The British Army’s two main conflicts of the twenty-first century so far have been fought in hot and dusty conditions. This has led to very rapid improvements in the military’s hot weather gear and the introduction of new equipment specifically designed for this environment. Tonight we are looking at one such piece of personal kit, a pair of dust goggles:As with much equipment brought in to deal with an urgent operational need, there are numerous variants and manufacturers of dust goggles that can be seen in phtotographs- some officially supplied by the MoD and other bought by soldiers themselves when they either found the issue equipment wanting or wished to increase their ‘allyness’. This pair of goggles are some of the most basic and were manufactured by ‘Scott’ in the USA and are based off sports goggles. The goggles themselves are made of rubber and plastic, with a foam backing cushion:Note the manufacturer’s name embossed into the foam padding. Cut outs around the frame allow air to enter through the foam and keep the wearer cool:An adjustable elasticated strap is provided that helps hold them securely to the head or a helmet, note the plasticised strips on this to help with grip so it doesn’t slide up or down:The military markings on these goggles are very hard to read, being raised lettering inside the mask at the top, here we see their designation ‘Classic Downhill Type’:The name reflects the goggles origins as a civilian sporting design. Even harder to read is the NSN number:These goggles were used at the start of the conflicts before being replaced with smaller, lighter and more comfortable designs. Here a soldier (probably a support troop) wears this style of goggle:Like so much of this kit from the War on Terror, these goggles are readily available for very low prices, this pair for instance costing £2.
Hand protection in hot climates is always problematic. These days it is common for soldiers to be issued with gloves to help them grip their rifles and to offer some protection to their hands whilst patrolling urban environments. The problem with gloves is that they can become very warm, especially in already arid conditions. To meet this dual challenge, the British Army issued a lightweight desert glove in a desert DPM fabric:These gloves are made of a very thin leather- the material being ideal as it is durable, non-slip, provides a level of breathability and is thin enough to keep overheating to a minimum. The back of the gloves have an extra thickness of this leather over the knuckles to help provide a bit more protection:A nylon strap passes over the wrist to allow the gloves to be tightened:With a corresponding strip of elastic and friction buckle on the opposite side:The label in the inside of one of the gloves indicate that these are a size 10 and has the NSN number for the garment:The official description of the gloves is interesting:
8415-99-490-4287 GLOVES,COMBAT,WARM WEATHER MATL HAIR SHEEP LEATHER;INFRARED REFLECTIVE(IRR); DESERT DPM;UNLINED W/WEBBING WRIST STRAPS & PADDED KNUCKLES;SIZE 8
From this it seems the leather used to make the gloves comes from sheep rather than the more usual pig or cow leather, which might explain why it is so soft and pliable. Interestingly the same stores catalogue refers to the gloves being available in temperate green DPM but this does not seem to have been the case and there are reports of soldiers dying the desert gloves green for use in woodland environments.
When I received these gloves I tried them on, of course, and was quite surprised to find tucked inside the little piece of cardboard with the care instructions printed on it:By all accounts these gloves were well liked by those issued with them and they definitely have the feeling of being a well-made piece of kit. As with so much of this desert kit left over from Afghanistan and Iraq they are eaily available at low prices.
It has been a while since we last looked at a Desert DPM MOLLE pouch, so tonight we are going to look at the water bottle pouch from this set. This pouch is one of the largest components of the MOLLE system:It is designed to carry the standard black plastic 1L water bottle that has been in service since the early 1960s (see here for more on the bottle):The pouch is made from the usual infra-red resistant Cordua nylon fabric, printed in desert DPM camouflage and secured with a pull tab fastener:The lid is also secured with a large Velcro tab under the top flap:A metal grommet on the base allows water to drain out of the pouch if needed:The back of the pouch has the usual heavy duty straps and lift the dot fasteners of all the MOLLE pouches:The label indicates that this pouch was manufactured in 2007:The water bottle pouch is up there with ammunition for having to carry a lot of weight, and the straps are suitably heavy duty. They only lasted a small period of time in front line service before being replaced with better sets and like all this kit, these pouches are readily available and sell for peanuts- this one cost me just £1.
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.
