Tag Archives: Royal Navy

Royal Navy 1912 Pattern Ammunition Pouch

The introduction of automatic side arms to the British military was a slow one. Early automatics were not always reliable and traditionally Britain had used revolvers as officers’ sidearms. Interestingly the first widespread issue of automatics was to the Royal Navy rather than the army, who adopted the Pistol, self-loading, Webley and Scott, .455 inch, Mark 1 in May 1913. The pistol had a seven round, detachable box magazine in the handgrip and remained in use until the second world war. Like many early automatics it was not always reliable; the sailors using it not always appreciating the need for more regular cleaning, due to the higher number of moving parts, than with a revolver. More details on the revolver can be found here: http://arnhemjim.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/other-webley-limited-standard-semi.html

To accompany their new pistol, the Royal Navy introduced a new holster and ammunition pouch to use with their 1901 pattern leather equipment. I have the good fortune to own one of these ammunition pouches and this is today’s object. The official term for this item is Accoutrements, naval, pattern 1912- pouch, cartridge, pistol Mark 1. The pouch itself is made of dark brown leather, 5 ½”x 5 ½”x2”:

50E2AB30-E2B6-49C3-829C-F96D7884E754On the rear is a pair of belt loops (the straps with buckles are post war additions):

C9700BE9-84ED-4810-92B9-F8EA0CDDD0CEWhilst the lid is secured by a brass stud:

127ACA61-5542-478E-A4CA-197F4BA23419Inside there would have been two brass clips for securing two box magazines for the pistol, unfortunately only one of these survives:

F4CD40D2-CC75-4EAE-B291-A77797784A28A further 49 rounds of ammunition could be stored, in their paper packets, in the lower part of the pouch. The pouch is dated 1915 and was manufactured by J.A. Hillman Ltd: 1A70C80C-9EB7-479A-A597-E60C66295807

There are a number of other stamps on the leather including the WD /|\ mark:


This item has the dubious distinction of being the only item in my collection currently included on the Karkee Web site. I think the chances of finding a deactivated pistol to go with this case at a price that I could afford are virtually nil, but the pouch is an interesting and rare item in its own right.

Tuesday Finds

Today has been, pleasingly, a day or Royal Navy finds. The second hand market is very much a case of pot luck, and I seem to find Army and Air Force items far more easily than I do RN ones so any day with naval finds is a good one!


Since the First World War all Royal Naval ships have had a ships crest or badge. This is usually a pictorial badge representing the ship’s name in varying degrees of obviousness. The actual badge on the ship is normally made of cast metal and is quite large, however smaller plaster replicas are produced to be given on behalf of the ship to various affiliates, dignitaries and fellow units. Go into most RN and RNR establishments and the walls of the bar are decorated with different ship’s badges.

This set of four all seem to date from the late seventies and early eighties. The ships represented are HMS Hecla, HMS Waterwitch, HMS Endurance and HMS Fawn which were all in service at the same time. None were warships in the traditional sense, being instead survey and ice patrol vessels:

HMS Hecla

Commissioned in 1964, HMS Hecla was the lead ship of the Hecla Class of oceangoing survey ships. She served for 30 years, including as an ambulance ship in the Falklands before being decommissioned in 1997. The badge has four red flames on a black background, representing volcanoes- the ship being named after an Icelandic volcano


HMS Waterwitch

Originally called HMS Powderham, Waterwitch was an inshore survey vessel. She was converted from a minesweeper in 1960 and was in service until 1986, including some time attached to Liverpool URNU.


HMS Endurance

HMS Endurance was an ice patrol vessel in use from 1967-1991. Originally the Danish Anita Dan she was purchased by the Royal Navy and used in the Antarctic. She had an eventful twilight career, including being heavily involved in the opening stages of the Falklands war, two wasp helicopters form HMS Endurance were involved in putting the Argentinean submarine Santa Fe out of action. The badge depicts an albatross, a bird renowned for its long endurance flights, over an iceberg indicating the ships purpose.


HMS Fawn

HMS Fawn was a bulldog class hydrographic survey vessel that served with the RN from 1968 to 1991. Although the class was designed for service overseas, with the discovery of North Sea oil the ship and her sisters spent  much of their time surveying the British coast. The ships badge depicts the eponymous fawn with a sextant, indicating the ships survey role, behind.


Ships Photos
This set of official photos depicts a number of RN vessels and submarines. The two photos we can identify depict HMS Phoebe, a Leander class frigate:


And HMS Norfolk a Type 23 Frigate:


This picture has an official stamp and date on the reverse dating the picture to 1989.


The red ensign on the rear of the ship suggests the picture was taken whilst she was on her trials before she was commission into the RN.
The other photos depict an Upholder class submarine:


Divisional Patch

These patches, one printed and one embroidered, are for the Yorkshire and Northumberland Training Brigade. The brigade was formed in 1948 and according to the IWM:

The badge is similar in all respects, other than that the colour of the rose is white rather than red, with the sign of the 55th West Lancashire Division of WW1 and 2, itself adopted by the post WW2 TA24 Engineer Group. The connection between the Division and the a Training Brigade is not clear. Cole states that the badge represents the preponderance of Yorkshire units in the group, which contained all the Yorkshire regiments (except KOYLI) and the Northumberland Fusileers…The signs were worn on the left arm only, below the unit shoulder title.


