Monthly Archives: May 2015

1960 Pattern Combat Smock

Some months back we looked at the 1968 pattern smock here; tonight we look at its immediate predecessor, the 1960 pattern Combat Smock. In design the 1960 pattern smock is virtually identical to the 1968 version, however the material is a plain olive green rather than the DPM camouflage used on the later pattern:imageThe jacket itself is based on the 1950 pattern uniform, which in turn was based on contemporary US uniform design. The jacket has four external pockets, two angled pockets on the breast:imageAnd two below the waist:imageThese pockets are double stitched for strength. A long deep pocket runs inside across the whole of the bottom rear portion of the smock:imageThe smock has distinctive reinforced elbow pads:imageAnd is secured up the front by a zip and buttons:imageA drawstring helps shape the waist:imageThe collar is stitched for strength and has a button and tab arrangement to allow it to be fastened in cold weather:imageAs can be seen then, this is a well made and designed garment and has a full cotton liner sewn in as well. Both this smock and its successor were well liked by troops, and certainly preferred to the inferior quality of the 1984 pattern and CS95 that were to come along later in the century. A pair of labels gives care instructions, size and a date of manufacture; 1968:imageInterestingly the label on the hood indicates it was made as part of the earlier 1950 pattern ‘sateen’ uniform:imageMany items of the two patterns were worn interchangeably as the hood especially received a lot less wear than other uniform items so didn’t need to be replaced as often. In the picture below, examples of the 1960 combat smock can be seen being worn in Ireland in 1969. Note the elbow patches on the left hand man’s smock:p60-1

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ATS Anti-Mosquito Spats

Whilst the design of British and Empire uniforms and equipment has always been unique, these designs have not existed in isolation and especially during periods of War, foreign ideas and influences have crept into the choice of uniform as personnel have borrowed or been issued foreign garments and liked what they used. Tonight’s objects reflect a distinctly American influence, looking very similar to US Army web leggings, ironically the British examples were being introduced just as the US Army was moving away from them as being impracticable! British women in the armed forces during WW2 often relied upon issues of men’s clothing to make up for gaps in garments specifically designed for them. No where was this more obvious than in the uniforms worn in the tropics where women’s tropical kit only started being issued in the final years of the war. One item of uniform specifically issued for women were the anti mosquito spats:imageThese were designed to be worn over the boots and trousers to prevent mosquitoes entering the trouser leg; in theory they were impervious to the insects’ bite and would prevent the spread of malaria. The spat itself is made of a cotton fabric, with a row of four buttons and eyelets up the side to secure it:imageA leather strap is sewn to the centre of the bottom edge:imageWith a corresponding metal buckle:imageThe strap would be passed under the instep of the boot helping to secure the spats firmly in position. The spats have a printed label indicating they were made by John Wear & Co in 1945:imageApparently other labels exist that positively identify the spats as being issued for ATS or Nursing staff. Interestingly this pair of spats is not actually a pair, the buttons used to secure them are slightly different:imageI assume that these must have got muddled up in stores at some point in their history, but they do illustrate some of the minor differences that can be found on seemingly identical items. I have really struggled to find any photographs of the spats in use, I don’t appear to be alone in this, so I can’t say how common their actual use was. A female member of one re-enactment group has commented that they are a pain to put on and take off (the main reason the US Army dropped their leggings) so I can easily see women in the tropics preferring to use webbing anklets in the field rather than these spats! These spats are very common and come up on eBay for a few pounds.

Naval Patrol Wrist Band

When sailors get leave ashore, some members of the ship’s company were assigned to act as a Shore or Naval Patrol. This role involved policing their ship mates to ensure they did not get into too much trouble and then bringing those who did back to the ship for punishment if required. The job was hated by most and often seen as a punishment duty as it involved upsetting one’s friends on a night out! Normally a patrol would be headed up by a leading hand, with a number of able rates serving as the main force. The party would be landed alongside those with shore leave and then spend the night patrolling the streets of the port looking for members of ship’s company acting inappropriately. They usually had permission to enter bars, nightclubs and brothels in the area and would drag out any sailor who was too intoxicated or causing trouble. They usually worked closely with local law-enforcement agencies and most places felt it was better to let a sailor’s senior officers deal with him rather than waste time tying up the local judiciary. The standard dress for a patrol was the appropriate uniform for the climate with a white belt and anklets and a wrist band:imageThis example dates from the Cold War (it was found in the pocket of a 68 pattern smock) and consists of a white cotton band with printed blue bands, Queen’s crown and NP lettering:imageThe NP stands for Naval Patrol and the band was worn when on duty to show the sailor’s responsibility. It is secured with Velcro and would have been worn on the left cuff of the sailor’s uniform, or just around his wrist if wearing a whitefront in tropical ports:imageWartime examples were very similar, but had a King’s crown and were secured with press studs rather than Velcro:UntitledaShore patrol was not without its perks and ‘Jack’ was an expert at getting away with as much as he could, even when he was supposed to be policing his shipmates:

