Tag Archives: militaria collector

Tuesday Finds

Another Tuesday and another set of finds on Huddersfield second hand market. I notice that as we get into the summer the quality of collectables improves as dealers get out to house clearances and auctions. Today I was lucky enough to pick up something neither myself nor any of the militaria dealers had ever seen before…

British Army Assault Gasmask

Typically when collecting militaria you are buying items that are seventy years old and been well used, it is unusual to find items in mint condition; its even more unusual to find them in the boxes they came from their manufacturers in, but this gas mask is one such item:


In all my years of collecting I have never seen a gas mask as original as this one. Inside we have the bag, mask, filter and anti-dimming tin, unfortunately one of the eye pieces is cracked, but it doesn’t appear too noticeable.


The gas mask still has the cardboard cover over the mouth piece from the manufacturer:


The assault gasmask was introduced in time for the D-Day landings and was much lighter and more efficient than the previous type with the long hose and separate canister. These masks were issued routinely throughout the last years of the war and into the 60s when the potential use of CS gas, which the masks could not cope with, saw its withdrawal for replacement by the S6 respirator.  This example is a post war one, as indicated by the screw thread on the mouth piece which was to allow a microphone to be screwed to the mask.

Shell Dressing Bag

Whilst commonly associated with 37 pattern webbing, the Shell Dressing Bag isn’t actually part of the 37 pattern set. Made of webbing with a canvas strap similar to gasmask bags of the period, this bag was used to carry shell dressings and basic first aid supplies in the field:


This example is dated 1942 and was manufactured by M&Co:



These two forks are both stamped with the WD arrow and dated 1939 and 1941:



I always try and have a root through boxes of cutlery in case there are any army forks lurking. The usual cry is ‘there’s no silver in there’…that’s fine because I’m not looking for silver! As they are not silver these spoons and forks can be picked up for pennies, these two cost me 25p each.

Cigarettes (fags)

In the modern world, where smoking is seen as a socially undesirable thing, it is often easy to forget the central role tobacco had in the lives of nearly all members of the armed forces in every country involved. Indeed tobacco was seen as so important by the British government to morale that they never rationed it (that’s not to say it was easy for civilians to find though!).

The British military took great steps to supply their men and women with their daily allotment of tobacco, both loose and cigarettes. This was supplemented by the work of the NAAFI who sold the most popular brands of the day at a reduced price to service personnel. The following are a representative sample of some of the military tobaccanalia available. These make a nice sub-set to my collection and I am always on the lookout for more to add.

Cigarette Packets

All these boxes are civilian in origin but typical of the paper packets sold at NAAFI shops and civilian tabacconists across Britain. As might be expected most would have been thrown away at the time, however as they were made in their tens of millions they are still easy to find and pretty cheap. The ones I am always looking for, but never seem to find are those with stamps saying ‘Only for sale to HM Forces’ which indicate they were specially made for the military.imageNAAFI Cigarette Tin

Similarly this tin is an example of commercial tobacco sold to members of the armed forces.imageNote the printing indicating ‘NAAFI STORES H.M. FORCES’:imageRation Tin Cigarette Tin

This grey cigarette tin was included in the 14 man ‘compo’ ration issued to troops in the field. The tin contained 50 cigarettes and was designed to be opened and distributed between the men on the battlefield. These are simple grey tins with ‘CIGARETTES’ on the top:image

Craven A Cigarette Tin

This tin is another officially issued cigarette tin, one of a number of branded tins for military use made by the big tobacco manufacturers.image

South African Comforts Committee tin

This little cigarette tin was given to South African troops in Christmas 1943 by the South African Gifts and Comforts committee:image

It has the South African springbok and pictures of the SA prime minister Jan Smuts and his wife on the front, and a message in English and Afrikaans on the rear:image

South African Small Pack

Indian webbing has a reputation for being poorer in quality than its British or Canadian counterparts. However it is miles ahead of its South African equivalent which is generally acknowledged as the poorest quality webbing produced in the Empire during the Second World War. South African webbing is unique in using multiple layers of very thin webbing rather than one thicker woven layer of other countries. It seems likely that the decision to make equipment in this fashion was influenced by the lack of manufacturing capability within the Cape and the need to rapidly expand its forces.

Of all the countries who entered the war in 1939 on the allied side, South Africa was the least prepared with virtually no army, weapons nor ammunition. Despite this ‘The Active Citizen Force’ (South Africa’s Territorial Army) was mobilised in 1940 and was involved in the fighting against the Italians in Ethiopia and Abyssinia.

One area where the South Africans were particularly deficient was in the supply of personal equipment. Despite adopting the British 37 pattern webbing, there was a lack of the large box pouches so most of the army were equipped with the cartridge carriers; limiting them to 40 rounds of .303.

By 1941 South African Industry had geared up and was producing its own webbing equipment. This small pack, dated 1943, is an example of this manufacturing:imageThis bag is marked as being manufactured by ‘D.I. FRAM & CO. LTD JOHANNESBURG’.imageThis was one of the two biggest manufacturers of webbing in South Africa, both based in Johannesburg. The bag also has the South African War Department acceptance stamp, a broad arrow within a ‘U’:imageInterestingly the pack also features khaki drill edging to the webbing, presumably to reinforce the poor quality webbing:imageThe same brown drill material is used to make the interior dividers:imageSouth African webbing is rare, and this is the first small pack I’ve ever seen on the market. I am very pleased to add it to my collection, especially as it’s such good condition. I now need to track down the rest of the set…

An Introduction

Hello all.

As this is the first post, I think I ought to introduce myself. I’m Edward and I’ve been collecting militaria seriously for the last six or so years. I’ve noticed that while there’s a massive collecting community on forums, there’s very few blogs about it. Hopefully this blog will prove interesting to fellow collectors and let me share items of my collection with a wider audience.



Just as an introduction I’ve added a couple of general shots of a small part of my collection to whet your appetite. I intend to showcase new items in my collection, share my experiences as a militaria collector and occasionally run off on a tangent about the Royal Naval Reserve. Hopefully some of you will follow this and find it useful.