Author Archives: hatchfive

Territorial Army Lapel Badge

During the late 1930s local Territorial Army units started pressurising the War Office for some form of recognition for those who had joined their ranks. It was suggested that members either be given a certificate they could frame and hang at home, or some sort of lapel badge that could be worn with civilian clothes to show the commitment of the man to the force. The War Office gauged the opinions of TA units and in 1935 it was clear most were in favour of the badge. It was finally in March 1937 that the War Office granted permission for a badge to be issued.

The design settled on was a based around the letters ‘TA’ with a kings crown above and a lion springing forward below:imageThis design was the brainchild of a Mr Coombes of the Royal Mint and was to be made of sterling silver. The badge was approved by the King in March 1938 and the order for the first 250,000 was placed on 19th March 1938.

The badges has a lapel fitting on the back and a number can be found stamped on them here:imageEach badge was uniquely numbered and a register was maintained by local TA associations. It was expected that if a man left the TA, the badge would be returned and struck off the list. Sadly it is unclear if these registers still survive, as it would be very interesting to be able to identify the original owners of these badges.

Naturally the badges numbered ‘1’ and ‘2’ were presented to the King and Queen as honorary colonels of the TA.

The design was to be used for many years and examples can be found from the post-war period with a Queen’s crown at the top, these post war examples can also be found with a pin fastener rather than the lapel fastener. The badge was also used in printed form on a variety of leaflets and posters:imageBill Spry was a member of the TA during the 1930s:

I joined the T.A in 1932 at the suggestion of my uncle, Lionel Simpson, who was already a member. After an interview at the H.Q in Park St. Drill Hall, I was given a sealed envelope to take to a doctor’s house in Cathedral R.C Cardiff for my medical examination. The door was answered by a maid, she took the envelope and told me to return the next day. I did so and she gave me a sealed envelope back which I handed in to the H.Q office. I was told that I had passed the medical! I had to add a year on to my age to join, (I was fifteen) and for my first year was rated as “Boy Spry”. I also gave my name as “William James” Spry which I thought was correct, whereas it is actually “James William” Spry. Any eventual discharge papers included these particulars and caused me quite a few problems. My first camp 1932, was in Monmouth under canvas, very wet, very miserable, ablution and toilets in the open air. We slept in bell tents my place was under the flap so that anyone entering or leaving had to step over me. In the Mess tent eight men were assigned per table. Food was supplied in one big dish for each table. The senior men then divided the food onto plates. Guess who got the smallest portion and the stringiest piece of meat! In spite of this I got the prize for the “best recruit”. Incidentally, my pay as a “boy” was eight pence per day. The following year 1933, the annual camp was in Penally, near Tenby, in huts and fine weather. Each man was issued with three heavy blankets, (no sheets). Each morning these had to be folded neatly and laid out with the rest of the kit in the proscribed manner. Returning to my hut one morning I saw with dismay that one of my blankets was missing, stolen. I reported this to my sergeant. He said “No problem, go and take someone else’s”. I said that I couldn’t do that. He replied “That’s an order, do it”.

Waiting until the hut was empty I took the blanket from another bed and put it on mine. Returning to the hut later that day I was pleased to see that the bed I had robbed was back to three blankets! I attended camp each year until 1939. In 1933 I was rated signalman, pay 3/6d f.d. In 1934, I was promoted to lance corporal, 1935 Corporal, 1936 lance sergeant. Our uniform included bandolier, breeches and spurs (very smart). This was because until 1931 horses had been used to pull the cable wagons and the army had not got around to changing our uniforms.


