Category Archives: Webbing

Osprey Mk IV First Aid Pouch

The conflict in Afghanistan proved to the British Army that there was a definite need to give soldiers their own first aid kits to give them something better to deal with  combat injuries than just a first field dressing. We have looked at the DDPM MOLLE first aid pouch here, and it was a definite improvement on what earlier soldiers had been issued with. When the new MTP Osprey system was introduced though a new and much larger personal First Aid Kit was issued with it:imageThese large and distinctive pouches can often be seen fastened to the hip of Osprey armour systems:imageThe pouch has a large medical cross on a patch of the front of it:imageThis is sewn to a small pocket on the outside of the main pouch:imageOn the rear are the ladder straps and loops of the MOLLE system used to attach the pouch to the rest of the wearer’s kit:imageA small label is sewn here giving the NSN number and item details:imageThe main pouch is opened by using a zip that surrounds the sides and top of the pouch:imageInside is another pocket, secured with Velcro:imageThe main part of the pouch though has elasticated straps to allow a range of items to be easily stored inside, here an ‘Israeli’ type dressing:imageOther typical contents include the CAT tourniquet we looked at earlier in the year. This whole panel is removable from the main pouch by pulling on the top handle- the whole of the back is Velcro attaching it to the main body of the pouch:imageThis allows the main contents of the pouch to be easily removed for access without having to take the whole pouch off the webbing system which could be awkward and time consuming.

With the gradual replacement of the Osprey system with the new Virtus armour, and with the scaling back of overseas commitments, these pouches are starting to find their way onto the collectors market and are far easier to find than they were just two or three years ago. Many examples are heavily used and marked with the original owner’s name, number and blood type; their large size and versatility has made them popular with cadets, hikers and preppers and it can be a struggle to find a mint example at an affordable price.

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SLR Butt Pouch

There are a number of reasons why military equipment can be found in mint unissued condition. Sometimes items are produced in such large quantities that there are plenty available for the surplus and collectors market that have never been issued. Other times a piece of equipment is just not fit for purpose and after initial issue to the troops is swiftly abandoned and large quantities sit in warehouses until sold in the secondary market. Finally there is the most unusual set of circumstances where a piece of kit is a good idea, well made and would be welcomed by troops but through administrative blunder is never used and tonight’s object tells this tale.

British troops in Northern Ireland on patrol operations often had to man vehicle check points for long periods of time, standing and holding an SLR with an IWS night sight. This was a particularly heavy and awkward combination and was particularly difficult to handle when slung over the shoulder whilst checking papers of those in vehicles that had been stopped. To counter this problem a special webbing cup was designed that could sit on the belt of the 58 pattern webbing into which the butt of the SLR could be fitted, transferring some of the weight to the waist belt and making the soldier’s life a little easier:imageThe pocket was expandable to comfortably fit the butt, putting enough pressure on it that it did not flop around, but loose enough that the rifle was easily withdrawn:imageTwo methods of attaching to the belt were provided on the rear. A pair of ‘C’ hooks:imageAnd a top mounted loop to pass a belt through:imageThis particular example is stamped inside with a date of 1972 and was manufactured by  Martin Wright and Sons Ltd:imageLarge quantities of these butt pouches were manufactured and by all accounts seem like they would have been a welcome solution to a real problem. One ex-soldier recalls:

I seem to remember resting my SLR on my right-side 58 pouch, though you had to wear the belt loose and without the yoke to achieve a comfortable fit………………never, ever saw one of these pouches in service.

Unfortunately no-one at a unit level knew they existed and so they were not ordered from stores for issue and instead languished in a warehouse until flooding the surplus market. At this point the market was saturated and despite attempts by some dealers to market them as hexamine cooker pouches (they do fit in but it is purely by chance), huge quantities were burnt as being essentially unsellable. This has now led to a situation where they are nowhere near as common as they once were and for the collector of post war webbing and equipment it is worth picking an example up as a testament to official bungling!

Australian F1 SMG Magazine Pouch

In 1963 Australia introduced a new sub machine gun to replace its venerable Owen gun. Like the Owen gun before it this new sub machine gun, known as the F1, had a top mounted magazine, but this time it used the same slightly curved magazines as the British Sterling. To go with these magazines, Australia introduced a new piece of webbing- a pouch with four pockets to hold four separate magazines on the soldier’s belt:imageEach pocket had a metal staple and webbing tab quick release fastener:imageThese opened up to put each magazine into a separate compartment:imageHaving separate top flaps meant that the soldier only had to open one at a time, reducing the risk of him forgetting to fasten the flap correctly and all the magazines dropping out. As is now standard with pouches, metal eyelets are fitted to the base of each pocket to allow water to drain away:imageOn the back a pair of cotton webbing loops are sewn to provide a pair of belt loops to secure the pouch onto the belt:imageThe inside of the pouch has ink stamped details with a manufacturer’s name, date of 1972 and an NSN number:imageAlthough this set of pouches did see some service with the Australians in Vietnam, they were never popular as a standard ammunition pouch could hold six magazines and took up a lot less room on the belt of a standard web set. Most of these pouches are found, like this one, in mint condition and see to have been unissued. As any Australian webbing is hard to find in the UK I have been very pleased to add this to my very small collection of post war Antipodean equipment.

