Monthly Archives: August 2015

Embroidered Ladies Regimental Handkerchief

Delicate ladies embroidered handkerchiefs and the military seem an odd combination, but souvenir items with military crests on them were popular gifts throughout both world wars. This light blue ladies handkerchief has an embroidered crest for the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment:image

The handkerchief is made of a baby blue rayon-type fabric with lace around the outside, folding it open it can be seen that the crest sits in one corner:imageThe crest itself is machine embroidered onto a separate piece of silk that has then been sewn onto the handkerchief with a fancy gold stitch:imageThis suggests the handkerchief is a commercial product rather than a home made handicraft, indeed this is borne out by the very high quality of the embroidery which would be beyond all but the most skilled amateur. It is most likely that the handkerchiefs were produced in bulk and then had different embroidered insignia applied to sell to different troops dependent on their regiments. These would then make attractive and feminine tokens to be given to female relations or sweethearts.

The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment was local to the Halifax and Huddersfield area so this handkerchief has not travelled far, as with so much in my collection I imagine this came from a local house clearance when its original owner had sadly died.

Broad Arrow Markings

The broad arrow or ‘crows foot’ ordnance mark has been used on British Army equipment since at least 1553 and is a helpful way of determining if everyday items are civilian or military in origin. There are a number of variations on this mark and hopefully this post will make it a bit clearer to collectors. As regular readers will know I use /|\ in text to represent the broad arrow and hopefully this will be easy to follow.

Britain

Most British Army equipment just uses the simple /|\ mark:untitled‘W /|\ D’ is also seen:untitled1The Royal Navy used a /|\ above an ‘N’ mark:image49When items were sold out of government service a second /|\ was added point to point with the first so show it was no longer military property:361South Africa

South Africa used the /|\ mark inside a ‘U’:image16Canada

Canada chose the /|\ inside a ‘C’ as its mark:1925_can_pouch_rt_rear_bigIndia

India were not as consistent at using an ordnance mark as the rest of the empire, but when they did use the mark it was in the form of the /|\ above an ‘I’:untitled3Australia

Australia were slightly different as they went for ‘D /|\ D’, the DD standing for ‘Department of Defence’:35ad971b-6687-4d9a-92fb-3deda126b83fNew Zealand

Logically enough New Zealand went for ‘N /|\ Z’:untitled2These marks are still in use today, though they are not seen as commonly as they once were.

Ersatz 37 Pattern Shoulder Brace

A few weeks back we looked at a pair of ersatz utility straps (here), since then I have managed to pick up a single shoulder brace in the same ersatz canvas material. In form this strap copies the more common webbing examples:imageThe brace is made of a twilled weave and is formed of three parts; the central wider section and the two thinner ends are all separate pieces of material sewn together. As before there is a rubber core to the strap to give strength without sacrificing flexibility. The ends of the brace have brass tips for strength:imageInterestingly the loop on this brace is not made of the same canvas as the rest of the strap, but rather standard woven webbing:imageWhy the strap has this composite construction is unclear, but it has been seen on other examples so is a common variant. The shoulder brace is marked C.P.Ltd with a /|\ mark and a date of 1942:imageC.P. was the mark for Caoutchouc Products Ltd. This company seems to have made both standard webbing items and these ersatz forms. Sadly I have just a single shoulder brace, so I am keeping my eyes open for a second example without a loop to complete the pair.

1947 Pattern KOYLI Officer’s Battledress Blouse

Following on from the officer’s 49 pattern battledress blouse we looked at here, a friend of mine has kindly sent pictures of his King’s Yorkshire Light Infantry Officer’s BD blouse. This differs from my example in being a 1947 pattern blouse rather than the much more common 49 pattern (pictures courtesy of the Andrew Dearlove collection):imageThe 1947 pattern of battledress is quite rare now (and sadly unloved by most collectors); it is a half way house between the wartime 1940 pattern and the National Service Era 49 pattern. The collar can be pressed open to allow it to be worn with a shirt and tie, however it retains the ability to be secured at the neck with a hook and eye in the manner of the old 1940 battledress. This change was a result of officialdom giving in to the unofficial practice of tailoring wartime battledress to allow it to be worn with a tie, rather than a multitude of unregulated changes to army uniform an authorised pattern was introduced. This pattern of blouse also reintroduced the pleats to the pockets on the front that had been deleted as a wartime economy, and a fly covered the buttons up the front, but not those on the pocket flaps. The sleeve was also cut in a slightly fuller style than previous patterns.

