Category Archives: Post WW2

RAF Olive Green Foul Weather Trousers

It is not perhaps surprising that, considering how exposed many airfields can be, the RAF had some of the best waterproof clothing of the Cold War. Tonight we are looking at a pair of RAF issue foul weather trousers in olive green:imageThey are made from a double layered nylon with an elasticated waist. The fly has no buttons that could fall off and cause a problem if they were to be sucked up by an aircraft engine, instead a press stud and Velcro are supplied:imageTwo openings are provided to allow access to the pockets underneath the trousers:imageThese garments were introduced in the 1970s and were originally issued in four of the numbered non-metric sizes (0-3). By the time my pair were manufactured modern metric sizing had been introduced, as seen on the label:imageIn time these trousers were also adopted by the army and the description on the label changed to ‘Trousers, Foul Weather, OG’.

A Velcro tab is provided at the bottom of each trouser leg to allow it to be sealed against the elements:imageThese trousers were very good for their era- comfortable to wear and actually waterproof! They were sought after at the time, especially by those not technically due to be issued them! Today they are definitely a little harder to find than other items of army waterproof clothing. These were a lucky £1 find last week. My thanks go to Stephen Madden for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Cold War uniforms which was a great help in the preparing of this post.


Olive Green S10 Respirator Haversack

Tonight we are looking at another respirator haversack, that fits in between the olive green butyl nylon example here, and the DPM example here. This respirator haversack was developed as part of the olive green PLCE webbing set, and is made of the same fabric as the rest of the components we have been looking at over the last few weeks:imageThe haversack is made from a plain green Cordua nylon, with a large box lid, secured with Velcro and a press stud:imageThe underside of this lid has two elasticated straps for stowing the user’s NBC gloves. This example has just a single marking under the lid, with the words ‘MADE IN UK’ printed here:imageThe inside of the haversack has a front pocket for carrying nerve agent pens, nerve tablets etc. Two other pockets are fitted in the base of the bag to hold spare canisters:imageHere we see the rear of the haversack. As well as a belt loop at the top, we can see another smaller loop to allow a steadying strap to be passed around the waist to hold the haversack steady so it doesn’t flap around when slung over the shoulder if the wearer needs to run:imageNext to this is a green patch for the owner to put his personal details (although in this case the original user has ignored this and just written his name across the back in black marker!

One major area of difference between this haversack and later examples can be found under the belt loop flap:imageThe ‘T-tabs’ used to attach it to the PLCE belt are made of metal, rather than the plastic which can be seen on the DPM version.

My thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping me add this interesting variant to my collection.

Ceremonial Gloves

If you watch British military ceremonial parades, you will frequently spot the men and women on the parade ground wearing white gloves. White gloves are often seen as being particularly smart and a number of variations are available for issue depending on the weather. In most conditions simple cotton gloves are used:imageThese secure at the wrist with a small plastic button:imageIn the winter it is more likely that knitted woolen gloves will be issued to help provide a little more insulation for the wearer from the cold:imageA reduction knitted cuff helps keep them secure on the wrist in place of the button:imageIt must be said that wearing gloves is often seen as a mixed blessing. They do look smart and help avoid sweaty hands in the summer and cold hands in the winter. On the other hand they reduce grip on the rifle and make advanced rifle drill more challenging. These white gloves are tri-service and can be seen being worn by the army:imageThe Royal Navy:imageAnd the Royal Air Force: imageThe official instruction on care of ceremonial gloves issued by the RAF give some curious washing instructions:

White Cotton Gloves. When soiled should be washed on the hands using warm soapy water and rinsed until soap free and gently towel dried before carefully removing them from the hands and putting them aside to dry naturally.

Instructions are provided on the wear of the gloves:

Dress Gloves. The correct method of fitting a dress glove is as follows:

  1. A tape should be passed around the hand, just below the knuckle of the first finger and the thick of the palm, this measure in inches usually corresponds to the size of the glove. The donning of the glove is, however, the most important feature.
  2. The four fingers should be inserted into the glove to the fullest extent, the thumb lying on the palm of the hand, then and not before, the thumb should be eased into place.

Most ceremonial gloves are pool clothing items, i.e. they are kept in central stores and issued as required. The staff here are required to check over the gloves for damage::

RAF Pools Ceremonial White Gloves. The pool holding Unit is responsible for laundering of white gloves. On return from loan the gloves are to be examined for serviceability and those considered unfit for ceremonial wear are to be scrapped and replacement demands are to be submitted.

Ballast Round

Although I always try and bring you as much information as I can in these blog posts, sometimes I draw a blank and have an object I really struggle to provide much information for. Tonight we have an ammunition round that I have not been able to find any concrete information on, so much of this post is based around common sense and a little speculation. As ever if you can provide anything concrete please get in touch and I will update and credit accordingly.

