1937 Pattern Web Equipment

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Uniform of the Légionnaires during the Battle of Bir Hakeim (1942). Note the 37 Pattern Webbing and Sten submachine gun.

1937 Pattern Web Equipment (also known as '37 Webbing') was an item of military load-carrying equipment. It replaced the 1908 Pattern and 1925 Pattern—on which it was based—and was standard issue for British and Commonwealth troops from its introduction in 1937, throughout World War II, and in the post-war period until it was superseded by 58 pattern webbing.

Development[edit]

During the 1930s the introduction of new weapons such as the Bren light machine gun and the planned mechanisation of the British Army led to the need for the development of a new design for the Army's basic load carrying equipment.[1] The introduction of the weapons with high rates of fire meant that soldiers had a requirement to carry more ammunition than previously, while mechanisation meant that soldiers had to be able to move freely within the confines of their vehicles.[1] The increasingly complex nature of combat and different roles that soldiers and members of the other services were being required to undertake, meant that the new design needed to be flexible, thus it was decided that it would consist of interchangeable components, which could be modified to suit the individual needs of a soldier based on his role.[1]

The design was confirmed on 8 June 1938 and wide-scale issue began in 1939.[1] Towards the end of World War II, some 37 Webbing was produced in jungle green for troops fighting in the Pacific Theatre, although purpose-made 44 Pattern Webbing was then introduced for the humid jungle conditions, being lighter in weight, quicker drying and rot-proofed.[2] Although 44 Pattern continued in use with the British Army for jungle warfare in its various post-World War II colonial conflicts, it did not replace 37 Pattern in general service, which was in use up until the introduction of 58 Pattern. However, 37 Pattern was used for ceremonial purposes and still issued to Cadets in the 1990s.[citation needed]

Description[edit]

1937 Pattern Webbing was made from cotton webbing, which was waterproofed and dyed before being woven.[3] The fittings were made of stamped brass—blackened steel post war—and it was produced by various manufacturers. It was produced in a khaki colour for the Army, which could then be dyed with Blanco, most often to a light-green shade and blue-grey for the Royal Air Force (the latter using the earlier 1925 issue ammunition pouch and holster for their issued revolvers in conjunction with 37 Pattern gear).[citation needed] Military Police blancoed their webbing white.[4]

Shades of blanco as used on 1937 Pattern web belts

Standard components included a belt (issued in sizes N and L), cross straps, cartridge pouches for .303 ammunition (which gave way to 'universal' pouches to carry ammunition for an array of infantry weapons then in use by the British Army, in addition to grenades), a carrier for the waterbottle and a small pack.[5] The large (1908) pack—intended to be carried in regimental transport except when in full marching order—and entrenching tool carrier were retained from World War I issue, although the later was initially issued in modified form before being reintroduced in 1941.[6] Frogs for the 1907 SMLE and No.4 Rifle bayonets were also issued.[7] Different combinations of these components comprised the 'marching order' and the 'battle order' respectively. In addition various items were issued to be used by officers and often armoured crewmen, such as pouches for binoculars, pistol ammunition and compasses (externally the same that for pistol ammunition but with felt padding inside), as well as a 'valise' side pack and holster for the .38 revolver (a tank crew version with leg strap also existed in two versions).[8][9]

A number of items were issued which conformed to 37 Pattern in their fittings and materials but were not strictly part of the set, such as a bandolier for Sten magazines as issued to airborne troops and the spare barrel bag and parts wallet for the Bren gun.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Brayley & Chappell 2001, p. 38.
  2. ^ Brayley & Chappell 2002, p. 37.
  3. ^ "Page 2 of 1937 Pattern Web Equipment". Digger History. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Brayley & Chappell 2001, p. 44.
  5. ^ Brayley & Chappell 2001, p. 39.
  6. ^ Brayley & Chappell 2001, pp. 38–39.
  7. ^ "Page 6 of 1937 Pattern Web Equipment". Digger History. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Brayley & Chappell 2001, p. 34.
  9. ^ "Page 5 of 1937 Pattern Web Equipment". Digger History. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "Web Infantry Equipment, Pattern 1937: Associated Equipment attached to W.E., Patt. '37". Karkee Web. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 

References[edit]

  • Brayley, Martin; Chappell, Mike (2001). The British Army 1939–45 (1): North-West Europe. Men-at-Arms # 354. Botley, Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-052-8. 
  • Brayley, Martin; Chappell, Mike (2002). The British Army 1939–45 (3): The Far East. Men-at-Arms # 375. Botley, Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-238-5. 

External links[edit]