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Thread: Air Ministry/Military initials - please help

  1. #1
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    Air Ministry/Military initials - please help

    The initials are on a pair of Wray binoculars I picked up recently. The binoculars have the Air Ministry crown and the reference 6E/293 which is correct for their type. What I canít work out is what does this mark means?



    ltís R, followed by S.C.H. then what looks like 6/41.

    The binoculars are largely brass; later ones werenít so it is possible that these go back to the 1940s or even a bit earlier.

    Any thoughts or perhaps knowledge would be welcome.

  2. #2
    Could Sch refer to Ďschoolí and 6/41 is presumably June 1941?

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    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_the_UK View Post
    Thanks Chris, thatís a very useful list, I hadnít seen it before.

    R on its own is Range, which could well be possible - logged at a gunnery range etc.

    6/41 as June 1941 makes sense, that would work. The numbers are misaligned so look like the kind of adjustable stamp that would be used for a date.

    I donít think SCH is school as it is punctuated S.C.H. Maybe I am looking for a gunnery range with those initials.

    Thanks for the suggestions both.

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    Following the leads above, Iíve learned a bit about Air Weapons Ranges in the UK. One is RAF Holbeach, that originally was called "R.A.F. Practice Camp, Sutton Bridge" when it was opened by the Air Ministry in 1928. It became RAF Holbeach in the 1950s.

    Is Sutton Camp, Holbeach too much of a stretch?

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    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    Is that a W above the R?

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    Air Ministry/Military initials - please help

    I donít have them with me now but I think not. Iíll check tomorrow, thanks.
    Last edited by alfat33; 15th April 2019 at 20:51.

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    Not a W, just random scratches.

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    Master Lampoc's Avatar
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    All RAF Camps have a 3 digit code often prefacing a local serial number on various station assets (e.g. BZN = Brize Norton, CON = Coningsby etc) so it could be that. My favourites for SCH would be RAF Schleswigland or RAF Schoolhill.

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    Air Ministry/Military initials - please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Lampoc View Post
    My favourites for SCH would be RAF Schleswigland or RAF Schoolhill.
    Very helpful, thanks. It turns out that RAF Schoolhill was a RADAR station near Aberdeen during WW2, so maybe that explains the ĎRí.

    http://www.old-portlethen.co.uk/RAFSchoolhill.htm

    I canít find anything yet about three letter codes, only the two letter Pundit codes. A three letter abbreviation for stores would make sense though.

  11. #11
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lampoc View Post
    My favourites for SCH would be RAF Schleswigland or RAF Schoolhill.
    If 41 is believed to be 1941 then Schleswigland was probably under alternative management.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    If 41 is believed to be 1941 then Schleswigland was probably under alternative management.
    :)

    I believe it was returned to its former owner in 1958.

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    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    Very helpful, thanks. It turns out that RAF Schoolhill was a RADAR station near Aberdeen during WW2, so maybe that explains the ‘R’.

    http://www.old-portlethen.co.uk/RAFSchoolhill.htm

    I can’t find anything yet about three letter codes, only the two letter Pundit codes. A three letter abbreviation for stores would make sense though.

    It still has an association with the letter 'R', but we British would have been calling it RDF for radio direction-finding in 1941. The term RADAR originated in 1940, but that was in the USA.

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    Grand Master jwg663's Avatar
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    Why would an abbreviation of 'Schoolhill' to 'SCH' require dots/periods between the letters (S.C.H.)? It's only one word.


    As per Chris's posted list of Ministry of Defence acronyms in post #3, RSCH stood for Royal Surrey County Hospital. It was used as an auxiliary military hospital for periods during WW2. Those buildings are now known as the Farnham Road Hospital.
    ______

    ​Jim.

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    Thanks PickleB, good point about RDF.

    I saw Royal Surrey County Hospital in Chrisís list but thought it an unlikely candidate. I couldnít see why the Air Ministry would be issuing equipment to a hospital, even a military one. But Iím very open to learning, in fact very appreciative of all the suggestions and help so far.

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    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Something related to the nurses' quarters springs to mind...
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    Something related to the nurses' quarters springs to mind...
    That could explain why the bakelite eye cups are completely missing from them and most of the paint has been rubbed off.

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    Grand Master jwg663's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post

    I saw Royal Surrey County Hospital in Chris’s list but thought it an unlikely candidate. I couldn’t see why the Air Ministry would be issuing equipment to a hospital, even a military one. But I’m very open to learning, in fact very appreciative of all the suggestions and help so far.