Tonight we have a 30mm Aden ballast round:imageThis round is made from a solid piece of aluminium with an integral head, painted orange:imageThe base of the round has a ring, but is otherwise completely plain:imageThe only markings are an impressed panel with a ’56’ for a date of 1956 and the word ‘ballast’:imageI must thank my good friend Andy Dixon for his help in adding this round to the collection. After discussion I believe the round was designed as a completely safe facsimile of a real Aden round- the same size and weight. It would have been used to help simulate real ammunition in an aircraft when balancing it or during unarmed flights where it acted as ballast to simulate the characteristics of a fully armed and loaded aircraft. It might also possibly have been used to allow ground crew to train with realistic ammunition, safe in the knowledge that there was absolutely no chance of live rounds. If you know more please let me know…

HMS Sovereign Launch Commemorative Cover

This evening’s post is a commemorative stamp cover from the launch of HMS Sovereign in 1973:SKM_C45817091212480HMS Sovereign was a Swiftsure class nuclear submarine in service from 1973 until 2006. This cover was issued on board the submarine on the day of her launch, as witnessed by the ink stamp from her executive officer:SKM_C45817091212480 - CopyThe envelope features a photograph of the submarine on the slipway:SKM_C45817091212480 - Copy (2)A card inside the envelope has a picture of the submarine’s badge and some facts about the boat:SKM_C45817091212490The reverse tells something about her builders, with a picture of their yard:SKM_C45817091212480 - Copy (3)In July 1990 the Navy News did a special feature on the vessel:

About to work up with Captain Submarine Sea Training, HMS Sovereign is part of the Second Submarine Squadron based at Devonport.

She was launched in February 1973 by Lady Ashmore, wife of Admiral Sir Edward Ashmore, the then CINC-FLEET, and commissioned the following year.

Second of the Swiftsure class of fleet submarines, the Sovereign is powered by a uranium 235 reactor. Controlled nuclear fission heats pressurised coolant water, which is fed to the steam generators.

Here the coolant water transfers its heat to a secondary water circuit which boils, producing the steam which is fed to the main engines for propulsion. There is also a back-up diesel electric drive system.

As a hunter-killer whose main wartime role would be to track and destroy enemy submarines. HMS Sovereign has an impressive array of sonars: active sonars to locate targets through sound transmission and passive sonars for listening to noise in the sea.

She is also fitted with an underwater telephone to communicate with other units while dived. A number of echo sounders are fitted to establish water depth below and ice depth above.

The Sovereign has two periscopes- a search periscope for longer range work and an attack periscope for close range. Between them, these provide a sextant for astronavigation and the ability to take photographs while dived.

The submarine’s five torpedo tubes are capable of discharging the RN Sub Harpoon anti-ship missile and Tigerfish, an electrically powered, wire guided torpedo. Ground mines can also be laid. The maximum weapon load is 25.

HMS Sovereign has a ship’s company of about 100, of whom 12 are officers. The company is divided into operations, marine engineering, weapon engineering, supply and medical departments.

Displacing about 4,500 tons, the submarine can dive to depths in excess of 500 feet. She dives by flooding external ballast tanks and surfaces by blowing the same with air. She is capable of speeds over 25 knots and of sustaining a patrol for over 70 days.

Life on board is made the more pleasant thanks to a fully equipped galley and laundry. A quantity of films, videos and games are carried to entertain members of the ship’s company off watch.Strategist-SUBMARINE-2

Map Reading Torch

As regular readers know, I enjoy a good bargain. Last week’s find was a rather interesting magnifying torch for reading maps for just £2:imageYou might have spotted the family resemblance between this torch and the angle headed torch we looked at here. This torch is made of the same green plastic as the more common variety. The most obvious feature of the torch is that the head is perpendicular to the main body, the bulb inside the head and a magnifying lens fixed to one side:imageThis allows the user to illuminate a small section of a map and magnify it to view the detail. The head has a small disc with a British ’99’ NSN number embossed on it, the only confirmation on the torch that it is indeed British:imageThe torch is controlled with a rotary switch on the base, an internal resistor controls the amount of power running to the bulb, acting as a dimmer switch:imageThe torch uses 2 ‘D’ cell batteries giving it a power of 3 volts, enough to illuminate the bulb for up to 20 hours. A belt loop is fitted allowing it to be attached to equipment, but it does seem rather an odd way to position it as the torch hangs with its head facing downwards:imageUnscrewing the two ends allows the torch to be broken down into its main components:imageBy all accounts this torch was not overly popular for infantrymen, being bulky and only having a white light that ruined the users night vision. It was however appreciated more by those in vehicles and was used a fair bit by crews trying to find their way in the dark! Whilst harder to find than the angled variety, collectors should be able to find an example fairly easily if they want to add an example to their collection.

Olive Green PLCE Bayonet Frog

Continuing our ongoing look at the green PLCE set tonight we look at the bayonet frog. The later camouflaged frog has been covered here, but there are some obvious changes to the methods of attachment between the two designs beyond just their colour:imageThe SA80 was issued with a cast metal bayonet that had a plastic scabbard. This scabbard had a female Fastex clip at the top and this fastened to the male half on the bayonet frog to prevent the scabbard coming loose:imageThe back of the frog is where the most obvious differences between the two patterns lie:imageThese early frogs have two nylon tape loops to pass a belt through and a pair of brass c-hooks to secure the frog into position:imageThese allow a high and low belt position to be chosen by the wearer. Manufacturer’s details, NSN number and other information is printed directly onto the fabric:imageFrom this we can see the frog was made in 1990.

Clearly the fastening arrangements were inadequate as an updated green version of the frog, introduced in 1991, replaced the belt fixings with Velcro, poppers and T-bars. This in turn was replaced by an otherwise identical DPM version just a year later.

As with so much of the olive green PLCE I have been covering over the last few weeks, my thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping me add this one to my collection.