As most webbing produced for the British Empire during the first half of the twentieth century was designed by the same company, Mills Webbing, it can often be hard to work out which set of equipment a piece belongs to due to the similarity of designs. Tonight’s holster is an example of such a piece. I was given this holster by a friend of mine and just assumed it was a 37 pattern holster. It was only a few years later that I came across its true and much more unusual identity.
The 1919 pattern webbing set was adopted by the Royal Navy in the years immediately after the Great War. Mills had designed the set as a replacement for 08 pattern webbing for the army, but as they had millions of sets of 08 in store there was no market for Mill’s new design, so they added cutlass and pistol equipment and sold the design to the Royal Navy instead who were looking to update their leather 1901 pattern equipment.
The holster was originally designed with a wooden plug in the barrel end for protection of the weapon, however this was dropped from the design in the early thirties and it is this second pattern I have in my collection:
The most obvious difference to the 37 pattern holster is to be seen on the rear, where there are only c clips for attaching to the waist belt. The top c-clip for attaching to an ammunition pouch are missing:
The base of the holster is all in webbing on the second pattern and has a small hole for drainage:
The holster is marked and dated inside the top flap:
In this case it was made by ME Co in 1943. Interestingly like much late 1919 pattern equipment there is a /|\ mark, but no naval markings. Inside the holster is a sleeve for the pistol cleaning rod:
This allows the 1919 pattern holster to be distinguished from its 1925 pattern cousin where the cleaning rod holder is mounted on the rear outside. As can be seen all these holsters are very similar in design and are usually all sold as ’37 pattern’ which allows the canny collector to pick up a bargain and add an unusual holster to his collection.