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  1. #1
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    British Switch manufacturers

    Hoping someone here will be helpful as usual in identifying some manufacturers of British SOE switches from their box codes


    D
    DC
    ESS
    HP
    KE
    L
    O


    There are a few more who only get listed under the percussion cap part, so presumably manufactured the snouts that came ready fitted with caps. The caps were virtually all made by ICI on the evidence so far.


    BH
    EA
    LP


    Many thanks for any help you can give. Presumably somewhere in the National Archives there are lists of these contracts. Even with a secret organisation, someone has to pay the bills!

  2. #2
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    Photos would be of assistance.

    TimG

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CartDorset View Post
    Hoping someone here will be helpful as usual in identifying some manufacturers of British SOE switches from their box codes


    D
    DC
    ESS
    HP
    KE
    L
    O


    There are a few more who only get listed under the percussion cap part, so presumably manufactured the snouts that came ready fitted with caps. The caps were virtually all made by ICI on the evidence so far.


    BH
    EA
    LP


    Many thanks for any help you can give. Presumably somewhere in the National Archives there are lists of these contracts. Even with a secret organisation, someone has to pay the bills!
    Technically the only SOE switches in what became the numbered series were Nos 4,5,6 and 14. All of the others (excepting No 7) up to No 13 were MD1 designs. This pedantic comment is pertinent because the marking systems of SOE and MD1 were different through most of the war. SOE marking was somewhat chaotic stemming from their initial preoccupation with deniable/unmarked devices. When an RAOC Officer was posted-in the marking of stores became more aligned with Service Regulations. MD1, who were formally under the Ministry of Supply when they were left out of the SOE organisation, adopted familiar manufacturing, inspection and marking rules. So the upshot of this is that MD1 switches carry the markings of the manufacturer, dates, batch numbers, filling details either on the device itself or, where space precludes, on the primary packing. SOE switches Nos 4, 5 and 6 were unmarked unless they were part of the large number issued to the War Office. Finding manufacturers of SOE items remains a challenge, however SOE engaged the following firms for the switches mentioned:

    Switch No 4:
    Tecalemit Ltd Brentford
    Blackwood Trading Co Kingston-on-Thames
    Wembley Electric Appliances
    Switch No 5:
    GH Gladhill and Sons Ltd Halifax
    Switch No 6
    Gladhills
    Snouts:
    Messrs Perry Birmingham

    In April 1942 SOE introduced Coding of Stores which broke (or dented) the just black(or grey) attitude taken hitherto. The primary packaging, often a tin, was now stamped with date, batch etc. Also included was a manufacturers code designation (no doubt included as a last ditch effort by the old sweats). The code was not quite Bletchley Park standard. It comprised the first and last letters of the manufactures name arranged last over the first. Examples:

    J Lucas was coded as S over J
    Bryant and May was Y over B
    Tecalamit T over T
    Gledhill L over G

    Hope that is of some interest.
    N.


  4. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Bonnex For This Useful Post:

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  5. #4
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    Thanks Bonnex for a very interesting answer to a different question!

    As Bonnex surmises, my query relates to MD1 switches, pull, pressure & release, later No.1, 2 & 3. It appears that these were packaged in tinplate lidded boxes, at least between 1942-3, labelled with the switch type, Manufacturer letter code, Lot No., date (MM/YY), then Perc Caps Filled, manufacturer, lot No.. They were packed 10 to a tin box, then possibly into further packaging for bulk shipment.

    Although these switches were used by SOE (hence my shorthand above), they were a product of MD1 and were stamped as such. They were used by Aux Units, various a Special Forces, as well as regular forces. It appears that a series of manufacturers were used to actually produce the switches. They may have done so before and after 1942/3, but not seen any boxes so dated.

    The codes above come from research into all the box lids I have or can find images of online, thanks to their owners, have been kindly shared by others who are interested or seen at shows. Some have been overpainted postwar, though text still readible. Hence lack of photos here as many (most) are not mine, and the query is about the meaning of the code letters which doesn't require photos to list. I have posted images of some of my boxes in other threads here and do publicly display them. In one of those threads, others kindly identified B&P as Boon and Porter and CRC as Craven Railway Carriage and Wagon. Presumably somewhere is a list of these.

    Again I have posted in another thread here images of replica tin boxes with paper labels that probably postdate the stencilled lids, though unfortunately it seems the details written on original boxes rarely survive, though have only seen images online of a handful. In principle they contain the same info. It isn't clear if paper labels were used by all or just some manufacturers.

    Hopefully that explains things more fully without getting to tedious. I was trying to keep my first post short and to the point!

  6. #5
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    Yes, and sorry it reads rather pompously. It is an interesting subject and difficult to research in detail.

    I think ESS is Franco Signs and BH Boosey and Hawkes. Drumcraft Ltd might be a contender.
    N.


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  8. #6
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    A little more detail on manufacturers (taken from correspondence on 'L' Delay):

    ESS Signs Ltd, 294 Colindeep Lane, Edgware Road, Hendon NW9 (other addresses too)
    Kinematograph Engineering Co, 3-11 Eyre Street Hill, London EC1
    Lang Pen Company Ltd, Audrey House, Ely Place, Holborn Circus, EC1 (London Office)

    Tim and Tom may be able to confirm that the monograms for these firms fit your list.
    N.


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  10. #7
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    Some suggestions, some a bit more tentative than others:

    D - John Dickenson and Co Ltd, London (made time fuzes WWII)
    ESS - Edwin Showell and Sons of Stirchley Brass Foundry, B'ham (made SMLE oilers in WWI, otherwise locks and brass and diecast fittings)
    L - Joseph Lucas, B'ham (made time fuzes WWII)
    LP - Lang Pen as post 6
    KE Kinematograph Eng. Co. as post 6*
    EA - Electrical Apparatus Co., Vauxhall Works London? A bit tenuous, but made brass and copper switchgear
    O - Ormond Eng. Co., King's Cross, London (screws, turned parts, stampings and Bakelite)?* Used OEC on ST bomb levers.

    Boosey and Hawkes was BK on No.36 grenade levers.*


    *Made parts for No.74 ST grenades.




    Tom.

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  12. #8
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    I think I'm liking the idea of Edwin Showell & Sons, Stirchley as ESS. They were brass foundry/workers which goes with brass MD1 switches, and also came across this brass letterbox from 1938 with GRVI crown sugggesting already a "Ministry" supplier.
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Large-193...EAAOSw9y1anqK9
    Also mention of a 1939 Air Ministry contract. The ESS stamped WW1 oilers also brass with screw fittings like the switches.
    Even a catalogue marked ESS
    https://openlibrary.org/works/OL1384...ral_metal_work
    But then ESS signs, London if they were producing L Delays would have been working in brass too. Can't find much about them.

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  14. #9
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    Tom,

    Thanks. Herewith an ESS letterhead.

    Dickenson certainly provided Cellophane and corrugated cardboard for L delays

    Lucas is one of the firms that my original message was about. Lucas was the lead contractor for Time Pencils (Switch 10) and was coded per my note as S over L. Only SOE items would have used this notation as far as I am aware so Lucas manufactured items for MD1 could well have used L as a monogram.

    I will see what else I can find.


    MD1etc-001.jpg
    N.


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  16. #10
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    Just a few more pages of correspondence from MD1s suppliers. Will stop now.

    MD1 Correspondence (L Delay)-Opt.pdf
    N.


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