WW2 Military Cutlery

I know, it’s all about ordnance, weapons and cap badges. Isn’t it?

Well no, not by a long shot. Over the years I’ve been hunting for, recovering and preserving WW2 relics, I quickly came to realise that the personal items were just as important as the truly ‘military’ finds.

Personal items shed light on what life was like for the personnel when they weren’t on the front line, in the air, or on the ocean, fighting for their lives. Everything from toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, beer bottles, shaving cream pots, marmalade jars, crockery, Marmite & Bovril jars…….they all had a story to tell about life on a base, and provide important historical information.

One of the most frequently found items is cutlery. Spoons, knifes and forks seemed to be fairly disposable back in the 1940s, or at least that’s how it seems given the volume that I’ve found. In all honesty, I am quite disappointed if I came back home from a dig and don’t  have a piece of cutlery!

Not all cutlery is marked to show it belonged to the military, but quite a lot of it is. What is interesting is the diverse methods of marking cutlery by the military to show it was for service use only. Here are plenty of examples, recovered from old airbases, military camps and even POW camps.

This first picture is of a case I use when doing displays at Military shows and schools. It saves me setting up time and gives me a readily portable display!

Display case of marked cutlery, used when displaying finds
RAF crest
RAF crest
I’ve only just recently identified this. As it was so worn, and given where I found it, I always assumed it was NAAFI crest or RAF crest or possibly squadron crest. I have now identified it as ‘The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company’. What the heck it was doing on an old USAAF base I’ll never know, but maybe one of the serviceman nicked it from the ship they were brought over in! (I have confirmed at least on ship, RMS Andes, was used as a troopship in WW2)
Air Ministry, Queen’s crown. Not WW2 admittedly, but in miraculous condition considering how long it was in the ground. It serves to show the difference between the two types of crown.
Air Ministry King’s crown
WD arrow and 1944 date
WD arrow and 1942 date
US mess kit spoon
US spoon
USAMD spoon, found at the site of an old WW2 hospital

The wide range of stamps not only shows which country the cutlery originated from, but also, in many instances, a date of manufacture.

Many of the AM stamped pieces came from bases that were occupied by the USAAF, showing that the RAF supplied at least some of their cutlery.

Apart from the USAMD spoon, all the above pieces came from one USAAF base.

At another base…….

Another base, another selection of markings
King’s crown, GR (George VI)
WD arrow and 1944 dated
NAAFI crest

More variation in markings. I particularly like the NAAFI crest.

The hole on the NAAFI fork allows for them to be either strung together, or hung on a hook, making storage easier. It is also speculated that they could be tethered to a table, using the eye, to prevent them being stolen!

As for the number, I have still never truly identified what it is. Could it be associated with the location of the NAAFI? This would mean all NAAFIs had different numbers, which would make manufacturing rather time consuming, stamping the right number into the steel……doesn’t seem plausible. Maybe it is a ‘batch’ number, or possibly an order number? The jury is still out.

***EDIT*** A friend of mine has just revealed the secret! The number is actually just a stores number, so 2904 is the NAAFI stores number for ‘Fork, for eating’ 🙂

Yet another base….

Another base, yet another selection!
WD arrow and 1942 dated
Another NAAFI
Air Ministry, King’s crown, 1940 dated

All of these are great WW2 relics, but one above all the pieces of Cutlery stands out. And the reason? The serviceman has taken time to stamp his surname and part of his service number on this fork.

US fork
Surname and last 4 digits of service number

I did actually track him down, PFC Walenty Zawol, USAAF, and found that he survived the war. He had 4 children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. I contacted one of his daughters but she was not in the slightest bit interested in having the fork back. Indeed, she was one of the rudest people I’ve ever had the misfortune to speak to. I tried another of his daughters some 3 months later and got the same reply, although slightly less rude this time.

Amazing that a family didn’t want their father’s belongings back, especially given the context, but I had to believe that perhaps he wasn’t a good dad? I suppose I’ll never know, but finding a piece of cutlery attributable to one man is pretty damn awesome!


  1. I have 2 spoons marked with USAMD, but I can’t find the meaning of it. You showed one found at a hospital so I’m assuming it means USAMedical Doctor. IF it is then why would they be stamped that way?! Please answer my confusion.


  2. Hi ive got an okd WW 1 or 2 spoon frim my Grandfathers house. It has 804 stamped on it, something illegiable, the SD (D being upper right side if the S). Any idea what this marking is? Cheers, Paul


    • Can you send me some pictures please? Use the ‘Contact’ page and I’ll reply so you can attach pics.


  3. Hello.
    I enjoyed your post and would like to ask about one of my findings: a spoon with “N.M.A” stamped on it, found in…..Israel. There is also an IDF mark that seems to be added later on. I guessed it dates to WW2 so I stumbled across your collection while researching the web.
    Do you have any clue about this kind of mark?

    Thank you,


  4. Hello.
    I enjoyed your post and would like to ask about one of my findings: a spoon with “N.M.A” stamped on it, found in…..Israel. There is also an IDF mark that seems to be added later on. I guessed it dates to WW2 so I stumbled across your collection while researching the web.
    Do you have any clue about this kind of mark?

    Thank you,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Valerie. Please use the ‘Contact’ page to send an email. We can then communicate via that and you can send me a picture of the item.


      • Thankyou but sorry to say I’m not very good at technology! If I find your email address I’ll be able to send message but no idea how to send a picture. Will have to wait until my son visits to help me. Thankyou for your patience.


  5. A fork has been found at a POW camp where I am a tour guide. The name of the Sheffield company Lewis, Rose & Co is stamped on it as is the date 1942. Can’t see an arrow. Could it be Government issue? I’d be most grateful for your help. Thank you.


  6. Hi I’m an avid metal detector and I’ve unearthed a steel spoon I know from your page which is very good by the way that the crown and GR is for George vi but there is a number 22 stamped at the top would you have any idea what the numbers stand for was found in a field in West Yorkshire if that helps thanks


  7. Hello . I moved into my parents old house several years ago n just now cleaning up n came across something that got my attention it I did some research and found ur page it’s a butter knife from the ww2 with the stamp on handle ( N.A.A.F.I.2929) did some research and found out what it is but couldn’t find out the value of it . Plz help with some more information about the knife I can post pics if needed.


    • Hi Rita. Glad my site was of help! I am sure you can imagine, hundreds of thousands of NAAFI knives, forks and spoons were manufactured during the war years. The value of it will be less than £5 as they are rather common to say the least. Excellent piece of history though!


  8. Hello Stephen. Had this old fork for several years, picked it up at an old junk shop. I was drawn to it firstly because of its shape and then the numbers and letters, different on either side of the handle. Several museums, including the big military one in London were’nt interested. Maybe you can through some light on this.


    • Hi Stephen, just discovered your fascinating site! Handy as I’ve just found a handle from a spoon/fork whilst detecting. What is odd about it is the fact it is stamped with the numbers 508888 on the upper side, the makers name appears to be Wallker & Sons 1936. Yes it is Wallkee with two LL’s ! I’m wondering if it is military as the site it came from has thrown up other military items.
      Hope to hear from you,


  9. Hi Stephen. I have a ladle marked . DIXON (trumpet & banner .stamp) (wd) arrow only .then 1942 am I right in saying this was supplied to the Army in 1942.


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