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:In 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:They 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:This then gives the required strength at both ends, where the tips are finished with a blackened brass chape:However the middle part of the strap, where it passes over the shoulder, is only a single layer of thin webbing:This 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.
Updated Post- My thanks to Ernst-Udo Peters for some more information on this pack that has allowed an update.
The Canadian Army 82 Pattern webbing set was issued with a small haversack, mounted on the rear of the belt that was officially known as a ‘Small Field Pack’ but colloquially got referred to as a ‘butt pack’ due to its position over the wearer’s posterior:This pack was designed to carry a soldiers essential kit to sustain him in the field for small periods of time. It is made of green nylon and is a small squarish shape:Two distinct variants exist, an early example with friction buckles to secure the top flap, and this later example that came into use in around 1986. It has a top flap that is secured on the front by a pair of dark green ‘Fastex’ buckles and adjustable nylon straps:Under this a draw string is fitted to help keep the contents weather tight:With a plastic friction fastener to secure the draw string tight:Again the earlier variant of the pack has a slightly different cord lock, being made entirely of green plastic up until 1986. The manual provides a nice line drawing of the pack:The pack is typically worn on the back of the belt:To attach it the standard 82 pattern plastic post fasteners are fitted to the rear of the pack:These have the same velcroed tabs as the rest of the 82 pattern items, once the plastic posts have been inserted into the eyelets the two tabs are folded over and secured around the belt for added security:Above these are two further tabs that attach to the Yoke we looked at here:The 82 pattern manual offered two alternative ways of wearing the pack, with the option of attaching a strap into two friction buckles:And wearing it over the shoulder:This pack was never big enough, and troops often supplemented it with other larger packs in the field.
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:The 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:Not 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:Faint 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:I 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.
A month or so back we looked at the Canadian 64 pattern respirator haversack here; since writing that piece I have been very happy to add a Canadian C3 respirator that would have been carried in the haversack to my collection:This mask is contemporaneous with the British S6 mask, being first manufactured in 1960, but is far less sophisticated. It is clearly closely based on the earlier British lightweight respirator from the Second World War, just updated for the Cold War. Looking at the mask we can clearly see the similarities, with the same side mounted canister, general shape of the mask and the screw fitting for a microphone seen in the post war British lightweight respirator:Updates have been made however, with the head harness being made of more modern man-made materials:The ‘snout’ of the respirator boasts a distinctive piece of silver mesh:This is also visible on the inside of the mask:Above this is a distinctive triangular shape, moulded into the rubber:The facepiece of this mask is marked as being made in 1970 by ‘GTR’, General Tire and Rubber:There were two manufacturers of this mask, the other being ‘Baron’. This respirator is a ‘Normal’ size- other smaller and larger sizes would have been produced in limited numbers for those with odd shaped faces. The canister for this mask uses a 60mm thread and is mounted on the side of the mask:A piece of tape around this section has a date of June 1971:The canister itself is made of pressed metal with a large screw thread on the top allowing it to be changed relatively easily by the wearer.These masks were used throughout the 1970s and were only phased out of Canadian service in 1989. Amazingly export sales of the mask continued into the early 1990s, by which time the design was decidedly obsolete.
Tonight after several months we come to our final piece of 64 pattern Canadian Webbing; the canteen carrier:Like the earlier 51 pattern carrier, this is based off contemporary US design, with a carrier made of the same plasticised canvas as the rest of the set. The rear of the carrier has a large velcroed channel for wrapping around the belt:Due to the weight of a full canteen, this fastener was particularly useless for this component! The canteen fits snuggly into the carrier, but is still easy to withdraw:Both the older metal and the new plastic canteens were issued with the carrier as stocks allowed. The inside of the carrier has a felted wool liner:This acts as insulation and stops the water from freezing as easily in Canada’s cold winters and can be wetted to keep the canteen cool in summer- as the water in the felt evaporates it draws in heat from the canteen and helps prevent it from warming up.
It seems appropriate as this is our last post on the 64 pattern set to include a cracking painting by Ron Volstad of a Canadian soldier wearing the set in the 1970s:
We have been taking a weekly look at Canadian post war load bearing equipment for nearly six months now. Whilst most of the pieces are uniquely Canadian in design, they have all been of fairly standard use- ammunition pouch, belt, water bottle pouch etc. Tonight however we have a piece of 82 pattern equipment that I don’t think has been replicated by any other military (if you know better please let me know), The ‘Carrier KFS’:The ‘KFS’ stands for ‘knife, fork and spoon’ and this was a dedicated pouch for these eating implements and the C5 knife. As ever the manual provides a nice line drawing of the pouch:The pouch has a simple belt loop on the back to slide over the belt of the 82 pattern set. The main compartment holds the knife, fork and spoon and is secured with a Velcro flap:The sides of this part of the pouch are left unstitched for about half of the length to allow easier access to the contents:A second pocket is provided on the front and this was used to hold the C5 knife:This was an all metal jack knife and was the Canadian designation for the US Camillus MIL-K-818 knife. Examples were issued both with and without ‘US’ stamped on the body. The knife was to remain in service until the mid-1990s when it was replaced with a multi tool.
Whilst this pouch was issued and used, it was never universally popular and many troops found it just as convenient to store their KFS in a pocket or pouch. That the Canadian government issued a dedicated pouch though suggests they realised how important a soldier’s cutlery was to him and how essential it was that he could access them easily in the field for a snatched meal without rooting around in the bottom of a pack.
Shell dressings have come up a number of times on this blog over the years, with both British and Indian wartime examples being featured. Tonight we have a pair of post war Canadian examples and has so often been the case with the various Cold War Canadian objects I have covered, my thanks have to go to Andrew Iarocci for his help in supplying me with them. The first of this pair is a Mk III shell dressing dating from November 1954:This particular design of shell dressing had been introduced in the Second World War and unlike other Empire dressings it came is a sterile sealed packet, rather than just a sewn cotton cover. The packet has an easy tear corner, indicated with a big arrow, so the user can get the dressing out easily in a hurry:This particular dressing was made by Bauer and Black of Toronto:The dressing has instructions printed in English and French, with the initials of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps prominently displayed above them:Our second example dates form almost thirty years later and the same sterilised sealed packet is still used to protect the dressing, although by now this was the norm for armies across the world. The most obvious difference is that it is now made in a much greener shade than the 1950s example, useful as these were frequently taped onto the yoke’s of the men’s webbing:Note as well that the nomenclature has changed from ‘Shell Dressing’ to ‘Dressing, First Aid, Field’. This dressing was made in May 1982 by Kendall of Toronto:The rear of the packet has the same instructions, but again in French:This makes a great deal of sense when you remember that Canada is bi-lingual with a large French speaking population. By printing the dressings in both languages, only one design was needed for all their troops.