Burma Death Railway Spike

Posted in Odds & Ends with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_ThailandFlag_of_Japan.svgFlag_of_AustraliaFlag_of_the_United_KingdomA couple of cool and evocative finds here from a contact in Thailand. These are Thai 1940 dated railway spikes from the ruined railway line that ran over 415 km from Thanbyuzayat in Burma to Ban Pong in Thailand. Many people know it only from it’s depiction in the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” where it crosses the Mae Klong river. I visited the site and Hellfire Pass in 2014 and I cannot believe the misery under which the slave laborers, both civilian and Allied POW, must have worked and died. A digger over there walked sections of the rail line that were never reused after the war and retrieved these spikes.

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A Career Navy Birchall in WW1 & WW2

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis orphaned British War Medal is impressed to K6690 F.BURCHELL L.STO R.N. Luckily today is Remembrance Day, so the Ancestry military records are free. He was hard to track down because the naming of the medal is in error. It belonged to George Victor Burchell, born in Preston in 1896. He joined the Royal Navy as a boy of 12. He served in both WW1 and WW2, however, all of his service post WW1 was on shore stations like HMS Defiance and HMS Vivid. He had postings on HMS Eagle both in 1918 as well as the next Eagle in the mid 30’s. His trade was listed as jeweller/watchmaker and since most of his berths were at torpedo training establishments, I think he most likely serviced the mechanisms in torpedoes. His rank on the medal was Leading Stoker, his final rank in 1942 was Leading Petty Officer.

Japanese 8mm Pistol Ammunition Cartons

Posted in Ammo & Magazine Pouches, Ammunition with tags , , , , on November 10, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_Japan.svgThese two cartons arrived in the mail today, all the way from the U.S. I expect you won’t be that excited by them but finding unopened cartons of wartime Japanese Nambu ammunition is almost unobtainium. Getting them into Canada from the States is a painful experience as any ammunition export from the US requires Department of the Interior approval. These two cartons are marked almost identically. The star marking is for the Tokyo First Arsenal. The first line of characters is “ju-yon-nen-shiki-ken-ju-jip-po”  which translates to “Type 14 Handgun Ammunition”. The second row is “ju-go-hatsu” meaning “15 rounds”. On the underneath of the cartons are the stamps for “sho” meaning Showa Year and 19.11, which translates to November 1944. These are perfect for my 1944 Type 14 Pistol here and fit into the front pocket of the 1944 holster I have here.

 

MP-34 Machine Pistol Bayonet

Posted in Bayonets with tags , , , , on November 6, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_NSDAP_(1920–1945).svgFlag_of_AustriaFlag_of_PortugalSurprisingly tough to find. These bayonets were manufactured by Simson in Austria for the MP-34 submachine gun. They were made from the Portuguese M1904 contract bayonet and supplied with the MP34 on the Portugal contract in 1942. Honestly, if you are down to a bayonet after emptying your MP34 then you are right up shit creek IMHO. Visually very similar to the 1904 bayonet, the key is the distance between the two fitting screws on the handle. Also note that the mannlicher M95 bayonet also fits this weapon. I have spent 5 years looking for one of these that wasn’t priced stupidly and EBay finally came through.

War Gas Smelling Kit

Posted in Gas Masks with tags , , , , on September 19, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomFlag_of_CanadaAfter the experience of WW1 gas use, there was a huge effort in equipping and educating military and civilians on protection from so-called “war gas”. Aside from the near universal provision of gas masks, there were also these gas samplers issued so that during training the trainee could get a first hand experience of what the gases actually smelled like. Interestingly each of the four bottles contained a sample of the actual chemical. Some sources say that the sample was simply a similar harmless chemical that mimicked the smell. But from the training guides it is clear that these did, in fact, contain mustard gas, phosgene, etc. A cautious sniff? Yeah bugger that.

This example was manufactured in Canada for the Department of Munitions & Supply by the Gelatin Products Company of Windsor, Ontario.

Mine Clearance Service Sleeve Badge

Posted in Medallions & Badges, Spanges, Campaign Shields & Cuff Titles with tags , , , on September 19, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomI’ve always liked this badge, large size, interesting design that isn’t yet another lion or national symbol. These badges are heavily copied. Look for a crack on the obverse running top left to bottom right, as well as poor detail on the rear of the stamping.

At the end of the Great War, the Admiralty appointed an International Mine Clearance Committee on which 26 countries were represented. The Supreme War Council allotted each Power an area to clear, the largest falling to Great Britain. Some 40,000 square miles of sea needed clearing. In February 1919 a Mine Clearance Service was formed with special rates of pay and conditions of service. Members of the Service wore a specific metal cuff badge and cap tally. By the end of 1919 over 23,000 Allied and 70 German mines had been swept with the loss of half a dozen minesweepers.

A Reunited Orphan Birchall

Posted in 1914-1918 Service Medals, Family Groups & Singles with tags , , , on September 19, 2017 by The Dude

Flag_of_the_United_KingdomThis single is a WW1 Victory Medal belonging to William Birchall. It is impressed to 20177 Pte. W. Birchall Essex R. William deployed to the Balkans on the 19th of September 1915. He was discharged on the 30th of March 1917 under category 16, “No longer fit for war service”, in this case because of wounds. William was also entitled to the Silver Wound Badge 152379.

What is fantastic about this humble medal is that I already had his 1914-15 Star from back in 2013 so getting these back together is very satisfying. I am still missing the BWM but my search goes on.