It’s been a month or two since we looked at any components form the Canadian 51 pattern set on a Tuesday, so this week we go back to this webbing and take a look at the entrenching tool cover:The most obvious thing to note is how radically different this cover, and indeed the tool that went inside, are from traditional British practice of the period. Up until this point the Canadians had been using the British style two piece ‘Sirhand’ entrenching tool and the traditional cover for it. From the 51 pattern set onwards we can see a move away from British influence and much closer ties with US practice of the period. The tool adopted for the 51 pattern set was a folding entrenching tool was a close copy of the US 1943 pattern tool. The following illustration comes from Andrew Iarocci’s article on Canadian load carrying equipment and shows, l to r. Canadian 51 pattern entrenching tool, US M43 entrenching tool and British 37 Pattern Sirhand entrenching tool:Returning to the cover, on the rear can be seen three sets of eyelets allowing a wire hanger to be used to attach the entrenching tool to either the belt of the 51 pattern set, or the tab provided on the flaps of the small and large packs:Note also the manufacturer’s initials ‘TIL’ for ‘Textile Industries Limited’ and the date 1952:The top flap of the entrenching tool cover is secured with a lift the dot fastener in the distinctive shield shape of the 51 pattern set:This would originally have been chemically blackened, but this has worn to a bronze colour now. In use the tool would have had its handle sticking out through a hole in the bottom of the cover, with the head at the top. The top edge of the opening for the cover has leather and webbing reinforcements to prevent the metal of the entrenching tool fraying vulnerable parts of the cover:
The British Army’s Extreme Cold Weather clothing system works on a layering principle, with gloves being no exception. Two layers are generally issued, an inner warm mitten and an outer layer that is thin but waterproof. This traps a layer of air between the two mittens and helps keep the wearer’s hands warm, Tonight it is this outer mitten we are looking at in detail. This over-mitten is made of a thin impermeable DPM camouflage goretex fabric and is a large, but simple mitten shape:The palm of the over mitten has a series of raised bumps over it to aid grip:In order to keep the inner air layer in the mitten, the back of the wrist has a tightening strap and buckle to help seal the glove from cold air:A drawstring at the cuff also helps seal the mitten form the cold:The inside of the cuff of the over-mittens have a label indicating size, NSN number and care instructions:Here we can see the overmittens being worn by members of 3 Commando brigade training in the Arctic in 2010:The Daily Mail reported on this training exercise at the time:
Hundreds of Royal Marines have endured freezing temperatures of almost -30c in the Arctic as they prepare for combat in Afghanistan.
Soldiers with 3 Commando Brigade are training in northern Norway where they are being taught extreme cold weather survival skills in up to six feet of snow.
Marines have been learning to ski, make shelters and use weapons on the 10-week programme headed by 45 Commando based in Arbroath, Angus.
The course is designed to provide key team-building and extreme environment experience ahead of the unit’s next tour of Afghanistan, expected next year.
Major Tony Lancashire, who as commander of Zulu Company leads around 100 men, said: ‘If you can survive here, you can fight anywhere in the world.
‘Most of our lads have been to Afghanistan and we’ll go again. If they can look after themselves here, then that will carry forward to Afghanistan as well.’
The temperature in Innset dropped to -20c last week, with the added windchill taking it down even further to a low of -28c.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Lee described it as ‘the toughest soldiering there is’.
He said: ‘The biggest challenge for them is undoubtedly coping with the very demanding environmental conditions. You pay hard for a mistake here.
‘You need to learn the basics, you need to understand how effectively to soldier in these conditions, and these men are rising to that challenge supremely well.’
Lt Col Lee, who took up the post in September, added: ‘For me, this is a magnificent training opportunity, both for the toughest soldiering there is, but also for breeding that teamwork and that camaraderie on which a commando unit is based.’
The Commandos have swapped their familiar green berets for fleece-lined hats while operating in the Arctic.
White sheets over their combat gear acts as camouflage and masks are worn to protect their faces from frost bite.
The Marines have been sleeping in four-man tents and eating calorie-packed freeze-dried meals made with snow melted down on their stoves.
Some are veterans who are simply refreshing their skills, but for many it is their first time in Norway and their first experience on skis.
Their skills will be tested at the end of the programme when they take part in a major international exercise called Cold Response in March.
The operation, which takes place in Norway’s Bogen area, involves 5,000 troops including 200 from the U.S. Marine Corps and will include a launch from the water to test the unit’s amphibious capabilities.
