Tuesday, August 30, 2011

P-38 Can Opener, U.S. Speaker, circa 1948, 1951

This morning I'll be posting an often overlooked bit of US military hardware that literally became an iconic item for every serviceman from WW2 and into the First Gulf War............ the P-38 can opener!

The can opener I'll be showing off today is my own personal P-38 that I've carried on my work key chain since the 1980's.  It's simple, always works, and works effectively!  I've had others, but this is the one that I've always carried.  (We used to get these in all of our C-Rations that we carried on the 44 foot, USCG Motor Lifeboats).

The P-38 was originally designed to open the new canned C-rations that were issued in WW2.   Designed in the Summer of 1942, these little can openers were included in the "C-Rat" boxes by the handful, and quickly became a hit with the GI's.  

They were most often seen on his dog-tag chain and later became a cherished memento of life in the field.  These P-38s were named after the 38 cuts it took to open the rim of a "C-Rat" can.  In the P-38's 70 year history, they were the one GI issue item that ALWAYS worked, never needed fixing, and never broke.  In short, this was the one item that was always at hand when a hungry GI dove into his beloved "C-Rats", and the one item he didn't have to monitor, maintain, or adjust....... it just worked.

The P-38's were made and issued by the millions and continue to be manufactured today for the civilian market, but the real prizes are the "original" P-38's.  There are even folks who collect these little openers!  They were manufactured by quite a number of US manufacturers through the years.  A great website that lists all of the markings, manufacturers and dates can be found here:  Georgia-Outfitters
There is a list of dates, makers and markings about half way down the page to help you identify your old P-38 and the rest of the site is FILLED with bits of P-38 info, specifications, stories, and photos.  You can even order vintage P-38's!  Good stuff!

My P-38 was manufactured by J.W. Speaker Corp. of Milwaukee Wisnonsin.  According to the markings, it was made in 1948 or 1951.  This would make my little P-38 a Korean War Veteran.  Originally it would have been issued in it a small envelope with use instructions printed on it.

Here are a few close-up photos of my P-38:

And here are some historic shots of GI's enjoying their "C-Rats" in the field..........

Viet Nam era:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Port Townsend Gallery Tour....... With Sweet Pea!

Today and tomorrow, I'll be out at Glen Cove, on the edge of Port Townsend, with Sweet Pea at her studio tour show!  She and another artist, Diane Gale, will be showing together in Diane's studio.  

Foggy morning, but the sun is burning it off quickly, and the day is turning our to be bright, clear and hot (well in the low 70's, which is a scorcher for us!!!!).  I'll post more when the show is over, but for now here's the fantastic flier that N8 put together for them:

Friday, August 26, 2011

WW2 German Ration Bag Eagle Cut-Out and Flag Cut-Out

I have had both of these items banging around with all of my WW2 collectables for years............... I finally found out what one of them came from, so I figured I might as well post them up so everyone can take a look!  I will once again give my disclaimer:  I do not endorse, support, believe in, or condone any of the philosophies or actions of the Nazi Party.  These items are presented for their historic value and for educational purposes only!

Both of these items are vet-bring-backs.  In other words, souvenirs from US soldiers who served over in Europe during WW2.  I don't know the names of the soldiers, or any real details on either piece, but I'll show you what I do know............

The first item is the large woven piece of heavy fabric with the Nazi eagle on it.  While researching a few items over at the online collectors forum, Wehrmacht-Awards, I noticed several photographs of items that had the same eagle-on-fabric that I have, used as a back drop.  I contacted the owner and he told me that these were WW2 German Ration Bags.  Finally, an answer that had eluded me for many years!  The cut out that I have has an inked inscription in one corner:

Aug  15  1944
Jerry E  "Alexandor"  (The letters in the last name have been blocked over to disguise the original name)

Aug. 15, 1944 marked the landing day for the Allied invasion of Southern France.  The invasion is often called the "2nd D-Day" and was code named "Operation Anvil" and later "Operation Dragoon".  Here is a great link to the a history page that details this operation:  Operation Anvil, Southern France, Aug. 15, 1944

The bag that this was cut from would have been approximately 29 x 44 inches in size.  

Here are some photos of the ration bag cut-out:

The next item is a flag cut-out that was brought back by a veteran as well.  I do not have any idea what this was cut from, but I assume it was from a small flag of some sort.  It is two sided, with a white circle with swastika sewn on both sides.  One of the circles has been defaced with a ballpoint pen at some point.......

To finish out this posting, here are a few photos of German Ration Bags that are complete.  This should give you an idea about what the bag that my cut-out came from looked like.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ralling Fulp. Austrian Crampons, 10th Mountain Division WW2

For today's posting, we'll take a closer look at the the pair of vintage crampons that I picked up last weekend.  

I have been unable to find any specific information on the company or maker, however I did find one photo of a set of crampons in the Oklahoma History Center that are constructed the in same way, and are marked F. Ralling Hammerwerk, Austria, 1975.  The pair shown at the History Center online display have the toe spikes, that mine do not, but are otherwise the same................  Over at the 10th Mountain Division Equipment Museum there is a pair of crampons that match my pair.  The pair shown was used by the US 10th Mountain Division in WW2.

My pair of crampons is marked "RALLING FULP   S,   MADE IN AUSTRIA".   They are also stamped with a 37, which I believe must be the size.

Based on the style of construction, patina, and the leather strapping, etc., and considering the evolution of Alpine climbing equipment, I would date my pair in the 1940's to 1970's time frame.  In any case, they are perfect for anyone wanting to do some alpine exploring while decked out in the classic alpine gear......... or maybe I'll display them with my 1942 US model 88B 10th Mountain Division Rucksack.

Here are a few more shots of these classic crampons.  The photos are of the crampons in "as-found" condition:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Czechoslovakian Army Bread Bag 1952

As promised, here is a little more detailed entry on the Czechoslovakian Army Bread bag that I picked up this last Saturday.

The bag is in new and unissued condition and is date stamped inside with the Czech crossed swords and "52" for the year 1952.  

The fabric feels like a very heavy linen or possibly a hemp fabric...........coarse and tough. 

This bag is very similar in style to the original WW2 German Bread Bags, and appears to be a "modernized" version of the same, with more pockets and attachment loops, buckles, straps, etc.  It has the typical OD Green painted metal hardware found on nearly all Czech military items.  

It is interesting to note that after WW2, Czechoslovakia re-issued WW2 German weapons and equipment and often remarked them with the Czech Crossed Swords stamps.  In the 1950's, they started producing their own versions of the old German equipment and weapons, like the Mauser 98k rifle and various military vehicles.  In fact, some of the Czech copies are close enough to the original German pieces, that it takes a closer inspection to distinguish them!

Here is an album of photos of this unique bit of Cold War history...........