Continuing our occasional series of posts looking at the elements of the 1944 pattern webbing set, tonight we turn to the basic pouches. A pair of these was worn on the front of the chest and carried the soldiers ammunition, Bren magazines and grenades. The pouches are clearly inspired by those used on the 37 pattern webbing, but are deeper and will now hold three rather than two Bren Magazines. The height of the fastened flap is also adjustable, again based on experience with Sten Gun magazines which had been too tall for the pouches on 37 Pattern Webbing. The following description comes from the fitting instructions:
Basic Pouch, Left- The internal dimensions are approximately 4 ½ inches by 3 inches by 9 ½ inches deep. On the back, two 2-inch wire hooks are provided for connecting to the waistbelt, a tapered chape with 1-inch 4-bar buckle for the braces and two vertical webbing loops for the haversack straps; the hooded flap is fitted with the staple portion of a quick release fastener which can be fitted to either of the two links on the front of the pouch. The normal method of closure is to use the bottom link; the alternative method is for use when longer items are carried in the pouch. The left-hand side has loops as an alternative method of carrying the No. 4, 5 and 7 bayonet. Basic pouch, Right- Exactly the same as the left pouch except that bayonet loops are not fitted on the side.
As can be seen the pouches are made of pre-shrunk green died cotton webbing, with anodised aluminium fittings typical of this set of webbing. They are clearly visible in most photographs of soldiers fighting in the jungle campaigns of Malaya and Borneo; in this image a Ghurkha is wearing them in Borneo in 1965, the Ghurkha’s short stature makes the pouches look particularly large:
Back in January we looked at the contents of my 44 pattern small pack here. As I pointed out at the time, this was a work in progress; I have now decided an update is in order as over the last year I have added a lot more items to this set, and it is looking much more complete. Please click on the links to get more information about an individual item.
- 44 pattern Small Pack
- Rubberised Poncho
- Aluminium Mess Tins
- Knife, Fork and Spoon Cover
- Foot powder
- Water Sterilisation Kit
- Knife Fork and Spoon Set
- Waterproof Ration Bag
- Insect Repellent
- First Aid Kit
- Aluminium Soap Dish
- Rot Proof Socks
- English/Malay Phrase book
- Guide for soldiers serving in the Far East Theatre
We have previously taken an overview of the 1944 pattern haversack and its contents here. Tonight we are going to look at the haversack in more detail. One of the main aims of the new 44 pattern webbing set was to address the concerns soldiers had about its predecessor, the 37 pattern set. One major problem faced by troops was that the 37 pattern haversack was not large enough, indeed during the second world war one field expedient was to take the 37 pattern large pack and sew two ammunition pouches to the sides to increase the carrying capacity. The 44 pattern haversack was therefore deliberately larger, with more straps and securing points to allow a greater flexibility in what a soldier could carry. Whilst it was soon found to still be too small, it was a major improvement on anything that had gone before. The haversack, like the rest of the 44 pattern set, was made of a lighter weight green cotton webbing with anodised metal fittings to prevent rust; it had a stores code of A.A. 2007. The following description of the haversack comes from the accompanying War Office Pamphlet on the webbing set:
Haversack- The dimensions of the haversack are approximately 8 inches by six inches by 10 inches deep:and it has a flap secured by two small straps and quick-release buckle:Side weather flaps are provided, and in each of these an eyelet is fitted to enable the flaps to be secured, if necessary, by a piece of string or cord:On each side is fitted a pocket approximately 6 inches by 2 inches by 8 ½ inches deep:with a flap secured by a quick-release fastener:one pocket will accommodate the mess tin and the other rations or small kit. A 3-bar buckle is fitted to each side of the haversack, for attachment to the ends of the braces should it be necessary to carry it on the side:On the back, two 2-inch tabs are provided for attachment to the shoulder straps:two loops are provided to tuck away the spare ends of the shoulder straps:On the base are two 3-bar buckles for securing the ¾ inch diagonal straps forming part of the shoulder strap:For carrying the bedding two long ¾ inch straps with quick-release buckles are fitted to the base:Sleeves are provided to enable these straps to be stowed away when not in use.
There are the following attachments: a chape with two grommets:and a horizontal strap (A portion of which is reinforced) with a quick-release buckle:These are both attached to the flap. A small buckle chape and tab are fixed to the bottom edge:These can be used for the carriage of tools. When carrying the shovel the strap with the quick release buckle should be wound twice round the shaft, and when carrying a pick the strap (reinforced portion) will be passed first round the head of the pick then round the shaft. At each bottom back corner of the haversack a strap is sewn, one having a 3-bar buckle and the other a tip:these pass through one or both of the web loops on the back of the basic pouches and connect round the body in front. This is particularly useful when crawling to prevent sag of heavily laden pouches, or to retain the haversack in position when quick action is anticipated.
NOTE- the back and base of the haversack is lined with waterproof cloth to prevent penetration of moisture from the body: