1939 Pattern Utility Strap

My small collection of 39 pattern leather equipment doubled last week when I picked up a utility strap for the set. As was mentioned when we looked at the bayonet frog for this set, it is essentially a copy of the 37 pattern webbing set, but made of leather. The utility strap’s design actually dates back even further to the 1908 pattern webbing set when it had first been introduced in webbing. The whole 1939 pattern set was designed in a weekend, approved and an order placed for a million sets- the speed of turnaround being quite remarkable to modern ears. This example however is made from brown leather:image

One end of the strap has a brass 1” buckle, this is secured by a pair of metal hose rivets:imageThese are secured through both layers of leather on the rear:imageOriginally this strap would have been 36” long, but somewhere in the last seventy years the end of the strap has been shortened and holes punched in it and it now measures only 2 feet long:imageTwo utility straps were fastened to the rear of a large pack to allow a helmet to be secured to the outside when not required- interestingly the webbing large and small packs of the 37 pattern set continued in use with the leather 39 pattern equipment- presumably because it was impracticable to make a pack of that size in leather. Ultimately 1939 pattern webbing was to be used for training purposes and to equip second line units such as the Pioneer Corps- sets were also issued to the allied armies in exile such as the Poles and Czechs. Photos of the sets in use are rare:standing_big

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