Category Archives: 51-Webbing

51 Pattern Compass Pouch

It has been some time since we last looked at an example of post-war Canadian webbing. Collecting of these sets has slowed down a bit, but thanks to the generosity of Michel Auger from Canada, I am very pleased to have been able to add an example of the 51 pattern compass pouch to my little collection:imageThe compass pouch is very closely based upon the earlier 37 pattern design from the UK, but made in the dark green of the 51 pattern set. The rear of the case is very similar, but features simple webbing loops to pass a belt through, rather than the metal ‘C’ hooks of the 37 pattern set:imageThis change in construction makes sense when you remember that the 51 pattern belt is very different in design to its predecessor and does not have the woven pockets on the rear for ‘c’ hooks to slot into. The front of the pouch has a box lid that is secured with a large blackened press stud:imageThis opens to allow access to the compass which fits snuggly inside:imageBoth the early prismatic and the later marching compasses can fit in easily. They are protected by a thick layer of reclaimed wool felt that surrounds the compass and offers some insulation from knocks and bumps:imageI am unsure of the technical term for this felt in Canada, but it is made of what is colloquially known as ‘mungo’ in my part of Yorkshire. This is a poor quality fabric made from the torn up rags and cloth that is pressed or sometimes woven into a cheap cloth.

The underside of the box lid is stamped with the date of manufacture ‘1953’:imageNote also the circular acceptance mark stamped here. I have finally found some information out about this mark. It consists of a stylised leaf in a circle with the letters ‘IS’ for ‘Inspection Services’ and was stamped on the webbing to indicate that it met the requirements for military service.

It has been nice to add another piece to my Canadian collection, which had rather stalled of late. It has given me a little incentive to try and track down a few more components.

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51 Pattern Bayonet Frog

Tonight we come to the final post on post war Canadian webbing, at least until I purchase some more items! Once again I must express my thanks to Andrew Iarocci from Canada who kindly helped me add these pieces to my collection- I suspect I have the most complete collection of Post War Canadian webbing on this side of the Atlantic now, although I am also probably the only person over here who wishes to collect it!

Our final piece of 51 pattern webbing is the bayonet frog, it is made of the same dark green webbing as the rest of the 51 pattern set, but in form is identical to late war 37 pattern frogs:imageThis similarity in design is not unexpected as Canada was still using the No 4 rifle with a socket bayonet at the time of the webbing’s introduction so it made sense to use a tried and tested design. The bayonet frog has a belt loop to allow the belt to pass through, and two loops on the front for slotting the stud of the bayonet scabbard through:imageUnusually for 51 pattern webbing, the manufacturer’s mark is sharply stamped on the rear of the frog:imageNormally these stamps are very faint and almost impossible to read, but here it can be clearly seen that the frog was manufactured in 1952, with a distinctive circular manufacturer’s logo above:imageThere are still some elements of the 51 pattern set I need to track down, and as and when I find these I will post again. I hope this six month survey of post war Canadian webbing has been of interest and not too esoteric for you. I leave you with this nice view of Canadian infantry wearing the 51 pattern set from a period weapons pamphlet:fig23_crew_positions_mortar_mounted

51 Pattern Brace Attachments

Tonight we have a pair of Canadian 51 pattern brace attachments:imageThese allow the webbing set to be put together for those not equipped with full size ammunition pouches. The brace adaptor fills the gap between the shoulder braces and the belt and allows the set to be worn with items such as holsters and compass pouches. The design adopted for the 51 pattern set is a direct reuse of the uniquely Canadian 37 pattern brace attachment (we looked at a RCAF example of this a very long time ago here). The Canadians were unique in using a pressed brass open buckle arrangement to attach to the belt:imageThis components is a single stamping so is much easier to manufacture than the British equivalent. Here it is made of blackened brass, as with all the other metal components of the 51 pattern set. At the top of the brace attachment is a blackened Twigg buckle that the shoulder brace passes through and the L-Straps of the pack can hook onto, and a small loop the end of the shoulder brace can be tucked into:imageFor such a small and innocuous piece of webbing, some impressive stitching is used in the manufacture, with folded webbing straps and multiple layers sewn together to make up the component:image

51 Pattern Shoulder Braces

Generally the 51 pattern webbing set was a well thought out system that drew on the best practices of both Britain and the US, it did however have some weaker design features and amongst the poorer design choices were the shoulder braces:imageIn basic form these are clearly heavily inspired by Mills designs for the 19, 25 and 37 pattern sets, with one of the two having a small loop for the other to pass through:imageThey have the same one inch ends, increasing to 2” over the shoulders but instead of being made from a single reduction woven strap, or separate components, the shoulder braces are instead produced from a piece of 2” wide, thin webbing which has been folded over and sewn on the ends:imageThis then gives the required strength at both ends, where the tips are finished with a blackened brass chape:imageHowever the middle part of the strap, where it passes over the shoulder, is only a single layer of thin webbing:imageThis seems a particular weak point of the set as this area is flimsy and would wear out far faster than if a more robust design, such as that used by Canada in WW2, had been chosen. One does wonder why this design choice was made, and the only reason I can think of was to save money, as this must have been a cheaper design to produce, even if it was far weaker structurally.

