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Dunkirk 1940 kit
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Author:  jonheyworth [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 19:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Dunkirk 1940 kit

what are your opinions on a full list of the VISIBLE uniform, equipment and weaponry carried by the average Brit Tommy in the May/June 1940 withdrawal to Dunkirk

Author:  SVR 1 Home Guard [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 20:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

I asked a similar question a while back i think... anyway from the answers i got and a little research this is the list i have for B.E.F/Europe for the average Tommy:

Mk2 Helmet + Net
FS Cap
MKVII Gas Mask Bag
1937 BD and Braces if needed
Collarless Shirt
Ammo Boots
1937 Webbing (MK2 Pouches, Belt, Cross Strap, Skeleton Water Bottle holder and bottle on side, Small Pack the other, Large Pack)
Webbing Gaiters
Ammo Boots

- Weapons I'll Leave to everyone else to do as I dont know squat about them in comparison to most other lol but if its rifleman your after thn I can say use the Lee Enfield S.M.L.E

- Insignia obviously depends on what unit you'll do and rank etc etc

Hope that helps and hope I got it all right. Regards, Red

Author:  SVR 1 Home Guard [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 20:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

Oh and if you have the S.M.L.E you'll need the 1907 bayonet and bayonet frog... always forget that bit of kit mainly because I hate the balsted thing getting in my way! Regards, Red

Author:  jonheyworth [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 21:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

I am curious at to what others think but perhaps it is better if I put up my list and let people critisise/comment on it

Rough or smooth finish steel helmet with 3 piece chin strap - sacking cover, a/g curtain, regimental flash acceptable
1937 pattern Battle Dress blouse and trousers - ideally unlined collar and single pleat FD pocket and tabbed trousers
gaiters with leather straps and brass buckles
collarless shirt - ideally with metal buttons
ammunition boots and leather laces - ideally with fully studded soles
F.S. cap with badge
Brass or cloth slip on titles

37 pattern web belt
MkI pouches
single piece construction cross straps - paired
small pack with single piece L straps
1907 british manufacture bayonet and scabbard with webbing frog - not the universal frog with spike bayonet slit
waterbottle with blue enamel and light coloured felt
skeleton pattern waterbottle carrier, ideally with side popper
SMLE rifle sling

All web to be blancoed light pea -pickering- green and have brass fittings

MkVII respirator case - blancoed or unblancoed
Plain anti-gas cape


early pattern entrentching tool and cover
A/G brassard
50 round bandolier with cloth as opposed to web strap
camouflaged groundsheet/cape

SMLE rifle
MKI Bren dovetailed & dated 39 or 40 only with early flash hider, adjustable bipod, butt strap and butt handle with unblancoed sling
Boys A/T rifle

what do you say ?

Author:  arvp [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 22:04 pm ]
Post subject:  BEF kit

A very thorough list. but I would differ on a couple of details.
Gaiters with web straps (ideally with brass tabs)
Mark V or VI respirator haversack (Mark VII didn't appear until 1942)
To be really obscure - perhaps an aluminium water bottle rather than felt covered enamel!

Not sure where the idea of the side press stud on early water bottle
carriers comes from. The 1939 examples in my collection all have the top fastening. The only photo I have seen is in the Brayley & Ingram book and that is a reconstruction.


Author:  jonheyworth [ Sun Jan 07, 2007 22:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

of course, i meant MkVI sorry not the VII with the metal circle on the side, why web tabs, most I have seen dated 40 have been leather, do you think both types would be acceptable, I will stand erected on the bottle carrier, top stud ones it is then another few things I have missed out are bren wallets, what do people think spare barrels were carried in or how in the Dunkirk era ? the holdall or through the pack like later war ?

one other thing, units falling back on the line Bethune, Merville, Hazebrouck, Cassel, Warhem what units would have NOT been present in this area during the retreat ?

Author:  trunks [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:22 am ]
Post subject: 

the gaiters would be have webb straps the leather tabs came in after somewhere i have a ACI of when the leather tabs came in. all pictures of the Dunkirk period ive seen shown webb'ed straps.

The BREN gun Section of 1940 was very diffrent from that later on in the war

No1 carried the gun
No2 carried the MK1 tripod for Sustained Fire Role

Magazines would still have been carried by the Section in MK1 pouches but also a box of 12 magazines would have been carried within the BREN gun section. i havn't seen any pictures of the use of the Utility pouches being used during the dunkirk time. but ive seen 1939 dated ones.

Author:  TALLERTHANBETTY [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:40 am ]
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Yes, I agree with Trunks, though in practice units were dumping spare mags, tripods and barrels on Platoon transport for long distance movement. You also have the issue of it being a withdrawl under a certain amount of preasure which meant a lot of kit was being lost/dumped. You'd also ideally need early Mk.1 barrels with flared fore-ends which frankly just creates extra work for yourselves. I haven't personally seen barrels being carried in sections routinely in the way they were late war, but they quite definately were there somewhere as regs stated 2 per gun. Your also talking Mk1 Brens not Mk1M's and if you want to get REALLY anal, Mk1 mags aswell for everyone :?

