I bought this set second hand, and I’m really happy with them. These radios look just like the original handie talkies, even down to the simulated crinkle paint finish. They have an actual PMR radio built in, so you can talk on any channel you like, and this on just 3 AA batteries. This as opposed to the original ones that could only communicate on one channel, and only with radios fitted with the same crystals for the same frequency as yours, and using a 90 Volt (!) battery. So for re-enactment these are just perfect. I already had my working EE-8 field phone set, but they are not so quickly set up, and of course they require a cable to connect them. With these BC-611s, you can also communicate with other PMR radios, which is great for historic vehicle tours and events. I look forward to taking them along on our next event! (when they are allowed again)
This reproduction has been around since 2014, but I never wanted to order them from the US. It would have been expensive, with shipping and customs duties. Now I just a chance to buy a used pair.
If you want to use them for display on a mannequin or in a showcase, there are some details you need to correct first, mainly to replace all philips head screws with regular screws. Orginals may still be found, but I think it’s not worth it for re-enactment and actual field use, which is what these were made for. However, I do plan to darken the paint to make it look older, and to add some white paint markings of my own. In books about Market Garden, for example you see these radios with large numbers hand-painted on them (usually at the bottom), so I might do that. Then there’s the antenna. The antenna cover and chain are like the orginal, but the actual aerial is a bit different from the original, which wasn’t as shiny and was slimmer, longer and had a small metal ball at its tip.
Dion Ruppert from Germany sent me these photos of a very special variation of the TL-122 flashlight that I had never seen before. At first sight, it looks like a TL-122-B or C, but it is not made of plastic. The whole body is made from a zinc-aluminum alloy (zamac) that looks like it was green anodized.
There are no markings anywhere. It has a spare bulb in the battery cover. It also looks like the actual switch has had the rivets removed and replaced with screws.
The pictures below were sent to me by Paul Reijnders some 10 years ago, and only now do we discover it’s true origin.
The flashlight has the crookneck shape, it’s green and looks old enough, but otherwise can’t be identified as a military issue flashlight. But then again, it may be. Given the all-metal construction, I would have pre-dated it to the TL-122-B and C. The lense cap is identical to the TL-122-A. The switch is of yet a different design. The clip is different in that it doesn’t have a simple round hole, but a shaped hole to easily hang it on a nail (I guess). Finally, there’s the manufacturer’s monogram on the battery cap. I am not entirely sure what letters it’s made up of. It looks like B S, so would that make that a ‘Bright Star’as well? Seems logical, but why is the logo on this one different from the other one?
Then Bastian Stieler from Germany sent me a comment, saying the marking on the batter cap is actually PS, and it’s a German made one. These a post war contracts made by the Metallwarenfabrik Peter Schlesinger located in Offenbach am Main (near Frankfurt am Main). Under the brand Hassia they already produced flashlights for the Wehrmacht.
I think it’s wonderful how new information on these flashlights and other items like compasses keeps turning up after all those years.
Laurent Gardiau, who also sent me photos of an orange transparent whistle (see below), sent me a picture of a pink whistle, also US Army 1943 marked. It is otherwise identical to the green ones. While we could think of the practicality of an orange whistle, pink seems an odd choice of color for the Army. I have never seen one like this before.
Philip Hoyle sent me this clipping of a wartime Fort Benning Bayonet newspaper. It mentions gold jump wings that were not officially authorized to wear but were given to Sgt. Karl N. Best, 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment and 501st PIB to commemorate his 50th Jump.
It’s worth noting here that the 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (later Battalion) had a rocky start and it’s prospects of ever seeing combat almost vanished. The 542nd was disbanded in July 1945. You can read a short history here.
Photos of this smooth-bodied unmarked TL-122 shaped flashlight were sent to me by Éric Lagache. He bought it at a flee market in the Norh of France. The body is made of brass and the neck of aluminum. He has annotated the parts for us (in French):
Keep sending me photos of other variants if you find one that’s not in the article yet. I’m amazed how new variants keep turning up after all these years.
This jump wing is unmarked and seems to have been made from a sand cast mold. The pin is peculiar too.
These pictures were sent to me by Beau Harper. Some people told me this could be an Italian theater made jump wing, but I never heard about that. I do know of bullion embroidered jump wings made in Italy, but not metal badges.
I just added these photos of TL-122-B flashlight with different manufacturer markings.
The one with GITS on the battery cover was sent to me by Joseph Deak. The one with the Bright Star brand comes from Greg Quays. His father was in the Australian Army in New Guinea ’43-45. The Australian troops got a bottle of beer in their rations. His father swapped his beer for this flashlight with a GI he met. A fun story!
Daniel Woditsch sent me these photos of a Taylor wrist compass he found by metal detecting at Gossersweiler by Dahn, Germany. This would have been on the way to the Rhein river for the Americans, although I don’t know about any particular combat having taken place there.
The point however, is that Daniel opened the compass and found that the compass module inside of the bakelite housing is actually fully self-contained and it even still has all of its liquid. The bottom of the module is still clearly marked MAR 24 1944. I can only assume that other Taylor wrist compasses are dated likewise, but you can’t see it unless you’d pry open the casing.
His compass looks remarkably well preserved for having been under the ground for 75 years! It’s a great opportunity for us to see the inside for once.