Housewife : Private K S Allen, 9th Field Ambulance, AIF, and Private G S Allen, Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Accession Number REL33428
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Bakelite, Bone, Cork, Cotton drill, Cotton tape, Plastic, Rubber, Steel
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1916
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
First World War, 1914-1918

Standard khaki cotton housewife of First World War issue, featuring three large internal pockets. A long white cotton tape tie has been sewn to the closing flap and may be a replacement. The interior of the closing flap is annotated in black ink '11898 / Private K.S. Allen / B Section / 9th Field Ambulance / 9th Brigade, AIF / 1/5/16' and under this, 'Pte G.S. ALLEN / 438611 R.A.E.M.E. / SUR.' The housewife pockets contain an unused 50 yard roll of Barbours 3 Cord brown cotton thread; a folded yellow handkerchief, approximately 435 mm x 420mm, with one corner marked in ink '11898 K S Allen'; a brown bakelite thimble; a small bone handled steel bodkin taken from a Victorian sewing box with its point protected by a cork; and a pair of rubber patching kits, still sealed in their plastic outers. The body of the housewife is extensively stained.

History / Summary

A housewife - or soldier's sewing and repair kit - used by father and son. Originally issued to 11898 Private Kenneth Samuel Allen, B Section, 9th Field Ambulance, of Cessnock, NSW in the First World War; and passed onto his son, 438611 Private (later Captain) Graham Stuart Allen, AEME, of Haberfield, NSW, who carried it during the Second World War in New Guinea.

Private Kenneth Allen enlisted on 25 August 1915 and returned to Australia on 27 August 1917; his son Graham's enlistment and discharge dates are unknown. The 'SUR' written inside the housewife may indicate previous service in the milita with the Sydney University Regiment. Graham carried his father's service handkerchief and a Victorian-period bodkin in the housewife as well as his own material, including a rubber repair kit. Although Graham Allen has noted his service number on the housewife as 438611, Army records list it as 237616 (NX166015).