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Old 12-09-2018, 04:10 PM   #211
tubist73
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Here we have some of the tropical uniform of a Royal Navy anti-aircraft gunner. Part of his service was on board the frigate H.M.S. Barle, but I haven't been able to do much research to date.

Shown here are his singlet with spinal piece (a throwback to the time it was believed thick spinal protection would reduce heat stroke), tropical shorts (dated 1942), money belt and jackknife with lanyard. The white duck cap is actually from another grouping and features a very over-the-top bow on the H.M.S. tally.

Matthew
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:53 PM   #212
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Here's a quick update with a pre-WW1 full dress uniform for a bandsman in the Durham Light Infantry, in this case a trombonist. All parts of the uniform (except the boots) are original pre-war items. The one piece I do not have is the full dress cap that would normally have been worn by the band musicians - in the dark green of the light infantry regiments. You can also see this in the colour of the collar and cuffs.

The brass badge on the right sleeve was worn by all bandsmen and continues in use even today in the modern British military band uniforms (just updated with the Queen's crown at the top). In fact, the whole uniform has essentially remained unchanged over the last century - the only difference being that modern bandsmen and women wear the spiked home service helmet on parade, rather than the cap.

Many pre- and inter-war images show bandsmen without any headgear at all but this looks a little strange on my bald mannequin! Maybe one day a pre-WW1 light infantry cap will fall into my hands....but I won't hold my breath.

Matthew
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:01 PM   #213
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And here are a final few shots of the uniform, showing the wings worn by military musicians in Britain and many other countries. This uniform is different from that worn by military buglers and drummers; these were often more ornate, with extra piping and tape all over.

The Slade-Wallace buff leather belt still has a Queen Victoria's buckle, as was common up to and during the Great War. Old stocks were used up and often buckles, buttons and other smaller insignia were simply left unchanged until worn out or replaced.
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Old 08-24-2019, 11:37 AM   #214
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After a long hiatus here are a few new mannequins suitable for the hot summer weather we've been enjoying/suffering through in Europe recently.

First up is the very un-sexy British infantryman in tropical service dress. This look remained unchanged for many decades, with little to differentiate the WW1 and WW2 soldiers serving in India, the Middle East and Africa, other than small details. Many of the same items were used throughout until updated later in the Second World War. These soldiers usually received new versions of uniforms, equipment and weapons last of all.

This figure represents an infantryman in the early years of the Great War, around 1915. He wears a pre-war khaki drill jacket with stand-and-fall collar, pointed pocket flaps, double neck pleats and gauntlet cuffs. These jackets were soon replaced by the simplified version. The shorts belonged to a Gordon Highlanders Sgt who was captured in 1914 and later served in India (see post #150). These are the earliest pattern of shorts I have and close enough for WW1. In fact many shorts seen during the war were just cut down trousers.

Everything else - apart from my trusty 1942 Slovakian boots - is dated 1915 or earlier. Note the hooked quillon bayonet (1910 marked to Cameronians), cork Wolseley 'pith' helmet (1915, Hawkes maker) and early 2nd issue haversack (1911, 2nd Bttn Welsh Regt.) It has taken many years to pick up items here and there to make a complete early set in matching colours and condition but, as most of you appreciate, very satisfying!

Matthew
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:24 PM   #215
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Great mannequin Nice to see the hooked quillon bayonet, it looks uncomfortable to walk in with the kit rubbing along the left leg.
Thanks for sharing, Mark
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Old 08-25-2019, 04:55 AM   #216
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Thanks, Mark. I know what you mean about the quillon - a logical idea for close quarter bayonet fighting (which rarely happened) but for the rest of the time something to snag on equipment, clothing and you. No wonder it was phased out after a few years.

Here is another tropical display. This time a Royal Air Force airman, somewhere in the western desert around 1941-2. At this time the RAF was still struggling to keep up with the Luftwaffe, with too few modern aircraft after the losses of the Battle of Britain and only obsolete models to fill the gaps. One of my neighbours many years ago, Arthur, was an ex-RAF mechanic who served in the western desert at this time. This is a small tribute to him and all those who achieved so much in this theatre, with so few resources and in such difficult conditions.

This airman wears the standard RAF khaki service dress jacket. It has several differences from the equivalent army jacket, including the pocket flaps, lower pockets and an integrated half belt. The eagle shoulder patches were once red, now faded to a dull pink. He also wears RAF pattern shorts, boots and a 1941-dated aertex shirt with the standard Air Ministry stamps (see 3rd image). This shirt was also slightly different from the army style and did not have shoulder straps. Finally, the pith helmet is a non-standard type with rounded front brim, although it is official issue and dated 1942 inside.

Matthew
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:22 AM   #217
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And now we imagine our airman has been put on sentry duty at the edge of a desert airfield, in the chill of the north African night. He has donned his heavy overcoat, changed headgear and is carrying his SMLE rifle, just in case.

The coat is again similar to the army style but remains a distinct RAF model, as shown by the inside label (image 3): Coats, Great, Blue Grey, Other Airmen. It is a nice early example dated 1940. The coat has a wide collar that can be worn up or down, with a securing tab underneath to keep it closed tightly in bad weather. It wasn't only the German military who wasted resources producing specific items of clothing and equipment that could easily have been standardised across all branches - the historical enmity between the Royal Navy, Army and RAF is well documented!

He is now wearing the standard RAF field service cap; this example is very well worn (lots of hair grease on the lining) and dates to 1941. The brass badge has been polished so much as to be almost smooth, with few details left. His Mk III* rifle is of First World War vintage and was standard issue to all troops at this time. He has added a canvas breech cover to keep out some of the desert sand, this example being dated 1940 inside (image 4).

