Although we have looked at First Field Dressings before, tonight we are considering the larger Shell Dressing. The shell dressing, introduced in 1916, consisted of a gauze pad attached to a bandage for wrapping around a wound, and a safety pin to secure it once used. The pad was wrapped in a waterproof cover and sealed inside a loosely sewn cotton cover, with instructions printed on. Two cotton tapes came from the top of the dressing pack to allow it to be tied to a soldier’s equipment and to aid opening it in a hurry:The front of the dressing has instructions which read:
DIRECTIONS FOR USE- Take the folded ends of bandage in each hand, and keeping bandage taut, apply surface of the bad to wound and fix bandage with safety pin. In the case of head wounds, when respirators have to be worn, care should be taken to adjust the pad so that it does not interfere with the fit of the face piece:This dressing was made by Vernon and Co Ltd of Preston in November 1945:The date indicates this dressing was made just after the end of the war, but it was almost certainly part of contracts signed before the end of hostilities- it was often cheaper to let them stand than to cancel them. Shell dressings were often carried by individual troops, or by medics and stretcher bearers in a shell dressing bag. These Shell dressings had extraordinarily long lives, and indeed a friend of mine recalls being issued WW1 dated examples for training in the mid 1990s. Shell dressings were made by most countries of the Empire and versions were produced for the ARP, Admiralty and Air Ministry. Further examples of the different variations can be found here.