Friday, June 15, 2018

Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk, THW, Kocheschirr, West German THW Messkit, PAL 88, 1988, German Federal Agency For Technical Relief

The other day I was rummaging through the bunker, and noticed that I have a pile of old West German, THW gear, that I haven't shown on the blog.  So with that in mind, I figured I'd start with the basic field kit.  So here it goes.  
Let's start with the classic Mess Kit.  We'll take a look at the other parts of the grouping in upcoming posts.

This particular mess kit is in new and unissued condition.  It is dated 1988, which is just before East and West Germany re-unified in 1989. 

This style of mess kit is nearly identical to the original, WW2, M31 German mess kits, but there are a couple of distinct differences.  The first is the style of bail lugs and the height.  The post-war kits are about 1/4 inch taller than the WW2 version.  Other than that, it's the same kit the WW2 troops were carrying.

Originally the THW, or German Federal Agency For Technical Relief as it is called in English, issued out a bread bag, canteen, mess kit, and silverware set that every trooper carried into the field.  These days, standard, pre-packaged, field rations are issued out. These new rations do not require the use of mess ware like this, so these old style kits are no longer issued.

This kit stamped PSL 88 on each component.  PSL are the initials of the manufacturer, and 88 is for the year, 1988.

The entire mess kit is strapped together with a black leather belt.  This belt was issued with this kit and is stamped BUND PSL.  BUND indicates this is official federal issue, and PSL is the manufacturer.  These belts are virtually identical to the WW2 versions.

The mess kit has the bottom "pot", an inner "bowl", and the top "cup".  

The "cup" can be used on its own, or used as a lid for the pot.  The handle of the "cup" can be used to lift and hold the bowl.

Traditionally these mess kits would be strapped to the outer loops of the bread bag.

In my opinion these old German mess kits never go out of style.  They are highly sought after by both collectors and "bushcrafters" alike.  I myself, collect them, and use them!

Let's take a closer look at this beautiful kit.

Monday, May 7, 2018

True Temper Flint Edge Kelly Works Pulaski, circa 1950's - 1960's, Restoration

The weather here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest has taken a turn for the better........with clear skies, warm temps, and a couple of days off, I decided to tackle a little project that's been pending for a year or so.  Time to re-handle an old Pulaski head that's been banging around the shop!

I picked up this Pulaski a year or so ago, from one of our local "junk stores".  Sometime recently it had the handle replaced with a fiberglass handle, that was epoxied in place.  It was a terrible job and poorly executed!  On top of that, how could anyone use an old fiberglass handle on a beautiful old Pulaski like this? !!!  I knew what I had to do.  I paid for it and hauled it home.  

Removing the handle turned out to be quite a miserable job!  After 2 hours of drilling, chipping and pounding, I finally separated the head from that miserable handle.  After that ordeal, the Pulaski head ended up under the workbench, waiting for just the right hickory handle to show up.  That day was last Saturday!  While running errands around town, I spotted the handle hanging on the rack at our local hardware store.  Beautiful, straight grain, and good color.  Perfect!

I spent the afternoon fitting the handle to the eye of the head and then set Pulaski head with wedges.  

I finished out the project with a healthy coating of Danish Oil, and a proper sanding of the handle.  All in all, I'm quite pleased with it! 

I left the head mostly "as found" with a natural patina.  I lightly sanded the head with very fine sandpaper to remove some loose rust, and then oiled it up.  I'll get to sharpening it soon, but for now it's just a joy to look at, as it is still quite dull.  I plan on making this Pulaski a "daily chopper" that I'll haul with me into the field, so I wanted to leave it with that great "been there, done that" patina.

There is a bit of red paint in a few of the stamped letters that hints of it having been a fire service Pulaski in a previous life.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell now.

The Kelly Axe Company used both the True Temper, and Kelly Works names, as well as Flint Edge on their axes from about 1949 to 1983.  I am guessing from the condition and patina of the head, that this Pulaski is probably from the 1950's or 1960's.  

You can check out my other fire service Pulaski on an older FourBees blog post: 

These old Kelly Works axes were made from high quality, USA steel, and from my experience, hold a wicked sharp edge!  I can't wait to get it sharpened and give it a proper try-out!

Until then, let's take a look at the album.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dutch Army Shovel, Shovel Cover, 1950's - 1960's, Dated 1955, Koninklijke Landmacht (KL) M.v.O.

I have been keeping my eyes open for an original shovel cover for my early post-WW2, Dutch folding shovel.  Well, I found one at a small military surplus store in Idaho.  I contacted the company and ordered one up.  It arrived the other day.

The company really hooked me up with a beauty!  This shovel cover is in near perfect, lightly used, condition.  In fact it appears that it had been installed on a shovel, but barely carried at all.

The back side of the cover still has the original inked markings that are amazingly, still visible.  This is a very rare occurrence!  Usually these shovel covers have ink markings that are so faded that they are nearly invisible, or no longer visible at all.

The markings on the back of my cover show the date of 1955.  Above the date, it is marked, in large letters:  M. v. O.  This stands for Ministerie van Oorlog, or Ministry of War. There are some other numbers that I assume are some sort of contract number, or item specification numbers that are quite faint.

You can read about the shovel that these covers were made for in an earlier blog posting.  You see that post here:

5-8-18 UpdateI was contacted by a longtime follower of the blog, from the Netherlands.  He had some very interesting information, including the meaning of M.v.O.  In addition to this, he also has researched and has not been able to ascertain why the Dutch Army had adopted a WW2 style German shovel, as opposed to the US style that was already in use.  Still a mystery!   Regarding the use of WW2 German equipment, he did have this little bit of information.  He said his father who, as a recruit, in the Dutch Army back in 1957, carried the WW2 German Mauser as a PT rifle (physical training and drill), and carried the US M1 Garand as a shooting rifle for duty.  He said that the German Mausers still had all of their Nazi markings on them, even after the wartime occupation, and after they were put into Dutch military service (nothing was "scrubbed")!  So it would seem that there was a mix of some of the old WW2 German equipment that was put into service in the 1950's, post-war era.  Thank you Mark for that information!

Immediately following WW2, the US and UK supplied the Royal Dutch Army with military equipment.  As the Dutch soldiers entered the early post-war era, and moved into the Cold War, they were wearing US helmets, entrenching tools, various pouches, etc.  Along with The US gear, they were equipped with UK surplus pouches and bags.  To top that all off, they had some Dutch made gear as well that was constructed in either the US or UK style.

There is a wonderful series of Dutch uniform and gear load outs over at the IACM Forum.  If you scroll down a bit, you will see the uniform and field gear display, circa 1953 - early 1960's.  On the back of this mannequin you will see this shovel cover (worn in an inverted position!).

By the time the 1950's rolled around, the Dutch needed new shovel covers for their old US folding shovels, so they made a new Dutch version of the US cover.  When they needed more shovels, they started producing their own version of the WW2 German folding shovels.  (I have my own opinions and speculations about this, and you can read about my thoughts over at my previous shovel positing.  Use the previous fourbees link).  Along with the "German" shovels, they made a completely Dutch shovel cover to go with it.

These Dutch covers, for the "German shovel", were an odd mix of US and WW2 German styles combined.  The overall style was German, with a "German leather" front.  The straps were equipped with US style "lift the dot" snaps, and the back was canvas in the US style.  The end result is a 100% unique, Dutch cover!

These covers are often found being advertised as "early German covers".  I think that may be because many folks can't seem to tell the difference between "Dutch" and "Deutsch".  Just a guess............  Whatever the reason is, it makes it a bit tough to track these down!

Without further delay, let's take a closer look.