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    Mysterious Thing


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    Can anyone identify this piece of kit (see attached photos). It belonged to a MGC Officer with the 19th Battalion MGC (Inf).

    It has a box, velvet lined and leather bound but made of wood. There are no makers markings on either the box or the item itself.

    The item itself is approx 4" x 2" and consists of a brass plate with a white dial fixed centrally marked off in 10's up to 360 degrees. The single hand is operated by the swing bar at the foot of the piece under the face. Strangely it goes round twice.

    At the top of the piece is a small steel gate or sight, that is opened and closed by means of the swingbar which is itself, sprung loaded. The rear view shows the bar bending round a central return spring. You can just make out the tiny chain, very intricate for an otherwise robust looking bit of kit. The bar is hinged at the top at the point that the sight, if that is what it is, opens and closes.

    The whole thing is designed to lay horizontal on its three legs.

    Anyone got any ideas?


    Edited by Barney
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    • 3 weeks later...
    Guest aviator

    I have been waiting to see if some knowledgeable bod knew the answer to this one, but it seems not.

    If it is military equipment why is there no broad arrow or part number? As far as I am aware every army numbers every complete piece of equipment to facilitate ordering replacements, spares, and inventory.

    Assuming that it has a military purpose -

    1. It is designed to stand on a flat surface which rules out most field uses.

    2. It has no fixing points so would not have been used for gun calibration.

    3.There appears to be a front sight, of variable width according to the position of the lever and dial pointer, but no rear sight. Is this correct? Without a rear sight it is difficult to see how the sights would be viewed.

    The only suggestion I can make is that it was used to measure the field of fire from a gun emplacement, and that the item stood on top of the gun in a predetermined position.

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    Thanks for having a go! I've discussed this with many people and the points you raised are perfectly valid. The absence of a WD arrow is particularly intriguing until you consider that it was commonplace for Officers to have their own versions of issued equipment made or adapted.

    So the question remains what is it? Actually this Officer was seriously wounded outside Flers in the last weeks of the war. So seriously in fact that he was left to die at the CCS. His personal effects were taken and listed but the mysterious thing remained just that, being listed as 'box with dial'. Not much help but happily the Officer eventually made a full recovery.

    I have contacted the MGC Old Comrades Association through the Internet and they had a go with similar results though they erred on the side of caution by not giving a definate answer but they did suggest, as did you, that it could be involved with the laying down of a barrage.

    They in turn have forwarded the images to the IWM for their opinion. I'll keep you posted.............


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    Guest aviator

    An interesting history! If the MGC Association haven't identified it then it is almost certainly not a standard piece of kit.

    As you say, officers often bought their own special bits of equipment and it seems that this was the case here. However, if it was purchased from a supplier of military equipment you would expect to find a maker's name on it somewhere.

    The field of fire was the most important consideration when siting machine gun positions, especially on a defensive front where fire zones must overlap. It seems possible that this officer invented his own method of measuring this, and that the device is a one-off prototype made to his specification by an instrument or tool maker.

    Would it be possible to contact anyone who served with this officer? That may be the only way you will solve the mystery.

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