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Personal First Aid Kit


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Not really uniform/clothing but in the absence of a personal kit section of the forum...


I'm interested to know from those on here who served in the '50s to '80s period was it common to carry extra first aid items in addition to the issued field/shell dressings? Even just a tin of elastoplast? I'm basing this line of though on photos of Fusilier Payne's kit from WW2, he had provided himself with a small first aid kit consisting of bandage, elastoplast and lint and I can imagine the practice of supplementing issue first aid items continuing post-war but as usual I don't like to assume.


Was a general issue first aid kit introduced in this period? I know of the jungle J-Pack but thinking of a more widely issued item.


Many thanks in advance!

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It was generally encouraged, and sometimes enforced through SOPs, that you carried some form of individual first aid kit in addition to First Field/Shell Dressing(s). For most troops none was issued, so you either made your own or bought a commercial kit.


To give you an idea of extensive first aid kit carried I’ve provided two SOP lists from infantry courses. Outside of these most just carried some plasters/fabric backed plaster strip, ‘pain killers’, antiseptic cream and a crepe bandage for minor injuries, and zinc oxide tape for blister prevention or treatment. Note these lists don’t include any bandages or smaller dressings as they would be in the section medic bag or vehicle first aid kit, but you could always add these along with any personal medication to your kit. Items for specific environments such as jungle, arctic, or NBC were listed separately.


This list is taken from an SOP entitled ‘Patrol Equipment’ (provenance unknown) which was I was required to obtain for a JNCO cadre in the early eighties:


a. Adhesive plasters

b. Panadol

c. Lomotol

d. Senokot

e. Scalpel blades

f. Steri-strips

g. Savlon


The SOP states that these should be carried in a pouch (unspecified in the SOP - we were told to use a spare 58 pattern water bottle pouch) along with other items listed as ‘survival kit' as part of CEFO.


This list is taken from the mid-eighties Senior Brecon SOP ‘Pl. Sgt: ‘Admin in the Field’ - Equipment Carriage’. Items a. –c. were basic first aid kit to be carried in the ‘rear pouches’ (either ‘conventional kidney’ or ‘any number of other pouches’):


a. Elastoplasts

b. Antiseptic cream

c. Painkilling tablets


Suggested additional items from this list were:


d. Crepe bandage

e. Scalpel

f. Senokot

g. Lomotil

h. Space blanket

i. Triangular bandage

j. Mucous extractor ? !

k. Tweezers


Although not on the SOP lists above additional items to treat minor ailments could be carried, for example: Dioralyte powders, Proplus tablets, treatments for colds and athlete’s foot, antihistamine tablets/cream, Vaseline, (to prevent chaffing), etc. I carried two kits - essential 'first aid' items in CEFO, and less essential 'medical' items in the bergan. Those carrying tobacco tin survival kits may have packed plasters, pain killers, alcohol swabs, potassium permanganate crystals, etc. in them.


I used a small heavy duty plastic bag or some form of container, for example an elastoplast upright tin or small Tupperware box to store the kits.


Companies such as Survival Aids (of Penrith), BCB and Fighting Fit produced commercial military-style first aid kits the contents of which were similar to those sold today i.e. without oral medications, so you would need to add these.


If your role required it (pilots/special forces/surveillance and target acquisition) you could be issued a ‘Medical Kit, Individual Treatment’ and also a ‘Medical Kit, Individual Treatment, Supplementary’. If you want the content lists for these I can provide, but these weren’t on general issue.


Hope this answers your question, but let me know if clarification or addition information is required.

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Steri strips or a tube of medical superglue are quicker and eaiser. After all that's what suprglue was designed to do in the first place. Field suturing is not always advisable as some of the nastiest bugs are Anerobic- Without Oxygen- so sealing a wound even with Savalon can lead to more problems by sealing dirt in. Wash well with salty water, or your own Urine. Normal Urine is sterile. I'd add good old TCP to any kit of mine, multiple uses including a gargle for throat infections, taste is foul but it works. Alginate (Seaweed) dressings are the modern way to go.

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Should a needle and thread for sutures be part of the kit?

I read about the Dutch troops have had copper sulfate bandages for treatment of phosphorus burns.



You could use a suture kit if you knew how to use it and could clean the wound properly. Suturing was something that we left to the medics; for a temporary fix steri-strips (butterfly closures) or a dressing was used.


