British kitbag find BEF 1940 with unit markings to identify

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Tommy4, May 18, 2020.

  1. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    I recently found this kitbag in a house on the border of France and Belgium.
    It's a british may 1940 kitbag with service number and a flash on it.
    It's marked TPR Urquhart 97001769 + red square + DD + yellow stripes.
    I made an example in paint.
    on the bottom side it's also marked, I can also notice a tricolor flash ( yellow - yellow - yellow) and a red square.

    Could somebody identify the yellow stripes and red square? Which unit or regiment this is? I do know that his service number refers to non-combatant corps. His name is Trooper Urquhart. Service number is 97001769.I do also see an old number of 29966 underneath. If somebody knows more about the soldier itself, i'm also interested.
    I'm very surprised to know something more about this soldier and his parcours during the France campaign.

    Thanx to you

    Attached Files:

  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    29966 looks to be an 'Embarkation' or 'movement' serial and ties in with the three buff-coloured stripes (not yellow, I think). Each number had a colour and for '6' this was 'Buff, GS'...The last two digits were taken for the colours to identify the baggage when several units were travelling at the same time. It was painted so that it could be read upside down as 6- 6 - 6....Buff / Buff / Buff.

    In my (incomplete) records of BEF numbers I can find none as high as 29000...27000 plus is the highest that they seem to go.

    It looks to me as if these numbers and colours have been overpainted (as they should be, upon arrival).

    'Trooper' is a cavalry rank. The NCC is not one that I know much about but an internet search says that it existed in the Great War and was then formed again in August 1940 from conscientious objectors but also for others not fit for combatant service...The implication might be that Trooper Urquhart whose name is painted on top might be a cavalryman who was transferred there either due to injury or because he had other skills.

    Only 6766 men served so presumably the highest serial number was 97006766.

    I'd be inclined to suspect that this bag was used for unit kit and then allocated to Urquhart who may have been attached to the RAMC or similar during 1944 / 1945.
  3. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    Thanx for the information. I did find 2 bags together, the other one was easy to identify. It was a Royal Artillery one. I'm pretty sure they must have been left behind in 1940 because I do only find BEF stuff in this area. I've read about the NCC on wikipedia, but I don't know if that thread is reliable or complete. I'm aware that these kind of items are not always easy to identify, but they are so close to the history that I want to give it a try. I didn't know that trooper was a cavalry rank. So I continue learning new stuff.

    The overpainting was as kind of camouflage or as a disguise for the unit identification?
  4. dml34

    dml34 Junior Member

    Mobilisation number 29966 is the 23 Hussars, raised in December 1940, so not part of BEF. Trooper Urquhart could have been part of this regiment? 23 Hussars (part of 11 Armoured Division), crossed the border in the Fretin (France) - Tournai (Belgium) area late August - early September 1944, I think. Was the kitbag found in this area?

  5. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    Those are force symbols from 1944. Similar the the US POM codes
  6. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    The items are found in Dunkirk area close to border with Belgium. The other kitbag was marked GNR W. Crump RA with large number on the bottom of the bag 17S. I also found a vehicle shovel 1939 dated. No British soldiers crossed our cities in 1944, only Canadians and Czechs.
  7. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    This kitbag was found in the same house. It's the same style. Same black paint on it, and also British. This one is in my opinion also BEF related... Do you understand me why I can't believe the other one is from liberation era?

    Attached Files:

  8. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    dml34 Where can you find this mobilisation number from 23rd hussars?
  9. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Looking at numbers round about that second one from paybooks in my collection they all enlisted late 1940 early 1941 so I'd say its post BEF - the RA attestation book entry for William Henry Crump mentions 27/2/41 but not sure if that is enlistment date or date he joined a unit - it does mention he moved to the Norfolks 6/3/45. As mentioned above the first one posted has a number from a unit that didn't exist until after Dunkirk - while it may have been Canadian and Czech forces in the area in 1944 is it not possible some Brits passed through at some point in 44/45
    4jonboy and Rich Payne like this.
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Bearing in mind that neither the movement serial, the 23rd Hussars, nor the Non Combatant's Corps existed in May 1940, it simply can't be from then. So much stuff has been collected and moved around over the years. The Belgian Army took over huge quantities of British kit...In the UK during the 1960s, we bought wartime dated kitbags at jumble sales to take away to Scout Camp. The rough ones were used for tent pegs.

    The BEF were more likely to have been using black kit bags. The white / natural colour type were intended for 'changing station' such as a move to India etc. The Expeditionary Force went in FSMO with a single blanket.

    A CWGC search shows that all the RA casualties with numbers beginning 1751 are from 1941 or later. Oddly, they're all older men...I'm not sure what the significance of that might be.

    AB64 likes this.
  11. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Even if not BEF they are still 2 very nice bags, with history, the NCC is a small and interesting unit - an NCC enlistment but trooper rank/serving in 23rd Hussars seems to be a transfer from a non-combat to combat role (looking at it simplistically) so that in itself could have an interesting story behind it. Well done finding them and hopefully you can uncover their stories
    8RB likes this.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Why do you believe that it is from 1940?
  13. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    AB64 Did you find a match for W. Crump with service number 1775154?
  14. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    4jonboy and Guy Hudson like this.
  15. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

    Rich Payne OK I guess. Can't imagine why they ended up on an old dusty attic. I know the owners of the house had family around Brussels in Belgium, maybe it's brought there when they moved to the house.

    Can I also add that the kitbags used by the BEF were dark blue, never seen black ones? The other one I have in my collection has the same colour as the 2 I showed in this topic (grey) and is marked with BEF and his name and service number. If they were white back in the war, they won't use white paint to put on their initials?

    your comments were already a great help to me. Thanx
  16. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Nothing on Find My Past with that service number. Using the number and working backwards (Ron's technique) on the CWGC site, this guy died in 1943 serving with Non Combatant Corp. What is that?


    Edit: an old thread on non combatant corps
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  17. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I was going to say lots of discussion in this thread Non Combatant Corps
  18. Tommy4

    Tommy4 Junior Member

  19. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    "Coast Trg" I think so a Coastal Artillery Training unit
  20. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    I think that it would be unwise to use colour of kit bag as a definitive guide as to when it arrived where it did. In the inter war years the British Army used khaki/brown kit bags of WW1 design. Sometime before 1939 a new dark blue one was introduced but stocks of the old brown ones would continue to be issued until they were used up and soldiers already with a brown one would continue to use it until it wore out. I've seen one account of a soldier turning his brown one in in 1943. Sometime in 1940 the dark blue was replaced with white as an economy measure but again dark blue stocks would continue be used up and soldiers who already had one would retain it until it got manky. Finally in April 1944 the white ones were replaced with buff coloured as the white ones showed up on PR photos when stacked on quaysides. Just to add to the confusion kit bags would be reissued if the original soldier no longer needed it (dead, discharged,POW etc etc) regardless of colour if they were still usable. Thus a British soldier in 1944/5 might have any one of a variety of colours for his kit bag.

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