Until it was merged into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006, the Royal Scots were the most senior line regiment in the British Army, tracing their lineage back in an unbroken line to 1633. The regiment saw much service in the period immediately after the Second World War, including being deployed to Korea, Egypt and Aden as well as regular tours of Northern Ireland from the 1960s onwards. On each of those deployments the regiment’s distinctive glengarry was worn with pride whenever combat situations permitted and tonight we are looking at an example of one of those caps dating from the 1950s or 1960s:The glengarry folds flat to allow it to be easily carried in a pocket or under a shoulder strap:The glengarry is predominantly black in colour, but has a diced band of red, white and blue around the lower half:Note also the leather sweat band that is sewn around the lower edge. The regiment’s cap badge is attached with a black fabric rosette backing behind it:Removing the badge there is a second set of holes for a pair of cap badge lugs, suggesting that this cap has had a replacement badge at some point in its life:A pair of black tapes hangs down from the rear of the cap:A white inspector’s stamp with a /|\ mark is stamped into the interior of the cap:Sadly this cap has suffered from the moths a little over the years and is rather tatty now. During World War Two and earlier it was traditional to wear the glengarry steeply tilted to one side with the cap badge high on the head, after the war it became common practice across all regiments to wear them level on the head:Here we see Private Danny Hall from Glasgow (right), of the 1st Batt. Royal Scots, saying goodbye to the regiment mascot, three and a half year old Mark Baillie, of Fortingale Street, who they handed over to the replacing regiment, the 2nd Batt. the Coldstream Guards. Receiving the mini soldier is Sergeant Bob Otto from Maidenhead in Belfast, July 1970:
This week’s postcard is a fine image of the Embankment in London, looking down the River Thames:The large stone walls of the Embankment can be seen on the left of the image:Of rather more interest though is the sloop, HMS Buzzard, moored a short distance away:HMS Buzzard was a Nymphe-class composite screw sloop and the fourth ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name. Developed and constructed for the Royal Navy on a design by William Henry White, Director of Naval Construction, she was launched at Sheerness Dockyard on 10 May 1887. The Nymphe-class sloops were ideal for service in the far distant outposts of the British Empire, and Buzzard was employed on the North America and West Indies Station. In early April 1902, under the command of Commander L. F. G. Tippinge, she left Bermuda for home waters, calling at Faial Island, before she arrived at Devonport on 20 April. She was paid off at Chatham on 13 May 1902. In 1904 she was converted to a drill ship for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at Blackfriars, London as reported in the Daily Mail:
HMS Buzzard arrived on the Thames yesterday and took up her new station at Blackfriars, there to form a training depot for the Metropolitan Division of the Royal Naval Volunteers, called by the irreverent the “Blackfriars Buccaneers.”
Large crowds lined the bridges to watch the passing of the warship, and thousands were on the Embankment during the mooring operations.
The Buzzard, which was launched in 1887, would in the ordinary course have been sold out of the Navy, but she has now been thoroughly modernised and equipped with quickfirers.
The Captain of the Buzzard described the training on the refitted ship:
In the training given on board the Buzzard each company in turn furnishes a ship’s crew, whose duty it is to carry out the routine of the ship for a fortnight at a time. During this period the men live on board, going ashore daily to their occupations in office or workshop. Thus some idea of life on the lower deck is gained and the men are familiarized with the different parts of a man-of-war. Coming on board after his day’s work, the amateur sailor is taught to man a boat over the lower boom; he becomes familiar with such commands as “Away starboard whaler,” or in the case of an imaginary fire, “Pipe fire quarters,” and last but not least “Stand by Hammocks,” “Clear lower deck,” and “Pipe down,” when your clerk or workshop hand has a chance of learning how to sling a hammock and, with a little practice, how to sleep in one. In the morning comes the least popular command, “All hands lash up and stow,” and the men turn out to “Scrub and wash decks” before going on shore.
In 1911 Buzzard relieved HMS President (formerly HMS Gannet of 1878) as headquarters ship, being renamed HMS President on 1 April 1911. As President she served until 23 January 1918, when she was lent to the Marine Society. She was sold to C A Beard for breaking on 6 September 1921, and was later re-sold to Dutch ship breakers.