Canadian 37 Pattern Holster

Canada had some interesting variations to the standard 37 pattern webbing used across the empire. One of the most radical was their standard pistol holster which has a far more curved shape than that manufactured in other countries:imageThis was actually the second pattern of Canadian holster, the first pattern was the same as a standard British 37 pattern holster. In 1942 though, a new design was introduced that better fitted large frame revolvers such as the World War One .455 Webleys and Smith and Wesson Hand Ejectors. Although officially replaced by .380 versions, these older and larger revolvers were still popular amongst the Canadians for their stopping power, but they were too big for a standard 37 pattern holster. The new Canadian design accommodated these revolvers easily and was still perfectly compatible with a standard .380 revolver (as seen in the photographs in this post). As is typical of Canadian production, the webbing is of excellent quality, with a separate tape binding sewn along every seam. The base of the holster has a small brass drainage hole fitted to allow water to drain away easily:imageThe top flap is secured has a nice curved shape and rounded corners secured with a smooth brass press stud, produced by ‘United Carr’ of Canada:imageThe back of the holster is fairly standard and mirrors the design of the standard Mills product:imageThe holster is secured to the belt by two brass ‘c’ hooks and a top ‘c’ hook to allow it to be fastened to the pistol ammunition pouch:imageA channel is sewn into the inside of the holster to fit a cleaning rod into:imageThe holster is marked inside ‘ZL&T Ltd’ with a manufactured date of 1943 and a Canadian acceptance mark of /|\ inside a ‘C’:imageThis holster was manufactured by the Zephyr Loom and Textiles Ltd, one of two main Canadian manufacturers. For a detailed study of Canadian webbing development check out this excellent thread.

Medical Trauma Pouch

In addition to the standard combat PLCE set, other items of olive green webbing were issued that were associated with, but not officially part of the main set. One piece of associated equipment was a piece of medical kit, the First Aid Trauma Pack that offered a wider selection of medical equipment than could be carried by a standard infantryman whilst still being a small enough pouch to fit on a belt.

Like other elements of the PLCE set, this pouch is made from olive green Cordua nylon, with a black Fastex buckle to the front:imageThis pouch looks conventional enough from this angle, but looking at it from the side illustrates it’s much greater depth and bulk than a normal pouch:imageA single strip of green nylon webbing is sewn to the rear as a belt loop:imageThe unusual nature of the pouch is revealed when it is opened up:imageInside are two smaller pockets, and one much larger example to hold the various medical supplies. This example comes filled with a great variety of medical equipment; bandages, field dressings, airway tubes, gloves, slings etc:imageI believe this is the original and correct contents for the pouch, minus one or two small items. What is clear is just how much stuff is stowed in this pouch and indeed it is pretty dense and weighty when it is full. Markings on the pouch are limited to a printed panel giving description and date of manufacture, 1990 in this case:imageThese pouches were also produced in DPM later on and were popular with non medical troops as a utility pouch- the large capacity and three pockets being much appreciated.

Olive Green PLCE Entrenching Tool Cover

Tonight we come to the last part of our mini-series on the olive green PLCE set of webbing and we are looking at the entrenching tool cover. I would direct you back to this post here for more details on the entrenching tool itself and the rubberised case it fits into. The cover itself is made of olive green Cordua nylon and is in the same distinctive ‘shield’ shape as the DPM version we looked at previously:imageAs can be seen there are a number of plastic Fastex clips on the front of the cover. The clip right in the front and centre is used to hold the entrenching tool itself into the cover securely:imageThis clip is mounted on an ‘v’ of webbing which allows a waterbottle to be substituted, the cap fitting neatly in the notch of the webbing ‘v’. Two other Fastex clips are fitted inside the cover:imageThese are used to secure the cover to the belt of the PLCE set, simply clipping around the belt itself:imageTypically the entrenching tool was worn centrally mounted at the very rear of a set of PLCE as it was the most seldom used piece of equipment so could be tucked away in the most inaccessible part of the set.

Interestingly the rear of the cover is actually almost completely bare:imageA single loop is provided to pass a piece of para-cord through to help tie down the components of the webbing set so they don’t bounce around when the wearer runs.

This then concludes out little foray into Gulf War PLCE, as with many of the other components my thanks go to Michael Fletcher who helped hook me up with many of the pieces of the set.

Olive Green S10 Respirator Haversack

Tonight we are looking at another respirator haversack, that fits in between the olive green butyl nylon example here, and the DPM example here. This respirator haversack was developed as part of the olive green PLCE webbing set, and is made of the same fabric as the rest of the components we have been looking at over the last few weeks:imageThe haversack is made from a plain green Cordua nylon, with a large box lid, secured with Velcro and a press stud:imageThe underside of this lid has two elasticated straps for stowing the user’s NBC gloves. This example has just a single marking under the lid, with the words ‘MADE IN UK’ printed here:imageThe inside of the haversack has a front pocket for carrying nerve agent pens, nerve tablets etc. Two other pockets are fitted in the base of the bag to hold spare canisters:imageHere we see the rear of the haversack. As well as a belt loop at the top, we can see another smaller loop to allow a steadying strap to be passed around the waist to hold the haversack steady so it doesn’t flap around when slung over the shoulder if the wearer needs to run:imageNext to this is a green patch for the owner to put his personal details (although in this case the original user has ignored this and just written his name across the back in black marker!

One major area of difference between this haversack and later examples can be found under the belt loop flap:imageThe ‘T-tabs’ used to attach it to the PLCE belt are made of metal, rather than the plastic which can be seen on the DPM version.

My thanks go to Michael Fletcher for helping me add this interesting variant to my collection.