I did shore patrol in Detroit 1964. Leading Hand plus one(me) from each ship in Dartmouth Training Squad: Tenby, Torquay and Scarborough. Eastbourne had broken down in Montreal. Cruise round in big yank car until midnight then off belt, gaiters and wrist band and big eats, beers and brothels until 8am with the officers. Funny nobody ever asked us for any money.  People were paying rum to get posted for duty shore patrol. Drunken Matelots were just picked up by the Cities Finest and dropped off at the bottom of the Gangway, sometimes not to gently if they had got stroppy.

Another sailor remembers:

I had the ‘privilege’ of being Shore Patrol in the United States on the 4th of July 1976, (their Bi-centennial), whilst on board the old Ark Royal (IV). Considering the size of ship and the amount of crew, there was only a Petty Officer, a Killick, and an Ordinary rating delegated to be shore patrol each day we were alongside. I believe it was Providence, Rhode Island we were visiting. The duty shore patrol was made up from duty ratings of any branch, (as opposed to being any of the many Regulators carried on board), and we were collected from the ship at 0900 each day and returned around 0800 the following morning.
At the local Police Department, we were individually paired off with a US Patrolman and allocated to a patrol vehicle with him as our ‘side-kick’, and didn`t see our fellow RN crewmates again except when meeting up at any incidents.
My ‘buddy’ was an FBI Lieutenant for this 24 hour period, and it was probably one of the most exciting times I spent in the RN! We were called out to shootings, arson attacks, motorway chases, toured the ‘red-light’ districts, (most interesting!!), and even to collect a drug crazed US Navy man who broke out of a straight-jacket he had been strapped into. It actually took eight of us to hold him down and put him into a cell.
All in all, it was one of the only times I spent in the RN when it had actually been a pleasure to be duty, and even more so, to be Shore Patrol!

These wrist bands are still in widespread use today by both shore patrols and duty ratings on board ships and at naval bases to show to their shipmates and officers their (temporary) authority. Ratings are still given training on how to act as a member of a Naval Patrol, however I can confirm that the training video used in 2015 is about as old as this wristband and features Leander class frigates and a British controlled Hong Kong!

WW1 Souvenir Chocolate Tin

The range of souvenir goods produced for then outbreak of the Great War is mind boggling. We have looked at various commemorative china items over the last year, tonight though we have a very attractive chocolate tin. I bought this on Tuesday for £5, and the lid especially was very dirty:imageA gentle clean with some water and a cloth brought out the colours nicely and made it much more presentable:imageThe top of the tin depicts from left to right Admiral Sir john Jellicoe, Field Marshal Kitchener and Field Marshal John French. These three men were the leaders of Britain’s armed forces at the outbreak of war and all shared a slight cult of celebrity at this early date, it is therefore very common to see them depicted on commemorative items. The four sides of the tin are also illustrated with martial themes; one of the long sides has the British Fleet at full steam:imageThe picture is stylised, but seems to show destroyers rather than battleships, clearly the artist wanted to convey speed and dash rather than firepower and might in this illustration. The opposite side has the British Army fighting the German Army:imageThe men are dressed in the uniform of 1914 and the Germans have nice clear spikes on their helmets so there is no doubt as to their nationality. Note also the field gun on the left hand side of the panel. Whilst the ends depict the new aerial war, with one having early aeroplanes:imageThe aeroplanes are flimsy monoplanes of the types used at the outbreak of war for aerial scouting. The corresponding side of the tin depicts an airship:imageIt is hard to tell if the aircraft is accompanying or intercepting the airship! This panel also has the manufacturer’s name of Needlers ltd of Hull. Needlers Ltd had been set up in the Victorian Era and just prior to the outbreak of the Great War they had moved to new premises in Bournemouth Street, Hull producing sweets and chocolates. This rather magnificent van was an advertising gimmick they used during the period:761px-Needlers_Chocolate_VanThe company was hugely popular in the region and had to open a new chocolate factory on the site in 1916. Tins such as this were often purchased by relatives as a parting gift to those going to the front and happily many were retained so surviving to the present day. This tin is not in perfect condition, but it is still nice and clear and has minimal damage so I was very pleased to be able to add it to my collection.

