By the Second World War the British Army had finally accepted that the role of the horse on the battlefield was now obsolete. Even in the role of transport the horse had been replaced by lorries (unlike the German Army!), despite this a new webbing pattern was introduced in 1940 for use by mounted troops. The 1940 cavalry pattern webbing is an aberration, and one questions its utility in a modern war, however it was produced and issued in limited amounts and tonight we are looking at the cartridge carriers for this set. The reasoning behind its introduction was the retention of the horse in Palestine, where it was felt there was still a role for mounted troops as the terrain precluded widespread use of vehicles. Most of the remaining cavalry was assembled here and the War Office asked Mill to provide a suitable set of webbing. It must be said that Mills didn’t do a lot of research for their new webbing, they merely dusted off various old designs and combined them into a new pattern, combining the back adjustment belt seen on 1919 and 1925 pattern sets, with the stud and keyway fastening introduced in various cavalry webbing produced for the overseas market before the war. A very detailed history and description of the set can be found, as ever, on Karkeeweb here.
Rather than cover the same ground as this excellent site, today we are going to look in more detail at the 45 round Cartridge Carriers, following the official description from the War Office Mannual.
Each consists of two lower pockets and one upper pocket:
The pockets each have one partition woven inside so that when two clips are removed to fill the rifle magazine, the remaining clip is held in position. Each pocket is provided with a narrow strap, made to fold under the flap, to prevent the loss of ammunition when the flaps of the pockets are left unfastened:
The carriers are provided with a clasp buckle (hook and loop pattern) on the front end:
and double hooks are fitted to the rear ends for attachment to the back adjustment strap. Web loops are provided on the back for the free ends of the back adjustment strap:
Flaps, with beaded edges, are secured by means of snap fasteners, the lower stud being used when the pockets only contain one clip or are empty:
The buckle fitted to the top of each carrier for connection to the braces has a stud to which the keyway fitting is attached. The buckles also have an additional bar at the top which serves for attachment of the shoulder straps of a pack if such is required at any time to adapt the equipment for dismounted use:
An inwardly directed horizontal strap is fitted to the back of each top pocket for connecting to the waterbottle carrier and haversack:
This is one of the more obscure webbing sets to collect, with these pouches and the waterbottle carrier being the two easiest parts to find, the rest of the set is much harder to track down unfortunately. Most pieces seem to be in mint condition, suggesting it has not been issued. The following image shows the complete set being worn and is taken from the official manual: