When did the Army change to clutch back jump wings?

Field Guide to US Paratrooper BadgesThis question has ended my article about jump wings for a long time. Recently I was contacted by Joe Weingarten who was able to shed some light on this.

The US Army changed to clutch back in late 1944 for all wings, badges etc. However many manufacturers continued to make pin back until the start of the Vietnam era. The pin back badges were sold in Base and Post Exchanges as these are considered private sales and not government contract.

The Army has never stopped issuing the WWII design which is still in use today. But by 1950 they were issuing only clutch backs. During the Vietman era they moved to the plated badges and by 1974 silver filled were no longer issued.

Joe is the author of the book “Field Guide to US Paratrooper Badges“, which you can buy at Amazon. Joe also has a web site selling very nice reproduction sterling jump wings. His BB&B reproduction has already been discussed on this site, but he has them with almost all the different hallmarks you can think of.


German escape compass?

These photos of a small German compass were sent to me by Nikolaas Ottevaere. The compass is 25mm wide and 8mm tall. That’s a bit large to have been an escape compass, but I recently stumbled upon a very similar German compass at a local historical exhibit. It was attached to a WW1 German whistle. So maybe Niklaas’ compass is also of WW1 origin. Both have indicators N-0-S-W, which is German.

If you click on the picture of the whistle, you will see a photo of the explanation at the museum (in Dutch). It is the Provincial Erfgoedcentrum at Ename, Belgium that has a temporary exhibit of artefacts from WW1 and WW2 on loan from people from the area.

Unidentified German compass
WW1 German whistle with compass


In English the bottom part of the caption reads “The best story is told by a small whistle with a compass. Soldiers in WW1 used it for emergency signals and for orientation. A German soldier billeted at a farm gave it to the farmer’s son as a goodbye present. He held on to it for the rest of his life and then passed it on to his own son who still looks after it today.


10 year anniversary militaria sale

DSC_7090For the occasion of the holidays and the 10 year anniversary of my web site, I have listed many new US WW2 collectibles for sale.

This also includes rare paratrooper items:
PPN-2 Eureka beacon set, BUPS beacon, M-227 signal lamp, Airborne medic stretcher, A-4 and A-5 aerial delivery containers, a complete pigeon parachuting set, Griswold bag and much more.

View items for sale here

If you see something you like, send me an e-mail so we can work out the details.


Update on CL marked invasion armflag

In his search to find the meaning of the CL letters on the invasion armband, Brian Soper wrote to a magazine published in the States called World War II. They have a section where readers send in information concerning artifacts they need help in identifying the who -what- where about them. The curators at the National World War 2 museum help in solving the readers artifact mysteries if they can. He sent them the armband and what they came up with-sounds plausible enough:

The letters may stand for ‘Chalk Leader’. A chalk being a stick of paratroopers in a plane, which refers to their number chalked onto the hull of their assigned C-47. And the Chalk Leader being the NCO or officer responsible for loading them and their cargo on board. Click on the details of the photos to read more.

Hopefully someone who reads the magazine here will know for sure or remember the armband.


Canadian parachutist tribute

claude-villeneuve-canadian-paraCanadian army major Claude Villeneuve sent me some pictures of himself during the D-Day celebration at Siffleur Falls in the Canadian Rockies on 6 June 2015. The gentleman on his right jumped 20 minutes past Midnight on 6 June 1944 with the Pathfinders of 21 Independent Parachute Company as part of C Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion tasked to protect 3 Parachute Brigade DZ ā€œVā€

The four peaks of the Siffleur Mountain are named after the four battle honors of the Battalion: NORMANDY, ARDENNES, RHINE and ELBE. Below are the colors offered by the Parachute Regiment Association on 6 June 1974 to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion since the battalion never received any regimental colors because of its short existence 1943-1945.

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was the only Canadian unit that fought during the Battle of the Bulge.

Claude himself served in Afghanistan.
four-peaks image007


Military vehicles tour in Flemish Ardennes

2015-09-27 13.29.36Last Sunday, my son and I rode along with a tour of military vehicles starting in our village. With over 40 Jeeps and other vehicles of Yeomanry and Call of Duty members, we rode around our beautiful Flemish Ardennes in sunny weather.

Thank you Johan for driving us in your slat grill Willy’s Jeep! I really got the taste of it now and I’m seriously working on getting my own Jeep.

View photo album here


Invasion armflag Operation Dragoon

toundasarmbandThese photos were sent to me by Lisa Sharik, deputy director of the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, TX. She read the article on all the different variations and thought she’s share this special one from the museum. It came from Manuel Toundas with the Recon Company, 636th Tank Destroyer Bn, from Operation Dragoon. The museum is about to put it on display.

On the inside, it has been marked with PFC Toundas’ details and what looks like the names of other soldiers in his battalion.



Review Springfield M1903A3 by Apple Airsoft

Apple Airsoft Springfield M1903A3

Deactivated Springfields are hard to find over here, and expensive for an old bolt action rifle. For a long time, I toyed with the idea to build a reproduction M1903A4 sniper rifle. I had pretty much given up on the idea until I saw this reproduction. This could be come that sniper rifle after all!

I bought this M1903A3 because the A3 is the perfect platform to convert into an A4. The A4 is basically an A3 with the rear sight replaced by a scope mount and scope. The bolt handle got a cut-out in order not to bust the scope while reloading and the front sight was removed. Sounds easy enough, but what ever is?

The Apple Airsoft version is full metal and wood, marked REMINGTON M1903A3 etc., as per the originals, and the safety catch and bolt cut-off bear the correct markings. No shallow laser engraving here, but proper deep engraving.

Read the full review here