Monday, July 2, 2018

French Alpine Snow Shovel, circa 1950's - 1960's, Le Grand Tetras, Bellegrarde AIN, France, Aluminum

While rummaging through the bunker, I ran across this old French alpine snow shovel that I picked up last year.  I haven't shown it on the blog, so here it goes.

This shovel is an early, post-WW2 shovel that was made for civilian use.  It was manufactured by the Raul Pautry Aluminum Household Goods factory in Bellegarde, France.  It was most likely made in the 1950's, or 1960's.

After WW2, civilian camping started to catch on in France and a number of manufacturers started making camping gear for the masses.  Aluminum was all the rage and was promoted as the best, and most modern material for camp gear.  The Raul Pautry company was one of the biggest manufacturers of aluminum camp gear.  They marketed their gear under the brand name of Le Grande Tetras.  The majority of the gear they produced was aluminum canteens and cookware, however it appears they also made a line of Alpine shovels.

Photo from a 1950's Le Grande Tetras catalog.

The Raul Paultry factory was located in Bellegarde, Ain, France, which is right on the border of Switzerland. (Ain is the equivalent of a county in France).  I believe the full, and official, name of the town is Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.  

Most of the early,  post-war, aluminum camping gear that was made in France, was basically copied from existing military gear from the 1930's and 1940's.  This shovel appears to be based on a Swiss military shovel that was produced during WW2.  You can read about the Swiss version on my blog page here:

Swiss Military Alpine Shovel dated 1939
This French version is slightly longer and slightly larger than the Swiss WW2 shovel, but is essentially the same.

The wooden handle is inserted into the blade shank socket, and a sliding tube is then slide over the spit shank to clamp the handle in place.  The tube is removable, but it is not a comfortable, or easy thing to do.  On the Swiss version, the handle is very easily removed by sliding the clamping tube.  I am not sure if this difference is a poor design element on the French shovel, or if the handle was not meant to be easily removable.

There do not appear to many of these Le Grand Tetras shovels around, so I would imagine that they were not very popular, or very few were produced.  No matter though, it has found a home with the other shovels in the bunker!

Let's take a closer look.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bundesgrenzschutz Butter Dish for Mess Kit and Field Rations, BGS Butterdose, Scho-Ka-Kola

Today we'll be building on the previous four blog postings, and add another piece of field mess gear, the classic German butter dish.

This particular dish was issued by the West German Border Police, better known as the BGS, or Bundesgrenzschutz.  Even though this dish is marked as BGS issue, it is the same type that would have been issued out to the other federal service branches and the civil defense agencies like the THW.

These dishes are made from a very hard plastic that resembles the older style of Bakelite.  They were intended to hold the butter ration or lard ration that was issued out to the German troops when they deployed to the field.

This dish is not marked with a date, so it may have been made anytime between the 1950's and 1980's.  Most likely though, it is an older dish from the late 1950's - 1960's. It is however, marked with "BGS" on the bottom, indicating it was issued to the Bundesgrenzschutz.

This same style of butter dish was issued out to the WW2 German troops, however there is a distinct difference between the war time dishes, and the post-war dishes.  The war time dishes have fewer lid threads and it only takes about a quarter turn to unscrew the lid.  The post-war dishes take 2-3 turns to remove the lid.  Regardless of the markings, the lid threads determine the age!

I find quite interesting that a tin of Scho-Ka-Kola chocolates fits perfectly inside the butter dish.  In fact it fits so perfectly, the lid screws completely down and the tin does not rattle!  Coincidence?  For now, this BGS butter dish will serve as a Scho-Ka-Kola tin holder!

Scho-Ka-Kola is a uniquely German style of "energy chocolate".  It is basically dark chocolate fortified with extra caffeine.  It was first made in 1935, and was issued to the WW2 German soldiers, sailors and aviators throughout the war.  After the war it remained popular, and is still manufactured and sold today.  You can read more about it here:

Let's take a look at this unique butter dish, and the Scho-Ka-Kola.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

West German Bund Issue, Esbit Stove, Bundeswehr, Bundesgrenzschutz, THW Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk

Today we'll take a look at a West German, Federal issued, Esbit Stove.

These little folding stoves were issued out to nearly every field trooper in the West German Army (Bundeswehr), Border Police (Bundesgrenzschutz), and all of the disaster relief agencies like the THW (Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk).

This particular stove is a post-war issued stove and is marked BUND, indicating it is West German Federal Government issued stove.  It also has the federal stock number stamped into it. 

These stoves were sold in the same configuration, without BUND or stock number, to civilians.

The Esbit stove was invented in 1936 and is designed to fit in a pocket or bread bag.  They burn solid fuel tablets made of hexamethylenetetramine.  These tablets ignite easy, and burn clean (no smoke), with a nearly invisible flame, for approximately 15 minutes per tablet.  The tablets were normally carried inside the stove when not in use.

The Esbit stoves were widely issued throughout WW2 to German troops and Civil Defense workers.  In fact, they can still be purchased today and are very popular with the ultralight hiking crowd. 

This particular stove has been used, and the fuel tablet residue is still cooked onto the inner tray.

To use the stove, the split top is opened up, forming both a pot stand and two legs for the stove.  

When the tablet has finished burning and the stove cools, it is folded up and tucked back into the bread bag.  Fast, clean, and easy.  

I have a couple of them and keep them with my German mess kits and bread bags.  If you have the kit, you need the stove!

Let's take a closer look.