Category Archives: Canada

64 Pattern Entrenching Tool Cover

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.

82 Pattern Ammunition Pouches

One of the great improvements the Canadian 82 pattern webbing set brought over its predecessor, the 64 pattern set, was that it finally reintroduced a dedicated ammunition pouch: that the 64 pattern did not have one is still frankly baffling. The new set was heavily influenced by the US ALICE system and in the end two distinct variants of the pouch were produced, an original plain ammunition pouch and a later development with a pair of grenade pouches fitted to either side:The pouches held two magazines for the service rifle, with a pair of lifting tabs to help pull them out of the pouch:The user’s manual illustrated how to use them:A top cover was provided to keep the elements off the magazines, secured with the standard plastic and webbing tape quick release buckle:The back of the pouch has the usual plastic tabs to engage with the eyelets on the 82 pattern belt:Velcro then passes over them to help secure it further:Drainage holes are fitted to the base of the pouch to allow water to drain off:The second pattern pouches have two grenade pockets on either side of the main pouch body. I do not have a Canadian grenade available, but this British training grenade illustrates the principle:Variants of this pouch can be found to fit FN C1 magazines and C7 magazines, with slightly larger examples available to house FN C2 magazines. The pouches were generally well liked, the most serious complaint being that the stitching sometimes broke and became loose, the go to repair being to patch them up with heavy duty tape.

64 Pattern Suspenders

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!

Post War Canadian Canteens

Over the last few months we have looked at the Canadian 51 pattern and 82 pattern canteen carriers. However we have not yet considered the canteens that were carried inside these items of webbing so tonight we are looking at the two post war canteen designs used by the Canadians. Up until the introduction of the 51 pattern webbing set, the Canadians had been using the standard Mk VII enamelled iron water bottle. This design was clearly antiquated and a new aluminium canteen was introduced, based closely on the design used by the US since the First World War:It took a long time for these canteens to be rolled out, and many troops issued the 51 pattern set when it was first introduced had to use an old enamelled water bottle as the canteens were not ready for them. The canteen is gently curved to fit better against the hip, with an indent on the rear:The lid is made of black plastic with raised grooves to help grip:A short piece of chain is attached to the lid, that would originally have been fastened to the canteen so the lid was not accidently lost:This canteen is marked with a date of February 1957 and was produced by ‘CMF’:The aluminium canteen was certainly a vast improvement on the old enamelled water bottle, but presented some difficulties unique to Canadian service. Canada’s army had to operate in very cold conditions for much of the year meaning the water in their canteens could freeze. When this happened the aluminium canteen could split or be bent out of shape very easily. To combat this problem the Canadians introduced a plastic canteen, actually introducing this ahead of the US Army:This canteen is an incredibly early example with a date of 1960 on the base:The canteen has raised lettering on the front reminding troops not to heat water in it as it is plastic and would melt!Although this seems obvious, it must be remembered that when the canteens were introduced there were ample supplied of the aluminium canteens in use and it would not be hard to pick up a plastic example in the dark and accidently apply it to a heat source.

The canteen has a plastic screw cap, that is held in place with a plastic collar so it does not go missing:The plastic canteen was to prove very popular and widely copied, the US, Canada and Australia amongst many other nations all using variations of it right through to the present day.

82 Pattern Canteen Carrier

This week’s Canadian webbing post is the 82 pattern canteen carrier. The 82 pattern set continued the plastic canteen of the earlier webbing sets, but introduced a radically different webbing carrier:This is made from a dark green nylon with a shaped lid that fits over the neck of the canteen. This is secured by the plastic quick release tab typical of this set. This opens easily to allow access to the canteen within:The 82 pattern manual illustrates this component nicely and shows that the pouch is designed to have enough room to hold a cup fitted around the base of the canteen as well:On the rear are the usual plastic posts for attaching the pouch to the belt of the 82 pattern system:Full canteens, like ammunition pouches, are one of the heaviest items on a webbing set and as with other pieces we have looked at, a large piece of Velcro is provided to wrap around the belt to aid with supporting the canteen:Sadly the manufacturer’s marks for this piece are not the clearest, but I believe they indicate the pouch was made by Manta in April 1993:Although commonly seen with the plastic canteen, the carrier could also hold later patterns of Canadian Army issue thermos flask- essential for carrying hot drinks in a cold Canadian winter. Unfortunately the thermos bottle was too large to fit a cup around it so troops had to choose between the metal cup or the hot drink!

Canadian 64 Pattern Belt

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.

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: