The concept of having a small pouch dedicated to the carrying of a first field dressing came to the Australian Army from the US in the Vietnam war. When the new 1988 pattern webbing set was being designed, this feature was carried over and small pouches suitable for carrying a dressing were incorporated into the new design, but produced in the Auscam pattern of fabric:This small pouch is just a pocket with a top flap secured with a press stud:Two different positions are provided for securing this flap dependent on whether there is a dressing inside the pouch or not:The rear of the pouch has provision for two plastic locking bars:These bars have featured a number of times over the last few weeks, but deserve closer inspection. Each bar is a stiff piece of olive green plastic with a pair of wedges on the top edge and little spikes along the inside to grip on the webbing it is securing:When pressed together sideways the two wedges lock together and can only be undone with a pair of pliers and a lot of effort!The dressing pouch can be worn in a variety of different places, it often seen on the shoulder straps of the webbing set, but in this instance, mine is attached to the side of one of the Minimi pouches:Like the other components in the set, this piece was manufactured in 2010 by Wise Pearl Ltd and has an NSN number and /|\ mark stamped onto the underside of the top flap:
Last week we looked at the 88 Pattern water bottle carrier. The bottle itself used in the carrier was a simple plastic design, copied from the late 1950s Canadian design seen here. Of more interest is the metal cup issued alongside the canteen that slots over its base to fit inside the carrier:Metal cups have a number of advantages over plastic examples; they are sturdier and less likely to break and they can be used to directly heat liquids over a flame, as seen here where some Australian cadets are doing just that:The only disadvantage is that it is possible to burn your lips on the edge of the cup if it is too hot. Occasionally modified cups are seen with black electrical tape stuck around the rim to overcome this problem. Regardless, troops across the world seem to universally prefer metal canteen cups to plastic examples. The Australian cup has a folding handle that can be extended to provide a place to grip the cup:This hinges around to rest on the underside of the cup when stowed. It is folded up and has a small sliding tab on the end nearest the hinge point:This locks into a pair of prongs on the cup body to ensure the handle is secure and cannot move in use- the last thing anyone wants is a lap full of scalding hot water!These cups are marked with a /|\ mark and an NSN number on the handle, as well as the year of manufacture, here 1993:This design of cup is almost a direct copy of the US M1910 canteen cup, which features the same folding handle, locking tabs and rolled rim. This design was introduced into Australia with their 1968 pattern webbing set, imported form the US. The design was clearly popular as it continued in service with the 88 pattern equipment.
We continue our review of the 88 Pattern webbing set this week with the second pattern water bottle carrier. The earlier pattern was covered here, and side by side the differences are clear (the first pattern is on the left, the second on the right):The most obvious change between the two patterns is the replacement of the webbing loop on the front with a full pocket for carrying a hexamine stove:Both the front pocket and the base of the carrier have eyelets to drain water out:The pattern of Auscam is also brighter and slightly greener than the older carrier. On the rear the belt fastenings have changed:Instead of the sprung metal ALICE style clips, plastic fasteners are fitted instead:The rest of the carrier is broadly similar in design, borrowing heavily from the US M1910 style of carrier. Two top flaps secure the bottle into the carrier, fastening with a pair of press studs:The inside of the carrier is lined with felt to help insulate the bottle and keep it cool in the heat of the Australian outback:This particular carrier dates from 2010:The US M1910 must be one of the most enduring designs of webbing in history, inspiring dozens of derivative designs across the world; we have covered the 44 Pattern British carrier, 51, 64 and 82 pattern Canadian and 88 Pattern Australian designs which are all inspired by this design and this does not include all the non-commonwealth countries that have also adopted variations of this design.
With water being such a high priority in Australia, it is typical for soldiers and cadets to carry a minimum of two bottles on their webbing at all times, with extra bottles added to the rucksack if extended operations are expected.
