Category Archives: Webbing

1950s Canadian Respirator Case

A couple of weeks ago the blog covered the 64 pattern Canadian respirator haversack here. Tonight we are looking at its immediate predecessor, the 51 pattern haversack:Technically this is not actually part of the 51 pattern web set, but it is closely associated with it as it was introduced at the same time as the rest of the webbing. The similarities between this and the later design are quite clear, with a similar side opening haversack, with a large press-stud secured pocket to the front:The big difference to note is the very different material the haversack is made from, rather than the plasticised finish of the later design, this haversack is a generation earlier and made from green canvas and cotton webbing. This would be far harder to decontaminate following a nuclear or chemical incident but reflects the available technology of the 1950s when it was produced, compared to that of a decade later. The haversack was worn on the left hip, with the opening facing forward. This is secured with a metal quick release buckle and a webbing chape:Note the little webbing channel for the tab to be stored away in when the haversack is fastened. When it is undone the haversack opens with a large gusseted opening to allow the mask to be taken in and out easily:Again like the later design, a small pocket is attached to the closed end of the haversack, with another quick release tab to open it with:The back of the haversack has a complicated array of different straps and fasteners attached to it:These are to allow the wearer to either attach it to the belt of his webbing set, or to sling it over his shoulder, a second strap then going around the wearer’s waist to prevent it from flapping about if the user needs to run.

For the early 1950s date this haversack is a modern and well thought out design. Its biggest flaw is not down to the design, but rather the materials available at the period which would have made it difficult to decontaminate.

MOLLE Torch/Knife Pouch

Amongst the many standard pouches issued with the DDPM MOLLE set is a small, thin one designed for use as a torch or knife pocket. This pouch is made of the same infra-red resistant Cordua nylon as the rest of the MOLLE set:As with other components, it has a strap secured on the back with a lift the dot press stud that allows it to fit to the ladder straps on the combat vest:The contents of this pouch are far lighter than most of the other pouches issued with the MOLLE set, so a simple flap secured with Velcro suffices to secure it:Again in line with the other pouches in the set, a metal grommet is fitted in the base to allow excess water to drain off:This pouch is possibly the smallest one issued as part of the DDPM MOLLE set, so the stores label on the rear pretty much fills the whole width:This particular example dates from 2007 and as with all the other MOLLE pouches, this one is dirt cheap at the moment: it can normally be picked up for one or two pounds with a bit of hunting.

82 Pattern Utility Pouches

The design of some of the components of the Canadian 82 pattern did not stay still, and new modifications and updates were made to certain components based on feedback from those actually using them and experience in the field. A case in point is the utility pouch which can be found in three main variants. The utility pouch was originally intended for mess tins and wet weather gear, however it evolved into a carrier for a 200rd box of ammunition for the C9 light machine gun by the third pattern and this is reflected in the three models:Left to right we have the first pattern which was introduced in 1982, the second pattern which added a hook strap and the final version which was slightly larger and fitted with grenade loops on either side. Turning the pouches over we can see clearly that the first pattern on the left lacks the hook strap to attach it to the yoke:By adding the hook strap to the second and third pattern troops had more flexibility in where on the belt they put the utility pouch and by attaching the pouch to the yoke heavier items could be carried with more support from the shoulders, preventing the belt from being deformed by the weight. All three pouches have two sets of plastic hooks and Velcro securing straps to attach them to the belt. The hook strap fitted to the second and third pattern has metal reinforcement grommets on it and can be tucked away if its position on a belt meant it was not needed:All three pouches use the same plastic and web tab quick release fasteners on the front with two positions provided to ensure the lid is secure regardless of how much has been placed inside:A webbing loop is fitted inside the pouches to allow the contents to be drawn out of the pouch:The strip of webbing goes from the top front of the pouch in a loop down to the bottom of the pouch and back up the back, pulling on it shortens the loop of fabric and draws the contents out of the pouch for easy removal.

Interestingly it is the second pattern of Utility Pouch that is illustrated in the user’s manual for the 1982 pattern set:The third pattern of utility pouch adds two fabric loops for grenades to be carried, as ever I don’t have the correct grenade for this, but a British 1970s training grenade illustrates the principle:The inside of the third pattern pouch has this rather nice manufacturer’s stamp, dating this particular example to 1991:Canadian troops tended to carry at least one of these pouches on their webbing and fire team partners and other members of the section would commonly help spread the two section light machine gunners load by carrying extra belt boxes of ammunition for them in their utility pouches.

