WW2 axe discovery

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Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
Hi all,

I made an interesting find yesterday, with a bit of history behind it. About 18 months ago my Nana (Captain Eileen Carter TA MBE) died, and since then her widower, Jim had been talking about moving back to London to be with his daughters. Jim is 96 and was a sergeant pilot during WW2. He flew Dakotas and was involved in dropping troops on D-Day, at Arnhem and Pegasus Bridge. Always a modest man, he kept it to himself that he was once given a Mention In Dispatches and would ever only tell very self-deprecating stories, and only then when pushed.

He married my Nana about twelve years ago and they were the best of friends. Poor Jim was heartbroken when Nana died and eventually made the decision that he would go back to London, buying himself a flat which he moved into earlier this month.

Yesterday I went with my mum to finish moving his things out, including some items that he left for me, mainly tools and things he thought I'd find useful. Among them was this:





Escape axe 1.jpeg Escape axe 2.jpeg Escape axe 3.jpeg Escape axe 4.jpeg

It's a Chillington ARPAX. They were issued to various people in WW2, including aircrew. Seeing as I got it from an ex-RAF pilot it may have seen action with him in the skies above Europe.

A gentle scrub-up will follow.
 
Last edited:

Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
Nice gift, what's the handle material?
There's a steel tang (head and tang being one piece) and then rubber overmolding completes the handle. There's a bit been lost but it doesn't seem to affect the way the axe works, so no worries there.

What were they used for? Chopping a hole in the canopy?
Yes, but also would have dealt with an aluminium fuselage skin pretty well, I think.
 
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Jan 13, 2018
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Rural Lincolnshire
I remember having one of those - It was purchased from 'Wakefields' surplus store in Nottingham in the mid 60's.

It was sold as a 'Firemans Axe' I have no idea if they were correct or not.
I lost it not so long ago during a house move.
 
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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
Lovely bit of history. I have an Elwell fireaxe head that is almost identical in looks but doesn’t have a tang, it fits like a spade or rake handle. I don’t know the term for it.
 
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Wildgoose

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May 15, 2012
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Middlesex
I remember having one of those - It was purchased from 'Wakefields' surplus store in Nottingham in the mid 60's.

It was sold as a 'Firemans Axe' I have no idea if they were correct or not.
I lost it not so long ago during a house move.
The axe pictured was the type generally issued to fire crews, ARP rescue etc
The crescent shape is the “crash axe” fitted on planes (including commercial jets)
But that said in wartime I imagine an “axe is an axe” and there would have been numerous patterns in use.
They were used up until the early 90s by some brigades.
 

Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
The axe pictured was the type generally issued to fire crews, ARP rescue etc
The crescent shape is the “crash axe” fitted on planes (including commercial jets)
But that said in wartime I imagine an “axe is an axe” and there would have been numerous patterns in use.
They were used up until the early 90s by some brigades.
I did a bit of research and found that apparently the type pictured above were sometimes issued to aircrew, too, but not sure who or when this would have been done.
 
Jan 13, 2018
358
249
63
Rural Lincolnshire
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Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
Certainly useful: I chopped some kindling with it last night to test it out and despite not having been sharpened in goodness knows how long it did a great job.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Interesting. War production is certainly not about esthetics, pure function!
I am now polishing up one WW2 Donkeys Ears telescope.
Awful finish. But very functional.

How is the steel? Good or crude?
 

Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
Interesting. War production is certainly not about esthetics, pure function!
I am now polishing up one WW2 Donkeys Ears telescope.
Awful finish. But very functional.

How is the steel? Good or crude?
The steel seems very good under initial impressions. It seems very hard and quite durable.