Back when this blog first started I wrote a regular series of posts called Tuesday Finds, showcasing anything I had found that week. These were very brief posts with usually only a single photograph of the object and very little background information. I have decided to revisit some of the objects featured in those early posts and give them a post of their own with more photographs and a more in depth write up. These items will be dotted around during the coming months and we start tonight with a wartime Orlox Suet packet:This packet is unused, but was designed to hold suet to make puddings with. It is made of recycled cardboard, with simple red ink printing, described on the box as a ‘wartime jacket’:Paper like other materials was in short supply during the world war and as well as salvaging and recycling as much as possible, manufacturers were encouraged to reuse material and cut down in other areas such as the inks, hence the very simplistic nature of this box compared to the eye catching designs of the 1920s and 30s. The box itself is made from die cut cardboard that can be folded up and secured with tabs on either end:Apart from the product details on three sides, the only other information is the recipe as to how to use this item:Suet puddings were a popular part of British diet at this period, being both cheap and very filling. Suet is processed beef fat and when mixed with flour and water can be made into a pastry, dumplings or a thick stodgy pudding such as spotted dick.
Fats such as suet were rationed during wartime, with each adult allowed typically 5oz a week. Suet puddings however were an excellent way to make this go as far as possible and a meat pudding could be made packed with root vegetables to pad out the meat that would feed the whole family, if it was cooked with a hay box type cooker it would also be economical with fuel.
The SA80 bayonet we looked at a few weeks ago was used in combat with a black plastic scabbard that protected the blade and allowed it to be carried in the PLCE frog. When the SA80 rifle was introduced it was decided to offer two different scabbards for the bayonet. Frontline infantry would receive a version with built in saw, wire cutter and sharpening stone. Rear echelon troops received a simpler (and cheaper) scabbard without these features, the argument being that they would rarely need to use any of these features so it was safe to delete them. This simplified scabbard was made from a black Phenolite plastic:The design retained the fixing points to allow the extra features to be added if required:The differences between the two scabbards can be seen here:Other features remain the same however, so six raised grooves are provided near the throat to allow grip to remove the bayonet from the scabbard and to help add extra rigidity to this portion:A small plastic detent is used to keep the bayonet in the scabbard and prevent it from rattling around:The bayonet fits neatly inside, but will only fit in one way due to the design of the bayonet itself with its offset grip:In order to attach the scabbard to the PLCE frog, a female Fastex clip is moulded into the top of the scabbard:This marries up with a male Fastex clip sewn into the frog itself and keeps the scabbard firmly attached.
This scabbard has clearly seen some service as an armourer’s rack number is painted on it in white:These simplified scabbards are much easier to find on the collectors’ market than the full combat versions which have not been released for resale in anywhere near the same amount and can easily make five times the price of their simpler counterparts.
Tonight my thanks go to Wojciech Musial who has very kindly sent me pictures of a South African made 37 pattern webbing holster. This example was made in the Union of South Africa during World War Two and is identical in form to the British made examples:The official 37 pattern manual describes the holster as:
Pistol Case- This consists of a woven article finished to accommodate the 0.380 revolver. It is lined with smooth webbing and the flap is closed by a snap fastener. Two double hooks are provided of the back for attachment to the waist belt and a similar hook is fitted horizontally at the top for connecting to the ammunition pouch when the article is to be carried over the pistol case.Of interest is the particularly crude stitching around the end of the muzzle part of the holster. This is completed with a blanket stitch, although it is unclear if this was the way the holster was manufactured or if it is a later repair. The C-Hooks are made of a base metal rather than brass and this was most likely an economy measure to save a strategic metal for other more important purposes. The holster was made by Daniel Isaac Fram and the maker’s stamp is on the underside of the holster flap:South African webbing is always hard to find and pieces rarely come on the market so it has been great to be able to share Wojciech’s item on the blog.
