We are nearing the end of our review of the Canadian 64 pattern webbing set, but there are still a couple of nice pieces to go and tonight we are looking at the respirator case:Canada had adopted an updated respirator in the 1950s known as the C2, and this was further improved in the early 1960s to become the C3. These respirators were stored in a specialist pouch that was slung on the left hip as part of the actual webbing set, with cotton webbing versions issued with the 51 pattern, and an updated plasticised cotton version being introduced as part of the 64 pattern set. The respirator case is a large bag, with a side opening to allow the mask to be placed inside. The opening is sealed by rolling it up and attaching a piece of Velcro as a fastener:The webbing tab allows the user to easily open it, even when wearing NBC gloves. A large pocket is provided on the front of the haversack for gloves, spare canisters, decontamination equipment etc:This is secured with two metal press studs. A second pocket is fitted to the opposite edge to the haversack’s main opening:This is far smaller and has internal dividers to allow it to carry anti-nerve agent epipens, again a cotton tab is provided for easy access when wearing gloves. As with the rest of the items of the 64 pattern webbing set, the method of attachment to fasten the haversack to the belt is woefully inadequate, here consisting of two Velcroed loops:Markings consist of a single stamping on the bag that indicate the haversack dates from November 1982 and was made by ‘Manta’:The use of plasticised cotton was actually far more appropriate for this component than the earlier cotton version, being much easier to decontaminate on a potential Cold War nuclear battlefield.
Continuing our on-going study of the Canadian 64 pattern webbing set, we come to a piece that was not on my original kit layout. My thanks go to ‘Dean O’ from Canada who kindly sent this one over the Atlantic for me. The 64 pattern set used the same folding entrenching tool as the earlier 51 pattern set we discussed here. Like the other elements of the 64 pattern set, the entrenching tool cover is made of a plasticised cotton fabric:Like the earlier design, this cover has a hole at the bottom to allow the handle of the entrenching tool to stick out below the carrier. The back of the carrier is very simple, with just the belt attachment:
This is the same large velcroed loop that fits over the belt as other copmponents of the set:As with the canteen carrier, I am doubtful how effective this Velcro would be with a heavy component like the entrenching tool. I suspect that like other components of the set, the entrenching tool carrier would have been particularly susceptible to dropping off! The maker’s mark is also stamped on the rear of the carrier:This example was made by Textile Industries Ltd, a company who seem to have made all the components of the set for the Canadian Army. The cover fastens on the front with a plastic quick release buckle with a webbing tab:The edges of the entrenching tool could be sharp and potentially could damage the cover so a couple of leather reinforcing patches are sewn to the top lip of the cover:I am not convinced many of these covers were ever issued, most accounts suggest they were not in widespread use and this example certainly looks in mint condition.
I noted the incredibly poor quality of the 64 pattern belt when we looked at this a few weeks back. Tonight we are considering the suspenders from the same set and again the design is particularly poor. Suspenders on a webbing set are designed to transmit the load from the belt and rucksack to the wearer’s shoulders. As such it is normally best for them to be as wide as possible where they meet the body to help transmit the load, prevent them from digging in and to keep chafing to a minimum. If not padded it is still usual to try and have at least a 2” wide surface here. The Canadian 64 pattern set however is made entirely from 1” wide cotton webbing, in a ‘Y’ shaped yoke:This is worn with the single attachment point at the rear and the two straps passing over the shoulders to re-join the belt at wither side of the buckle. These straps are fitted with a plastic loop and buckle at each end:The buckles allow the wearer to adjust the yoke to size, but it is only held to the belt by a loop of Velcro:Finally a small piece of webbing joins the two front straps of the yoke, this would sit high on the shoulder blades in use and helps keep the straps all at the right angle:The yoke is a weak point in an already poor quality webbing system. The straps dig into the wearer’s shoulders, it is not particularly stable when worn and the Velcro is prone to wearing resulting in the whole set falling apart if you are not careful. It is easy to see why it was universally loathed by those unfortunate enough to be issued with it!
This week’s piece of Canadian post war webbing is the 64 pattern belt. As mentioned several times before, the 64 pattern webbing set is pretty atrocious, and the belt is no exception. It is about as simple as a belt can get and is made of a simple piece of green cotton webbing:The rear of the belt has a strip of Velcro sewn to one end and this is how the belt is adjusted. The hook piece of Velcro is sewn to the end of the webbing, passes through the buckle and is looped back to stick to the loop piece:The buckle itself is made from heavy duty green plastic, with male and female halves:These fit one over the other, with the two shallow prongs falling down into the two holes of the corresponding belt part:It might just be me, but I found this belt nearly impossible to undo without resorting to something to pry the two halves of the belt back apart! The belts were not very successful as the Velcro weakened over time and came undone. It was common to see the ends of the belt secured with gun-tape or a spare brass keeper off the old 51 pattern set.
