Last item of World War Two equipment in service with British Forces

A few dental instruments have been around a far while, especially some of those held in stock.

At least one field kit opened on op Granby had last seen the light of day when packed in 1944, but there are individual items still kicking around that have been in use for many many years.
in Afghanistan I had a bone saw dated '43 and on one tour a CO with a mindset from 1914.
 

Yokel

LE
[wah shield]HMS Vernon was the naval Torpedo and Mine warfare school opposite HMS Dolphin. It is now an FOB shopping mall called Gunwharf Quay[/offshields]
Vernon did not get through the war unscathed. I do not know if German bombing scored any hits, but a recovered mine exploded (the anti handling charge at least) and killed a number of sailors and possibly civilians.

@Dunservin will know more.
 

W21A

LE
Book Reviewer
Indeed......but knowing my former employers I expect there were still shedfulls of .38 (Webley) and .303 to be disposed of. And as any storeman will tell you, bangy stuff degrades over the years

When I was at Boscombe there was a local newspaper report of some industrious local who dug up some glass ampoules in his back garden in West Gomeldon. Police came and had a look, backed away rapidly. Mustard gas from 1917...it's just along the road from Porton Down.

Taking sweaty bangy things offshore and throwing it in the water became illegal in the mid 1990s - so the DRA came up with this cunning wheeze to make money . At one point they were selling 'over-capacity' to anyone who had stuff they needed rid of in a controlled manner. Still do.
Qin nice ad for a Qinawful company.
 

Yokel

LE
On a genuine aviation note, could the Avro Shackleton, derived from the Lancaster, count? I read a story on PPRuNe that during an eighties exercise, a US Navy Tomcat had snags and was diverted to Lossiemouth. After landing the crew climbed out of the aircraft, looked around at the Shacks, and thought they had landed somewhere a WW2 film was being made.
 
When I was at Boscombe there was a local newspaper report of some industrious local who dug up some glass ampoules in his back garden in West Gomeldon. Police came and had a look, backed away rapidly. Mustard gas from 1917...it's just along the road from Porton Down.
Sounds like a testing kit. They appear from time to time. 5 glass ampoules, approx 2” high, 1/2” diameter in a green stiff canvas case.
 
The Bayonet

Still the same as when first issued
Fit on end of rifle and stick it in Johnny Foreigner as required
That's like pretending your regiment was formed in 1760 something when in fact it was the result of an amalgamation in 1992.
 
Last edited:
On a genuine aviation note, could the Avro Shackleton, derived from the Lancaster, count? I read a story on PPRuNe that during an eighties exercise, a US Navy Tomcat had snags and was diverted to Lossiemouth. After landing the crew climbed out of the aircraft, looked around at the Shacks, and thought they had landed somewhere a WW2 film was being made.
Saffers still have Dakotas in service.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
On a genuine aviation note, could the Avro Shackleton, derived from the Lancaster, count? I read a story on PPRuNe that during an eighties exercise, a US Navy Tomcat had snags and was diverted to Lossiemouth. After landing the crew climbed out of the aircraft, looked around at the Shacks, and thought they had landed somewhere a WW2 film was being made.
Apparently, when they made The Dambusters, there were a number of Lincolns dispersed around the perimeter awaiting disposal. They didn't bother to move them and who ever noticed?
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
That's like pretending your regiment was formed in 1760 something when in fact it was the rusult of an amalgamation in 1992.
But, but, I was at the tercentenary. Are you telling me they lied?!?
 

syrup

LE
Apparently, when they made The Dambusters, there were a number of Lincolns dispersed around the perimeter awaiting disposal. They didn't bother to move them and who ever noticed?
The actual Lancaster's used where flown in from the disposal unit rented to the film company for £100 per day and then when finished flown back to be scrapped

Back on thread

Didn't the Royal Marines use DUKW's up to a few years ago for training
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Plenty of pieces of infrastructure in Portsmouth and Plymouth dockyard in daily use that date back hundreds of years.

The dry docks for a start. I love walking around the dock bottom just thinking of the old sailing ships that were built in there and then the WW1 and 2 battleships that docked there.

I’d wager that the bollards that QE is tied to have also had various Ark Royals, Prince of Wales’s, Hood etc tied to them over the years.

In Pompey there is a gym in one of the old sail lofts.

18th century rope stores are still used for their original purpose.

There are also certain uniform items that remain the same, Submariner’s jersey for a start.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Don't the Guards still wear Ammo Boots for public duties (last pattern in service, 1927)?
Yeah fair shout. Navy wear them too for ceremonials but ours don’t have toecaps. Or didn’t until very recently.
 
When I was at Boscombe there was a local newspaper report of some industrious local who dug up some glass ampoules in his back garden in West Gomeldon. Police came and had a look, backed away rapidly. Mustard gas from 1917...it's just along the road from Porton Down.
I was involved in Op Cornelius which was the recovery of 'munitions' from Bramley exercise area. we had some lads exposed to an unknown agent (possibly only CS) and following our monthly statistics report there was a sudden change to the reporting of chemical incidents
 
I have pre-WW1 SMLE bayonet.



The scabbard would fit in the bayonet frog on the 58 pattern webbing and the bayonet attached you the SLR in the same way as the SLR bayonet. I took it on exercise once and got some entertaining double takes from those who spotted it.

I was in training with a lad who we'll call 'John' (Pte J*** C***** M**** 248****50)
he bought a knife like this

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/413TbC9Da0L._SX425_.jpg

he wore it on his first exercise in the unit (3 AFA) and the Russians wouldn't need to DF us on radios to work out where we were when the SSM almost self-combusted in rage.

we took it back to UK in my car, when we got to customs I was asked 'anything to declare blah blah'

I responded (thanks to EM) "No, dunno about him.." pointing to John..
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Surely the oldest thing still in continuous service has to be the Tower of London?