When serving on UN peacekeeping missions, British soldiers are trying to appear as obvious as possible, rather than camouflaged. It is important that both sides in a conflict can see that they are there to keep the peace under a UN mandate and to this end their vehicles, even armoured ones, are painted white with large UN letters painted on them. The soldiers themselves are also easily identifiable, wearing blue UN berets much of the time. Sometimes however it is necessary for them to don helmets for their own protection and in these cases blue helmet covers are issued to make it very clear that these are UN mandated forces. For the Mk6 helmet, the UN helmet cover is very similar to that issued in camouflage Colours:One thing that is very distinct however it that there are no elasticated loops for camouflage to be attached to:This is quite deliberate as the aim is to be as visible as possible, which scrim or foliage would of course negate. Otherwise the cover is unchanged, with reinforcing patches on either side:And a white drawstring to pull the cover tight around the helmet:A label is sewn into the inside giving sizing, washing instructions and stores details for the helmet cover:
These helmet covers are not as common as the camouflage variants, but are equally not very collectable at the moment so can be acquired for a few pounds in mint condition.
One regular UN deployment the British Army contribute personnel to is the buffer zone in Cyprus. This article was published in 2016 and focuses on one reservist training for this deployment:
Each year the UK celebrates the service of its military reservists on Reserves Day but Private Flora Pape, aged 26, has been too busy preparing to deploy to Cyprus on Operation TOSCA.
Flora will be one of 250 Reservists and Regular soldiers deployed on the Army Reserve-led operation. The 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (4 LANCS), the North West’s light role infantry Army Reserve battalion, will be supported by personnel from its sister Regular battalion 2 LANCS.
Flora has spent the last two weeks with her fellow troops at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire and Nesscliffe training area in Shropshire completing her United Nations mission training, which centres on learning how to manage difficult incidents – from helicopter crash sites to riots.
Flora is a self-employed professional dog walker. She said: “I normally have quite a few dogs to walk and it keeps me fit! People who work full time don’t need to worry about walking or feeding their dog during the day because I do it for them, I’ve been doing it for five years and it works really well for me. Unfortunately I have had to close the business down for the period I’m away in Cyprus, but it wasn’t a hard decision for me – this is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
As part of the Operations Company in Cyprus she will be patrolling and maintaining a stable peaceful environment along the border which has split the island since 1974 and will be on the lookout and reporting any infringements or changes from the day-to-day norm.Flora said: “This week we’ve been getting tested on everything we would be expected to deal with when we are out there, the examiners have thrown all sorts at us but we’re well prepared to deal with them, the training has been excellent. I’m really excited about Cyprus because although I’ve been adventure training with the Army in Spain and Iceland, this will be my first operational deployment.
“I’ve always loved the Army because both my parents served in it I wanted to join the Army Reserve because I needed the best of both worlds – my civilian life and job and the military one too. 4 LANCS is perfect for me; I love the Infantry because you do everything you expect to do as a soldier.”
Op TOSCA is the name given to the British contribution to the UNFICYP – the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus – one of the longest-running United Nations missions. It was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island and bring about a return to normal conditions. Since a de facto ceasefire in August 1974, UNFICYP has supervised the ceasefire lines; provided humanitarian assistance; and maintained a buffer zone between the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces in the north and the Greek Cypriot forces in the south.
Although very simple, the stirrup pump was a key piece of equipment in fighting incendiary bombs during World War II. The stirrup pump was a little hand operated water pump that could be used with buckets of water to fight fires. It consisted of a tube that was placed in the water, a foot rest to hold the pump steady and a handle that was worked up and down to draw the water up:The base of the pump is fitted with a pierced metal filter that prevents grit and debris being drawn into the pump and fouling it:A large handle is fitted to the top of the pump:This can be pulled upwards, creating a vacuum that draws water into the pump:Pushing this down forces the water back out through this nozzle:Originally a thirty foot rubber tube was attached here that could be used to fight fires. To keep the pump steady, a foot rest is fitted to the side of the pump, this part was on the outside of the bucket of water and the user held it steady with their foot:The main tube that was in the bucket of water is protected by a sleeve of a hard rubber that prevents the inner tube from getting crushed:The stirrup pump was recommended to Fire Guards in their handbook as an ideal way to fight small fires caused by incendiary bombs:It could be used by teams of one, two, or ideally three persons:The handbook also gave some instructions on how to care for the pump and actively encouraged owners to use them in civilian life for purposes such as washing windows in order to ensure they were familiar with its operation:Here we see the pumps being manufactured:And used on an ARP training exercise: