My Dad’s memoirs include real detail on sailor kit.
It is worth spending some time describing the kit that was allocated to a sailor who was going into the seaman branch as all of us at Royal Arthur were.
You were marched as a squad into a large camp hall which was fitted out as a supply store and if I can remember then all were given the following:-
1 Large canvas kit bag
2 hammocks with strings and rope
1 soft mattress and mattress cover
2 serge trousers
2 serge jumpers
1 Melton overcoat
1 black oilskin coat
2 pairs of boots
2 wool jerseys (blue)
2 white cotton shirts (known as fronts or flannels)
2 cap tallies (each with HMS in gold cotton)
4 pairs blue wool stockings
1 silk square
1 white lanyard
1 Attache case 14 inches by 11 inches by 4 inches
1 Trouser/money belt
1 Pussers knife
2 boot brushes
1 gas mask
1 Manual of seamanship
1 sewing set (known as a Housewife or Husseiff
and last but not least a large sheet of brown paper and a length of string.
Also a little block of wood some 4 inches by 2 inches by 3 quarters of an inch slotted along its length. A group were given a box of letters in woood whch were soaked in the block to spell out your name. This was used to mark your clothes in white or black paint.
Loaded with all these items we were taken to a large room by our instructor now known to be Leading Seaman “Knocker” White and it was demonstrated to us how the various items of clothing were put on to become the sailor’s square rig. We were also shown how to sling a hammock and also how to lash and stow it when not in use.
At this time were were each given a bakelite disc on a length of string to wear around the neck at all times, literally all times. The disc had stamped on it the man’s name, religion and service number. My number was P/JX739065 with the P representing Portsmouth as being my home depot.
Also at this time were were given pieces of wood rather like shortened clothes pegs on the end of each of which was a letter of the alphabet and on full stop. When these were arranged onto a short piece of wood each man’s name was splet. Tins of white and black paint were produced and each man marked everyone of his items of kit using his name board, white paint on dark-coloured clothing and black paint on light.
We were each given a handful of metal studs – hobnails and were told the precise pattern how they should be knocked into our boot soles.
We were then told to repair to our chalets to change from civilian clothing into uniform and to stow our kit away tidily.
The reason for the mysterious sheet of brown paper and string became apparent when were were told to wrap up all our civilian clothing into a parcel and to address it home. After being handed in at the Camp Office it was posted home compliments of the Navy.