Category Archives: Post WW2

64 Pattern Entrenching Tool Cover

Continuing our on-going study of the Canadian 64 pattern webbing set, we come to a piece that was not on my original kit layout. My thanks go to ‘Dean O’ from Canada who kindly sent this one over the Atlantic for me. The 64 pattern set used the same folding entrenching tool as the earlier 51 pattern set we discussed here. Like the other elements of the 64 pattern set, the entrenching tool cover is made of a plasticised cotton fabric:Like the earlier design, this cover has a hole at the bottom to allow the handle of the entrenching tool to stick out below the carrier. The back of the carrier is very simple, with just the belt attachment:

This is the same large velcroed loop that fits over the belt as other copmponents of the set:As with the canteen carrier, I am doubtful how effective this Velcro would be with a heavy component like the entrenching tool. I suspect that like other components of the set, the entrenching tool carrier would have been particularly susceptible to dropping off! The maker’s mark is also stamped on the rear of the carrier:This example was made by Textile Industries Ltd, a company who seem to have made all the components of the set for the Canadian Army. The cover fastens on the front with a plastic quick release buckle with a webbing tab:The edges of the entrenching tool could be sharp and potentially could damage the cover so a couple of leather reinforcing patches are sewn to the top lip of the cover:I am not convinced many of these covers were ever issued, most accounts suggest they were not in widespread use and this example certainly looks in mint condition.

QARANC Male Nurse’s Jacket

In 1992 there was a restructure of army medical services in the British Army and male nurses were transferred from the Royal Army Medical Corps to the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. Male nurses are still relatively uncommon, but are a growing part of the corps and they have certain items of specialist clothing for their work. Tonight we are looking at a man’s nursing jacket from the QARANC:This is a white cotton tunic, secured up one side and to the neck with removable white plastic buttons:These buttons are secured in with small split rings to allow them to be removed easily for washing. The design of the button itself is very similar to those used on World War 2 era denim uniforms, again these were designed to be easily removable for laundering. The back of the jacket has a sewn in half belt to provide a more structured fit:A single patch pocket is sewn on the breast and on this is affixed an embroidered patch showing the Corps’ cap badge in red on a grey field:The only other insignia on the jacket is a red on grey patch with a lance corporal’s stripe on it on one sleeve, this indicates a healthcare assistant- all qualified nurses are ranked at least a full corporal:Inside the tunic is a label indicating size and NSN number with a space for the owner to write his name and number:In recent years the QARANC has been involved in every conflict the British Army has fought in, offering vital medical support to Britain, her military allies and civilians in theatre. The British Legion’s website gives us one case study of a QARANC nurse, Ben Poku:

After signing up, Ben did three months of basic training which came as a shock. It was unlike anything Ben had experienced before.

“It’s tough, but it prepares you so that you’re ready when you go to a new or hostile environment.”

It was when Ben started passing the basic infantry tactics that he knew he was ready to become a soldier. Though he’d joined up to be a nurse, Ben found himself in the artillery doing an infantry role before he knew it.

But the desire to help those in need hadn’t gone away though. After three years in the artillery, Ben took the chance to pursue his dream of becoming a nurse. So in 2003, whilst Ben was training on artillery guns in Germany, he started the process of transferring over to the prestigious Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps. As the nursing branch of the British Army, QARANC can trace its origins back to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Ben went ahead to study at the Defence School of Healthcare Studies, getting his nursing degree while he was also being deployed in Iraq. While there he treated multi-nationals, such as Iraqis and Americans, as well as British troops.

“It was a challenge to go over there in a nursing role and apply the training I was doing, but it was a great introduction into becoming a nurse.”

Ben’s childhood dream has come true. He’s been a nurse for over a decade. In that time he’s worked abroad as well as around the UK.

He’s currently posted at Headley Court where he works on the neurological ward helping injured soldiers get back to Service or leave to become civilians.

