Trials Poncho Roll

Before any equipment goes into production for the military it is subject to extensive trials and following feedback the items are modified before going into full scale production. These trials items are obviously far rarer than issue items as they were produced in small numbers and subject o plenty of wear and tear in the process of testing. I have very little trials webbing in my collection, but I was sorting through last week and noticed that one of my 58 pattern poncho rolls was different to the others. After enquiries it turns out that this poncho roll is part of the trials equipment:imageThe design is very similar to the final product, having an external pocket for the pick head:imageHowever the quick release straps are secured with press studs, a feature that was to be dropped on the final design:imageThe difference can be seen in this comparison of the trials pattern (lower) with a standard production model (upper):imageThe poncho roll is dated 1957:imageThis indicates it was part of the ‘Number 2 Experimental Set’ manufactured by MECo and issued in limited numbers. There were three different sets used on trials, of which the No2 set is the easiest to find today. This example however survived to see use alongside the similar 58 pattern equipment, as witnessed by the soldier’s name written in black marker on the webbing:imageThe snap fasteners seem to have been rejected as being overly complicated, making it harder to undo the roll quickly and adding to the expense of the design. These snap fasteners were used on all the experimental webbing and are an easy way to identify the components. Sadly my poncho roll has suffered a hard life and the snap fasteners have been removed from the ends and back of the roll, but this is a scarce piece of webbing that I didn’t know I had so I shouldn’t complain too much!


  1. OUCH that someone’s cut off all the hooks! Tragic on such a rare and valuable item. It’s noteworthy to see that there was only *1* staple for closure – no adjustment.

    I’ve read that there was another trials cape carrier which was described as being more of a “cage” affair. I imagine that the design looked something like the older “H” shaped greatcoat carrying straps*. Perhaps the writer of the book** had confused a Larkspur(?) radio component holder/carrier with the cape carrier. I’ve seen no reference to this item so it might have only been a drawing board design.

    * (Pattern not known – this from memory)
    ** (Not known – this from memory)

    I have a pair Kidney Pouches with these snaps. If memory serves, they were 2nd issue***, not 1st, any ordnance marking not legible. I bought it when I was serving and eventually separated them, boot polish camming up one pouch to match my CEFO. This was prior to me having any interest in collecting postwar webbing. 😦 Though I still have both, they obviously don’t match. OUCH…

  2. The reference to a ‘cage-like’ experimental cape carrier comes from British Infantry Equipments 1908-80 by Mike Chappell, Osprey Men-At-Arms Series number 108 on page 30. Although this is omitted in British Infantry Equipments (2) 1908-2000, the section which contained it was rewritten and shortened, so it may have been removed due to shortage of space and not because it was incorrect.

    The example in this post is very similar to the South African Pattern 61/64 ground sheet carrier, which must have been based on this design.

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