Tonight’s object goes by a number of different names, ‘day sack’, ‘Northern Ireland patrol pack’ or just ‘patrol pack’. The official designation is ‘Patrol Pack, 30 Litre, DPM IRR’. Whatever designation you use, this is a handy 30 litre backpack used for carrying a lot of the items needed in the field for a soldier:The pack consists of a main compartment for carrying equipment, covered at the top by a drawstring waterproof cover:And a top pocket that passes over the whole main section of the rucksack. This has a small flat pocket ideal for paperwork and a second larger pocket to carry anything you need to get to in a hurry:Plastic Fastex buckles attach it to the main body of the pack and the space unbder this ‘flap’ gives somewhere suitable to slot larger items and pin them down to expand the carrying capacity:Two large pockets are attached to either side of the main pack, again each is secured with a Fastex buckle:Finally fabric loops are attached around the outside of the pack to allow MOLLE pouches to be fastened and further equipment to be tied on:The pack does not have an internal metal frame, being instead entirely soft. Two large padded shoulder straps are fitted:And a supporting waist belt, again using a large black plastic Fastex buckle to secure it:A green panel is fitted to the back, hidden when worn, that gives space for the soldier to write his name and number on. This was originally grren, but has been blacked out with marker to allow it to be remarked by a new owner, sadly this is badly worn and difficult to make out anymore:A label inside the bag indicates that this particular pack was manufactured in 2009:The pack is designed to give troops the ability to carry mission specific equipment for short periods of time in a more compact pack than a full size rucksack. A number of different loads have been suggested for users, this packing list comes from the combined Commando Course:
24hr Rations, 1 Water Bottle Flask, (optional) Warm Jacket, Poncho & Pegs (1 between 2), Bivvi Bag (1 between 2), Socks, Helmet, CBA
Whilst an alternative load out used on exercise was recalled by one user:
Bivvi Bag, 1 per fire team basha (stretcher), warm kit, gore tex, emergency rations, pair of socks, bit of hexy and metal mug/mess tin, torch, HMNVS or CWS, spare batteries, a good deal of room (they were saying 50% but…) for any spare ammo radios or section kit you may get dumped with.
The British Army never had an official pouch for Sterling SMG magazines, soldiers just placed them in the standard 58 pattern. The Canadians did things rather differently and issued a dedicated pouch that could take three magazines for their version of the gun, the C1. Tonight we are looking at one of these pouches, designed to work with the 82 pattern webbing set. The pouch is designed to hold three magazines and is made from a dark green nylon fabric:The top flap is secured with a plastic quick release buckle and webbing tab:The back of the flap has two plastic fasteners to attach it to the 82 belt, with Velcro to help secure them:Each individual pocket has a loop of nylon webbing inside that helps draw out the magazine:You pull these upwards and they draw the base of the magazines vertically up so they can be gripped and pulled out:As is usual with these sort of pouches, drainage holes are fitted at the base of the pouch:The C1 SMG used different magazines to the British Sterling, so British magazines do not fit into these pouches. There were a number of differences between British guns and Canadian examples:
- C1 had a one piece bolt, the UK one had a two piece
- different recoil springs
- Canadian magazines had a basic follower (10 and 30 round capacity), UK ones a roller which was far more reliable.
- trigger groups and shape of the trigger gurards are different
- rear butts are slightly different (the UK one is lighter with more holes in the strut)
- mag releases are different
- front and rear sights are different (C1 SMG used the same front sight as the FN C1 and C2 family of small arms, and the front sight adjusting screw was the same as the arctic trigger guard retaining screw on the C1 and C2.
- different bayonets are used (FNC1 on Canadain guns and the No5 jungle carbine bayonet on the UK ones)
- end caps are different
- on some UK versions the protective surfaces were painted, while the C1 SMG was phosphated
The birth of the jet era saw a large number of different designs of aircraft developed, with many lasting only a few years in service before being made obsolete as technology advanced rapidly. The Supermarine Attacker was one of these short lived designed, but has its place in history as being the first jet adopted by the Royal Navy. Tonight we have a fine period postcard showing the aircraft in flight:The Attacker developed from a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter jet project, under Air Ministry Specification E.10 of 1944 (the E for experimental). The design of the Attacker used the laminar flow straight-wings of the Supermarine Spiteful.The project was intended to provide an interim fighter for the RAF while another aircraft, the Gloster E.1/44 also using the Nene engine, was developed. The Nene engine had intakes either side of the fuselage in front of the wings:And exhausted through a single jet at the rear of the aircraft:An order for three prototypes was placed on 30 August 1944, the second and third of which were to be navalised. An order for a further 24 pre-production aircraft, six for the RAF and the remaining 18 for the Fleet Air Arm was placed on 7 July 1945.
