Tonight we have a pair of Canadian 51 pattern brace attachments:These allow the webbing set to be put together for those not equipped with full size ammunition pouches. The brace adaptor fills the gap between the shoulder braces and the belt and allows the set to be worn with items such as holsters and compass pouches. The design adopted for the 51 pattern set is a direct reuse of the uniquely Canadian 37 pattern brace attachment (we looked at a RCAF example of this a very long time ago here). The Canadians were unique in using a pressed brass open buckle arrangement to attach to the belt:This components is a single stamping so is much easier to manufacture than the British equivalent. Here it is made of blackened brass, as with all the other metal components of the 51 pattern set. At the top of the brace attachment is a blackened Twigg buckle that the shoulder brace passes through and the L-Straps of the pack can hook onto, and a small loop the end of the shoulder brace can be tucked into:For such a small and innocuous piece of webbing, some impressive stitching is used in the manufacture, with folded webbing straps and multiple layers sewn together to make up the component:
Like most other firearms, the STEN gun was issued with a webbing sling to allow it to be slung over the shoulder. The sling was specially made for the firearm and was a unique design for the time using loops and hooks on the sling to attach it rather than passing through sling loops on the gun:The sling is made from a ¾” wide thin cotton webbing strap, with an adjustable buckle in the centre:This indicates that the sling is a Mk II variant (stores catalogue number BE8604), the earlier Mk I (stores catalogue number BE8574) was a non-adjustable strap 36” long. A brass loop is fitted to one end:This is fitted around the stock of the Sten gun, with the loose end of the strap passing through to make a tightening loop that holds it secure:The opposite end of the sling has a wire loop:This hooks through the holes on the barrel shroud at the muzzle end of the Sten gun:Interestingly Indian produced slings just use a blunted nail, bent around, for this hook! This example has a manufacturer’s stamp on the sling, that is unfortunately badly stamped, but it can be seen that the sling dates from 1944:A large number of manufacturers can be found for these slings, including Canadian made examples. When I picked my sling up they were incredibly common and could be found for a few pounds, today they seem to have increased in price and a good example can fetch £10-£15.
As with many items of Indian equipment in my collection, my thanks got to Andrew Dearlove for his help with tonight’s object. India produced its own Short Magazine Lee Enfields at the Ishapore Arsenal, it also produced its own ammunition and accessories for the rifle including a webbing sling, closely modelled on the British design from the Mills Company:The webbing has a looser weave than that produced in the UK and the fittings are notably cruder, as can be seen when comparing it with a British made example (lower):The ends are made of brass, but the stampings are not well defined and it is not easy to push them through the sling loops on a Lee Enfield, a pair of copper rivets secure them to the strap:An inspection code is very faintly stamped on one end:And another faint black number is stamped onto the webbing:Again these are too indistinct to be read. These rifle slings are available in the UK, but are of course less common than the British produced examples. The quality is far poorer and certainly if this example is anything to go by they do not fit rifle slings as easily as British made examples, they are however the perfect accessory if you are lucky enough to have an Ishapore produced SMLE.
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.
As we have discussed before, the Canadian 51 pattern webbing set drew heavily on earlier British and American load bearing equipment designs. The 51 pattern set used ‘L straps’ to secure the large and small packs to the rest of the webbing and these were a close copy of the British design Mills had used on the 19, 25 and 37 pattern sets. Here the ‘L strap’ is made of a dark green pre-shrunk cotton webbing and the brass fittings are chemically blackened:The L-Straps attach to the large pack using two-inch Twigg buckles in the same manner as 37 pattern webbing sets to fasten to the webbing tabs on the top of the pack. One obvious thing to note though is that the 51 pattern ‘L strap’ uses a single piece of two inch webbing and attaches to the tops of the ammunition pouches with a 2” hook rather than the 1” hook seen on the earlier British designs:Not only does this make the ‘L Strap’ easier to manufacture, it also increases the load bearing area making the connection stronger and easier to manipulate by the wearer. The ends of the tabs have brass chapes to prevent fraying, again blackened:Faint manufacturer’s markings and dates can be seen on the webbing, but as with much of this pattern they are faint and often hard to read:I think the date here is 1951, but I could be mistaken. As with the rest of the set, it is interesting to see how the Canadians have taken a British design and modified and improved it to meet their own needs.
Tonight after several months we come to our final piece of 64 pattern Canadian Webbing; the canteen carrier:Like the earlier 51 pattern carrier, this is based off contemporary US design, with a carrier made of the same plasticised canvas as the rest of the set. The rear of the carrier has a large velcroed channel for wrapping around the belt:Due to the weight of a full canteen, this fastener was particularly useless for this component! The canteen fits snuggly into the carrier, but is still easy to withdraw:Both the older metal and the new plastic canteens were issued with the carrier as stocks allowed. The inside of the carrier has a felted wool liner:This acts as insulation and stops the water from freezing as easily in Canada’s cold winters and can be wetted to keep the canteen cool in summer- as the water in the felt evaporates it draws in heat from the canteen and helps prevent it from warming up.
It seems appropriate as this is our last post on the 64 pattern set to include a cracking painting by Ron Volstad of a Canadian soldier wearing the set in the 1970s: