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British Airborne sleeping bag

Article about: Unless your selling your one Ade theres someone on ebay whos knicked your description! Airborne Denison 1st Pattern Sleeping Bag 1943 on eBay (end time 03-Oct-10 11:53:01 BST)

  1. #1

    Default British Airborne sleeping bag

    Hi Guys, these items have an interesting history. They were initially developed not as a sleeping bag as such but as a dual purpose item which could also be used to keep a Paratrooper warm in an aircraft. In the early days of the British Airborne forces the obselete Whitley Bomber was often used as a transport aircraft. The Paras had to sit on the floor in the unheated aircraft. This bag was designed so they could sit inside the bag and wrap the two large "bat wing" style flaps around the body even when wearing the 'chute to keep warm. They are still occasionaly called "Whitley Bags".

    The bag is done up with a quick release strap held in place by a wooden toggle, which can be rapidly undone to open up the bag.

    The bag has numerious internal pockets closed with press studs. Some of these face upwards, while others face downwards.

    This example is not maker marked or dated. More often than not they were un marked. But dates of 1943 to 1945 are those most likely to be observed.

    The bag can also be found in two other camo patterns: a "splotch" pattern which is belived to be wartime and a 1957 camo version, made in the same colours as the post war Denison smock of the same date. The actual wartime camo pattern, as seen here, is unique to the bag and was not used on anything else. Sadly years ago some re-enactors cut up these bags to make repro Denison smocks as repros were not available then and these bags used to be cheap.

    The bag, due to it's size and weight, was not carried into action by the men: they were either supplied by air (via Glider landed stores) or carried in unit Seaborne tail transport.

    The bags were popular and saw a long service life. They can often be found with additional waterproof ground sheet type material added to the underside.

    Cheers, Ade.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture British Airborne sleeping bag   British Airborne sleeping bag  

    British Airborne sleeping bag   British Airborne sleeping bag  

  2. #2

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    Hi Ade,
    Thanks for showing this and giving its history, I like the look of the bag and its unusual camo. Your second pic, the close up looks like a rabbit in the background?. Have you tried it out?, it looks warm.
    It's yet another item for me to add to my wants list.

  3. #3

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    I actually use this bag at many of our living history events as it is a good warm bag. I have used it now for a good 20 years.

    I had never noticed the rabbit before I had to look twice but now is is obvious. Reminds me of one of those tests a psychiatrist would do with the ink blobs on the cards

    A comrade in my Soviet group just sold one for £85 which was a really good price. Mine was £25 all those years ago.

    Cheers, Ade.

  4. #4

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    British Airborne sleeping bagBritish Airborne sleeping bag
    The bag shown is a post war example from the 50's, note the cammo pattern.
    Most were dated on the outside of the bottom waterproof base and so the details soon wore off.
    I have seen WW2 examples made by "Waring and Gillow" of Lancaster the famous furniture manufacturers.

  5. #5

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    Are these not more widely associated with SOE than regular Airborne Forces?

  6. #6

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    The SOE had a destinctive Cammo pattern to their jump suits but I am sure that they sat in issued Airborne sleeping bags ( as illustrated by Ade ) prior to jumping, on landing the suits were buried and forgotten about.
    I no longer have this bag but there was a 1950's date on it.
    As to the cammo pattern on this bag, it is not a "printed" pattern. there is NO repeat in the pattern. I can say this as I came across a large quantity of the same material in a local surplus shop and bought most of it!!. No repeat in the pattern so it was made in the same way as the material used in the production of the 1st "painted" pattern Denison smock, ie "hand-painted", so these bags "may" have been produced from surplus WW2 material, hence your comments.
    By the 1950's there had been a number of cammo items produced by the MOD using printed cammo patterns, why revert to an earlier method of manufacture of the material? I feel we will never know.
    If any other member could comment on this, feel free but base your comments on fact.

  7. #7

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    British Airborne sleeping bag

    A picture of the material that I found, used in the manufacture of the 50's sleeping bag - WW2 or later?

  8. #8

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    This is a interesting thread, never seen or even heard of these before but if you think about it , it stands to reason that they would have used something to keep warm, btw i love ades version of "Bright Eyes"

  9. #9

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    Hi Guys, I have seen this pattern a few times, and had varying opinions on the date from fellow collectors, some say wartime, others 50's. Never heard of any SOE connection due to the print pattern. I too doubt we will ever find out the full story on this pattern. I am kind of on the fence on this one.

    I will see if my mate still has his postwar one, but I have a feeling he sold it? Pattern is like a late 50's smock.

    Cheers, Ade.

  10. #10

    Default Re: British Airborne sleeping bag

    There was a massive article somewhere* on the Wartime 'sleeping. Bags, which where issued to Agents for keeping warm in their civvy clothes whilst being flown over to France. Regardless of being landed in Lysanders or dropping from Whitleys It was full of quotes from agents and with loads of photos of these bags in use and in collections. Nowhere does it state that normal uniformed troops had them though. Certainly Fraser Macluskey goes into great detail about the blankets they all had.

    I cant remember where the original was from, or where my copy is. Chute & Dagger? Militaria Auction catalogue? Book? But I've got a copy somewhere. If it turns up I'll post it.

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