Everyone loves seeing the uniforms and equipment of the pilots but, without the greater numbers of supporting staff, none of them would have ever been able to get into the air. Here's to the unsung, unglamorous but essential men and women of the Royal Air Force.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:03 AM   #218
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This is an excellent collection, I love the British early war period. The displays with small 'back stories' compliment each other very well and remind me of the books by Richard Ingram and Martin Brayley: 'The World War Two Tommy' and 'Khaki Drill and Jungle Green' two of my favourite books
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:29 AM   #219
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubist73 View Post
The final picture shows his spurs, swagger stick and roll of surgical/medical tools. Some of these I recognise but several look very unusual and scary! I'm sure a doctor would be able to identify their design and purpose with an experienced eye.
The more I look the more amazed I am, the small detail shots are invaluable. Also (as an RAMC officer myself) I appreciate the Medical Officer mannequin - the instrument roll looks like a suturing/minor wound kit - scalpel (debriding necrotic tissue), Spencer-Wells 5" artery forceps (ligating vessels, holding needles), McKindoes dissecting forceps (removing foreign bodies, securing tissue whilst suturing) Rampleys prep forceps (for iodine soaked swabs). Obv this lot would need sterilising (prob by boiling then) but once in this roll would not be sterilised anymore - and this before anti-biotics!
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:37 PM   #220
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Thanks for the input Seigfried. Especially the expert comments on the surgical items. I have a family member who was a surgical nurse who helped me understand some of the tools but you obviously recognise all these very specific bits of equipment. And I agree about both of those excellent reference books - they're invaluable for collectors of British stuff.

Another quick update today, this time a uniform built around a coloured field service cap from the Rifle Brigade. This was purchased within a lot from Germany, including various British sleeve insignia, metal and cloth shoulder titles. All were supposed to have been brought back from North Africa by a member of the Afrika Korps. This cap came with a photo of the original owner, including his silver RB badge with the crown snapped off at the top. The last 2 images show a complete badge, then the damaged original and photo. Unfortunately, there is only the first name of the rifleman written on the back, so research is almost impossible. I wonder what happened to him?

The mannequin represents our unknown soldier as he might have appeared walking out in Cairo or Alexandria around 1940-41. This was the last time the khaki service dress jacket might have been worn, before being replaced by the much more comfortable aertex shirts and bush jackets. The outfit includes the 1940-dated jacket, khaki drill trousers, 1939-dated boots and an interwar 1908 Pattern belt, often worn by veteran soldiers as a mark of their experience.

Matthew
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:45 PM   #221
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I've started to revisit some displays as new or improved items are aquired to help add to the authenticity or interest of the subject. I recently went back to this officer's service dress jacket of a 2nd Lt. in the West Somerset Yeomanry. From memory, I purchased this many years ago from a fellow member here on the WAF. The original display appeared in post #27.

The jacket is in beautiful condition, named inside and came with the very rare original insignia and buttons for the West Somerset Yeomanry. It is a huge size and comfortably fits a modern 6'2" (188 cm) mannequin. I've now put together several new items in a similar large size to make an updated display. The cavalry-style Sam Browne rig now holds an officer's sword which looks very snazzy, but I'm guessing cavalry officers would have used the Pattern 1908 sword in action, the same as the troopers. Does anyone know the regulations or practice in this case?

The jacket is dated 1916 and seems to have been worn through the two injuries suffered by the officer before he was invalided out of the army in mid-1918. I have managed to piece together more of his interesting history - he was born in Somerset, moved to Canada, then enlisted in the 30th Bttn CEF aged 23 and returned to the UK. He then transferred into the Somerset LI before joining the yeomanry after Gallipoli. He then served with them throughout the Middle East before the whole unit was retrained as infantry and joined the Somerset LI (as the 12th Bttn) on the Western Front. What a saga. He eventually live to the ripe old age of 90 and no doubt had plenty of tales to tell!

Matthew
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Old 09-02-2019, 04:42 PM   #222
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Here is a long-term project that I've been trying to put together for several years now: the full saddle and equipment of a British cavalry trooper in the Great War. This is not easy stuff to find, especially in good enough condition and with verifiable dates. A lot of the WW1 equipment seems to have been re-used right up to the final cavalry actions in 1941, and the saddles have been in service even longer with mounted police units. (Side note: this saddle was actually being ridden on just before I bought it.)

So far I have managed to bring together a Universal Pattern saddle, with leather in nice condition, and most of the accessories that would have been attached to it like the saddle bags, wooden stake and round mess tin. Many of these are wartime dated, from between 1909 - 1915. The rifle bucket on the right side is undated (with 1915 Mk III SMLE) and the blanket is WW2 vintage. Unfortunately, I had to use an old suitcase in lieu of a horse!

I'd now like to kit the saddle out with a few more personal items such as the greatcoat and make it look more 'lived in', as it might have appeared on campaign. I need to find some original stirrups and straps from somewhere. It would also be nice to try adding a cavalry mannequin but this will require a lot of planning and preparation with my limited resources. Watch this space...

Matthew
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Old 09-02-2019, 05:17 PM   #223
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One of the toughest aspects of putting this all together has been trying to figure out how to attach everything, especially not having any experience with horses myself. There are plenty of images of horses and cavalry from the Great War, but very few with detailed inside views of how everything was held together. If anyone can recommend a detailed source of this information for British cavalry I would be grateful.

These last two shots highlight the 1908 Pattern cavalry sword. This early example is dated 1911 and still has the wartime dark green paint. There is a shrapnel or bullet hole evident in the guard, which makes me wonder how and when this saw action? It was purchased in Germany where it had been in a family's possession for many years, including the suede wrist strap still attached - who knows how it was brought back there after the war.

These tantalizing clues are what make collecting and preserving historical artifacts so interesting for me.
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