Early Mk 2 S6 Haversack

There are a number of different variants of the haversack issued to carry the S6 respirator. The earliest style was a kidney shaped bag we looked at here. The final version was a stiff butyl nylon example, very square in shape that we considered here. In between these two designs though was another variant, more practical than the Mk 1, but softer and less rigid than the last pattern. This design is the one we are looking at tonight:imageFeatures to notice are the different type of fabric used, it is far less ‘shiny’ and stiff than the later models. There is also a distinctive brown tape edging to the seams that is missing on the later pattern, which uses green. I am loathe to say that this is categorically an entirely different design to the later example on the blog- I suspect they are just variations on a theme and the softness of the fabric could be as much to this example having had a rough service life, whilst the later example is mint out of the factory. They do look very different though and it does seem that the brown edging is indicative of earlier production. Most of the other features of the haversack are the same though. The lid is secured with a press stud and two squares of Velcro:imageThe underside of the lid has a pair of elastic loops to allow items such as NBC gloves to be fitted here for quick use. The back of the haversack has a channel to allow it to be slid onto a belt and a pair of ‘D’ rings to attach a shoulder strap to:imageA small side pocket is fitted to allow a DKP1 packet to be carried easily for easy access. The pressed metal disk below is part of the steadying system when the haversack is carried by the shoulder strap:imageA piece of string is attached to the other side of the haversack and when it is carried at the hip this is passed around the wearer’s body and wrapped around this metal disk to prevent the haversack from bouncing around when running.

Inside are the usual pockets for spare canister, anti-diming kit, auto-injectors and other NBC kit:imageFor more details of the exact contents I refer you back to the earlier post on the final variation of this haversack.

I would be interested to know for sure whether the change in appearance between the early Mk 2 and later Mk 2 haversacks is just a manufacturing difference or whether they are genuinely different patterns of haversack. There is certainly a version of the haversack for those with the canister on the opposite side of the mask, but I am still looking out for that version…

Truvox Hand Held Microphone

At the start of this year I posted a piece about the Loudspeaker Control Unit here. At the time I noted that unfortunately it was missing a microphone. Happily I have now been able to add one of these to the collection and tonight we are having a look at this:imageThe microphone is made of cast metal and is extremely robust. Nearly identical pieces were made by both Tannoy and Truvox and I am pleased to say that this is a Truvox example which matches the manufacturer of my control unit. You will notice the webbing neck strap on the microphone, allowing it to be hung round the neck so it is close at hand. A button is fitted half way down the hand grip, the operator depresses this when he wishes to talk:imageOriginally a rubber cover was fitted over the microphone itself to direct the sound into the receiver and reduce interference from background noise. Sadly this has heavily perished over the years and is now rock hard:imageNote the ‘Truvox’ brand name cast into the metal and the brass screws holding the strap. The back of the microphone is heavily ribbed to help keep the microphone cool:imageInk stampings appear on either side of the microphone, to one identifies it as a powered microphone MK 1a:imageWhilst the other side has a stores code of YA4353:imageThe microphone fits neatly into the compartment in the Loudspeaker Control Unit:imageSadly this microphone has been modified post war and is missing its original wire and three pin female socket, so I can’t plug it in yet. I will be keeping my eye out for a replacement plug, but I suspect it might take a while until I find the right connector.

The 1A microphone was also used with the 19 set radio and is a differential carbon granule unit, using three wires- one common and two signal wires. I will be honest and say I have no idea what that means! However if you want more details on these microphones please look here.

Royal Navy Trade Badges (Part 4)- Mine Warfare

Continuing our survey of Royal Navy trade badges, tonight we are looking at that worn by Mine Warfare ratings:imageThis badge is a printed example and has a design based around an old fashioned contact sea mine, with a ring at the bottom where a real mine would be tethered to the sea bed and the horns sticking out that would detonate when hit by a ship.

Mine warfare was one of the areas where the post war Royal Navy led the world, with specialist ships and training that few other navies could match- indeed much of the sweeping and hunting for mines in the Gulf over the last thirty years have beeped by the British rather than the US Navy as they recognised the Royal Navy’s expertise.

