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.
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:These straps are quite long, so it was common for troops to fit extra items of clothing on the top of the pack, held down by these straps. Under the top flap 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. Typically the inner pocket along the back of the butt-pack carried a melmac plate and other contents included foot powder, spare socks, boot bands, batteries, matches and water purification pills in a Ziploc bag as well as any additional loads they needed.