So, what’s this all about?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fascination with armies and military history. My parents recall that I was marching around the house as soon as I could walk and there was never any problem with finding suitable birthday or Christmas presents… toy soldiers, toy guns or books about anything military related.

Early recognition for my collecting addiction. When I was eleven, I received this award for my collection of military badges

I started collecting militaria whilst still in primary school and this hobby has continued until the present day, although ironically it slowed somewhat during the time that I spent in the Australian Regular Army, when I was more interested in collecting the phone numbers of females of questionable virtue than acquiring the accoutrements associated with my day to day ‘work’.  After a decade of ‘playing soldiers’ full time I decided to go back to being a ‘weekend warrior’, go study and eventually get a ‘real’ job. Still haven’t fount that ‘real’ job yet…I’ve done security, worked as a nightclub bouncer and also in a sex shop. I’ve been a private-investigator, photojournalist, commercial photographer and most recently as lecturer in the media department of a highly respected tertiary institution but still no ‘proper’ job as such.  But getting out of the army did make me go back to collecting with a passion.

combat equipment jump with 2 SAS Sqn and 19 USSF

Circa 1994. In a Hercules enroute to the DZ. This was taken during cross training between 2 Squadron, SASR and the US 19th Special Forces group.

From an early age my focus has been on unconventional warfare units, airborne, commandos and Special Forces. Growing up in South Africa during the 70’s I became fascinated by the famed ‘Parabats’, Recces as well as the Selous Scouts and SAS. Around 1977 my parents, who always indulged my whims, took me to a militaria dealer who owned a shop called Don’s Coins & Medals in Tulbagh Square near the Cape Town foreshore. With my saved pocket money I was able to secure my first set of parachutist’s wings, an Israeli master parachutist badge attributed to a Lt Col Dan Shomron of the IDF. About a year or so later, dad brought a copy of Bragg & Turners first book, “Parachute Badges & Insignia of the World” from the library. I loved that book, I made him photocopy every page of the illustrations and I was hooked. My collecting now had a distinct focus.

anzac elite the airborne and special forces insignia of australia and new zealand

ANZAC ELITE: The Airborne & Special Forces Insignia of Australia & New Zealand, which I co-authored with Cliff Lord

Three and a half decades later, collecting parachutist wings and special forces insignia is still my primary interest and I’ve been fortunate enough to earn my own and also serve in some of the units that I collect… Which has proven to be useful, particularly in this internet age where crooks and conmen reproduce and create fantasy insignia on an almost weekly basis in an attempt to make collectors part with their hard earned cash. It kinda helps to have the contacts in the units to verify some of the bullshit claims, but also gives me access to some interesting and unique items for my own collection.

Being ‘attacked’ by a leviathan of the deep whilst wreck diving in Hawaii. 2010

I also travel quite a lot and when I’m on the road I always try to seek out bits & pieces for my own collection as well as visit any places of military interest… battlefields, museums, dealers and flea markets. Which is kind of what this blog is about…my trip reports, insights and rants (not always sober, I warn you) about collecting militaria or things military related. Unless otherwise stated, the content and opinions are my own. I retain the copyright on all my photographs and text, if you would like to use any of the content you see here, please ensure that you contact me before you do so that I can provide the appropriate usage license… otherwise the shit-rain will come down.

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4 responses to “So, what’s this all about?

    • Easier said than done Mick, although I do intend to tackle a couple of aspects where I feel confident. I fear that in most areas, with the possible exceptions of patches and French made badges from the pre-1954 war in Indochina I don’t have sufficient knowledge or experience to always be certain. The problem is that without an original to use as comparison it is very difficult to identify the flaws in the reproductions. Furthermore, some of the copies have been around for so long and have found their way into accepted references and collections of note compounding the problem of distinguishing good from bad. IMO, in this area of collecting, good verifiable provenance is everything.

      • Good point – I’m going to be doing something similar with my RAAC patches. At least its easy to tell the real deal from the fake crap on ebay.

      • Does this blog have an edit function?

        What i meant to say was that I will compare my RAAC Vietnam War patches to the fakes on ebay and document them on Australian Armour.

        The ebay fakes are noticeably different.

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