Still a military fortress and holding place for the Crown Jewels.

Any older buildings still used for the same purpose?

Lancaster Castle maybe? Edinburgh?
 
Vernon did not get through the war unscathed. I do not know if German bombing scored any hits, but a recovered mine exploded (the anti handling charge at least) and killed a number of sailors and possibly civilians.

@Dunservin will know more.
Over 100 people were killed in Dido Building at HMS VERNON in Portsmouth when it was demolished by a German bomb in March 1941. The establishment was hit several more times during the Second World War.

From 'The Torpedomen - HMS Vernon's Story 1872-1986' by Rear Admiral Nicho Poland CB CBE:
"...On the night of 9-10 March 1941 a full moon brought a devastating raid on Portsmouth. Two high explosive bombs fell on Vernon demolishing the Captain's House and wounding Captain B Egerton, Boyd's successor. Another wrecked Princess Margaret Building and badly damaged No. 21 Building. The Mine Design Workshops and the shipwright's shop were also damaged and water from the ruptured mining tank flooded the area around.
Incendiary bombs gutted the upper floor of Forte Building. Two AFS men were killed by a bomb along with a Petty Officer pensioner. Fourteen were injured, including Commander Veale who was temporarily blinded by an incendiary he was tackling on the top floor of the mining tank.
The Germans came back the following night and Lloyd Jones carried with him for the rest of his life memories of that devastating raid. It was of the same proportions as that of 10 January, but there were fewer incendiaries and many more high explosive bombs, all of which seemed to be heavier than in the past. He was in a brick air raid shelter, near the Whitehead Building and parallel to the wall of a War Department property. The shelter was full. As the raid increased in intensity the lights in the shelter went out. Someone shouted: 'Go over to Dido Building and see if they can put the lights on'. Jones volunteered to go.
He ran to the Dido Building, normally used for torpedo instruction, and now the damage control headquarters. He asked the senior rating on duty, Chief Petty Officer Best, if the light switch for his shelter was on; Best remade the switch and Jones ran back to the shelter, pursued by the sound of an aircraft in a power dive towards the building. He managed to dive into the shelter just as the whole edifice trembled and twisted as if in an earthquake. The night was full of dust and the noise of falling masonry and human suffering.
Slowly a light off-shore wind blew the dust away sufficiently to see what had happened. Dido Building had disappeared. Where it had stood was a rectangle of rubble standing eight feet high. Beneath it one hundred and forty people lay buried.
Lloyd Jones and a few others ran to the rubble where they met Lieutenant Commander FB Caldwell RCN and a Scottish electrical artificer also called Jones, who was shouting orders. Voices could be heard coming from beneath the rubble.As more helpers arrived they began to pick up the bricks in front and threw them to the rear. Before long they came upon the body of Chief Petty Officer Best, the first of many who died in Dido building.
The sickbay, damaged by the blast, had been evacuated and the wounded had to be carried to the two underground shelters. Already there were wounded from the Mining Building which had been hit by a 500 lb. bomb. Meanwhile, Lloyd Jones and others continued feverishly to clear the rubble from the ruins of Dido Building. Commander Holmes, who had been working in the Low Power Department, was dragged alive from the rubble. The rescuers spoke in hushed voices, murmuring that Holmes had been a scientist in peacetime. Such irrelevant details seemed pointless but the tittle tattle seemed to ease the tension.
Lloyd Jones helped to carry Holmes to the sickbay shelter where the injured were lifted on to bunks. There he met another Canadian, R Malin, who had been injured in the Mining Building blast. They teamed up with a third compatriot, a Gunner(T) trainee called Slater, and began searching for medical attendants and doctors. They found them working in two surface shelters, unaware of the destruction of Dido Building.
They were soon at work taking care of the injured. Whilst the rescuers dug feverishly at the rubble, a bomber was hit and burst into flames. It appeared to be falling towards Vernon. Luckily it cleared the roof tops and hit the harbour waters about mid channel. A cheer went up from the rescue party. Soon the injured were being passed down to the boats for transport to Gosport and then by road to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar.
Just before dawn the raid ceased. A great silence and a gentle sea breeze came with the dawn; only the sound of bricks being thrown clear of the rubble disturbed the morning twilight. Caldwell turned to Lloyd Jones, 'Can you hear an aircraft?'. They looked south across the harbour in time to see a single aircraft, a few thousand feet up, coming towards Vernon. It dropped a bomb, turned and fled back to France. The bomb struck Haslar hospital, causing Vernon's injured to be sent to inland hospitals.
Vernon was a desolate sight. Dido Building had been well built, the walls were two to three feet thick, and where they had stood several huge steel beams remained resting on the columns which had supported the upper floors. Nothing was left of the instructional equipment. The submerged torpedo tubes which had been installed on the ground floor had only recently been replaced by a 'mock-up' of a Swordfish torpedo bomber. It had not survived the force of the explosion.
Lloyd Jones and Caldwell stood silently beside the wreckage. They had liked the idea of naming buildings after ships rather than simply numbering them as they did in Canada. They hoped that the history of the old Building would be written and that a new Dido Building would be erected somewhere.
There were one hundred and forty people on duty in Dido, only forty came out alive. Two months later some of the survivors, still on sick leave, returned to Vernon of their own free will, to renew acquaintances and friendships. Unashamed tears were shed for their companions who had perished that night..."
Getting back on track, the British Mk 8 torpedo entered service with the Royal Navy in 1927 and was used to sink the cruiser, ARA BELGRANO, in 1982. It remained in service until 1991.
 
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