At the end of last year I published a post on the 2” mortar cleaning kit wallet here. The example we looked at then was a British made example and tonight we have a contrasting example made in Canada. My thanks go to Darren Pyper for his help in getting this one for my collection. Canada produced a large quantity of webbing throughout the war and there are a number of subtle differences between the items produced in north America and those produced elsewhere in the Empire. The function and contents of the cleaning kit are identical to the earlier post, so tonight we will be looking at the differences. Here we have the two sets side by side, the Canadian on the left and the British made example on the right:The first thing to note is that the British example has been dyed a dark green colour, the Canadian example is in plain undyed webbing. The Canadian example has replaced the brass chapes at the end of the straps with phenolated resin, which seems to be a uniquely Canadian manufacturing technique:Not only are the securing straps treated in this way, but also the end of the adjustable shoulder strap:Markings are nice and clear on this example, with an easily readable stamp indicating that this is a Wallet 2 Inch Mortar Mk 1:A second stamp indicates that is was produced by the Zephyr Looms and Textiles Ltd in 1945, note also the Canadian acceptance stamp on the left:Zephyr Looms and Textiles Ltd had four factories within walking distance of each other in Guleph, Ontario. The company opened in 1936, and was at that time owned by the US conglomerate, its main business at that point was government contracts for webbing equipment. During the war, the company had 4 factories:
1) The Office, Warping and Weaving, Located on Crawford St.
2) Sewing, Located at 72 Farquhar St. (now home to JP Hammill and Sons Ltd)
3) Weaving, Located on Huskisson St. (Huskisson St. has subsequently be renamed Wyndham St in 1956, after William Huskisson, the Colonial Secretary) (the building is now an apartment building)
4) Sewing, Located at 135 Oxford St. (now a retirement home and apartments)
Contracts were plentiful throughout 1940 and 1941, with the government placing many orders in excess of $50,000. However, it seems that by 1943 the web equipment contracts were slowing down. Indeed, in October of 1943 the ZL&T Newsletter states that the 50 Millionth piece of military web equipment was produced (a small pack) at plant 4. The Globe and Mail states on November 19th, 1943 that due to fulfillment of government contracts and also lack of materials, all production was suspended at one plant and greatly curtailed at the remaining 3. The article continues, stating that during October of 1943 nearly 200 people (mostly women) were laid off, and that the largest number had been laid off in the ten days before the publication of the article. At its peak the company employed nearly 2000 employees, but by November of 1943 had less than 500. After WWII that company was bought by local businessmen and produced woven fabrics as well as having a franchise to make “Tom Boy” and “American Golfer” clothing. In 1957 the company became “Textile Industries”, and introduced the Wyndham fashion line. Textile Industries closed in 1980 after several layoffs.
Returning to the inside of the cleaning kit wallet we can see further differences, mostly in the design of the pockets for the folding handle for the mortar brush. The Canadian design has a full pocket, the British design has a couple of loops at top and bottom rather than a full pocket:In service troops would have been issued either design interchangeably and probably paid it no attention whatsoever; however to the collector it is always nice to have variants and different manufacturing techniques to track down.