Note: Pics of 37 Pattern British Webbing Set provided courtesy of MILSURPS.COM member ~Angel~.
In the early 1930s it was decided to replace the 1908 pattern webbing, as it was thought that in the next war infantrymen would be part of a motorized and mechanized army, rather than fighting in trenchers. Although what was to become pattern 37 webbing was approved by the army, it was deferred as the army was looking at a new light machine gun (bren gun). A new basic pouch was designed to suit it and the 1937 pattern webbing was then excepted in June 1938. The equipment set that the Canadian Army began to employ in 1939, called 1937 Pattern Web Equipment had already been made standard in the British Army two years before. Officially also known as Web Equipment, 1937 Pattern, WE '37 was made of the same light khaki coloured cotton webbing that the early 1908 Pattern had been made from. Some items remained similar, indeed, the Large Pack remained identical to WE '08.
The basic 1937 pattern webbing equipment was of a pre-shrunk dyed in the weave webbing which rendered the material virtually waterproof, and in the field this was treated with 'Blanco' to colour the material green to aid concealment. The basic webbing set (Battle Order) consisted of a web-waist belt with cross brace shoulder straps linked to ammunition pouches on the lower chest; which hung from either the waist belt or straps the 1908 pattern entrenching tool and 1937 pattern carrier, water-bottle and bayonet frog. In addition to such by 1944 most troops were issued with the new 1943 Light Pattern Anti-Gas Respirator and haversack carrier worn across the body on the left hand side under the 1937 webbing set. Personal items and rations etc. were carried in the 1937 pattern haversack carried on the soldiers back via brace straps attached to the webbing cross straps.
Collector Comments and Feedback:
1. The canvas webbing set in the 1937 Pattern - WWII British Webbing Set (85 picture virtual tour ... click here), is typical of that worn by all Commonwealth Infantry in WWII.
The webbing has been Blancoed in the correct shade of khaki green as used during the Second World War. The cross straps, bayonet frog and canteen carrier dates are either missing or covered by Blanco; the date on the belt has been obscured by a previous owner. I believe it is post-war dated.
The set includes belt; utility pouch, 1943 dated; bayonet frog and scabbard for spike bayonet of No 4 Mk 1 rifle; light respirator haversack, dated 1/44 and with fiber identity tag attached; entrenching tool cover, 1943 dated; set of cross straps; serge-covered water bottle in canvas cover (this does exhibit some water staining); utility pouch, 1941 dated. The light respirator haversack includes retaining cords for the anti-dimming kit, leg cord, and the optional shoulder strap.
Wartime pattern .303 ammunition bandoleer. Rifle ammunition for the Enfield rifle was carried in five-round clips and would be issued in bandoliers to the individual infantryman.
Entrenching tool. The head of the tool is 1944 dated; the helve is dated 1945. The helve end opposite the end at which the head is installed features a grim bit of history. It is a metal adapter that matches the end of the No 4 Mk 1 rifle barrel and is machined to accept the spike bayonet; in other words it is a small section of dummy barrel. When attached to the entrenching tool helve the bayonet was used as a mine probe by the soldier crawling forward on his hands and knees.
Respirator, anti-gas, light. This is a post-war issued copy of the light gas mask as carried by the infantry. Although the mask itself is 1952 dated, with a 1965 dated harness, it is identical to wartime issue. The small canister is the anti-dimming outfit for the eyepieces. One end cap stores a small buffing cloth while the other end stores a compound that was smeared on the lenses and buffed off to prevent fogging.
Spike bayonet for the No 4 Mk 1 Enfield rifle. This mounts to the barrel of the rifle conventionally, and to the entrenching tool helve as mentioned above as a mine probe.
A cake of khaki green Blanco.
......... (Feedback by "Badger")