64 Pattern Respirator Haversack

We are nearing the end of our review of the Canadian 64 pattern webbing set, but there are still a couple of nice pieces to go and tonight we are looking at the respirator case:Canada had adopted an updated respirator in the 1950s known as the C2, and this was further improved in the early 1960s to become the C3. These respirators were stored in a specialist pouch that was slung on the left hip as part of the actual webbing set, with cotton webbing versions issued with the 51 pattern, and an updated plasticised cotton version being introduced as part of the 64 pattern set. The respirator case is a large bag, with a side opening to allow the mask to be placed inside. The opening is sealed by rolling it up and attaching a piece of Velcro as a fastener:The webbing tab allows the user to easily open it, even when wearing NBC gloves. A large pocket is provided on the front of the haversack for gloves, spare canisters, decontamination equipment etc:This is secured with two metal press studs. A second pocket is fitted to the opposite edge to the haversack’s main opening:This is far smaller and has internal dividers to allow it to carry anti-nerve agent epipens, again a cotton tab is provided for easy access when wearing gloves. As with the rest of the items of the 64 pattern webbing set, the method of attachment to fasten the haversack to the belt is woefully inadequate, here consisting of two Velcroed loops:Markings consist of a single stamping on the bag that indicate the haversack dates from November 1982 and was made by ‘Manta’:The use of plasticised cotton was actually far more appropriate for this component than the earlier cotton version, being much easier to decontaminate on a potential Cold War nuclear battlefield.

58 Pattern Holster

When the 1958 pattern webbing set was introduced originally there was no provision for a holster. The British Army were in the process of replacing their revolvers with Browning Hi-Power automatics and as a stop gap Canadian 51 pattern holsters were issued to troops (see here). This was clearly far from being an ideal solution so by 1965 a new holster had been developed for the 58 pattern set. This was closely based on the wartime Canadian Browning holster and had a pair of overlapping flaps to protect the pistol:These flaps were secured with a quick release tab:And when opened allowed easy access to the Browning:Inside the holster a small pocket was provided for a spare magazine:That was secured with another quick release tab:A small channel was provided for a cleaning rod:Sadly I do not have a Browning Hi-Power in my collection, but this Model 1922, although smaller, illustrates how a pistol was carried:Stamped onto the underside of the top flap was the manufacturer’s details, date and NSN number:This example was made in 1978 by MECo. Turning the holster over we can see a number of attachment methods were offered:These were a single channel for a belt loop and ‘C’ hooks to allow it to be fastened to the belt of the 58 pattern set:The fitting instructions gave alternatives for the carriage of the holster:

The holster may either be clipped to the belt by two ‘C’ hooks, or it may be attached to a leg strap by means of a webbing loop sewn between the ‘C’ hooks. A link similar to that on the ammunition pouches provides anchorages for the front yoke straps. A ‘D’ ring at the bottom enables the holster to be anchored, if required, to the cape carrier or to the main pack, to prevent the holster from swinging and chafing the legs. MECo were not the only manufacturer of 58 pattern webbing, and this illustration comes from the webbing catalogue of M Wright & Co:Not only was the holster produced in the standard green seen here, but white examples for military police and blue grey RAF examples were produced, albeit in much smaller quantities.

82 Pattern Yoke

As discussed last month, amongst many short comings on the 64 pattern webbing set was the wholly inadequate suspenders to support the weight of the equipment over the shoulders. The 82 pattern set sought to remedy this problem and a well-padded yoke was provided, offering comfort far beyond that available on the earlier system:The yoke used in the 82 pattern set is based off the American ALICE system of the 1970s, but adapted for Canadian service. The yoke assembly illustrated above is actually a combination of two parts, as shown in the user’s handbook. The Yoke:And four ‘hook strap assemblies’:As these were normally left connected we will treat them as one unit for this post. The yoke is heavily padded with protection for the wearer across both shoulders and the top of the back:The side of the yoke away from the wearer has a centrally mounted panel fitted with metal eyelets used to attach equipment (most often an entrenching tool) to the upper back:The front half of the yoke over each shoulder has a series of webbing loops to allow items to be hook on if required:Often a shell dressing would be taped onto the webbing at this point. Plastic friction buckles are sewn to the ends of each shoulder piece and at each corner of the back part of the yoke:These are attached to the ‘hook strap assemblies’ that in turn attach to the belt or other parts of the webbing with a plastic hook fastener and Velcro strips:One Canadian serviceman with eleven years’ experience wearing the 83 pattern set explains how it is attached:

