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Remembered Today:

What Are They Carrying?


PhilB
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Photo from Roni Wilkinson`s book Pals on the Somme 1916. Two soldiers in Gallipoli - what are they carrying? I`m guessing they may be signallers with a coil of wire and another item I don`t recognize.

IMG_3147.JPG

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They look as though they are coming back from a battle given their appearance - I may be wrong but the two soldiers do not look like signallers and could be carrying almost anything in the box including explosives.

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If its a wooden box, their carrying firewood.

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The fellow on the right is carrying a No1 Mk 1 Cable Reel as identified by the central spindle (below). 

The wooden box could be anything ......... but nice one T8Hants :)

As for not looking like Signallers.  You don't have to be a Signaller to carry it! 

No1 Mk1 Cable Reel.jpeg

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Also, that type of wire is used for both telegraphy and for field telephones. Although telegraphy was not usually installed within a battalion communications network, field telephones were standard to battalion headquarters and frequently provided down to company HQ (most types of WW1 field telephone included a telegraph key and could be operated as a telegraph circuit, so the distinction between telegraphy and telephony is academic).  My point is that the wire is a store consumed within the battalion and even if the men a regimental signallers they are members of the battalion, wear their battalion insignia and do not wear the signaller's brassard.

 

This is assuming that they have not just been grabbed to carry stores as a fatigue party.

 

Regards the wood box. This appears to be fairly light in weight and to have closely mortised construction. This suggests that it is a good quality box and that it is being used to carry a small quantity of miscellaneous stores.

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If one is carrying signalling equipment then the other one probably is too?  “‘Ere, you two, carry these”

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1 hour ago, PhilB said:

If one is carrying signalling equipment then the other one probably is too

Hi Phil, 

Agree.

Looking at the box, its fairly good quality construction, better than a typical ammunition or ration box,  (aka firewood). Very typical of so many signals equipment boxes. Usually a piece of signals equipment that size is quite heavy. That box is obviously fairly light. Hence my previous suggestion of "miscellaneous stores", which for signals are likely to include message pads, pencils, a date stamp & pad set, a torch, spare batteries and similar items. The bits and pieces you need to set up a company or battalion sigs post. Essential stores like watches and rum need to be sent separately to ensure they do not get lost in transit.

:)

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If you enlarge and look closely, the box appears to have a cloth or mesh front with upholstery type studs all round three edges.🤔😷

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Thats very typical of a lot of the signals equipment boxes.

The photo below is a Fullerphone in its box. The whole of the box has been covered in canvas and then painted.

 

151588_0.jpg?1657501561

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Small observation from me. The box is being carried on his shoulder with his right hand just visible inside the box. In other words, it looks like an empty box with his right shoulder and arm inside the box, no lid?

TEW

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From what I can gather, the WW1 Fullerphone had dimensions as below which are rather smaller than the item in the photo.

Dimensions

whole: Height 202 mm, Length 274 mm, Length 285 mm, Width 134 mm

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22 hours ago, TullochArd said:

The fellow on the right is carrying a No1 Mk 1 Cable Reel as identified by the central spindle (below). 

The wooden box could be anything ......... but nice one T8Hants :)

As for not looking like Signallers.  You don't have to be a Signaller to carry it! 

 

Mine appears to be the same, so any idea what the II signifies please?

Cheers,

GT.

Wire #6.jpg

Wire #2.jpg

Wire #3.jpg

Wire #4.jpg

Wire #5.jpg

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12 hours ago, Grovetown said:

Mine appears to be the same, so any idea what the II signifies please?

 

Yours is the correct period item and likely the same as the OP.  The one I have shown is a later version ....... but with the same purpose and with the same wooden spindle arrangement although now modified with the addition of "ribs" to prevent the sides folding in so easily as is slightly evident on yours.  I'd offer that yours pre-dates the stores inventory terminology I incorrectly used here and the "II" in your case likely indicates a second variation of the original specification.

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15 hours ago, PhilB said:

From what I can gather, the WW1 Fullerphone had dimensions as below which are rather smaller than the item in the photo.

Dimensions

whole: Height 202 mm, Length 274 mm, Length 285 mm, Width 134 mm

Spot on Phil.  Also the Fullerphone only made it's first appearance on the Western Front in late 1915 therefore it's presence in the Dardanelles seems unlikely.  I reckon the two items (box and reel) are certainly connected hence the two men are delivering them in tandem.  Most likely some form of early line communication device as Chasemuseum has said.  The way the box is being carried also mystifies me although I now reckon I see a strap fastened at the rear of the box that the fellow carrying it has looped over his head and left shoulder to support it at his front. It's certainly not his rifle sling, which is on his left shoulder, but is similar width and thickness. 

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29 minutes ago, TullochArd said:

Yours is the correct period item and likely the same as the OP.  The one I have shown is a later version ....... but with the same purpose and with the same wooden spindle arrangement although now modified with the addition of "ribs" to prevent the sides folding in so easily as is slightly evident on yours.  I'd offer that yours pre-dates the stores inventory terminology I incorrectly used here and the "II" in your case likely indicates a second variation of the original specification.

Many thanks.

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The illustration of the Fullerphone was only intended to illustrate the practice of wrapping a wooden box in fabric then painting it, as a method of waterproofing an instrument case. The box is clearly too small to belong to any pattern of field telephone I am familiar with. There are a number of field phones much larger than a Fullerphone, but these are all smaller than the box in the photo.

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Since it does look like a signals work party by any chance could it being a box for carrier pigeons?

C  

 

image.png.04f5417295eaed4c09dbb7734b13b3fe.png

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Can't quote everyone but some are saying the box is covered in material while others see the mortice joins and the basic wooden construction of a wooden box. I see the later.

It's been noted that he's carrying something else slung over his right shoulder which is obscured by the box. Perhaps something delicate that the box helps protect from dust or the sun?

Quite like the suggestion that he's found an old box that'll soon be firewood or used to sit on.

TEW

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I think the quality of the picture makes it look like cloth and studs, but IMO it is a good quality wooden box.

What if the reel is actually string, and there is another box for the other end of this early communications device...:rolleyes:

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27 minutes ago, Interested said:

I think the quality of the picture makes it look like cloth and studs, but IMO it is a good quality wooden box.

What if the reel is actually string, and there is another box for the other end of this early communications device...:rolleyes:

Yes it is certainly a good quality box.  Both the box and the Cable Reel appear new to me.  Maybe the curious long size of the box is because it is simply a transit case for a pair of Field Telephones. A pair would be always required to establish a working system

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A pair would have been required but not at the same place?

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As mentioned the box is morticed, which was usually used for more valuable stores, and looks about the right size to contain a military telegraph morse key.  It looks to have recessed handles on the ends, which was also typical for stores boxes to facilitate stacking, and enclosure within larger crates during unit transit.

27B68E76-AD97-4B8D-AD14-D5B78721E439.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I’ve come round to agreeing it’s morticed and, since it accompanies a reel of cable, it probably contains something to attach to a cable. Morse key, fullerphone, telephone?

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22 hours ago, C.TIERNEY. said:

Since it does look like a signals work party by any chance could it being a box for carrier pigeons?

C  

I'm not sure about this suggestion. In tanks at least, pigeons were carried in wicker baskets (which would make it easier for them to breathe) - see example below.

John

image.png.1a9f7090cc857c7ac283e10cef019e1f.png

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