Tonight on our continuing survey of the elements of the PLCE webbing set we come to the entrenching tool and its cover. This small lightweight tool is carried on the belt and is supplied with a DPM cover that connects to the rest of the PLCE set:The rear of the case has a single loop, note also the original owner’s name marked with black pen:The entrenching tool itself is stored in an olive green rubberised pouch:Interestingly this pouch has both a British /|\ mark, with a date of 1991, and a US stores code with a -00- country code on the NSN number:This suggests that the rubberised covers were bought off the shelf from the States rather than being produced in Britain. The entrenching tool within the case is a virtual copy of the US army’s folding spade, this design becoming virtually universal across NATO:Opened out the tool can be used as a spade or a pick depending on the angle the head is set at:The tool is made of steel and weights 2lb 4oz and although not as effective as a full size spade is still useful in the field. ARRSE explains:
If the enemy has a credible indirect fire capability then you need a digging tool, with you, on your belt kit. If not, then either replace the ETH pouch with another utility pouch, which you can fill with ‘comfort items’ or extra ammo as needed, or take the ETH out of the pouch, put your water bottle in it and use the extra space in your water bottle pouch. Admittedly the ETH is a pretty shit digging tool, but it is streets ahead of your racing spoon. Talk to a few people who have been under artillery fire for real before you discount it completely.
The cover for the tool has two Fastex fasteners inside the main cover:Sadly the label on this component is very faded, but I believe it was manufactured in 1992:This would have been the first year of DPM manufacture for PLCE. The carriers have also found use as an additional water bottle carrier, with the bottles fitting neatly inside and secured with the top fastex fastener passing over the neck. Of all the items of PLCE this seems to have been one of the first to have been dropped in the field and many more recent photographs of soldiers wearing the set show they have removed the tool from their belt loads altogether.