Shaving Soap

Although a civilian item, I picked up this stick of shaving soap to add to my WW2 personal kit as it is typical of the privately purchased toiletries purchased by troops throughout the war from the NAAFI. The writing on the package dates it to the second half of the war:


HMS Ceres

Tribal loyalty plays a big part of life in the British Armed Forces. You are loyal to your regiment, squadron or ship and that loyalty has been deliberately built into the structure of the armed forces for generations. As some of you might be aware, I’m a reservist with the Royal Naval Reserve and my unit, based in Leeds, is Ceres division. I am the second generation to have served in a version of Ceres, my fathe having been based at the last iteration of the ship at Yeadon in the 1980s so my connection to the name runs deep. The navy has had ships and units named Ceres since 1777, however the longest serving was the third ship to bear that name, and the subject of my latest eBay find, a C- Class cruiser launched in 1917. I apologize for plagiarising but Wikipedia has a very good section on the ship which I have reproduced below:

Construction and Early Years

The Ceres was constructed at Clydebank by John Brown & Company. She was laid down on 26 April 1916, launched on 24 March 1917 by Isabel Law, daughter of the wartime Chancellor of the Exchequer Andrew Bonar Law, and commissioned into the navy on 1 June 1917

In July 1917 Ceres joined the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron as part of the Grand Fleet net. She was transferred to the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron in 1919 which was assigned to operate in the Mediterranean. During 1920 was operating in the Black Sea in support of operations against Communist forces. On 3rd of April 1923 she was in a collision with USS Fox in the Bosporus, both vessels sustained heavy damage. In 1927 Ceres returned to the UK for deployment with the Home Fleet. During 1929-1931 she was refitted and placed in reserve, but reactivated in 1932 to join the Mediterranean Fleet. In November Ceres was again reduced to the reserve.

Wartime career

The Home and Mediterranean Fleets

On the outbreak of war in 1939 Ceres was recommissioned from the Reserve Fleet and placed on the Northern Patrol in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland. In January 1940, Ceres underwent a refit at the yards of Harland & Wolff in Belfast, Northern Ireland in preparation for her reassignment to the Mediterranean. On February 15th, she was reassigned from HMNB Devonport to her new base at Malta, travelling via Gibraltar. During March she led contraband patrols in the Ionian Sea, and off the coast of Greece, checking ships transporting cargoes to the axis countries, as well as escorting allied convoys.

The Eastern Fleet and Indian Ocean

During April and May 1940, Ceres was assigned to the Eastern Fleet and based at Singapore. She was used to patrol off the Dutch East Indies coast in opposition to Japanese naval forces. In June she was assigned to operate in the Indian Ocean and based at Colombo and later Bombay, where she escorted tanker convoys from the Persian Gulf to the British colony at Aden. She then spent several months off the east coast of Africa, based at Mombassa, Kenya. Whilst on patrol off the coast of Somaliland she evacuated troops and civilians from British Somaliland to Aden, and she was later involved in convoy duties sailing around Cape Horn between Durban and Cape Town. Later that year she was sent to the Seychelles and other islands to search for German commerce raiders, who were preying on allied shipping in the area. From 4 until 9 August 1940 Ceres assisted with the evacuation of civilians and sick personnel from British Somaliland, which was occupied by the Italians. She also assisted in the evacuation of Commonwealth soldiers from Berbera in British Somaliland, transporting them to the relative safety of Aden.

In February 1941 Ceres, in company with the cruisers HMS Hawkins and HMS Capetown, and the destroyer HMS Kandahar, blockaded Kisimayu in support of the offensive against Italian Somaliland, and the eventual reconquest of British Somaliland in March that year. She also rescued merchant navy prisoners of war from Brava and transported them to Mombassa. After this Ceres again returned to Colombo for repairs.

On New Year’s Day 1942, in company with the sloop HMS Bridgewater she escorted the 18 ships of Convoy WS-14 to South Africa from the U.K. with reinforcements for the Middle East. Ceres spent two months in the Persian Gulf, and then arrived at Simonstown for a three month refit, where she was dry-docked. As with most of the ships of the ‘C’-class, she was also fitted with six 20 mm single AA weapons to become an anti-aircraft cruiser. Coventry, Curacao and Curlew had already undergone conversion before the war, but the outbreak delayed Ceres’ and Cardiff’s conversions. She was then based at Aden and she also participated in the fall of Djibouti to the allied forces. She spent the rest of the year escorting convoys to Durban. She finally returned to Home Waters and her homeport of Devonport in October 1943. By now she had steamed over 235,000 miles in her career.