We continue our review of the 88 pattern webbing set by taking a look at the ammunition pouches for the Austeyr:The Austeyr was the Australian version of the Steyr Aug bullpup rifle and was introduced into service at the same time as the webbing. Each pouch can hold three magazines, with most soldiers having a pair of pouches, allowing six magazines to be carried, giving them a total of 180 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. The pouch is made of a heavy duty nylon, printed in Auscam, with other fittings made of a tan shade of webbing. The top flap of the pouch is secured with a fixed Fastex buckle:When the pouch is opened it can be seen that this is supplemented by a strip of Velcro around the top edge:This Velcro makes it very hard to securely fasten the buckle because the Velcro tends to grab and hold the lid fast before the buckle has a chance to fully engage. The underside of the top flap has the markings for NSN number, date and manufacturer, along with the /|\ mark that Australia still uses to indicate it’s army’s property:The inside of the pouch has a set of dividers to allow the three Austeyr magazines to be carried:These are secured in place with Velcro and can be folded back to give one large pouch if different ammunition loads need to be carried:Loops are fitted to the sides of the pouch to allow additional items, such as the first aid pouch, to be attached:The back of the pouch is quite plain and just has the fastenings to allow it to be attached to a belt:These consist of two plastic clips and above them a single plastic ring:This ring is used to attach the yoke to the pouches when the webbing is assembled. Like many ammunition pouches, this design features drainage holes at the base, interestingly here it is two, side by side, rather than a single central one:An Australian report in 2008 sets out something of the design of the pouch and the doctrine for its use:
The Australian Army F88 pouch is the basic pouch used to store 3 F88 Austeyr magazines. It is made primarily of canvas material with a plastic ‘skeleton’ to hold the pouches shape. The pouch is a box shape with a static lower portion sized to accommodate magazines inserted vertically, and an upper portion; the lid. The lid connects to the lower portion by means of both a strip of Velcro and a clip. To prevent noise and rattling once the user is in motion, 2 dividing pieces of material are used to separate the magazines within the pouch. Operation of the pouch requires the user to squeeze the clip and separate the Velcro. The pouch holds 3 magazines, and requires the user to both open and close the pouch correctly to ensure successful functionality.
Loading, reloading and unloading a weapon requires the user to operate the pouch. The user does this by first opening the lid by squeezing the clip and pulling the pouch cover in a vertical direction. If required an empty magazine is first placed into the pouch, and a full magazine is removed and placed onto the weapon. The weapon is brought to a functional condition and the pouch is closed by clipping the lid to the lower portion.
A couple of weeks ago we looked at the 88 pattern belt. This was a fairly standard, 2 inch wide belt and was made of a heavy duty woven nylon webbing. This belt is not particularly ergonomic so was issued with a belt comforter from the webbings inception. This comforter consists of a large pad of foam, covered in Auscam fabric:The belt comforter prevents the belt from rubbing on the wearer’s hip bones and helps protect the user from ouches and equipment with sharp corners of hard protrusions that would cause discomfort over a long march. Loops are provided along the length of the comforter:These allow the belt to be threaded through:As mentioned in the post on the belt, these loops are a very close fit to the belt and the male half of the Fastex buckle needs to be removed from the belt in order to thread it through. As before this component was made by Wise Pearl Ltd in 2010:Whilst this comforter worked well, in service it was found to offer insufficient padding when carrying heavy loads, so it was not uncommon for two of them to be used one above the other to widen the area protected:
An essential element of any webbing set is the method of transferring loads to the shoulders, this was traditionally done by a pair of webbing shoulder straps, but since the Second World War most armies have adopted a padded yoke that offers a greater surface area and more connection points with the belt and its load. The Australian Army 88 pattern set uses a yoke that is commonly referred to as a ‘H Harness’ in Australian service. Initially this was very much ‘H’ shaped and made of the same Auscam fabric as the rest of the set. This component, however, was updated along with many other components in the set and it is the final pattern of yoke we are looking at tonight:The yoke uses a six point connecting system to attach it to the belt, distributing the load bearing around the body. At the rear two straps descend straight down the back:These have plastic buckles and are attached to the pouches like this:The black electrical tape is a common modification done to ensure the webbing stays at the correct adjustment for its wearer. Each of the two front arms of the yoke have two straps coming down:These attach in the same manner to the front of the webbing belt set. The main yoke part is padded with foam for comfort over the shoulders:The outer side of this portion of the yoke has a number of webbing loops that allow items such as grenades and first aid pouches to be attached here:An adjustable chest strap with a Fastex fastener is also provided:The yoke can clearly be seen in this photograph of cadets on a first aid training exercise:
We start our detailed look at the Australian 88 pattern web set by looking at the belt. The rest of the set is built around the belt so it is possibly the most crucial component in the whole set. It is made of a heavy duty woven nylon tape in a light shade of khaki brown:The belt secures with a plastic Fastex clip. The female portion of this is permanently attached to one end of the belt:The tape holding it onto the main belt being sewn on with heavy duty stitching:By contrast the male part of the buckle is free to move about and be taken off completely, incorporating a friction buckle into its design:Not only does this allow the belt to be adjusted for length, but in order to attach the belt through the hip padding, the buckle needs to be removed.
The belt is stamped on its reverse with an ‘NSN’ number (even though Australia is not actually part of NATO), the date and the manufacturer’s name:Wise Pearl Limited produced all the components of my 88 pattern webbing set. This company is based in Hong Kong and its website describes the business as:
Founded in 1991 Wise Pearl Limited is a developer and producer of high quality technical sewn products, mainly for sports, industrial and military markets. Its headquarters is in Hong Kong and it operates two wholly owned factories in China. The newest facility, wholly owned Wise Pearl Myanmar, is located in Myanmar’s principal city – Yangon – and has been in operation since June 2016. Our products are exported all over the world.