Release and Resettlement Booklet

At the end of the Second World War over five million men and women were serving in the British military. The vast majority of these, naturally enough, wanted to return to their civilian lives as quickly as possible. The government had to come up with a scheme that was fair and allowed an orderly reduction in the strength of the armed forces. Men’s release date was based on a combination of their age and length of service, as well as preferential release given to those who could help rebuild the country. To inform service personnel a little booklet was produced and distributed:imageThe opening pages explain the purpose of the booklet in informing and reassuring those in the forces about the process:imageThe book itself attempts to cover as many different positions service personnel might find themselves in after demobilisation:SKMBT_C36415052009150_0001From the list of contents we can see that the government was very keen to get men back into training and employment, rather than having them unemployed. Not only could the state not afford to help support large numbers of unemployed ex-servicemen, but there would have been a political backlash if people felt they were just being tossed aside as soon as the military had finished with them. Luckily post-war Britain needed skilled workers to help rebuild and restore its economy. A large table in the centre of the booklet set out the order in which men would be released from the forces:SKMBT_C36415052009151_0001Despite all the attempts to create a quick process, inevitably some felt they had been in too long and just wanted to leave and this led to some outbreaks of ill discipline. Generally speaking though most people were able to leave fairly quickly and in the eighteen months following VE Day 4.3 million men and women left the forces. Peter Horrocks had a remarkably smooth transition back into civilian life:

I think mine must have been one of the quickest of anyone in the services. During those post VJ days there was little to do except keep ourselves and our men reasonably occupied. I took a weekend off to go and stay with friends in Cambridge and, while I was there, the official announcement was made outlining the government’s plans for demobilisation, notably (under what was termed a class B release) that anyone who had a university place could be released within weeks in order to resume or start their studies. I immediately went round to Christ’s College and informed the Senior Tutor that I was alive, where I was stationed and that I would like to take advantage of that arrangement for release. Term was about to start and, as our unit was at the time under direct War Office control, I went straight there on my return to London, and asked for the procedure to be put in hand immediately.
It was, surprisingly quickly. Very soon papers came through authorising my release. I went to the demob. centre that morning, collected the free-issue civilian clothing, packed all my personal possessions and that same afternoon caught a train to my parents’ home near Sheffield. There I hastily re-packed, collected such books as I thought appropriate (mainly Latin and Greek texts), and rang the college and told them that I was on my way. To Cambridge next day by train and, on arrival, I was shown to my room and given my lecture programme etc. Term was under way and my first lecture was in the morning – and I was there, just 48 hours after receiving my release papers!

It was not just men who went through the demobilisation process, Edna Stafford was in the W.A.A.F:

It was a glorious summer’s day on 2nd June 1946 and soon I was sitting in the train bound for Calais, whilst Bill had to go via Hamburg and across the Channel to Harwich. Watching the countryside pass by, my mind recalled the two years I had spent overseas – of all the incidents that had happened to me, experiences etc. sights I had seen, places I had visited, and I knew that I had memories which would never fade. Another girl was also being de-mobbed at the same time, and as we had had rooms next to each other in the German billet, we managed to keep together until we finally parted on Birmingham Station.

We did not reach Calais until about 1 o’clock the following day and even though the weather was fine, giving one high hope of sailing that afternoon, we were unable to do so, which meant that we were to spend that night in the Nissen huts in the camp. The night proved to be very windy. We were due to sail on the first boat in the morning, which meant that we had to get up at 5 a.m. but because of the gales in the night which meant little sleep was had, most of us were up and about rather earlier than 5 a.m. After breakfast we clambered into lorries and were driven down to the quayside, where after waiting for about half an hour, we eventually boarded the boat at about 8 o’clock. The weather was dull, but the trip across was pleasant, and we finally arrived in Dover about an hour or so later. Each of us was carrying a kit bag and in my case, a very large case. I was given help with it but it was a struggle. After passing through customs, we managed to find a couple of seats on the train to London, and some people managed to sleep for a while. There were only six of us in the W.A.A.F. who were home for demobilisation, the rest being A.T.S. girls, so that when we arrived at Victoria Station, there was an R.A.F. lorry waiting to take us to Euston Station.