Over the past year we have looked at a number of different pouches used by the British Army to carry ammunition for the 40mm underslung grenade launcher. As well as individual pouches to attach to a MOLLE system, there was also an eleven round bandolier that was sometimes issued to personnel with the launcher:This bandolier is made from the same infra red resistant Cordua nylon as PLCE equipment, and each pocket is secured with a flap fastened with Velcro and a press stud:The flap is actually a piece of tape that passes right down through the individual pouch, when pulled it forces a round to rise up out of the bandolier to be easily removed. The bandolier has a shoulder strap and a waist strap to help hold the weight of the ammunition:These are adjustable and use Fastex buckles to secure each strap:Oddly the bandolier does not have a label with an NSN on it, just a manufacturer’s label:Despite this, these are certainly British Army issue, the stores catalogue gives them a nominal auditing price of £47.23 each and the official NSN number of 1310-99-246-1848. The bandolier can be seen being worn in the photographs that accompany the SA80 weapons pamphlet:As with much modern equipment, these bandoliers are available cheaply and easily, with this one coming from eBay for less than £10. I just need one of these now!
The weapons pamphlet gives some basic information:
The grenade launcher is accurate and lightweight. It can be mounted underneath a variety of weapons. In UK service it is issued to certain units and is mounted underneath the L85A2:
a. The grenade launcher is a 40 mm single shot weapon with a side opening breech loading action, which is capable of producing:
(1) Accurate fire against point targets such as bunkers and windows up to 150 metres.
(2) Effective fire against area targets and troops in the open up to 350 metres.
(3) Its maximum effective range is 400 metres.
b. It is fitted with a quadrant sight, for use by day or night.
c. It can be fired from any of the conventional fire positions.
d. It fires a variety of 40 mm munitions including practice rounds.
e. It is fitted with an ambidextrous safety catch.
It would be fair to say that there must be hundreds of different designs of rank slide to collect for the British military forces. Each regiment has a full set of ranks, each with the regiment’s name embroidered below, unique designs exist for cadet and university units and the RAF and Royal Navy have their own designs. On top of this, these rank slides can be found in a variety of camouflage colours and in gold on black for the RN. Tonight we are looking at a small selection of rank slides for ratings in the Royal Navy:These are all on the now obsolete desert DPM fabric and follow the traditional badges for Royal Navy rates, embroidered in khaki for a subdued design. The lowest RN rate is that of Able Seaman, for many decades there was no badge at all, however today ABs wear a rate slide with the words ‘ROYAL NAVY’ embroidered on it:The next rate a sailor can aspire to is that of ‘Leading Hand’, equivalent to a corporal in the army. This rate is indicated by a traditional fouled anchor:The leading hand is the last of the junior rates, the next rate is the first rung on the ladder of ‘senior rates’ and is the Petty Officer. This rate is represented by a pair of crossed fouled anchors, with a crown above:The Petty Officer is equivalent to a sergeant in the army. Here we can see an RN Petty Officer in a hospital in Afghanistan wearing the rate slide shown above:A Chief Petty Officer has a badge consisting of a fouled anchor, surrounded by a rope ring and a laurel wreath with a crown above:The most senior RN rate is the Warrant Officer and he wears a badge with the coat of arms of the monarch on it. It is worth mentioning here the quality of the embroidery on this rate badge for a very intricate design:These rate badges, like most others, are very cheap and available in large quantities, most can be found for no more than a couple of pounds and they make a good starting point for the young collector of militaria.
A tourniquet is a piece of medical equipment that puts sufficient pressure on blood vessels to stop major arterial bleeding following severe trauma. These days a tourniquet is standard issue for British soldiers on active service and the standard issue example is called the ‘Combat Application Tourniquet’ or CAT:This tourniquet, which saw extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan, was revolutionary when it was introduced in 2006 as it allowed the injured soldier to apply the tourniquet to himself simply and easily for the first time. A medical study reported:
Four years continuous UK military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-7 was analysed for the impact of tourniquets in first aid. 107 tourniquets were applied to 70 patients. Most applications (64/70 patients) occurred after 2006, when tourniquets were issued to individual soldiers. 87% (61/70) survived their injuries.
The CAT tourniquet is an American product that uses a windlass to apply pressure to the effected region of the body:The tourniquet is passed around the limb and tightened by pulling the end through a plastic buckle as far as it will go:The plastic windlass is then twisted to increase the pressure, plastic hooks hold it in place one it is tightened, with a Velcro strap over the top securing it:This Velcro strap is white and has a space to write the time the tourniquet was applied- it is vital to know how long it has been applied to prevent tissue damage from blood deprivation:The following diagram shows in detail how to use the tourniquet:This particular example dates from 2012:And was manufactured in the US, hence the NSN number:These tourniquets have become ubiquitous in both British and US military service and soldiers’ faith in them is so high that some have taken to wearing them, loosely tightened, around their limbs before going into combat. All troops are trained in their use and it is typical for them to be carried in the pocket or on the front of MOLLE vests so they are readily available in combat.