    Nor could I, but it appears that Guildford had some strategic importance if there had been an invasion, so possibly there was an observer post located at or near the hospital.

    Also, the Home Guard had a post in nearby Farnham Park & a spigot mortar dated to 1941 (and pointing towards the town) was unearthed in 1998. (https://www.surreyarchaeology.org.uk...les/SAS322.pdf)
    ______

    ​Jim.

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    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Does anyone have a copy of Fernglaser und Fernrohre by Hans Seeger? Apparently there is some information on Wray binoculars of the period on p214...link...and a couple of chapters are in English:



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    Wow, very helpful PB, thank you. The same stamp but looks like 4/41, and a lot better nick than mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwg663 View Post
    Nor could I, but it appears that Guildford had some strategic importance if there had been an invasion, so possibly there was an observer post located at or near the hospital.

    Also, the Home Guard had a post in nearby Farnham Park & a spigot mortar dated to 1941 (and pointing towards the town) was unearthed in 1998. (https://www.surreyarchaeology.org.uk...les/SAS322.pdf)
    Thanks, I hadnít thought of that. I guess observer posts must have been dotted all over the place.

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    Grand Master magirus's Avatar
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    It may be worth asking the question here . . .


    https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/6...part-3/page-30

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    Thanks Magirus. I registered for that site earlier to learn about collimation. I hadnít seen the historical threads. I might also email the RAF Museum.

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    Grand Master magirus's Avatar
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    Good luck! I hope you find some info, Iím rather intrigued by the mystery.

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    Thanks! Iíve spoken to an archivist at the RAF Museum, who clearly knows his Air Ministry binoculars. He didnít recognise the initials but asked me to send in a picture. He did wonder if it was a manufacturers mark.

    In any event Iíve sent an email and will have to wait up to 20 days. In the meantime Iíll try to make a couple of simple repairs to them. Iíll post the outcome here.

    Thanks all again.

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    Master Harry Smith's Avatar
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    A few years ago I bought an original 1944 Irvin flying jacket as an investment. On one of the labels someone had written the initials 'I.N.R.S.'
    I thought I could be on to a real winner if I could do a bit of digging and find out that the jacket belonged to some famous pilot or wartime character with those initials.
    Eventually the penny dropped;

    It's Not Rocket Science

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    It's Not Rocket Science
    Very good. I had a similar experience early in my WISdom, before I realised FA just meant Fond Acier.

    Or ĎNot Rocket Surgeryí as mentioned elsewhere on the forum.

  28. #28
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    Air Ministry/Military initials - photos added

    I havenít heard back from the RAF Museum but I have been working on the binoculars so I thought Iíd post some pictures.

    They are a made by Wray, a leading British optical manufacturer. The founder, William Wray, was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and founded the company in 1850. They are marked as such, as well as carrying the Air Ministry mark and stores code 6E/293. They are 6x30.



    They donít have a central focusing wheel like modern binoculars. Instead, each ocular lens has its own focus adjustment, with dioptre markings.

    Originally the finish would have been all black, with black leather. I love the way that the brass shows through, and the leather has worn to brown where it has been held so much.

    They were carried in a very nice case, beautiful well made leather.


    The case is also marked with the Air Ministry badge and the stores number.


    I put this together from three different eBay purchases. The binoculars were in a pretty sorry state, so I also bought a post-war pair as a spares donor. I salvaged the bakelite eye cups, the cap on the end of the central pivot and a prism adjustment screw. The screw was essential to achieve some kind of collimation (alignment) of the prisms and lenses. They do actually work OK, although the prisms need a very good clean.

    The final purchase was the case, which was being sold with a different model of Wray binoculars, an 8x30 pair. These are actually in very good condition for 60 years old and are a convenient size, so Iíve been using them.

    Overall Iím very pleased with my Wray 6x30 Air Ministry binoculars.
    Last edited by alfat33; 6th May 2019 at 17:54.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by magirus View Post
    Good luck! I hope you find some info, Iím rather intrigued by the mystery.
    Iíve had a reply from the RAF Museum Archive. They confirmed the date mark but unfortunately couldnít identify the main marking. They did refer me to Rochester Avionic Archive who apparently hold the archive for Wray Optical.

    https://rochesteravionicarchives.co....-optical-works

    Iíll follow up there and hope the trail doesnít go cold. In the meantime Iím enjoying using them sometimes and wondering whether itís worth dismantling them to clean the prisms.

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