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.
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, 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, leaving the army did make me go back to collecting with a passion.
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.
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 con-men 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.
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 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