This battledress has a number of post war embellishments typical of officers’ uniforms, with large divisional patches on both shoulders, regimental rank pips, collar dogs on both lapels and a double lanyard in rifle green worn around the neck under the collar:imageSadly this uniform is missing its shoulder titles, but would originally have had these on each shoulder as well. The label on the inside of the blouse shows it is a 1947 pattern blouse, a size 10 and was made by E Raffles & Co Ltd:imageE Raffles was set up by Emanuel Raffles in Manchester and by the mid twentieth century had a factory in part of the huge Brunswick Mills complex in Ancoats employing over a thousand people:Brunswick_Mill,_Ancoats_0001The company was sold out of the family in the 1970s and closed in the 1980s.

43rd Division Formation Patch

Tonight we have another family heirloom, my grandfather’s 43rd Division patch:imageAs can be seen the 43rd Division adopted a yellow wyvern on a blue background as its formation sign, based on the ancient coat of arms of the Kingdom of Wessex. Both printed and embroidered examples of this badge were in use, but I inherited an embroidered version so clearly that was what my grandfather was given. My grandfather, Harold Paradise, joined the Division as part of the Somerset Light Infantry in the dying days of the Second World War and fought with them through into Germany.

The 43rd Division had been reformed in the Second World War after a distinguished record in the First. The newly re-formed 43rd division was initially made up of territorial units and was all set to join the BEF in France in 1940 when the Dunkirk evacuations stopped those plans. The unit was to remain in Great Britain training until the Normandy Invasions. The unit was not one of those involved in the assault on the beaches, but did land shortly afterwards and fought as part of the British Second Army. It was regarded as one of the best divisions in the British Army and Montgomery used it at the vanguard of attacks throughout the war- its morale was felt to be better than that of some veteran units. Below a soldier from the 5th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, part fo the 43rd Division, carries a PIAT in Northern Europe, 18th November 1944:weapon_piat7The following units formed the 43rd Division:

128th Infantry Brigade (until 6 June 1942)

  • 1/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 128th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 19 June 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

129th Infantry Brigade

  • 4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
  • 129th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 14 May 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

130th Infantry Brigade

  • 7th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 4th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment
  • 130th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 17 May 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

25th Tank Brigade (from 1 June 1942 until 2 September 1942)

  • 51st (Leeds Rifles) Royal Tank Regiment
  • 11th Royal Tank Regiment
  • 142nd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 151st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

34th Tank Brigade (from 5 September 1942 until 10 September 1943)

  • 147th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 151st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 153rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

214th Infantry Brigade (from 5 September 1943)

  • 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 5th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
  • 9th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (until 30 September 1943)
  • 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (from 30 September 1943)

Divisional Troops

  • 1/8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (Vickers machine guns and 4.2″ Mortars) (Machine Gun Battalion) (from 18 November 1941, became 8th Battalion on 1 October 1943)
  • 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps (from 20 November 1941)
  • 94th (Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 112th (Wessex) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 141st (Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (to 8 June 1942)
  • 179th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 9 June 1942)
  • 59th (Hampshire) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 110th (Dorset Regiment) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 23 March 1942)
  • 204th (Wessex) Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 260th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 553rd Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 207th (Wessex) Field Park Company, Royal Engineers
  • 13th Bridging Platoon, Royal Engineers (from 1 October 1943)
  • 43rd (Wessex) Divisional Signals, Royal Corps of Signals

08 Pattern Large Pack

The design of the large pack we are looking at tonight served two different webbing sets faithfully for over 50 years, with troops in both world wars making use of it. The large pack was introduced as part of the 08 webbing and was designed to carry all those items that a soldier did not need immediately in the field. The pack was worn on the back, either by attaching it to a pair of 2” buckles on the 08 pattern cross straps, or using L-Straps on the 37 pattern equipment. Whilst designed to be used during transit and carried in unit transport where possible, it was used in the field on occasion as it had a much larger capacity than the small packs issued with both sets:FullSizeRenderThe following description comes form the fitting instructions:

Pack (1908 Pattern)- This consists of a rectangular sack, the dimensions being approximately 15 inches by 13 inches by 4 ½ inches:imageIt is open at the top and is closed by a cover secured by two narrow straps and buckles:imageWeather flaps are provided which fold down under the cover:imageTwo web loops are fitted to the bottom of the pack, through which the supporting straps are passed:imageA short 2-inch tab is fixed to each of the upper corners on the side nearest to the wearer’s back, also small buckles to which the upper ends of the supporting straps are secured:imageThe pack could also be set up and used as a rucksack, the illustrations below demonstrates how the supporting straps are set up for this:

