A Collections Review and a WW2 discovery

Last week Frances Halahan from Halahan Associates visited the museum to review our entire collection.  This is needed to help us plan for the future storage and to ensure that our fantastic collection can be preserved for future generations. It is also an important step in planning of our proposed move to the Jewish Museum.


Frances spoke to us about the conditions of our collection and answered questions about best storage practice and how to treat specific objects and material.

Frances measured both of our object stores and reviewed the boxes, uniforms and display areas to calculate how much space our collection needs to be stored correctly, allowing for room to grow.




Whilst looking at the display cases Frances and Roz removed an object that had been intriguing us for a while.  Labelled in the display as water purification tablets, we were concerned by its condition and wanted Frances’ advice.

However, on closer inspection we discovered that this object was not simply water purification tablets, it was some sort of World War II 24 hour ration pack.

On one side it it appears to be a wallet with a tiny compass attached.



On the reverse we discovered a bar of chocolate, a box of matches and a tube of what we think was condensed milk but has corroded significantly.





There are lots of cubes of Horlicks tablets  and even some chewing gum pellets on the top right!

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The ration pack contains the water purification tablets as we suspected. There are also some tablets to ‘relieve fatigue’ which may have been Benzedrine or another amphetemine that were issued to soldiers during the Second World War.

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As you can see the collection is in very poor condition, with plastic from the wallet decomposing almost completely. Frances advised us to take it off display and helped us to repack it safely.


Frances is now writing a report on her findings on our collection and has kindly offered to advise us with the marking and repacking of our collection. We look forward to seeing how we can improve our storage and the condition of our collection, and ensure it is preserved for the future.

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3 comments on “A Collections Review and a WW2 discovery
  1. Mike Jackson says:

    I believe that this was the emergenccy ration component of a Second World War RAF Escape Kit


    • Dear Mike,

      This is fantastic, thank you so much! now we can properly catalogue it with the correct information.


      • Hi,

        A fascinating item, thanks for posting it.

        It was known as a “1-Day Escapist Pack” – a combination emergency ration pack and escape and evasion kit issued to British and Commonwealth aircrews and special operations forces.

        According to period literature, the “1-Day Escapist Pack” contained the following items:

        – Acid drops
        – Chewing gum
        – Malted milk tablets
        – Sweet-meat
        – Stimulating tablets
        – Water purifying tablets
        – Adhesive plaster
        – Compass
        – Matches
        – Needles and thread
        – Razor & soap
        – Fishing line and hook
        – Small rubber bucket and line
        – Packed in flat transparent container dished to fit comfortably in the pocket



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