The Trench Whistles of World War 1 and World War 2 got their start around 1875 by Joseph Hudson of Birmingham, England. Joseph Hudson and James Hudson started the J Hudson & Company and began manufacturing whistles. The company was purchased by Acme Whistles and continues to build quality whistles today.
Some of the first production whistles were known as the “Glasgow Police Call” or “Pig Nose” whistle.
In WW1, the Army had a system where they would used different whistles to coordinate movement. The Battalion Commander had a siren whistle, the Company Commander had a kinglet whistle, and the Platoon and Squad leaders had thunderer whistles.
During WW1, Hudson & Co produced the Hudson Officer’s trench Whistle. The Whistles normally had “JHudson”, “Birmingham” and the Date of the Whistle stamped on the front. The patent number is visible on the bottom “Patent 5727 .08”. A leather strap or lanyard would connect the whistle so that a solder could attach it to their uniform.
Another company also producing trench whistles in WW1 was A.De Courcy & Co. They were also located in Birmingham.
These whistles measured 80mm long with a diameter of 17mm.
Some of the military trench whistles would have a broad arrow mark right below the stamped date. These tend to be more quite expensive and often go for over $150. The whistles in general sell between $100-$200 depending on condition and if they come with a lanyard.
Here is a short video I put together on some of the whistles I have collected. I found the video is best viewed using the browser Chrome. In the video I mention the Broad Arrow marking. If you would like to learn more, check out my article on the British Broad Arrow.
Below is an example of an WW1 whistle with the Broad Arrow indicating the property of Great Britain and the I indicating India. The 1914 indicates this was probably military issued during WW1.
Another design used in both world war 1 and 2 was the Thunderer design for the American (Doughboy) troops and it looked more like what most people outside of UK think of whistles. The British whistles were also referred to as the “Dinghy Whistles”
During WWII Germans sometimes employed the use of bakelite in their whistle design.
Here is a cool website I found that has loads of pictures of Whistles called the Whistle Shop.
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