A 1984 leaflet from the Third Mine Countermeasure Squadron explained:

A nation that depends on sea transport for the bulk of its trade is vulnerable to the threat of enemy mines. Mines are effective weapons in terms of the cost of production and sowing; compared with the amount of damage they do, the disruption they cause, and the effort required to clear them.

The most common minesweeper of the Cold War as the Ton Class, which cleared mines using a sweep that brought the mines to the surface to be destroyed. Mine warfare ratings on these ships were responsible for the sweeps and the paravanes that held the sweeping cables in the correct orientation to the ship:imageToday, mine clearance is done by hunting individual mines using sonar and dealing with them on the sea bed by exploding a mine disposal charge next to them. This fun cartoon from the early 1980s illustrates the difference:imageWhatever the method of mine clearance, serving as a mine warfare rating was hard work on small ships, with as much danger from the sea as anything else. This photo shows the sort of seas that tossed little minesweepers around- not an easy posting!image

MVP DDPM Waterproof Trousers

We have looked at the 1980s and 1990s waterproof equipment on the blog before, but technology has come on dramatically since then and light weight, breathable waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex are now available. Modern waterproof is a far cry from the older designs and most importantly- it no longer scrunches like a crisp packet every time you move!

The army was quite slow to recognise the importance of waterproof clothing, but one soldier explains why it’s so important in modern warfare:

The purpose of MVP kit is to keep you dry. It keeps you dry so that you can soldier better, harder and longer. You getting wet and miserable can eventually lead to a) you acting like a mong: b) hypothermia leading to c) you being ineffective – in fact, worse than ineffective because you can rapidly become a no duff casualty requiring casevac.

Odd though it may seem, there was still a need for waterproof clothing during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan- it still rains in these parts of the world! To that end waterproof clothing was made in desert DPM and it is a pair of these trousers we have tonight:imageThese over trousers are made from a lightweight Gore-Tex fabric and are designed to be worn over other items of uniform, as witnessed by the simple design. The waist is secured with an adjustable piece of elastic:imageThere is no fly or other adjustment. The cuffs of each trouser leg have elastic around them as well to seal over the wearer’s boots to prevent water from getting in so easily:imageAs ever there is a label in the waist giving sizing and stores numbers:imageMVP stands for ‘Moisture Vapour Permeable’- meaning that you don’t get as wet from your own sweat as the water the trousers are repelling would have made you! The Gore-Tex fabric is made from nylon with billions of small pores in it- the pores let water vapour out but are too small to let droplets of water in. Ironically for a piece of desert camouflage, the only time I ever wore DDPM waterproof clothing was during basic training with the RNR on exercise on Dartmoor in the UK in October! As is often the case, the correct kit can be hard for stores men to come by and somehow he had acquired some second-hand DDPM waterproofs and for a small bunch of recruits who were only using them as loan clothing for a couple of days this was seen as being perfectly adequate.

Photograph of L-Class Submarines

This week’s photograph is an interesting interwar image of a fleet of five British submarines tied up in harbour: SKM_C45817091209230 - Copy (3)This is a small snap taken on a box-brownie and judging by the gunwale of a boat in the foreground was taken by someone on a harbour trip on a small pleasure craft. The nearest boat is L22, an L class submarine. We looked at another image of one of this class, L27 here. L22 was sold for scrap in 1935 so the image is before she went to the breakers, and perhaps shows the boats laid up waiting their fate. Other boats in the image include L52 and L20. Interestingly there is another photograph I have found showing all three of these boats tied up together at Gosport in 1933: Submarine_Flotilla_1933_at_GosportThe L-class submarine was originally planned under the emergency war programme as an improved version of the British E-class submarine. The scale of change allowed the L class to become a separate class.

The armament was increased when the 21-inch torpedoes came into service. The Group 3 boats had two QF 4-inch guns fore and aft of the lengthened conning tower. Also, 76 tons of fuel oil was carried in external wing tanks for the first time in British submarines. Several of the Group 1 boats were configured as minelayers including L11 and L12. In the Group 2 boats, L14, L17 and L24 to L27 were built as minelayers carrying 16 mines but without the two beam torpedo tubes.