I've heard of copper sulfate/suiphate treatment, but this wasn't available so we used a wet first field dressing which was keep wet.

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I would not use my urine because of my medication, it always is dark.

In my vehicle first aid kit I carry a suture set, mostly in case I need it with the dogs.

Not all can carry morphine, I have a second kit that contains sugared morphine in case my wife needs it.

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  • 3 months later...

I served between 82-88 in the Infantry. The short answer to the OP question, in my experience, is yes. As has been suggested - this was not really a choice as SOPs usually said that you had to have a First Aid kit in your webbing. However, my kit lists (and memory) of the time only suggest 'a basic first aid kit' not a list of content.


My basic kit included - plasters, bandages, dressings, triangular bandage, paracetamol, zinc oxide tape, antiseptic cream etc.


In 1983 I attended the RAMC Medics course (RMA 3) and as a result I carried a greater range of medical items following this.


IMO the lists above are pretty advanced for the 80s - even as Company Medic I did not carry all those items and I would suggest that the average soldiers carried far less.


During the 80s (the 70s would have been similar) there were two sorts of standard first aid kits carried in the field by none RAMC / RMA staff. These were:


The Field Dressing Pack - containing just (12?) FFD (First Field Dressings) and nothing else.


The First Aid Kit NCO - see pics attached for an example kit list.


Both these were carried in similar satchels of the WW2 type (most of ours were actually WW2 dated !!


To be honest First Aid in the Army, up until at least the 90s, was very very undervalued and under resourced. Yes most people were trained in basic First Aid but the equipment was appalling. During my time (I served with 3 different Infantry Regiments) this was always the case. As basic as the kits above were you would be lucky to find a kit which had half its content most of the time! An exception was the Army vehicle First Aid Kits - as these were on the vehicle CES kit (kit list) and so were inspected more frequently.


It was partly because of this situation that I volunteered to take the Army medics course - however even then this gave me access to only a slightly greater quantity of kit and slightly better medical kit. Thankfully a posting to Cyprus changed this for the better as at one station I acted as Company Medic and I had my own small medical facility and accompanying kit. The UN scales of issue for medical kit was brilliant and I had access to hospital quantities of supplies !!! I had drips, dressing packs, suture kits and a whole range of medicines. Everything a medic could dream of in fact. I came away from there with literally rucksacks full (I was officially encouraged to do this) and this stock lasted me for the rest of my service.




There were other better First Aid kits available in the Army in the 80s - for example the 'Basic First Aid kit' and the 'First Aid Kit - Supplementary (both were in the same kind of packaging) but I have to be honest and say I NEVER saw or used these in my service. Why ? I don't know - I even served in NI during this period and never even saw them there either - to be frank the First Aid situation was no better even on an operational tour !!





I can provide more info, pics and details if anyone requires it - just ask. Hope this helps.

Medic 12.jpg

Medic 15.jpg

Medic 11.jpg

Medic 16.jpg

Edited by Exwoofer
Typo correction
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From my time with the Royal Engineers ('76 - '94) I don't recall being issued with any form of personal first aid kit, beyond the standard field dressing taped to the front yoke strap of the '58 webbing. But we were all encouraged to carry some sort of self provided kit.


SOPs were usually taken as the minimum requirement to be carried in CEFO and the like, each individual would then add his own personal comfort touches. Many of us acquired extra water bottle pouches, which could be attached to vacant spaces on the webbing belt, for these little luxuries.


For myself I had 2 extra ones, one containing the repair kit. Medical/Hygiene stuff, mostly off the shelf at the local chemist. Plasters, anti septic cream and wipes, insect bite cream, extra talc, blister tape, pack of butterfly strips, couple of bandages and a pack of lint etc.


Also, like Tony B, I always had a pot of medical super glue as well. Marvellous stuff to use, clean the wound, raise the affected part to stop the bleeding long enough for the glue to set, and you're sorted. All you have to be careful of is not sticking other body parts to the wound.


Second pouch contained the real "First" aid kit, means of brewing up!!:-D Tea, Coffee and the ubiquitous Gaz Bleuet to boil the water. Extra ration supliments in here too, pepper, curry and chili powder, OXO cubes and so on.

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