Handling problems with the Spiteful prototype delayed progress on the jet-powered version, leading to the pre-production order of 24 being stopped, although work on the three prototypes continued. The Fleet Air Arm instead bought 18 de Havilland Vampire Mk. 20s to gain experience with jet aircraft. The RAF rejected both designs since they offered no perceptible performance advantage over the contemporary Gloster Meteor and the de Havilland Vampire, the RAF’s first two operational jet aircraft. Supermarine offered a navalised version of the project to the Admiralty. The prototype Type 392 serial number TS409 land version was first flown on 27 July 1946, by test pilot Jeffrey Quill. This aircraft’s ownership can clearly be seen from the large ‘Royal Navy’ painted on the fuselage near the tail:The Attacker suffered from deficiencies which led to it quickly being superseded; one being that the aircraft retained the Spiteful’s tail-wheel undercarriage (due to the extent of the re-tooling that would have been required to alter the Spiteful’s wing), rather than a nose-wheel undercarriage, thus making the Attacker more difficult to land on aircraft carriers. This same tail-down attitude meant that when operating from grass airfields the jet exhaust would create a long furrow in the ground that “three men could lie down in”. Also the new wing was apparently aerodynamically inferior to the original Spitfire elliptic one, with lower critical Mach number, leading to someone quipping that “they rather should have left the Spitfire wing on the thing”.
The first navalised prototype, Type 398 TS413 flew on 17 June 1947 flown by test pilot Mike Lithgow, three years after the Meteor had made its first flight. Production orders for the FAA were placed in November 1949. The first production aircraft to take to the skies was the F.1 variant in 1950, entering service with the FAA in August 1951 with the first squadron being 800 Naval Air Squadron. The aircraft had its cockpit high on top of the fuselage, giving the pilot good visibility:The F.1’s armament consisted of four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk. V cannons, with 125 rounds of ammunition per gun. It was powered by a single Rolls-Royce Nene Mk. 101 turbojet engine.
The Attacker had a brief career with the Fleet Air Arm, not seeing any action during its time with the FAA and being taken out of first-line service in 1954. It remained in service with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) for a little while longer, being taken out of service in early 1957. The Attacker was replaced in the front line squadrons by the later and more capable Hawker Sea Hawk and de Havilland Sea Venom.
Following the breakup of the Former Yugoslavia civil war broke out. In 1999 a peacekeeping force, led by NATO, was sent into Kosovo to secure the area and prevent ethnic cleansing. The British contributed 19,000 troops to the mission, known as KFOR. As with many military operations, troops adopted unofficial t-shirts to mark their time in the area, and today we are looking at a small selection of these:The simplest of these t-shirts has an embroidered NATO star on it and the legend ‘Kosovo Force KFOR’ around it:Note also the small blue NATO symbol on the sleeve. The second of these shirts takes as its inspiration American gym t-shirts of the past, with the term ‘Kosovo Force Athletic Dept’ on the front and the ‘KFOR’ shield logo:The third t-shirt has an embroidered logo for Operation Agricola VII and the Multinational Brigade Centre:The Multinational Brigade Centre covered the areas of Pristina and Podujevo and was British led at the time. The fourth and final t-shirt of this set, plays on a popular advertising slogan for the sports company ‘Nike’. The front of the t-shirt says ‘JUST’ in big letters down the front with a blue NATO star:Whilst the rear says ‘DID IT’ with ‘Kosovo Force’ below and the KFOR shield logo:When NATO went into Kosovo it had a clearly defined mandate:
- to deter renewed hostility and threats against Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serb forces;
- to establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and civil order;
- to demilitarise the Kosovo Liberation Army;
- to support the international humanitarian effort;
- to coordinate with and support the international civil presence.
Today, KFOR focuses on building a secure environment in which all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origins, can live in peace and, with international aid, democracy and civil society are gradually gaining strength. KFOR tasks have included:
- assistance with the return or relocation of displaced persons and refugees;
- reconstruction and demining;
- medical assistance;
- security and public order;
- security of ethnic minorities;
- protection of patrimonial sites;
- border security;
- interdiction of cross-border weapons smuggling;
- implementation of a Kosovo-wide weapons, ammunition and explosives amnesty programme;
- weapons destruction;
- support for the establishment of civilian institutions, law and order, the judicial and penal system, the electoral process and other aspects of the political, economic and social life of the province.
Canada was unusual in issuing a dedicated mess tins pouch with their 51 pattern webbing set. They carried this practice on with the 64 pattern set, with the new design made of the same plasiticised cotton as the other elements of this web sets. The mess tins pouch is very similar in basic design to the grenade pouch we looked at a couple of weeks ago. The pouch is made of green waterproofed cotton and is a square shape:The lid is secured with a plastic quick release buckle and cotton tab:The back of the pouch has the same belt loop as the grenade pouch:Again this is secured with Velco, allowing it to be easily attached to a belt or removed:Whilst this Velcro was fine when the pouch was new, as it wore it became less ‘sticky’ and there was an increased danger of the pouch dropping off when he wearer least wanted it to! The pouch is perfectly sized to take a pair of Canadian style mess tins:Apparently the mess tin carrier was frequently used for carrying a Canadian soldier’s waterproof gear rather than mess tins. I rather like the concept of a dedicated mess tin pouch, but it is a concept that was not adopted by any other military and the Canadians themselves dropped the dedicated pouch when they introduced the 82 pattern set- apparently there was concern that aluminium mess tins could lead to Alzheimer’s in Canada. Notably the British are still using aluminium mess tins…