FullSizeRender - CopyThis method of carriage had been used informally by troops in India for many years, but was formally recognised and listed in the fitting instructions for the 37 pattern webbing system. As the straps are thin and would dig in, it was common to hook them under the 2” twigg buckle on 08 webbing to increase the comfort level:1908_pack_can_ruck_bigThis pack is dated 1942 and marked ‘CP’ which indicates it was made by Caoutchouc Products Ltd:imageThe 1937 pattern fitting instructions list the following contents for the large pack: Greatcoat, Cap Comforter, Holdall containing Laces, Comb, Toothbrush. Razor and Case, Shaving Brush, Housewife, Socks, Soap & Towel. Additional or alternative contents could include: Ground Sheet, Waterproof Cape, Jerkin, Denims, Gas Cape (when not carried on Haversack), Underwear (vest and underpants), spare Shirt, PT kit (vest, shorts, plimsolls), Gloves/Mittens, Boot cleaning kit (Polish/Dubbin, Brushes). This should weigh 11lbs 1oz according to the fitting instructions; in reality many of these items of small kit would be carried in the small pack instead and other items stowed in the large pack as required.

Army Cadet Force Boxing Programme

Although it is hard to believe today, up until relatively recently boxing was seen a an excellent sport for youths to take part in. It was seen as promoting moral fibre, fitness and as a safe way of siphoning off youthful aggression and high spirits. With this attitude, and boxing’s obvious martial overtones, it is no surprise that the Army Cadet Forces encouraged boxing amongst their members and between different units. Tonight’s programme comes from one of those amateur bouts, with the event beng organised by the 3rd Cadet Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment:SKMBT_C36415070713270_0001As can be seen this programme dates from just after the Second World War and the matches took place at Todmorden Town Hall on 23rd March. The inside of the leaflet gives a brief introduction and the list of bouts:SKMBT_C36415070713271_0001As can be seen the boxers are drawn from various local army, navy and air cadet units as well as Rishworth School. The sheer number of different units shows how popular the cadets were at this time. The back page of the programme wraps it up with the usual thanks for those who supported the event, and advertisements for upcoming events:SKMBT_C36415070713270_0001 - CopyChristopher Spikins boxed with the ACF the year before this programme was sold:

One evening, the regular army physical education instructor “collared” me and said, “We need a Middleweight boxer for the team and you are it”, “No, no, no!”, I replied, but after my pal, Jim Fuller encouraged me, I said I would “give it a go.”
So, yet another evening to fill my spare time. I was a busy lad!
Jogging through the darkened streets, strenuous exercises, lots of sparring (with bigger and faster boxers), kept us working hard. So it was Tuesday, Thursday drill and weapon training, Wednesdays and weekends band practise, then boxing whenever.
I did enjoy it, though, and a big bonus was when we went to other cadet units, or service camps in military vehicles and had good food at the various cookhouses, food that we could not get at home because of the rationing.
The National ACF Boxing Championships were to be held sometimes and we trained hard to enter the various county heats, so that we could be at the finals. Some of us were successful in reaching the finals, to be held later at the Royal Albert Hall. I was placed in the middleweight class.
In, I think, 1945, there was a big cadet weekend in London, with a parade of units, including many bands and the salute to be taken by HRH The Princess Margaret.
Our band did not take part, but we marched in the parade. By this time, I was a Warrant Officer and the split pin holding my brass badge scratched my right arm and I still have the scar today.
The Championships? Oh, yes.
In the heat for the finals, a full programme of boxing was staged at the Drill Hall, with a paying audience and I was dressed in boxing gear. Passing a group of Yorkshire cadets, they called out “Hey, you won’t feel a thing when he hits you” and they laughed.
He was a big lad and during the first two rounds he smacked me often and both rounds were judged even. My father was in the audience, so I did not want to lose, so in the third round, and after a big “rocket” from my PE instructor, I went in hard and knocked him out, much to my relief.
Royal Albert Hall, here we come!!! Yippee!!! – But no!
Although I had qualified for the finals by beating the Yorkshire cadet, we received a letter stating that on the actual date of the championships, I would be one month over the age limit, so was eliminated. Yes, I cried with disappointment.
The irony is, that the cadet I knocked out in the semi final, won the championship!! Of course I congratulated him, although with mixed feelings.

Sales of the programme (3d) and entrance fees to the event would have helped support the cadet unit in its day to day running, as central funding was always very limited. Even today cadet forces are charities and rely heavily on volunteers, donations and fundraising events.