CS95 Air Cadet’s Shirt

We have looked at various examples of the CS95 DPM shirt on the blog over the last couple of years and I must confess I am only picking up new examples for my collection if they have interesting patches and markings on them. Tonight we have a nicely badged example that saw service with a member of the Air Cadets:The ‘Air Cadets’ is an umbrella term for young people who are members of either Combined Cadet Forces (RAF) which are run in over 200 schools across the UK and those who are members of Air Training Corps groups which are small local detachments of cadets dotted across the country. Both organisations are volunteer services that give teenagers the chance to learn more about the RAF, volunteer and take part in various aviation related activities. The Air Cadets are of course closely aligned with the RAF and wear very similar uniforms- indeed much of their equipment and uniform is either military surplus or produced under the same contracts but in smaller sizes to the regular uniform. This shirt for instance has the same NATO sizing and details as any shirt issued to the military, it is often just the smaller sizes that are indicative of cadet use:Above the breast pocket of the shirt is a large ‘Air Cadets’ patch sewn on to clearly identify the organisation:A large and detailed tactical recognition flash is sewn onto one shoulder:The Air Cadets are given the following guidance on wearing the DPM uniform as combat clothing:The DPM uniform is now being superseded by more modern MTP uniforms within the cadet force- permission being given to wear them in 2014. This guidance on insignia placement from the Cadet’s website therefore applies to the newer uniform, but is indicative of what has been sewn onto the CS95 shirt above:

82 Pattern Ammunition Pouches

One of the great improvements the Canadian 82 pattern webbing set brought over its predecessor, the 64 pattern set, was that it finally reintroduced a dedicated ammunition pouch: that the 64 pattern did not have one is still frankly baffling. The new set was heavily influenced by the US ALICE system and in the end two distinct variants of the pouch were produced, an original plain ammunition pouch and a later development with a pair of grenade pouches fitted to either side:The pouches held two magazines for the service rifle, with a pair of lifting tabs to help pull them out of the pouch:The user’s manual illustrated how to use them:A top cover was provided to keep the elements off the magazines, secured with the standard plastic and webbing tape quick release buckle:The back of the pouch has the usual plastic tabs to engage with the eyelets on the 82 pattern belt:Velcro then passes over them to help secure it further:Drainage holes are fitted to the base of the pouch to allow water to drain off:The second pattern pouches have two grenade pockets on either side of the main pouch body. I do not have a Canadian grenade available, but this British training grenade illustrates the principle:Variants of this pouch can be found to fit FN C1 magazines and C7 magazines, with slightly larger examples available to house FN C2 magazines. The pouches were generally well liked, the most serious complaint being that the stitching sometimes broke and became loose, the go to repair being to patch them up with heavy duty tape.

64 Pattern Suspenders

I noted the incredibly poor quality of the 64 pattern belt when we looked at this a few weeks back. Tonight we are considering the suspenders from the same set and again the design is particularly poor. Suspenders on a webbing set are designed to transmit the load from the belt and rucksack to the wearer’s shoulders. As such it is normally best for them to be as wide as possible where they meet the body to help transmit the load, prevent them from digging in and to keep chafing to a minimum. If not padded it is still usual to try and have at least a 2” wide surface here. The Canadian 64 pattern set however is made entirely from 1” wide cotton webbing, in a ‘Y’ shaped yoke:This is worn with the single attachment point at the rear and the two straps passing over the shoulders to re-join the belt at wither side of the buckle. These straps are fitted with a plastic loop and buckle at each end:The buckles allow the wearer to adjust the yoke to size, but it is only held to the belt by a loop of Velcro:Finally a small piece of webbing joins the two front straps of the yoke, this would sit high on the shoulder blades in use and helps keep the straps all at the right angle:The yoke is a weak point in an already poor quality webbing system. The straps dig into the wearer’s shoulders, it is not particularly stable when worn and the Velcro is prone to wearing resulting in the whole set falling apart if you are not careful. It is easy to see why it was universally loathed by those unfortunate enough to be issued with it!