The introduction of the L class came too late to contribute significantly in World War I. L2 was accidentally depth-charged by three American destroyers in early 1918. L12 torpedoed the German submarine UB-90. L10 torpedoed the German destroyer S33 in October 1918 but was sunk by accompanying destroyers.

L55 was sunk in 1919 during the British naval intervention in the Russian civil war by Bolshevik Russian destroyers. She was salvaged by the Russians and was re-commissioned by the Russians with her original service number.

The L class served throughout the 1920s and the majority were scrapped in the 1930s but three remained operational as training boats during World War II. The last three were scrapped in 1946 after long distinguished service.

In 1937 The Times reported that another of the class was up for sale:

Submarine L. 71 has been placed on the sale list at Portsmouth. This leaves only eight vessels on the effective list of the once numerous “L” class, which formed the bulk of the British flotillas for several years after the war. The class embodied the experience gained with earlier oil-engined submarines, particularly the “E” class and L.1 and L.2 were in fact begun in 1916 as E. 57 and E. 58. L.71 was begun in September 1917, by the Scott’s Shipbuilding Company, Greenock, but was not finished until 1920, when she was commissioned by Lieutenant G.A. Garnos-Williams, D.S.C., now maintenance commander at Gibraltar. Up to last year she served in the 2nd Submarine Flotilla, Home Fleet, and was among the units detached to the Eastern Mediterranean at the time of the Abyssinian concentration.

MTP Medical Trauma Pouch

We seem to have had quite a number of medical items on the blog recently, and tonight is no exception, with an MTP Medical Trauma Pouch: imageYou might recall we looked at an earlier iteration of this pouch a few weeks back here. This pouch is clearly serving the same purpose, but is a more up to date design that has taken into account some of the shortcomings of the earlier design. One of the problems of the earlier design was that if it was opened whilst still attached to the belt, one of the smaller front pockets was upside down and potentially items could fall out when it was opened. To counter this problem, on the MTP version when opened out only the top half folds down, which then reveals the second smaller pocket with a top flap opening across the pocket so everything remains vertical for access: imageTwo small side pockets have been added to the pouch to separate out items that are needed for easy access. Judging by the shape I would think these were used to hold the morphine syringes: imageAs well as a change in colour from olive green to MTP (there is a DPM version in between that I don’t have yet), the fixings on the rear have changed to allow this pouch to be fully compatible with PLCE web gear: imageBeneath the top flap are two plastic ‘T’ bars for attaching to the belt: imageAnd on the top are the same fasteners you see on PLCE pouches allowing the yoke of the PLCE set to be attached: imageNote also the medical cross symbol on a printed label on the top flap. The top flap itself has a clear plastic liner that creates another small pocket to allow small items such as alcohol wipes to be easily stowed here: imageThe lid is secured with a black plastic ‘Fastex’ buckle on the front: imageInterestingly nearly all of these pouches I have seen have an incorrect label sewn to the rear. Although this is an MTP pouch, the labels frequently describe them as DPM: imageThis suggests that the manufacturer’s forgot to update the label printing when they updated the camouflage! The contents of this pouch would be similar to the example we looked at earlier. This is a suggested packing list from the contents card:

1 x Pouch, Medical, 3-compartment

1 x Suction Easy

1 x Resuscitation aid face shield

1 x Adult Triage Label Pack Individual 5 Triage labels 5 Dead

1 x Chest Seal Asherman single use

2 x Morphine auto injector 1 x Pencil, Skin marking

2 x Emergency Bandage Trauma

1 x Tourniquet System Self applied CATS

1 x Scissors bandage universal Tufcut

2 x Bandage triangular calico

4 x Gloves medical examination/procedure size medium

1 x Hemcon Bandage