To be more detailed in regards to how it fits, the yoke for the Canadian 82 Pattern Web-Gear, has four straps. The two in the back, have little plastic hooks which point in opposite directions (up and down) and clip onto the butt pack. The two in the front, have the same plastic hooks and clip onto magazine pouches, or the utility pouch. Obviously, the magazine pouches, utility pouch and butt pack all clip onto the web belt. The straps from the yoke will not properly clip into the web-belt directly – and stay connected – they have to be connected to the pouches and butt pack.

Canadian 2″ Mortar Cleaning Wallet

At the end of last year I published a post on the 2” mortar cleaning kit wallet here. The example we looked at then was a British made example and tonight we have a contrasting example made in Canada. My thanks go to Darren Pyper for his help in getting this one for my collection. Canada produced a large quantity of webbing throughout the war and there are a number of subtle differences between the items produced in north America and those produced elsewhere in the Empire. The function and contents of the cleaning kit are identical to the earlier post, so tonight we will be looking at the differences. Here we have the two sets side by side, the Canadian on the left and the British made example on the right:The first thing to note is that the British example has been dyed a dark green colour, the Canadian example is in plain undyed webbing. The Canadian example has replaced the brass chapes at the end of the straps with phenolated resin, which seems to be a uniquely Canadian manufacturing technique:Not only are the securing straps treated in this way, but also the end of the adjustable shoulder strap:Markings are nice and clear on this example, with an easily readable stamp indicating that this is a Wallet 2 Inch Mortar Mk 1:A second stamp indicates that is was produced by the Zephyr Looms and Textiles Ltd in 1945, note also the Canadian acceptance stamp on the left:Zephyr Looms and Textiles Ltd had four factories within walking distance of each other in Guleph, Ontario. The company opened in 1936, and was at that time owned by the US conglomerate, its main business at that point was government contracts for webbing equipment. During the war, the company had 4 factories:

1) The Office, Warping and Weaving, Located on Crawford St.

2) Sewing, Located at 72 Farquhar St. (now home to JP Hammill and Sons Ltd)

3) Weaving, Located on Huskisson St. (Huskisson St. has subsequently be renamed Wyndham St in 1956, after William Huskisson, the Colonial Secretary) (the building is now an apartment building)

4) Sewing, Located at 135 Oxford St. (now a retirement home and apartments)

Contracts were plentiful throughout 1940 and 1941, with the government placing many orders in excess of $50,000. However, it seems that by 1943 the web equipment contracts were slowing down. Indeed, in October of 1943 the ZL&T Newsletter states that the 50 Millionth piece of military web equipment was produced (a small pack) at plant 4. The Globe and Mail states on November 19th, 1943 that due to fulfillment of government contracts and also lack of materials, all production was suspended at one plant and greatly curtailed at the remaining 3. The article continues, stating that during October of 1943 nearly 200 people (mostly women) were laid off, and that the largest number had been laid off in the ten days before the publication of the article. At its peak the company employed nearly 2000 employees, but by November of 1943 had less than 500. After WWII that company was bought by local businessmen and produced woven fabrics as well as having a franchise to make “Tom Boy” and “American Golfer” clothing. In 1957 the company became “Textile Industries”, and introduced the Wyndham fashion line. Textile Industries closed in 1980 after several layoffs.

Returning to the inside of the cleaning kit wallet we can see further differences, mostly in the design of the pockets for the folding handle for the mortar brush. The Canadian design has a full pocket, the British design has a couple of loops at top and bottom rather than a full pocket:In service troops would have been issued either design interchangeably and probably paid it no attention whatsoever; however to the collector it is always nice to have variants and different manufacturing techniques to track down.