply-dropping Parachutes

22C = Flying Clothing & Equipment

25A = Propellors
25B = Aircraft Radiators
25D = Spinners for Fixed Pitch Propellers and Fairey Spares for Metal Propellers

27A = Aircraft Wheel Equipment
27B = Aircraft Air and Oil Filters, Fuel and Oil Coolers
27C = Survival Equipment
27D = Miscrellaneous Aircraft Cover Equipment
27F = Aircraft Pumps and fuelling Equipment (Airborne)
27G = Aircraft Brake System Equipment
27H = Miscellaneous Aircraft Equipment
27J = Aircraft Control Handles with Gun, Camera, R.P. and Brake Operating Mechanisms
27K = Teleflex Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KA = Exactor Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KB = Aircraft Controls – Roller Chains
27KD = Pressurised Cabin Equipment – Normalair
27M = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment – Lockheed
27N = Airborne Fire Fighting Equipment
27R = B.L.G. Oleo Leg Equipment
27S = Standard Ball and Roller Bearings other than M.T.
27T = Controllable Gills
27U = Airborne Heaters
27UA = Aircraft Cabin Cooling Equipment
27V = Aircraft Controls – Teddington
27VA = Aircraft Controls – Dunlop
27VC = Aircraft Controls – Palmers
27W = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment, Standard Design
27WW = Aircraft Windscreen Wiper Equipment
27Z = Turner Duplex Hand Pumps for Aircraft Hydraulic Systems
27ZA = Exactor Self Sealing Couplings

28D = Bolts A.G.S.
28E = Clips A.G.S.
28F = Couplings A.G.S.
28FP = Aircraft Fastner and Quick Release Pins
28G = Eyebolts A.G.S.
28H = Ferrules A.G.S.
28J = Filler Caps and Fuel Filters A.G.S.
28K = Fork Joints A.G.S.
28L = Locknuts, Lockwashers A.G.S.
28M = Nuts A.G.S.
28N = A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28P = Pins A.G.S.
28Q = Rivets A.G.S.
28R = A.G.S. Miscellaneous P to R
28S = Screws A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28T = Studs A.G.S.
28U = Trunnions and Turnbuckles A.G.S.
28V = Unions A.G.S.
28W = Washers A.G.S.
28X = Wire A.G.S.
28Y = A.G.S. Miscellaneous S to Z

29A = Bolts and Nuts, General Hardware
29B = Screws, General Hardware
29C = Eyelets, Roves, Screw Cups, Washers, General Hardware
29E = Pins, Woodruff Keys, General Hardware
29F = Rivets, General Hardware

40H = Gun Turret Cases and Airtight Containers

50A = Aircraft Gun Turrets
50CC = Boulton Paul Gun Turret and Gun Mounting Tools
50DD = Bristol Gun Turret Tools
50EE = Frazer Nash Gun Turret Tools
50H = Aircraft Gun Turret Maintenance Equipment
50J = Free Gun Mountings

52 = Recognition Models

54A = Plotting Equipment

71B = Plants (Mobile, Transportable and Static) and Plant Accessories

Sadly the face of my example is marred by a crude glue repair round the edges of the Perspex, this glue has dried and cracked and has clearly been in place for many years.

The rear of the ammeter has two brass contacts that allow the instrument to be wired into an electrical system for use:imageWhilst this instrument was never actually used in a spitfire or indeed any other aircraft, it was a lucky find for £2 in a large box of vintage plugs and so was a great little addition to the collection and the sort of little find I love having.

Air Defence Cadet Corps Lapel Badge

In the past we have looked at the lapel badges worn by the Air Training Corps during the Second World War. Before this organisation existed, it was preceded by the Air Defence Cadet Corps, which had been set up in 1938 by Air Commodore Chamiers. It was his aim to provide a pool of trained young men who had an interest in aviation that could be called upon by the RAF In time of war. The organisation caught the spirit of the time and rapidly expanded.

Each squadron’s aim was to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. They tried to give the cadets as much Service and aviation background as possible as well as giving instruction in drill, discipline, how to wear the uniform and how to behave on RAF stations. The training the cadets received also meant development of personal physical fitness. PT, games and athletics, especially cross country running and long route marches, soon became standard squadron activities. Cadets were also encouraged to take part in activities such as shooting, camping and, of course, flying.

The organisation adopted a badge with a stylized bird with outstretched wings and a lapel badge was issued for wear by those out of uniform:imageThe rear of this badge had the typical half-moon fastener that allowed the badge to be secured in a button hole:imageThe work of the organisation was invaluable and in 1940 it was taken under the control of the government being renamed the Air Training Corps in which form it continues to the present day.

Derek Wilkins was one of those who started his wartime career with the ADC:

As a boy I was interested in aviation and so joined the Air Defence Cadet Corps (then the Air Training Corps) at the outbreak of war in 1939. As well as the normal military basic training we followed the aircrew syllabus of navigation, meteorology, signals, armament, aircraft recognition etc, giving us a head start over other pilot training aspirants.

All RAF aircrew were volunteers, so at the age of 17 I presented myself at RAF Uxbridge for stringent medical and aptitude tests. A year later I received my call-up papers and reported to the ACRC (Aircrew Reception Centre) at Lord’s Cricket Ground to be inducted and inoculated.