While I was out visiting a very dear relative the other day, I was gifted a very unique bit of Pacific Northwest military history.
At first sight, this bit of old, corroded brass, is nothing but a bit of scrap. However, on closer inspection, its true nature is revealed. This is the lid from an original "First Aid Packet, US Army" dating to the pre-WW1 era.
This lid was picked up on the beach below the old Fort Flagler, on Maristone Island, in Washington State. It was found on a beach walk, quite a number of years ago, in the same condition that I received it in.
Fort Flagler is currently one of three forts that are now Washington State Parks, located on Admiralty Inlet, at the entrance to Puget Sound.
Fort Flagler was activated in 1899, and up until the start of WW1, it was a very active US Army Coastal Artillery Fort. At the outbreak of WW1, most of the bigger guns were removed and sent to the Western Front in France. After the war, it never regained its larger guns. In fact, after WW1, the fort was only manned by a "caretaker detachment" and many of the barracks building were torn down. During WW2, it was home to antiaircraft batteries, observation posts, and some smaller guns. It was finally decommissioned in 1953 and transferred to to Washington State ownership. It is currently a very popular state park with a beautiful natural forest, beaches, and what is left of the old gun emplacements and buildings.
All of this brings us back to the old, metal lid that we are here to look at today.
In 1904, the US Army developed a small first aid packet for issue to each individual soldier. In 1906, they started issuing them out to the troops. Originally a small canvas case was issued that was carried on the web belt, to carry the First Aid Packet.
These little first aid kits contained two sterile bandages and two safety pins. The case was made from two halves of brass that were bonded together. A metal D-ring on a pull tab was located on the bottom of the case. To open it up, the D-ring was pulled and a strip was peeled loose around the two halves, allowing them to open up. After use, the two halves were meant to be discarded.
You can still see where the D-ring was originally attached on this lid. The tab is there, but the ring is missing.
These First Aid Packet, US Army kits were in use until the Army developed an improved version in 1940. This improved version was also housed in metal, and carried in a similar belt pouch. The new version was called the "First Aid Packet, US Government Carlisle Model".
My little lid comes from the early days of the original kits and from the active, Golden Age, of Fort Flagler. It is dated August 21, 1910.
Unfortunately we will never know how this little lid came to rest on the beach below Fort Flagler. For now it will be preserved in "The Bunker"
Let's take a closer look at this lid.