Re: waterbottle cradles, the earliest pattern was indeed front stud, whilst I've also seen plenty of 39-40 dated top studs we have the issue of 'manufacture' compared to 'use in the field', collection are stuffed full of kit that was made in one year but just didn't make it through to use until much later, I have Mk.2 pouches for example dated 39 and 40, leather tabbed anklets dated 39 etc. and so forth, but we can only go on what actually seems to have been in use with the BEF before they decided they didn't like France and were going to come home. You could perhaps get around this by the old waterbottle in small pack sollution, but you'd probably want some people at least with them on belts just because you could.

I would personally go with the 'earlier is better' option for clothing and kit, but the question is how "right" do you want to get it for practical purposes? I'm funnily enough working out my BEF kit at the moment and the overwhelming impression you get is there's a LOT of small tricky little details that make the difference between a 'fair' and 'OK' film prop type BEF tommy and your histerically accurate type BEF Tommy, I assume as it's Mr. Heyworth then we're talking latter rather than former? There are plenty of lads that have a lot of the kit, but if your starting from scratch now then you'll need a lot of luck and money to get it balls on.

Grounsheet capes could be camo of plain early brown I think and Gas Capes are probably a very good idea worn at the alert. Final point where the f##k are people going to get pea green Blanco from!? This is in my opinion the real ba#tard to solve, mostly everything else is around or can be made, but Blanco well, that's just a giant Pea green pain in the arse.

70 miles in full kit you say? What percentage of soldiers came back in 1940 suffering complete physical and mental breakdown?

Author:  Oggy [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 14:08 pm ]
Post subject: 

Were the brass tabs on the Gaiter Straps common (or am I talking out of my bottom?)

Author:  Sandy Boots [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 16:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sgt Lowden on this forum either aquired or repro'd pea green blanco from somewhere - he may be able to enlighten us further.

If we are being really picky then the pockets on the battledress jacket were in a different position earlier in the France campaign - not sure whether higher or lower, but they were altered to make them more accessable whilst wearing webbing equipment!

Good luck with your impressions Jon and TTB - piccies please!

Author:  jonheyworth [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 16:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

I have a picture of Utility pouches in use on the withdrawl

Author:  jonheyworth [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 17:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

there was a good percentage in 2000 suffering complete physical breakdown,

I was helping one of the lads along, carrying his rifle, who had bravely pushed himself as far as he possibly could, he collapsed on a doorstep in one village and said he just couldn't go any further, we shook hands and I pushed on to catch the rest up, as I vanished around the corner I thought bugger me, you'd never see him or would have heard what would have happened to him if this was real.

damn good trip strange though that sounds

Author:  jonheyworth [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 17:06 pm ]
Post subject: 

in 2000 we used late KG blanco on all web, I really would like to see pea green though

Author:  Oggy [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 17:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sandy Boots wrote:
Sgt Lowden on this forum either aquired or repro'd pea green blanco from somewhere - he may be able to enlighten us further.

If we are being really picky then the pockets on the battledress jacket were in a different position earlier in the France campaign - not sure whether higher or lower, but they were altered to make them more accessable whilst wearing webbing equipment!

Good luck with your impressions Jon and TTB - piccies please!

1 inch lower I believe....

Author:  arvp [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 17:24 pm ]
Post subject:  BEF kit

Oggy, brass tags on the anklet straps seem to have been dispensed with in 1940 although the Indian manufactured ones retained them until much later.

As regards the waterbottle carrier - I really am mystified as I cannot find a single original photo of a front fastening carrier. The 1908 pattern changed from front to to top fastening in 1919 - would they change it back 20 years later? The manual describes the carrier as fastening on top and the photo corroborates this. Whilst I don't doubt front fastening carriers exist dated 1939 could they be Mills officer's webbing equipment or Naval 1919 pattern or even Canadian? The waterbottle in the small pack does solve the dilemma!
Mark 2 pouches could easily be dated 1939/40 as Mk Is could, after June 1940, be converted to Mk2. Hence the relative scarcity of Mk I pouches. Again, I've never seen leather straps on anklets of 1939/40 so would be pleased to see some.
I do agree with the "earlier is best" approach. If you are going to do it - do it properly or not at all. Not so sure about wearing the gas cape at the alert rather than rolled though.

Author:  jonheyworth [ Mon Jan 08, 2007 17:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

another good point. brown rubberised groundsheets/ groundsheet capes, forgotten those

I think we'll got for normal skeleton waterbottle carriers

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