Canada was unusual in issuing a dedicated mess tins pouch with their 51 pattern webbing set. They carried this practice on with the 64 pattern set, with the new design made of the same plasiticised cotton as the other elements of this web sets. The mess tins pouch is very similar in basic design to the grenade pouch we looked at a couple of weeks ago. The pouch is made of green waterproofed cotton and is a square shape:The lid is secured with a plastic quick release buckle and cotton tab:The back of the pouch has the same belt loop as the grenade pouch:Again this is secured with Velco, allowing it to be easily attached to a belt or removed:Whilst this Velcro was fine when the pouch was new, as it wore it became less ‘sticky’ and there was an increased danger of the pouch dropping off when he wearer least wanted it to! The pouch is perfectly sized to take a pair of Canadian style mess tins:Apparently the mess tin carrier was frequently used for carrying a Canadian soldier’s waterproof gear rather than mess tins. I rather like the concept of a dedicated mess tin pouch, but it is a concept that was not adopted by any other military and the Canadians themselves dropped the dedicated pouch when they introduced the 82 pattern set- apparently there was concern that aluminium mess tins could lead to Alzheimer’s in Canada. Notably the British are still using aluminium mess tins…
Having spent the last couple of weeks taking an overview of the post war Canadian 64 pattern and 82 pattern sets, tonight we start looking at the individual components in more detail with the 1964 pattern grenade pouch. The pouch is a simple box shape, made of green cotton webbing with a plastic coating to waterproof it:This plastic coating was notorious for flaking off in use, so this example is in particularly nice condition. The pouch has a box lid, secured with a plastic post and loop and a webbing quick release tab:The back of the pouch has a large belt loop:This is secured with Velcro so it is particularly easy to add and remove the pouch from the rest of the set:Note also the extra loop of Velcro on the base of the pouch, this was designed to carry the grenade launcher for the FN C1 rifle. The pouch is marked inside the flap with a date of September1982 and a manufacturer’s name of Manta:The pouch was designed to carry two M26 or M67 (C13) fragmentation grenades:
However it was too small fopr this and they were an incredibly tight fit. It was far better holding V40 ‘mini frag’ grenades, five fitting into the pouch:The pouch was also frequently used to carry a cleaning kit for the wearer’s weapon rather than for its intended purpose.
If you are a regular reader of the blog you will know that this year we have been taking a close look at post war Canadian webbing. So far we have only covered items from the 51 pattern set, however thanks to the kind help of my fellow collector Andrew Iarocci I now have 64 and 82 pattern sets in my collection and we will be looking at these over the coming months as well. It made sense to me to start with something of an overview of each set, and tonight we start off by looking at some of the history of the 64 pattern set, then over the coming months we can look at each component in more detail.I would argue that the 64 pattern set was one of the worst equipment sets every forced upon the poor infantryman. It was designed at a time where it was expected that warfare would be on a post-nuclear battlefield and troops would remain buttoned up in their armoured personnel carriers for much of the time. Therefore it made sense to make the webbing as minimal as possible. Note then that there are no ammunition pouches- you were supposed to carry your magazines in your pocket! As the set would not be supporting the weight of ammunition pouches, the yoke has very flimsy 1” wide straps, which were uncomfortable to wear for any length of time. Finally all the components are held together with Velcro. This is fine for quickly reconfiguring the set, but Velcro becomes less effective when it is wet and items had an annoying habit of dropping off on exercise! One user noted:
Problem is Velcro often does not work when wet and every now and then we do have to work in the rain. You either taped everything up with gun tape which looked stylish and made it hard to adjust your webbing ( removing/ adding jackets) or prayed you didn’t have all your gear fall off during ATC.
I seriously doubt whoever designed it was an infanteer. The web gear seemed ok for Arty and Engineer types who just needed something to hold NBCD kit and say water bottle close to hand while doing their thing and without being too bulky and intrusive. Also because of its minimal size it was ok for vehicle crews…Like most I loved it when first issued after this Korean/WW2 vintage stuff we’d had, but to be honest I soon missed that and was raiding my old gear for ammo pouches etc.
We will come back to this set in more detail in the coming months, next week we will take an overview of its successor, the 82 pattern set.