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Great War sandbags


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#1 tocemma

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 12:53 PM

Sandbag

#2 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:00 PM

Interesting stuff, tocemma - the kind of thing that doesn't always survive because of its mundane purpose. Coincidentally Black Jock recently posted a pic of the factory in Dundee where your sandbag was very likely manufactured. Find it HERE.

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#3 truthergw

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:09 PM

If I recall correctly, Henry's was a callander. I.E. they finished the jute textiles and manufactured the bags from cloth made elsewhere in Dundee. That is a vague recollection and may well be wrong. Dundee had already provided millions of sandbags to the ACW as well as most of the covers for settlers' covered wagons as they set off West. 1900 sounds like it was made for South Africa.

#4 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:12 PM

Am I correct that Cox's would have been one of the companies likely to have supplied Henry's with the material, Tom?

#5 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:26 PM

Tom and tocemma - according to this site (linked below) A&S Henry were originally Manchester based and only had a collection office for local jute product in St Andrews Street Dundee until c. 1903, before expanding their activity in that city. St Andrews street is certainly not a location where I'd have thought any manufacturing was going on, and I'd have thought it may have been office and warehouse type premises that close to the city centre - maybe Tom can confirm this? So I wonder if their brand on the 1900 sack is not an indicator that they wove or manufactured it, but only acted as wholesale intermediary?

HenryDundee

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#6 truthergw

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:38 PM

It's possible George but Cox's was the largest factory in Britain when built and was completely self sufficient. There were other works which did preparation of the jute fibre, these were the mills. There were also works which took the prepared thread, weft and warp, and wove it into cloth, these were spinning sheds or factories. To accuse a weaver of working in a mill was an intolerable insult. ohmy.gif The cloth went to a calendar for finishing. Cox's imported jute from present day Bangladesh and produced the multitude of finished and semi-finished goods. It had its own calendar and dyehouse. It may be of interest that fuse for explosives was made from jute so sandbags were not the only war material made in the jute works. Of course in the pre-synthetic days, jute was made into packaging for everything from coal to sugar and flour. Most of the sacks unloaded at the stores in France & Flanders would have been made in Dundee. Another product of Dundee textile works was canvas, made from flax rather than jute. Awnings, gun covers etc. would have left Dundee in the form of bolts of canvas heading for the people who made the finished articles. Strong connections here with Belfast where the finer flax products were made, i.e. linen. Sharing the docks and harbour area where the jute was unloaded was the main submarine base for the North Sea.

#7 truthergw

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:43 PM

I remember Henry's. It was in Cowgait just off St Andrews Street. Next door was Cowgait Calendar, down the street was Barnes of Belfast, another Calendar. It was quite small. It would have required some sort of finishing machinery if only to print the names on the bags.

#8 centurion

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:52 PM

There was a sandbag shortage on the British part of the WF in 1915 /early 16. Directives were issued absolutely forbidding the use of sandbags for keeping of kit, food etc etc - largely ignored. Given that jute sacks were used for so many other things was the shortage reflected in civie st?

In an attempt to reduce the shortage many women were encouraged to sew sand bags from any spare material from around the house and have the results collected and sent out to France so that many sand bags arrived with tasteful decorations (and were often snaffled for use as cushions/pillows in dug outs).

#9 bushfighter

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 02:02 PM

An experienced infantryman always had two fairly clean sandbags in his kit to slip on over his wet muddy boots and so protect his blanket or straw mattress when he grabbed a couple of hours "kip".

#10 Peter Doyle

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 02:20 PM

Hi - there is a lot of evidence from contemporary photos of a wide variety of shades of sand bag used in parapets and the like; I have a dark brown one with impeccable provenance - it was one of the many that used to contain explosives in mines beneath Vimy Ridge, recovered by the Durand Group some years ago.. I'll on holiday at the moment, so can't measure this for you at present...

Cheers
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#11 Black Jock

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 02:27 PM


Dundees mills and weaving factories from the Law

tom

Attached File  Picture_018___Copy.jpg   44.54KB   2 downloads

#12 J T Gray

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 03:27 PM

QUOTE (Black Jock @ Aug 6 2008, 03:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Dundees mills and weaving factories from the Law

tom


And, if I recall rightly, Cox's was the biggest of the lot and would be out of the picture in Lochee. Much of the works has now gone, but the huge chimney, "Cox's Stack", can be seen from miles around.

tocemma, if you are interested in a modern pic of Lt Powell's residence (assuming it survives), drop me a PM. I can't promise when however as I am disorganised and a film dinosaur!

Adrian


#13 Wainfleet

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 06:19 PM

Let's hope it's not this one...
http://www.geograph....uk/photo/722928

#14 Droocoo

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 09:05 PM

very interesting thread!

#15 grantsmil

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 02:55 AM

Just to show an opposition sand bag, which has no visible marks or stamps. The bag is constructed from a 'paper' material and apart from the knife cut through it, the bag is still in a sound strong condition. There once was a hand written tag with this (since gone missing) describing it as a 'German papier machie sand bag'
Dimensions are 11 x 23 inches or 28.0 x 58.0 cms
Trust this is of interest.

