Canada had some interesting variations to the standard 37 pattern webbing used across the empire. One of the most radical was their standard pistol holster which has a far more curved shape than that manufactured in other countries:This was actually the second pattern of Canadian holster, the first pattern was the same as a standard British 37 pattern holster. In 1942 though, a new design was introduced that better fitted large frame revolvers such as the World War One .455 Webleys and Smith and Wesson Hand Ejectors. Although officially replaced by .380 versions, these older and larger revolvers were still popular amongst the Canadians for their stopping power, but they were too big for a standard 37 pattern holster. The new Canadian design accommodated these revolvers easily and was still perfectly compatible with a standard .380 revolver (as seen in the photographs in this post). As is typical of Canadian production, the webbing is of excellent quality, with a separate tape binding sewn along every seam. The base of the holster has a small brass drainage hole fitted to allow water to drain away easily:The top flap is secured has a nice curved shape and rounded corners secured with a smooth brass press stud, produced by ‘United Carr’ of Canada:The back of the holster is fairly standard and mirrors the design of the standard Mills product:The holster is secured to the belt by two brass ‘c’ hooks and a top ‘c’ hook to allow it to be fastened to the pistol ammunition pouch:A channel is sewn into the inside of the holster to fit a cleaning rod into:The holster is marked inside ‘ZL&T Ltd’ with a manufactured date of 1943 and a Canadian acceptance mark of /|\ inside a ‘C’:This holster was manufactured by the Zephyr Loom and Textiles Ltd, one of two main Canadian manufacturers. For a detailed study of Canadian webbing development check out this excellent thread.
Following the end of the Second World War the Canadian Army reviewed its uniforms and introduced a pair of new peaked caps for its troops. One was a lightweight summer cap, whilst the other was a winter cap made of brown serge wool:This cap has a broad peak to keep the sun off and a brown leather chin strap:This strap is secured to the cap by a pair of blackened Canadian army buttons, with King’s crowns on them:Interestingly though, despite the Queen’s crown coming into use from 1952 onwards, this cap wasn’t manufactured until 1954:From the label we can see that the cap was manufactured by the Buffalo Cap Company and is in a large 7 1/4″ size. These details are repeated on a small label sewn into the joint between crown and peak:Photos of these caps in service are hard to find, but I have been directed to this one of a parade in the 1950s where the caps can be seen clearly:These caps actually saw service in Korea but we’re not really suitable as related in Brent Watson’s book “Far Eastern Tour, The Canadian Infantry in Korea 1950-53”:
Helmets were seldom worn on patrol. Instead soldiers wore the equally useless Canadian peaked cap. Designed in late 1950 with the parade square in mind, the cap came in two patterns. The winter version was made of heavy serge and had no provision for ear coverage…Both patterns of peaked cap were incompatible with the hood of the poncho- another item of kit first used by the Canadians in Korea- and undermined its effectiveness. During the battle of Chail-li for example, the peak capped- and poncho clad soldiers of 2RCR were drenched by a vicious 30 minute wind and rainstorm that left them soaked and chilled.
It was quickly recommended that a broad brimmed bush hat, such as used by the British, be introduced to replace the peaked cap in combat.
I would argue that of all the countries manufacturing webbing in the British Empire in World War Two, the Canadians produced some of the nicest. The quality is superlative and aesthetically their webbing has a lovely yellowish hue. The Canadians also used some distinctive methods of construction for some of their webbing pieces and tonight we are looking at a nice example of a 37 pattern shoulder brace:This particular example is (poorly) stamped up as having been made by Zephyr Loom and Textiles Ltd (ZL&T):There is also half a Canadian acceptance mark of a /|\ inside a ‘C’ visible. ZL&T Ltd used a unique form of construction on their shoulder braces, with a continuous piece of 1” wide webbing, around which a wider piece to aid comfort was sewn. Here the central core can be clearly seen running underneath the main load bearing surface:This method of construction differed from other manufacturers who either used reduction weaving to make the shoulder brace as one single piece, or sewed together webbing of varying widths. Other features of this shoulder brace include a sewn loop to pass the matching brace through on the back:The strap also includes a bright brass chape at the end:These were replaced with ‘battle brass’- a brown phosphate metal- in 1943. It is these minor manufacturing variant that to me are so fascinating- wartime economy and ways of speeding up production all having an impact on the design of components. Small changes multiplied over hundreds of thousands of pieces had a major cumulative effect and could help make large savings in manpower and strategic materials such as brass.
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:This 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:Unusually for 51 pattern webbing, the manufacturer’s mark is sharply stamped on the rear of the frog:Normally 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:There 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:
Tonight we come to the final post on the 82 pattern webbing set, at least until I track down some more components. The Canadian Army issued a special lightweight rucksack for their troop’s NBC equipment that accompanied the 82 pattern set, although technically it was never actually a part of the equipment. This small pack was popular with troops and frequently used in the field as a general purpose haversack to supplement the ‘butt’ pack we looked at a few weeks back. The pack is made of green nylon, with three straps on the front securing the flap:These are secured with black ‘Fastex’ fasteners:The pack here is made in a mid green shade, other examples can be found with much darker colouring. Under the top flap is a drawstring that helps secure the main part of the rucksack and keeps the contents dry:One side of the pack has a small exterior pocket, secured with Velcro:The rucksack has a pair of shoulder straps sewn to the rear, with slide adjusters to allow the wearer to get a comfortable fit:Each strap is heavily padded for comfort:This pack has clearly seen heavy use as there are a number of different soldiers’ names and numbers written in pen on the underside of the top flap:The only label inside the bag is a small manufacturer’s label for ‘Just Kit’:This then ends our study of the 82 pattern set for the time being- there are still some components left to find so we will revisit the set as and when I add these to the collection. I hope this series has been of interest to you and that I have managed to raise the profile of this underappreciated set of commonwealth webbing.
Unfortunately, like so many things, the militaria market has a small number of bad eggs who will fake or adulterate items to try and make a quick profit. One common method is to try and alter dates to make them ‘wartime’ on the basis that wartime dated items are more desirable than post war items. Sadly tonight’s object has been subject to this, with some unscrupulous individual trying to alter the date of this Canadian beret from 1946 to 1945! Luckily it is still a very nice object and I picked it up for a very cheap price so I cannot complain:The beret is made of a high quality dark tan wool, with a black broadcloth fabric liner:Two black ventilation grommets are fitted to one side:Note also the leather sweat band machine sewn into the brim. A drawstring is threaded through, and secures at the back with a small bow:The inside of the cap has a printed manufacturer’s label, note how the ‘6’ has been mysteriously worn away on the date!From this we can see that not only is the beret a nice large size, but that it was also manufactured by The Dorothea Knitting Mill Ltd of Toronto. This company produced berets for the Canadian military for many years, and indeed the company is still in existence today.
The khaki beret was used by the Canadian Army from 1943 onwards to replace the Field Service side cap and was far more fashionable than the British GS Cap, leading to them becoming prized acquisitions by British troops of a sartorial nature. One thing to note about the design of the Canadian beret is that it is noticeably smaller in the crown than equivalent British examples of the period, and this seems to have been a conscious choice by the military, although it is still considerably larger than modern berets.
Tonight we have a pair of Canadian 51 pattern brace attachments:These 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:This 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:For 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: