France asks Unesco to list Normandy landing beaches as World Heritage site

Jeep at Utah Beach

France has put in a request for the D-Day landing beaches at Normandy to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. This was announced by the ministry of Culture this week. The candidacy will be evaluated by Unesco in July 2019.

The area would cover the entire seaboard of about 80 kilometers from Ravenoville at the West to Ouistreham at the East.

As readers of this website will agree, this sacred ground and beautiful landscape fully deserves to be listed as world heritages site. When this happens, we can expect to see an extra impulse of tourism for Normandy. This will come at a welcome moment. Tourism will continue or grow up until the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and probably again at its centennial, but besides that attention is likely to wane, as we are already seeing in the West of Belgium with the commemorations of WWI nearing their conclusion this year. This recognition by Unesco, along with several new and improved museums in the area will make it ready for the future.

According to the region, every year nearly 2 million tourists visit the landing beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno Beach.

In the coming weeks, I will be doing some posts of my Normandy trip last fall, which I haven’t had the time to do yet.


Paratrooper sweetheart pillow covers

Camp Toccoa pillow cover

Pillow shams, or ‘sweetheart pillow covers’, were souvenirs from Army camps sent to parents, wives or sweethearts. This was an old tradition that continued during and after WW2. There are many designs, but in this new article I focus on those related to paratroops and gliders.

Usually, these items were not dated, so to be able to confirm them as WW2 and not post-war, we need to look at the names of camps and units that are used. A clue can be the existence of the camps after the war. For example, Camp Mackall was created out of nothing during the war and decommissioned before the end of the war. Camp Toccoa was open before the war, but paratroops were of course only trained there during the war, and it closed again at the end of the war.

Read the complete article


Canadian made luminous disk from Heavy Water War

Photo from The Heavy Water War

Remember the Canadian made pin-on type disk I wrote about? That was back in 2015.
Now I get a mail from Aaron who is also a collector of these disks and he bought this one. He says its very rare (it is) and the RLI pin-on badges were only used by the Norwegian paratroopers who went in to destroy the heavy water facility the Germans held so dear. Remember the TV series “The Heavy Water War“? Here you find more information about the actual history of the operation.

These badges were an order of magnitude brighter the other badges we have. This was because they ditched in the snow on skies and had to ski quite a distance, you could make out the glow from approximately 100 meters away easily! They are so hot that the Geiger counter maxes out before even getting close to it. I’m not sure you’d want to have this at home in your collection.

Read the full article about luminous disks


List of US jump wing and glider badge makers

I came across this list on a site called World War II Paratroopers where the author lists all known makers of US jump wings and glider qualification badges. The list includes a lot of manufacturers of which I do not yet have any photos in my article, so I would be grateful for any missing photos that people could send me!

I reworked this list into this table:

Read the full article on jump wings


British made TL-122 flashlight inspection set

New variations of the TL-122 keep turning up, but this one is extra special. This one was also sent to me by Tony Fitzgibbon. It’s an English Shimwell Alexander torch with small inspection mirrors and fiber optic cable. It’s ex Ministry of Defence. Not sure what it was used for, but it looks very professional in its carrying case! The fiber optic cable is plugged into the adaptor mounted into the lense ring.

Keep sending me any new variations you might come across!

Check out the full article on TL-122 flashlights.


1945 Superior Magneto wrist compass in box

Wrist compass in box © Chris Öhm-Kühnle

Chris, a fellow collector from Germany sent me these photos a Superior Magneto wrist compass, new in the original box. The box is marked Compass Instrument and Optical Co. N.Y. and it comes with the sales receipt of a sporting goods store. So it looks like it was sold post-war for boating or other outdoor activities. But the compass itself is dated 4-45. A very rare and interesting find!

See updated wrist compasses article


Gear Illustration collectors group from China

These collectors from China contacted me about this website they have where they provide details about original WW2 and other field gear. They also have a section on identifying fakes and reproductions.

The also kindly reposted my article with Tips for collectors and translated it into Chinese!




101st Airborne Market Garden tour August

Robert Cole monument

These are photos of the Market Garden trip I made with my son in August. I didn’t get around to posting them yet, but here they are, all 219 of them!

First you see photos from the Overloon war museum, which has a huge collection of vehicles! It is nothing like how I remember the museum from when I was little. I really recommend it.

Then you see photos from airborne related landmarks in the area where the 101st Airborne landed in Operation Market Garden:

The museum in Best was alright, but looking back, I would rather have driven around the area a bit more to see more landmarks.

View photo album


Another new gas brassard marking

Gas detection brassard Kenneth Benteyn

Kenneth Benteyn sent me a photo of his gas detection brassard which is in new condition.

As can be seen in the photo the marking 4/42 1 SL/E is nice and clear. 42 would be the year of manufacture, which can be deduced from the numbers on the other brassards, so 4/42 would be April 1942. SL the manufacturer? And E the lot code? We still don’t know for sure. Kenneth says he also could have bought a brassard with the same marking, but with an extra F added at the end.

I am amazed by the number of different codes that appears to exist. From the codes I have been able to gather from different collectors over the years, we can at least conclude:
– They were made from December 1939 to May 1944
– There were at least 5 different manufacturers

Refer to the list of codes in my article about WW2 gas detection brassards.


Airborne Cemetery Oosterbeek

The Airborne Cemetery in the autumn sun

The Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, also called the Airborne Cemetery, is a British war cemetery that mostly contains graves of airborne and glider troopers. They were mostly British, but also many Polish and some other nationalities enlisted in the British airborne forces. In the back near the cross are the graves of other troops.

Note the grave of a Dutch parachutist and an example of grouped headstones of crew members of a plane who died together.

I photographed the unit insignia on the headstones.

It’s only 5 minutes from the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek, and you should really visit both. In the autumn light and yellow leaves, the place looks really beautiful.

View photo album