First off, I would like to thank my mother who retrieved these beauties from a California surplus warehouse, and then transported them all the way up to Washington! They were the last four covers in the place.
After a quick clean-up and inspection, I selected one for my shovel. The cover is in amazing condition for its age and looks like it was gently used (the other three are quite a bit more "weathered"). Not bad for a 75 year old piece of field gear that ended its career in a dark and dusty warehouse in the USA.
There is not much that is known for sure about these metal, Swiss, shovel covers other than that they were produced and used during WW2. All of these covers seem to have been dated in 1943 and 1944, and were made by various Swiss manufacturers. The covers that I have are dated 1943 and 1944, by two manufacturers.
In about 1943, Switzerland started feeling the pinch of being isolated in regards to raw materials. I believe that leather was becoming more scarce, as well as aluminum, and other raw materials in demand by the other countries who were deep in the middle of war. This would explain why the traditional leather shovel covers were changed to the metal type.
Interestingly, the metal covers are nearly identical to the all leather covers. The straps, belt hangers, and fastening system is the same. The large piece of leather that covers the blade, and the "strap" that goes across the back, were substituted with stamped sheet steel. The leather straps that had been used on the all leather version were merely riveted on to the metal version.
Two blued spring tensioners are riveted on each side of the metal backing to keep the blade from rattling when it is in the cover.
After the war ended, production ceased on these metal covers and Switzerland went back to the traditional, all leather versions.
I have been unable to locate any clear photos that show these covers in use, however, based on the wear to the leather and metal on my covers, it is certain that they saw quite a bit of field use.
These shovel covers fit the shovel perfectly, and I now have one "permanently installed" on my shovel. I am quite surprised that the design was not carried over into the Cold War years.
To finish things up, here are some close-up shots of the covers:
|There are two holes on the metal backing plate. These are "access holes" to allow the riveting of the leather to the metal cross piece on the other side of the cover.|