We were then given information concerning our train to the Release Centre at Birmingham.
As most of us had cases and kit bags, we only took the necessary items to Birmingham with us, leaving the remainder at Euston Station for collection on return. Having had nothing to eat since 6 a.m. we were quite hungry on our arrival at the Demobilisation Centre, so we were not impressed when we were told to wait until we could be attended to. After a while we decided that we were not going to wait any longer and on making enquiries and explaining that we had been travelling since early morning, we were shown where the dining area was. After being given instructions as to procedure for the following day, we all decided to have an early night and after a final drink, we made our way back to the hut. The following day we passed through the “Mincing Machine” – the name given to the various departments and procedure one is forced to endure during the process of being released from His Majesty’s Forces. We collected our papers and documents, Release Book, Clothing Book, N.A.A.F.I. rations etc. and we made our way to the hut to collect the rest of our luggage, after which we were picked up by one of the Air Force coach drivers and driven to Birmingham Station. My friend was still with me and after a few minutes her train drew in. Wishing each other well, we parted.
A few minutes later I was sitting in a London bound train and my thoughts leapt ahead to the time when my Mother would open the door to me welcome me home, for the last time as a W.A.A.F. My journey from London to my home town of Cheam was a struggle as of course I had collected my large case from London, which was very heavy. However, walking along the road with my kit bag on one shoulder, and the case in the other hand, a very kind man came along and took the case as he was going up the same road. Arriving at the gate, I left the case and knocked on the door and waited, and so came the end of a wonderful experience of almost 4 years in the Service. Needless to say there was lots to talk about apart from the unpacking.
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Tuesday Finds

As one of the stall holders commented this morning, the market after a Bank Holiday is often quieter. Despite this I did pick up a few nice small finds for a few pounds so it wasn’t a wasted journey.

 AFS Lapel Badge

This tiny little AFS badge is made of enamelled brass, with the AFS letters and King’s Crown picked out in red enamel:image The reverse of the badge has a fitting to fix it through a button hole on a jacket lapel:imageThese badges were issued to AFS personnel to allow them to distinguish themselves when in civilian clothing. The Auxiliary Fire Service had been set up in July 1938 to assist the regular fire brigades, the part time fire fighters had to complete 60 hours of training and were then issued with a lapel badge. The badge helped them avoid being denounced as avoiding the call up and being branded a coward. Although this would prove to be less of a problem in the Second World War, the Great War had highlighted the difficulties men and women on vital war work, but not having a uniform, could face. The lapel badge was a simple and cheap way of alleviating this problem and most civil defence organisations had some kind of badge to be issued to their members. Although originally issued in silver, this example is made of brass, presumably to reduce costs.

Japanese Invasion Currency

Previously we have looked at a bank note produced by the Allies for issue in France following the liberation of the country here. This note by contrast was produced by the Japanese Government for use in countries they had conquered. This note, worth five cents was issued in Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei:SKMBT_C36415052609280_0001The ‘M’ stamp indicates this note was for issue in Malaya; the 5 cent note was introduced in September 1942 to replace coins which were in short supply. The use of notes was a cheaper way to issue currency and didn’t use strategic supplies of metal therefore the paper is a very cheap woven type, with a simple red-brown printing:SKMBT_C36415052609290_0001The local population of occupied areas was forced to use these notes, which resulted in hyperinflation as the Japanese just printed more notes when they need it. The lack of serial numbers meant they were also widely counterfeited and after the fall of the Japanese Government they lost what little value they had up to that point.

WW1 Postcards

A couple of portrait postcards form the Great War came my way this morning. These sort of postcards are very common and consequently cheap- these cost me 50p each. The first is of a Royal Artilleryman and a woman who is presumable his sweetheart.SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001The rear of the postcard identifies them as Ethel Senior and Sydney Fardnell (40268). Sydney seems a little on the portly side, but had clearly seen action as there is a brass wound stripe on the sleeve:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - CopyThe second postcard, unfortunately, has suffered from quite severe degradation over the last century and is now very faded:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - Copy (2)Colour correcting it allows us to see it more clearly:SKMBT_C36415052609490_0001 - Copy (3)It is hard to tell, but I believe the cap badge is for the Army Service Corps. The rear of the postcard has a date of November 1915 allowing us to date the picture to the second year of the conflict.