Falkland’s Island Mine Field Marker Sign

It is now thirty five years since the Falklands War and the islands are still littered with thousands of anti-personnel mines. In recent years great progress has been made on clearing these minefields and areas are being made safe on a regular basis. The old signs from these minefields are stacked up in a shed and it has become popular for service personnel stationed down on the islands to go and ask for a few signs to bring home as a souvenir. I have recently added one of these signs form the Falklands to my collection, with this example being a rectangular sign, with a ‘Danger Mines’ and skull and cross bones printed on it:The sign was originally held in place by two fasteners at the top and two at the bottom, but these appear to have been cut through with a gas axe:On the back is an electro pencilled serial number:This matches the number on this chitty from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal office indicating that the signs had been acquired legitimately:As it is likely the original recipient is still serving I have blanked out his details. This photograph shows one of this type of sign in situ on the islands:Some 20,000 mines were laid on the island and in 2010 the BBC reported on their clearance. Luckily no-one has been injured in recent years by these mines, thanks in part to the signs such as this one:

Following the Falklands conflict, there were initial attempts to clear mines, but many injuries resulted. The British decided it was too dangerous and instead fenced off the minefields. Warnings were posted and stiff penalties imposed on anyone who jumped the fences for, say, an unusual photo opportunity.

And it seems to have worked because no-one has been hurt in years.

As a result (and because the Falklands has relatively few mines compared to the millions laid in countries such as Angola and Cambodia) the Falklands government says it would prefer to see money spent on clearance projects in places where people are still being injured or killed.

Under an international treaty – the Ottawa Convention – the British government was required to have cleared the Falklands of all mines by March 2009, but it asked for a 10-year extension.

By 2016 good progress had been made:

Despite the overall small number of mines in the Falklands – compared with somewhere like Kuwait, which is only one-and-a-half times larger in size, but has an estimated five million mines – there has been an extensive demining operation in progress since 2009 to remove the estimated 20,000 anti-personnel and 5,000 anti-vehicle mines leftover since the 1982 conflict. Funded through the UK Foreign Office, and in response to the obligation to remove mines in their territories under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty, the clearance of mines in the Falklands is now about to finish its fourth phase and see the total number of minefields reduced to 82. There were 146 immediately after the end of war in 1982.

Post War Canadian Canteens

Over the last few months we have looked at the Canadian 51 pattern and 82 pattern canteen carriers. However we have not yet considered the canteens that were carried inside these items of webbing so tonight we are looking at the two post war canteen designs used by the Canadians. Up until the introduction of the 51 pattern webbing set, the Canadians had been using the standard Mk VII enamelled iron water bottle. This design was clearly antiquated and a new aluminium canteen was introduced, based closely on the design used by the US since the First World War:It took a long time for these canteens to be rolled out, and many troops issued the 51 pattern set when it was first introduced had to use an old enamelled water bottle as the canteens were not ready for them. The canteen is gently curved to fit better against the hip, with an indent on the rear:The lid is made of black plastic with raised grooves to help grip:A short piece of chain is attached to the lid, that would originally have been fastened to the canteen so the lid was not accidently lost:This canteen is marked with a date of February 1957 and was produced by ‘CMF’:The aluminium canteen was certainly a vast improvement on the old enamelled water bottle, but presented some difficulties unique to Canadian service. Canada’s army had to operate in very cold conditions for much of the year meaning the water in their canteens could freeze. When this happened the aluminium canteen could split or be bent out of shape very easily. To combat this problem the Canadians introduced a plastic canteen, actually introducing this ahead of the US Army:This canteen is an incredibly early example with a date of 1960 on the base:The canteen has raised lettering on the front reminding troops not to heat water in it as it is plastic and would melt!Although this seems obvious, it must be remembered that when the canteens were introduced there were ample supplied of the aluminium canteens in use and it would not be hard to pick up a plastic example in the dark and accidently apply it to a heat source.

The canteen has a plastic screw cap, that is held in place with a plastic collar so it does not go missing:The plastic canteen was to prove very popular and widely copied, the US, Canada and Australia amongst many other nations all using variations of it right through to the present day.