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:
The British Army never had an official pouch for Sterling SMG magazines, soldiers just placed them in the standard 58 pattern. The Canadians did things rather differently and issued a dedicated pouch that could take three magazines for their version of the gun, the C1. Tonight we are looking at one of these pouches, designed to work with the 82 pattern webbing set. The pouch is designed to hold three magazines and is made from a dark green nylon fabric:The top flap is secured with a plastic quick release buckle and webbing tab:The back of the flap has two plastic fasteners to attach it to the 82 belt, with Velcro to help secure them:Each individual pocket has a loop of nylon webbing inside that helps draw out the magazine:You pull these upwards and they draw the base of the magazines vertically up so they can be gripped and pulled out:As is usual with these sort of pouches, drainage holes are fitted at the base of the pouch:The C1 SMG used different magazines to the British Sterling, so British magazines do not fit into these pouches. There were a number of differences between British guns and Canadian examples:
- C1 had a one piece bolt, the UK one had a two piece
- different recoil springs
- Canadian magazines had a basic follower (10 and 30 round capacity), UK ones a roller which was far more reliable.
- trigger groups and shape of the trigger gurards are different
- rear butts are slightly different (the UK one is lighter with more holes in the strut)
- mag releases are different
- front and rear sights are different (C1 SMG used the same front sight as the FN C1 and C2 family of small arms, and the front sight adjusting screw was the same as the arctic trigger guard retaining screw on the C1 and C2.
- different bayonets are used (FNC1 on Canadain guns and the No5 jungle carbine bayonet on the UK ones)
- end caps are different
- on some UK versions the protective surfaces were painted, while the C1 SMG was phosphated
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…
Tonight we are starting our detailed look at the first of our Canadian 82 pattern webbing components, the belt. Ironically the belt owed a lot to a design dating back more than seventy years before the set was introduced. The three inch wide belt of the 08 pattern webbing was particularly good at distributing weight and being comfortable for the wearer. Canada adopted the same particularly wide belt for its new 82 pattern webbing:If the width of the belt was based on a very old design, the rest of the design was far more up to date; with a large black Fastex buckle being used to secure the belt:This buckle was both strong and secure, but also easy to undo if needed. The belt itself was made of a cotton webbing, left plain on the inside for comfort:And with a waterproof nylon layer on the outside to make it more waterproof:Note the reinforced eyelets along the entire length of the belt, these allow the components of the set to attach to the belt with small plastic hooks, as detailed in the post here. This was the weakest part of the belt’s design, as recalled by one user: The biggest problem you will find is that if you remove the equipment from the belt a lot either to wash or re-position it, the grommets will pull off of the belt and stay stuck on the tabs. This ends up so that only the Velcro holds on the equipment. Not a big deal if you can turn it into QM for a new one. There were three sizes produced, as referenced in the accompanying manual, each with its own unique stores code:
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.
Following last week’s look at the Canadian 64 pattern set here, tonight we are taking an introductory overview of its immediate successor, the 82 pattern set:As with last week’s post, my thanks go out to Andrew Iarocci for his help in supplying me with these sets of webbing- they are not common on this side of the Atlantic! The 82 pattern set was the first modern nylon set of webbing adopted by Canada, and it draws heavily on contemporary US designs with the accompanying user manual almost a word for word copy of its US equivalent. The design is a vast improvement on the 64 pattern design and is built around a broad 3” wide belt and a padded yoke assemble. Pouches and packs are then fastened onto the belt with plastic tabs and Velcro:A large variety of pouches were available, with various modifications undertaken to them over their service life, we will look at these in more detail as we study each component in turn. There were four different standardized set ups for the kit; Fighting Order, Battle Order and Marching Order:The basic layout of my 82 pattern webbing is set out below:The 82 pattern was generally welcomed by the infantry, although it was not without its shortcomings- the plastic fasteners to attach the various pouches were liable to become brittle and break at low temperatures, something Canada is famous for! One user Dean O, reports:
82 Pattern!!! I really hated that crap, on the belt the grommets sometimes would pull out, the plastic “bars” on the equipment bits, would break off at the top and or bottom in extreme cold weather ( and remember we have that here), and what a pain to adjust it to make it fit over parkas or make it smaller for summer, again, the buckle would break in very cold weather .and that back pack!!!?? What were they thinking?? I could never get it to fit correctly, and, again to adjust it took a lot of time and everything had to be moved to keep it even, and as everything “locked” into the belt, it took time and never seemed to ride correctly on shorter people like myself.
Despite that, the set remained in use well into the 2000s, and saw service out in Afghanistan before being replaced with more modern systems. As ever we will be looking in greater detail at the components in the coming months.
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.