This picture was sent to me by Karel Menard. It came from a Canadian soldier who was trained in Canada during WWII, but was never deployed overseas.
This gas detection brassard looks identical in shape and construction to the British made ones, but the colour is more dark brown and the stitching is brown instead of white.
What mainly stands out is the different stamps on the inside. It is marked with a logo in an oval with a J, R and C? It’s hard to make out, but presumably, this would have been the manufacturer. The date stamp is NOV 13 1942. There’s also a Canadian broad arrow stamp on the inside, not visible on the photo.
These Canadian brassards are quite rare. More so than the British made ones.
Have you also struggled to keep the different French and Belgian fourrageres apart? They all seem to be red and green, don’t they? Or is it green and red? Photos in ads and articles are often of low quality and are a poor aid for hunting down the right ones for your collection.
Who was awarded which type of fourragere? How to identify an original WWII fourragere? In a new article on this website, I try to shed some light on this.
I’d like to share here the great pleasure we had of having Joris Nieuwint of The Battlefield Explorer as a guide for our latest battlefield tour in May. Our base of operations was Hotel Courage, right at the Nijmegen bridge. I also warmly recommend the hotel and the very friendly and helpful staff!
Joris speaks fluent English and knows his war history. On the first day, he guided us around Nijmegen, the Groesbeek Heigths, Grave, The Island etc. It was very enlightning to ‘walk the ground’ and see the lay of the land (and the bridges) with our own eyes. Joris is very knowledgable and has learned us a lot about the movie myths (and truths).
On the second day, we visited Arnhem, Oosterbeek and the surrounding area. It really brought home the massive scale of the operation, and the desperate situation for the British parachutists. We visited some sites I had never heard of or that I had only seen on TV and never quite understood how everything tied together. I’m sure there’s more we could have seen. In any case, Joris could keep on telling us about units, individual soldier’s stories, tactics and strategy.
We took part in the Sunset March at the bridge that was erected 10 years ago, on the sacred site of the infamous Waal River Crossing. Every day since the opening of this bridge, one ore more veterans have led an evening walk across the Waal, following the 48 street lights as they are lit pair by pair, at walking pace across the bridge.
Nijmegen is also a beautiful place to stay in its own right, and has much to offer to tourists. We enjoyed great food and drinks each day.
So don’t hesitate and book your tour with Joris. Tell him I said hello 😉
Alan Stanczik sent me the link to this interesting archive video about the ‘BUPS’. According to this, the AN/UPN1 & 2 would have been the actual BUPS, and not what most collectors commonly refer to as the BUPS, i.e. the long bag with the telescopic antenna and ground stakes you can see in the photos below, which is actually the AN/CRN-12. This was a post-war device (the manual is dated 1951).
Interestingly though, the paratrooper on the right carries the bag of CRN-12 antenna, along with the CRN-4 beacon, which came in the two padded bags you see here. The CRN-4 was a WWII device and it was used by American pathfinders during Operation Market Garden. From after action reports of the 101st Airborne, we do know that the antenna originally intended for the CRN-4 was replaced with another one after the drop on Holland, but I haven’t been able to find any further details about this.
The AN/UPN-1 & 2 is quite a large device and not really field portable, as you can see in this video:
If you know more about this, please comment here, or send me an email.
Fort Benning was the primary training center for the new US parachute troops, and it is the place where it all started in 1940 with the parachute test platoon. So, its newspaper is a potential trove of information about the training period.
In 2021, I found old issues of the newspaper still available online, although they have apparently moved to another address by now: https://www.benning.army.mil/Library/Bayonet/Index.html. These are immense PDFs and it took me a long time to go through them and filter out all paratrooper related content.
The first issue of those still available is from September 17, 1942. The Bayonet paper looked like this and maintained pretty much the same layout until the end of the war:
As you can see, in the first issue we can already find an interesting paratrooper related article, 26 Canadians Awarded Wings.
This tells us that Canadians also trained parachutists in the US, not only in Great Britain, but also that this was probably only the case for this particular group of 26. It says they returned to Canada to form the nucleus of the Canadian First Parachute Battalion.
