Webbing Stretcher Yoke

Over three years ago we looked at a simple stretcher strap from World War Two here. That design of strap was literally just that, an adjustable strap with a loop at either end to put the handles of a stretcher into. As the Second World War progressed it became clear that a better design was needed, one that better distributed the weight of the casualty around the bearer’s body rather than having it all pressing down on his neck. The design that was developed was a yoke, that transferred the weight to the shoulders and not the neck. This design was originally produced in the natural tan colour of cotton webbing, but the design remained in use into the post-war era and later production was made of pre-dyed green cotton. It is one of those later stretcher yokes we are looking at tonight:imageThe yoke measures 66 inches in length and like the earlier straps has a loop on either end to put the handles of a stretcher into:imageNote the heavy duty stitching around the adjustment buckle to prevent the webbing separating under the weight of a casualty. The yoke splits into two parts to create two large loops that each arm goes through, the two sections being joined over the wearer’s back with a sewn on webbing loop, much like a pair of 37 pattern shoulder braces:imageThe sewing required to split a single strap into two loops and still maintain the strength needed to carry the weight of a stretcher and casualty was clearly not easy. This results in some complicated folding and sewing of webbing with one strap wrapped and sewn around the other:imageThis particular example is stamped up with a manufacture date of 1952 and a stores code of CC8765:imageThese yokes remained in service for many years and were added to the NSN system with a number of 6530-99-428-0697. Presumably they were pretty effective considering how long they were used for, today though lightweight stretchers and bashas often come with built in support straps and with most casualties evacuated by helicopter, the need to carry stretchers for long distances is greatly diminished.

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