Ration Book

At the outbreak of World War Two Britain imported 70% of all its food, including 50% of its meat, 70% of its sugar and cheese, 80% of its fruit and 70% of its cereals and fats. It was clear based on experience from the Great War that Germany would try and starve the country by using a U-Boat blockade and a concerted government effort would be needed to ensure that there was a fair distribution of food to all. To co-ordinate this the government set up a Ministry of Food and on 8th January 1940 the first food rationing came into force. All British Subjects were issued with a personal ration book:SKMBT_C36415051913450_0001This example was issued in July 1941 to a Louisa Pickering, who lived at 40 Railway Cottages, Hessle Road, Hull. The owner’s National Registration Number was filled in on the front to match their Identity Card. Opening the book, the reverse of the cover had a space to list the names and addresses of the owner’s preferred retailers:SKMBT_C36415051913460_0001People were only allowed to shop for food at designated local shops, who were provided with enough food for those registered with them. The next two pages gave instructions on how to use the ration book:

 SKMBT_C36415051913460_0001 - CopySKMBT_C36415051913461_0001

The rest of the book had the coupons themselves:SKMBT_C36415051913461_0001 - CopyThe pages were removed and left with the retailer who would then cancel each one in turn as he issued food to the customer. The resulting used coupons were then returned to the local food office as proof of the rations distributed and the retailer was then allowed to order some more supplies. The back cover of the ration book has some aide memoires for the civilian issued with the book:SKMBT_C36415051913451_0001Note the Ministry of Food stamp for Hull at the bottom right of the page:SKMBT_C36415051913451_0001 - CopyIn 1945 at the end of the war, an adult’s ration for a week was as follows:

Bacon and Ham- 4oz

Sugar- 8oz

Loose Tea- 2oz

Meat- 1s2d worth

Cheese- 2oz (+extra 3oz cheese for vegetarians)

Preserves- 2lb per month

Butter- 2oz

Margarine- 4oz

Lard- 2oz

Sweets- 12oz per month

Other goods such as milk, soap, fuel, clothing and furniture were all rationed as well. Rations-300x294Despite the shortages, it was discovered that people nutrition and health actually improved over the period of the war as people ate less meat and more potatoes and vegetables that were not rationed. Joan Styan was a child during the war:

Once when I was shopping for my grandma, I bought some soap powder which she wanted and which was rationed. It was a box of Oxydol. The shop assistant forgot to tick off the back page of my grandma’s ration book confirming that she had had her soap powder quota for the month. I then went back to the shop and told the assistant of her omission and she immediately rectified it and ticked it off. My grandma thought I was quite mad and said, “You silly girl. If you hadn’t taken my ration book back, I could have had an extra box of soap powder.” I was upset about this as I was always taught to be honest and thought I was doing the right thing. However, rationing was hard and we were so often deprived that we were all glad of any perks that came our way…

We ate basic foods at the British Restaurants which we were told ‘nourished the masses’. These restaurants offered simple meals such as minced beef with parsnips, greens and potatoes. Minced meat was sold at the butchers when available, but my mother was always dubious about its content.

Spam from the U.S.A. was in common use to make up for the shortage of fresh meat. We normally ate at home enjoying our mother’s nutritious cooking. She was obsessed with making us eat all our vegetables especially our greens. During the war, any leftovers from meals were kept for the next day. We often had ‘bubble and squeak’, a British term for cooked greens and cooked potatoes mixed and fried up. My mother made this on a Monday if there were any leftovers from our Sunday dinner.

Fruit was almost non-existent except for apples, which were home grown. The saying: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ may well have originated during the war. We never saw bananas or oranges. All children were allocated milk, cod-liver oil and orange juice. We often had to resort to dried milk (sold in blue tins), dried eggs (sold in red tins) and dried potatoes.

My mother tried so hard to keep us children nourished to the extent that she regularly denied herself. Tinned fruit was also rationed as were fish, cereals and biscuits etc. At least home-grown vegetables were encouraged by the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign. Rationing began in 1940, including sweets, which was a real blow to us children.

Mum readily exchanged her tea coupons from her ration book for sugar coupons with a neighbour as she was in greater need of sugar than tea with three young children. Butter and bacon were severely rationed and we constantly used margarine, the taste of which revolted me and still does even today. I’m definitely one of the few that can tell Stork from butter!

We were allowed one egg each per fortnight. The rich were hit the same as the poor and, whatever we wanted, we had to queue for. Queue, queue, queue. What patience and stamina we must have had. However, we were so grateful for anything and everything we could get. The standard phrase from the customer to the shop assistant was: ‘Is there anything under the counter?’ We were only allowed 2 ounces of butter each week so we often had bread and dripping or condensed milk on our bread. The hardships seemed endless.