My Griswold bag review dates from 2008 and I had forgotten all about it. When Johan Willaert sent me some photos I thought it would be interesting to update the article. You can now see an interesting side-by-side comparison of the early and later types, as well as an extended type.
This latest volume came out in April and in my opinion, it’s one of the best in the series so far. You know from earlier posts that the other volumes are also excellent though.
Philippe Jarbinet had a bit of a late start as an author, but you wouldn’t know from reading the albums. They are stunning in graphic detail and the story line is more than just telling the history. There’s human emotion, especially in this latest album.
We are first taken to Nice and the liberation of Southern France in August 1944. A black soldier called Virgil who is attached to a field artillery unit gets into a scuff with a white airborne soldier and is transferred to Bretagne and then on to Belgium, where he ends up in the Battle of the Bulge.
In Belgium, he will again run into the white officer and they come to rely on each other to escape the hell of the firefight at the ‘Skyline Drive’.
I already look forward to the next volume, completing this story.
Here’s a link to an interview with Philippe Jarbinet.
I made a step-by-step guide showing how to make plexiglass sweetheart grips for your own Colt M1911A1 replica.
Doesn’t this look amazing? So much better than the often terrible fake grips on Denix and airsoft replicas, and it’s pretty easy to do.
When I got my hands on a piece of scrap plexiglass, I got the idea to make a pair of custom grips for a replica Colt 45. My earliest memory of one like this is an example on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. They can also be found in reference books and many examples (original or not) can be found online. Pistols or revolvers with plexiglass grips were more common towards the end of the war, as I gather from photos in the many reference books I have.
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.
If you want to know more details and see a side-by-side comparison of an original BC-611 and the What Price Glory replica, I recommend this article: http://www.90thidpg.us/Equipment/Reviews/WPGBC611/index.html
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.
The Fort Benning Bayonet has many Airborne related articles & photos. They cover 1943-1945 and beyond: https://www.benning.army.mil/Library/Bayonet/index.html. I will surely be mining them for further interesting articles!
Laurent Gadreau alerted me about this orange-transparent 1943 dated US Army whistle sold at Lux Militaria.
It looks identical to other OD green whistles in my article about US Army issue whistles. Not sure why they would have made them in orange for the army. Presumably for training or survival equipment.
Interestingly, it allows us to see the interior structure of the whistle.
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.