The same issue also reports 505th Parachute Troops To Present Colors Initial Time. Since its activation, this was the first presentation of the colors at a regimental review ceremony, under command of Lieutenant Colonel James M. Gavin.
I have made a selection of clippings of only the paratrooper related articles, but only for 1942-1943, and the file is very heavy.
1944-1945 also looks very promising, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s hard to read from the screen and too many pages to just print everything.
Along with many new comic book releases around Saint Nicholas’, we finally get to read and admire the second part of the story that started with volume 9 – Black Boys, which came out in April 2021. It was worth the long wait! You can really see the craft en dedication that Philippe Jarbinet put into this new album.
The story takes us into the Belgian Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. The black soldier and the white airborne officer again cross paths, and again they have to rely on each other to survive.
In the end, this unlikely combination of two men develops a friendship that will last a lifetime.
The scenario is strong, and even though it’s emotional, it does not become cheesy.
All the uniforms, equipment and vehicles look very realistic, but maybe the most impressive achievement is how Jarbinet manages to capture the sensation of the winter. The watercolors really come to life in the snow, the tracks in it and the wrecks of vehicles half buried in it.
I hope that new albums of this same standard will keep coming every year.
Kees Smulders sent these very clear pictures from a Canadian made luminous disk in his own collection. He bought it 30 years ago at an army surplus store in Arnhem. It’s a Canadian disk, marked R.L.I. 1942 (RLI stands for Radium Industries Limited). It is still complete with its brown nubuck leather pouch with a brass press stud, and a tie down cord. I had never seen one like this in such good condition and with a pouch.
Bob Esposito kindly sent me this picture of the pillow cover that his father in-law Cosmo Barbieri sent to his parents while training at Ft. Bragg. He was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, serving in WWII during the years of 1944 to 1946.
This is one of several Ft Bragg souvenir pillow covers featured in my ever growing overview.
Camp Bragg was renamed Fort Bragg, to signify becoming a permanent Army post, on September 30th, 1922. Mainly paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne trained at Bragg (although apparently also Bob’s father in-law). Fort Bragg is still the home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces today.
It’s an interesting moment to bring this up, as Fort Bragg is soon to be renamed to Fort Liberty. Fort Bragg is currently named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general associated with being a slave owner and losing battles during the Civil War. It is one of nine Army installations slated for a name change. More info on that here.
This picture is from a WWII manual about aircraft survival equipment. It is dated 23 November 1943, and it clearly shows a Superior Magneto wrist compass with a canvas wrist strap. That’s much earlier than the earliest-dated Superior Magneto compass that we have found so far. Marcel Struijk sent me these pictures. The second picture shows more detailed photos from the kit. The color photo is from https://www.wwiisurvivalequipment.com/life-rafts-usaaf. This predates the earliest date I have seen on this type of compass by at least 6 months.
If you own a TL-122-B flashlight, chances are you noticed white residue on the olive drab plastic body. Maybe you even tried to wipe it off, only to find that after a while this white sheen reappears. What causes this?
The TL-122-B was replaced by the TL-122C and later the TL-122D because of the problems it had with a wax build-up on its surface and a bad smell.
Dan Navarro contacted me because he was doing some research on one of the four manufacturers of the TL-122-B, the Gits Molding Company. Gits made small portable chess sets during the war. It appears they used the same plastic material to make the flashlights. The chess sets had similar results. See photo showing an affected chess piece and one cleaned up.
Dan and I exchanged some thoughts about this, and I also asked my son, our scientist in residence. The white residue is probably paraffin wax. For injection molding in the 1940s, e.g. for flashlights, it was used to easily separate the molds from the plastic.
We are not sure though, why the white residue reappears a while after wiping it off. Probably because of the excess use of paraffin, followed by long exposure to heat or sunlight.
Dan’s understanding from the literature on the internet is that the U.S. government had the four contractors re-configure the formula to eliminate the problem with the flashlights. Most likely they substituted another chemical that performed the same function as the paraffin but without the bad effects.
So, for collectors of Gits flashlights and chess sets from 1942, we will just have to give them all a nice cleaning every two or three years to keep them presentable, or to leave them untouched.