Reproduction US escape compass on eBay

I came across this US model escape compass being offered on eBay as a reproduction. It looks like it’s really well made, so beware of these coming up for sale by other sellers later. The may be ‘mistaken’ for originals.

The seller even uses a photo from my website to compare his creation with an original, but he kindly agreed to quote me as the source.

Read the complete article on escape compasses


TL-122 -A USALite new in box

David White kindly sent me a photo of a USALite brand TL-122-A, new in the original box. Absolutely stunning, and it gives as a good idea of the original paint finish. The box may be commercial, but the flashlight would have looked the same.

Note that the lens cover on the box is angular, whereas the actual flashlight has a round lens cover.

Read the full article about TL-122 flashlights


French 3rd Zouave badge worn by 509th PIR

I recently picked up this badge that I had been searching for a long time. This silver device features a snarling hyena surmounting a crescent that bears the motto “J’y Suis, J’y Reste” “Here I am, Here I Remain”.

The reverse has removable clasp over 2 rings (like for beret attachment) and is inscribed in raised relief with DRAGO, PARIS, H 131.

The US paratroopers of the 509th PIR are allowed to wear this badge (usually on the right pocket) because on November 15th 1942 the 509th (then 2nd Btn 504th PIR) parachuted into Algeria to take control of the Youks Les bains airfield. The airfield was 200 miles from any US reinforcements and was defended by the French 3rd Zouaves Regiment which where dug in. No weapons where fired as the French commander walked forward and pinned his regiment badge onto the tunic of Lt. Colonel Edson Raff declaring themselves comrades.

This badge was the first foreign award that was allowed to be worn by US troops in WWII. In the book “First Airborne Taskforce”, there are many photos of paratroopers wearing this badge during the invasion of Southern France. As far as I can tell, my badge is a WWII-period badge, but if anyone has more information about it, I would love to learn more about it.


US Rangers memorial in Maiori, Italy

When on vacation at the Amalfi coast and Salerno-Napels region this summer, I visited some interesting WWII sites that I would like to share with you. I’m starting with the smallest one first: a monument to the contribution of the US Rangers during operation Avalanche – better known as the Salerno landings, executed on 9 September 1943 as part of the Allied invasion of Italy. The Italians withdrew from the war the day before the invasion, but the Allies landed in an area defended by German troops.

Things went South quickly that day when the 5th Army landed on a very broad 35-mile front, with the attacking Corps spread far apart and with a terrain highly favorable to the defender. A Ranger force under Colonel William O. Darby consisting of three US Ranger battalions and two British Commando units was tasked with holding the mountain passes leading to Naples, but no plan existed for linking the Ranger force up with X Corps’ follow-up units. Finally, although tactical surprise was unlikely, Clark ordered no naval preparatory bombardment take place, despite experience in the Pacific Theatre demonstrating it was absolutely necessary. The Rangers landed at Maiori and the Italian WWII monument on the seaside boulevard bears a plaque to their memory. Other than that, there’s nothing left to remind us of the presence of Americans in WWII.


Jump wings with 6 combat stars!

Glenn Pearl sent me this photo of these jump master wings with 6 (!) combat stars that belonged to his dad, CSM Horace Pearl. He was with the 82nd Airborne, 505th PIR.

Four of these stars were earned in WWII and 2 in Korea: Normandy (St. Mere-Eglise), Holland, Sicily, Salerno, Pyong Yang, and Munsani, Korea.

Even though these are post-war jump master wings, I thought these extraordinary wings deserve to be shown here.

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Transitional type TL-122 flashlight

Jeff Ruch sent me photos of this peculiar variation of the TL-122-A. It looks like it has been assembled from parts of different types of TL-122 flashlights. From the chrome plated switch, I would guess it was refurbished for the civilian market.

As for the battery cover, I think the black paint has worn off. It came off easily and TL-122-As with the original black paint on them are rare. Apart from the color, it looks just like the cover in one of the photos in my article.

Interestingly, the parts of this mix and match flashlight do fit together, and it actually still works.


Jump wings with skull

Robin van Leeuwen sent me these photos of jump wings with a skull on them. These would have belonged to a pathfinder of the 101st, although no name was provided. The wings look fine with the NS Meyer hallmark at the back, and the clasp looks good too, but what stands out to me is how smooth they are and how they seem to have been lacquered with some kind of varnish. I don’t think these are a recast though, because those are generally solid at the back, whereas these are hollow.

It’s impossible to tell when the skull device was added. I have no documentation on this type. I have found information about this practice during the Vietnam war, but I think these are WWII wings.

So any further background on this type of wings are welcome.


Allbright TL-122 flashlight in original box

Curt Cheeseman kindly send me this information that I would like to share here. I also updated my article about the TL-122 flashlights with it. Curt bought some items that belonged to a doctor in the 101st Airborne. Included in the trunk of items was a chestlite and an Allbright flashlight. Since the flashlight was OD, Curt made an assumption without proof that it was a military flashlight (private purchase) and left it at that. It was an early one with only Made in USA and patent pending on the bottom. Later, trying to upgrade the flashlight he came across one still in the box, but it was made a little later as it had a patent number and pending others. On the right, you see a picture of this flashlight with some Apr 1944 dated BA-30 batteries (wow!) and also a clipping from a March 1944 magazine describing the light. That is the extent of his research and he is fairly confident that it was used during WWII. I would think so too.

The box is really neat. Original boxes always are, but this one especially so because on the sides it shows the flashlight submersed in water for 24 hours, clip for hands free use, and a switch for signaling etc., all features that would useful in a military situation. The article also leads one to believe that it is currently (1944) in use by the military and will be available to civilians shortly or after the war.


Vesticant detector paint used on WW2 vehicles

Someone kindly commented on my article about gas detection brassards. There I mention that gas was also detected by pathfinders by applying paint to helmets and jump jacket sleeves.

Apparently US WW2 vehicles were also painted with this stuff. The area between the circle and the star on the hood would be filled with it. I had noticed this on some vehicles, but didn’t know what this different shade of green was for.

This article provides further details