51 Pattern L-Straps

As we have discussed before, the Canadian 51 pattern webbing set drew heavily on earlier British and American load bearing equipment designs. The 51 pattern set used ‘L straps’ to secure the large and small packs to the rest of the webbing and these were a close copy of the British design Mills had used on the 19, 25 and 37 pattern sets. Here the ‘L strap’ is made of a dark green pre-shrunk cotton webbing and the brass fittings are chemically blackened:imageThe L-Straps attach to the large pack using two-inch Twigg buckles in the same manner as 37 pattern webbing sets to fasten to the webbing tabs on the top of the pack. One obvious thing to note though is that the 51 pattern ‘L strap’ uses a single piece of two inch webbing and attaches to the tops of the ammunition pouches with a 2” hook rather than the 1” hook seen on the earlier British designs:imageNot only does this make the ‘L Strap’ easier to manufacture, it also increases the load bearing area making the connection stronger and easier to manipulate by the wearer. The ends of the tabs have brass chapes to prevent fraying, again blackened:imageFaint manufacturer’s markings and dates can be seen on the webbing, but as with much of this pattern they are faint and often hard to read:imageI think the date here is 1951, but I could be mistaken. As with the rest of the set, it is interesting to see how the Canadians have taken a British design and modified and improved it to meet their own needs.

51 Pattern Entrenching Tool Cover

It’s been a month or two since we looked at any components form the Canadian 51 pattern set on a Tuesday, so this week we go back to this webbing and take a look at the entrenching tool cover:The most obvious thing to note is how radically different this cover, and indeed the tool that went inside, are from traditional British practice of the period. Up until this point the Canadians had been using the British style two piece ‘Sirhand’ entrenching tool and the traditional cover for it. From the 51 pattern set onwards we can see a move away from British influence and much closer ties with US practice of the period. The tool adopted for the 51 pattern set was a folding entrenching tool was a close copy of the US 1943 pattern tool. The following illustration comes from Andrew Iarocci’s article on Canadian load carrying equipment and shows, l to r. Canadian 51 pattern entrenching tool, US M43 entrenching tool and British 37 Pattern Sirhand entrenching tool:Returning to the cover, on the rear can be seen three sets of eyelets allowing a wire hanger to be used to attach the entrenching tool to either the belt of the 51 pattern set, or the tab provided on the flaps of the small and large packs:Note also the manufacturer’s initials ‘TIL’ for ‘Textile Industries Limited’ and the date 1952:The top flap of the entrenching tool cover is secured with a lift the dot fastener in the distinctive shield shape of the 51 pattern set:This would originally have been chemically blackened, but this has worn to a bronze colour now. In use the tool would have had its handle sticking out through a hole in the bottom of the cover, with the head at the top. The top edge of the opening for the cover has leather and webbing reinforcements to prevent the metal of the entrenching tool fraying vulnerable parts of the cover:

51 Pattern Large Pack

In our continuing study of Canadian post war webbing we turn to the 51 pattern large pack tonight. This pack was designed to fill the same role as the large pack in the old 37 pattern equipment- to carry the soldier’s extra kit during transit rather than for use in the field. The design is clearly closely based off the old 08 pattern large pack we looked at here, but it has some uniquely Canadian features added to the basic design:imageThe basic pack has been modified by adding a webbing flap with two eyelets to the top flap to allow wire hangers for items such as the entrenching tool cover to be attached:imageA second flap with the same eyelets is provided on one side of the pack, I suspect this was for the machete to be attached:imageNotice above there is another small eyelet on the top flap of the pouch, this was carried across from the earlier design and allows a piece of string to be used to help tighten the top flaps across. Other features carried across from the earlier design include the use of 1” Twigg buckle and strap to secure the main top flap:imageAs with the rest of the 51 pattern set the brass fittings were orignally chemically blackened, as can be seen here on the ends of the straps this did not always wear well. The same strap and buckle arrangement at the top of the flap to attach the L-Straps to as the 08/37 Pattern Large Pack was carried across to the new design:imageIt does seem odd that this pack even exists- the 08/37 pattern large pack was viewed as being entirely unfit for purpose by the end of the Second World War- it wasn’t big enough, was uncomfortable to wear and was not sufficiently adaptable to the changing needs of a modern soldier. However it was cheap to produce compared to more flexible and useful framed rucksacks and in a time of post war austerity the large pack continued to be made and used in both Britain and Canada.