Home waters

In 1943 and 1944, HMS Ceres was used by the Royal Navy as “station ship” based at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. In late April 1944, HMS Ceres was refitted with radar and anti-aircraft weaponry and assigned to the US Task Force 127 to carry the Flag of the United States Navy Service Force during the invasion of Normandy. Subsequently, following the destruction of the artificial harbour off Omaha Beach during the Great Storm that occurred approximately two weeks after 6 June 1944 and as a result of the German demolition of the Port of Cherbourg in late June, HMS Ceres and her sister ship, HMS Capetown, was assigned to the task of Shuttle Control, expediting the passage and unloading of vessels from the UK to Omaha and Utah Beaches. HMS Ceres remained “On Station” off Omaha Beach for the entire summer of 1944 from the early hours of 7 June until the end of August, 1944. When Cherbourg became available to shipping from the UK, HMS Ceres returned to Plymouth for overhaul and those US naval officers who had staffed the “Shuttle Control Operation” were reassigned. After the end of the war, and by now obsolete, she was again placed in reserve and used as an accommodation/base ship at Portsmouth. She spent less than a year in this new role however. Ceres was sold and broken up for scrap at Bolckow, Blyth in July 1946, after 29 years in service.

The photograph I purchased depicts HMS Ceres entering Grand Habour, Valetta, Malta in 1918 and is a view of the ship I have not come across before. Despite the poor condition of the picture I had to buy it and my aim now is to frame it and give it pride of place on my living room wall next to my photo of the current Ceres Division’s ships company.

 SKMBT_C36414052909290_0001Interestingly on the back is inscribed the following:photo6It would be interesting to find out who A.B. Arthur Edward Stepney was: more research is needed!



Tuesday Finds

The usual morning trip to the market has turned up a few nice bits again. Whilst I went a little over my budget, I am pleased with what I’ve picked up and there are some very nice bits.

WRENS Jacket

I have a large number of uniforms within my collection, from all three services covering the whole of the twentieth century. However up until now all these uniforms have been for men. I have not consciously avoided adding women’s uniforms to my collection, however there are fewer of them out there due to the much smaller numbers of female service personnel and consequently they are often more expensive than their male equivalents.

I have finally rectified this by purchasing a jacket which would have been worn by a second officer (lieutenant) in the Womens’ Royal Naval Service, or WRENS. The WRENS were founded in the First World War and despite being disbanded in 1919 and reformed in 1939. It was the only women’s branch of the armed forces to retain its name after WW2 and it retained its seperate identity until it was absorbed into the main Royal Navy in 1993.

imageThe WRNS officer uniform was based on its male equivalent, this example being made of fine barathea, fastened by a double row of gilt king’s crown naval buttons:


 Light blue lace at the cuffs indicates rank, with a diamond replacing the male ‘executive curl’:imageThe navy were also unique amongst the armed forces in having jackets that fastened in the female style i.e. right over left. This example has the medal ribbons for the Defence Medal and the War Medal:image

Britsh MkVII waterbottle

Based on the design of waterbottle issued in the Great War, the Mark VII was an updated version introduced just before the Second World War. The old Blue enamel was replaced by a dark green version and instead of stitching the string holding the cork to the felt cover it was now fastened to a small wire eye welded to the neck of the bottle.photo 4This design of waterbottle would be used throughout the war and into the 1960s. This example is missing its felt covering and has a few knocks but is in good condition otherwise; it is faintly marked 1955 on the base. I have a fair few of these now, but due to the different webbing sets I am collecting i can always use a few more.

Postcard of Dragoon Guards

This rather battered postcard cost me the princely sum of 50p. According to the inscription on the back it shows the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards’ Colours and Escort at Haworth, a small town in West Yorkshire, famous as the home of the Bronte Sisters.

The  4th Dragoon Guards were raised in 1685 and became famous in the First World War when a squadron became the first element on the British Expeditionary Force to engage the German Army in 1914 in Mons. The Regiment was amalgamated with the 7th Dragoon Guards in 1922 to form the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards.photo 3The dress of the civilians and the use of Full Dress uniform leads me to believe the photo was taken before the First World War, whilst the small figure of a soldier in Service Date in the background dates it to after 1902 when that uniform was introduced.

British Passport

Whilst not strictly military, I bought this passport mainly for one reason: the Visa stamped inside. The use of passport documents in the UK goes back to 1414, but the widespread issue of such documents really began during the First World War, despite widespread opposition from the British public throughout the interwar years.photo 1

This passport was issued to Mr Rowland Hardcastle of Leeds on 28th April 1937. Mr Hardcastle is described as being 5 ft 3 1/2 inches with blue eyes and dark brown hair and born on 5th August 1905. There are a number of foreign visas stamped inside, the most interesting being this one:

photo 2Issued in 1938 by the German consulate in Liverpool, this visa stamp has the Nazi swastika and eagle stamp clearly visible. By the stamps he seems to have had business in Cologne. It is sobering to realise that just a year later Britain and Germany were in a head long slide to war.