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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Czech Pioneer Shovel, Post-War, Cold War , Czechoslovakia Army

When it comes to shovels, at least for me, it's "feast or famine"........  and lately it's been a feast of shovels!

I have been looking at these Czech pioneer shovels for sale over in Europe from various surplus dealers, but the shipping has put them out of my reach.  Then I happened to notice that they were for sale in the good old USA!  I didn't hesitate.  I bought one right away!

This shovel is a post-war version of the old WW2 pioneer shovels that were used by sappers in the field and mounted on the sides of nearly every Czech armored vehicle and tank.

I am guessing that this shovel is an early post-WW2 manufactured shovel based on the old style construction, but post-war quality.  It is also in unissued condition, which would is unheard of for a WW2 vintage shovel.

These flat bladed, heavy riveted, shovels were the "standard" for Germany and Czechoslovakia for nearly all of the WW2 years.  After the war, Czechoslovakia just continued to manufacture the old WW2 equipment, with some slightly modern improvements.  They used this old style equipment well into the 2000's, until they started adopting the modern "modular systems". 

The blade on this shovel is marked with a "wagon wheel" makers mark and a number.  These numbers are often seen on the post-war Czech items and designate a manufacturing specification.  They are normally not on the WW2 vintage items.

The wood handle on this shovel is also a bit rougher and less finished.  This is typical on the post-war wood handles.  During WW2, the wood handles were nicely finished and smoother on the ends.

This shovel is a real beast!  It is heavy, and built to last a hundred years.  It's no wonder this style endured for so long in the Czech Army.

Let's take a closer look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Swedish Fältspade KLAS, Short Light Attack Shovel, Snow Blade Attachment, Fältspade Snöblad, M58

I have been missing one essential accessory for my Swedish folding shovel, the classic Swedish Snow Blade.  Well, I tracked one down in Finland and picked it up for a fantastic price.  It is now with its partner, my trusty Swedish Short Light Attack Shovel.

You can read about the shovel on an earlier blog page.  Here's the link: 

These Swedish snow blades are ingenious and unique to the Swedish military shovels.  I am not sure why more countries have not adapted the concept to their combat shovels.  

The blade is stamped from sheet aluminum and is accurately designed to fit the blade contours of the folding shovel.  There are several stamped ridges to provide strength when shoveling.  In addition to the ridges, it is nicely stamped with the Swedish 3 Crowns.

The snow blade is installed by inserting the folding shovel blade into the snow blade, by going "under then over" the locking tabs.  After the folding shovel blade snaps into place, it is secured with the two removable bolts and nuts.  Installing the shovel into the snow blade is a VERY tight fit!  When you think it is not going to work, it suddenly snaps into place.  It is a very secure fit, even without the bolts.

I was lucky that my blade arrived with two original bolts, nuts and washers already installed.  

Spring is already peeking out from between the rain clouds here in the Pacific Northwest, so I will have to wait until next winter to try out the snow shovel.  So while I'm waiting, let's take a closer look at this amazing bit of kit.