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#16 HarryBettsMCDCM

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:07 PM

The Wisbech Standard of 1915 contained a letter from a Cambs Rgt Officer seeking the Ladies of the Fens to make Sandbags from any Scraps of material to hand to be sent out to the Trenches due to the dearth of "Official Bags"

#17 truthergw

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 12:33 PM

Reasons for shortage of sandbags in the early part of the war are to be found in the pre-war situation. The jute industry was cyclical and seasonal, relying as it did on a plant grown in what was then India. There had been a severe recession in the trade and many mills and factories were closed or working short time. On the outbreak of war, the many unemployed textile workers flocked to the colours to get a few months steady wages while the war lasted. ( My grandfather to my grandmother). Preference for unemployed enlisting is also mentioned in William Linton Andrews' " Haunting Years". At this time, there would have been little idea that the sandbag was to become of great importance as a war material. By the time this was realised, thousands of the men who worked in the industry were off to the war. Men were mainly employed as labourers doing the heavy work or as the skilled maintenance men, fitters, tenters, tuners and so on.
Interesting to see paper being woven although it is not what would normally be described as papier mache. Paper was still being woven into cheap mats, stair carpet etc., as late as 1950s.

#18 Wainfleet

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 10:35 AM

I can't be certain that this is WW1, but I think it probably is. It and another one like it were given to me many years ago, the story being that they were found in a store with a miscellany of kit from both wars. It has no markings but is almost identical in construction to the 1900 one above except that the mouth is not hemmed. Dimensions 13.5" x 32". My photos make it look more clean and new than it actually is; can't get a better one as the light is very poor today. Cor, it don't 'arf ponk!

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#19 GRANVILLE

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:10 PM

This is a really timely thread as I am currently liaising with a local museum who are putting together a WW1 display. They have just got themselves a quantity of sandbags which they propose to fill and use etc and have asked me where to position the WD & Arrow for which they have made a stencil. I've politely pointed out I don't believe the bags would ever have been WD marked, but does anyone have any further information concerning what, if any official marks might have been found on the outside of a sandbag. Pictures much appreciated.

Dave

#20 truthergw

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:34 PM

My guess is that they were not marked. It would have cost time and money to no great purpose. Flour, sugar and many other supplies would have been shipped in jute sacks.

#21 GRANVILLE

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 04:57 PM

My guess is that they were not marked. It would have cost time and money to no great purpose. Flour, sugar and many other supplies would have been shipped in jute sacks.


This is my understanding and I can't think of a photo I've ever seen in which a sandbag seems to display any sort of official mark.

#22 Deerhunter

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:59 AM

I have a small quantity of modern ones, which are identical to the GW issue.

#23 NZEF1945

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 05:58 AM

Just to show an opposition sand bag, which has no visible marks or stamps. The bag is constructed from a 'paper' material and apart from the knife cut through it, the bag is still in a sound strong condition. There once was a hand written tag with this (since gone missing) describing it as a 'German papier machie sand bag'
Dimensions are 11 x 23 inches or 28.0 x 58.0 cms
Trust this is of interest.

 

They were not paper Mache but rather thin strips of brown paper rolled to look like strands of cord and then woven. Your bag is 100% genuine and a wonderful thing to have as they are now so scarce as to be nearly impossible to find.

 

My grandfather told me that German women used to roll the thin strips of brown paper and then it was woven. He was so impressed by that fact that he cut a square out of a German Sandbag and brought it home and in the 1960s gave it to me. About fifteen years ago on an internet auction site a fellow offered a bag and he described it as 'Open weave 1st ww ? in good condition, no markings Individual who gave me this assured me it was german. measures 58 x 30 cm.'

 

I asked him one question - What is it made from and gave him a selection to choose from - silk, cotton, canvas and so on. He wrote a reply - 'None of those. I have examined it closely and it is made of paper'

 

I knew then that it was genuine and put aside $250 to bid but no one else bid on it so I got it for $40 NZ - about 16 pound Sterling. It is in next to perfect shape and the weave was exactly the same as the piece my grandfather gave me and both are identical to yours...you have an absolutely marvellous piece of very scarce WWI history so count yourself fortunate to have it.

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#24 eparges

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 01:58 PM

Hi,

about the german 'paper'fabric, it is indeed 'papermash', from pine, beech etc, pressed and twisted, without (Papiergarn) or with (Papierrundgarn) flex core. The one shown by Grantsmill is identical to several known exemples. For those interested (and able to read french), I've published an article on this subject in the april nr of Militaria Magazine.

Cheers

#25 grantsmil

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 11:55 PM

The longevity of this fabric is surprising.  I have a German knife scabbard where the belt loop is made of the same material as the sandbag, the scabbard was buried for many years and is in relic condition, yet the belt loop remained.