Tonight my special thanks go to Andy Dearlove who very kindly let me photograph tonight’s object from his collection. All 25 pattern RAF webbing is scarce, but the rifle cartridge carriers are particularly difficult to find, and like Andy I have been looking for a pair for over ten years and last year he got lucky and found a pair at a militaria show in Belgium. The 1925 pattern cartridge carriers are a development of the 1908 system, with individual pockets each holding three five round chargers of Lee Enfield ammunition. With four pockets a side, the pair of carriers can hold a total of 120 rounds:
Each of these pockets is reduction woven, just like the earlier 08 design, but obviously produced in blue-grey cotton:
Each pocket is secured with a tab and a Newey stud:
Inside a small strip of webbing prevents cartridge carriers from accidentally falling out when the pouches are opened:
Unlike the earlier designs however, the 25 pattern pouches are worn with a back belt rather than a full belt and have the buckle built into the pouches themselves:
The opposite end of the pouches have a C hook for fastening to the back belt and a loop for securing any excess belt left loose after correct sizing:The design becomes particularly apparent when a pair are shown face down, with the two fastenings for the back belt visible at either side and the buckle in the centre:
The attachment of the top buckle is also unusual as it is attached to a small piece of webbing that has a brass chape attached, this in turn is fastened around a wider brass buckle sewn to the pouches themselves that allows a degree of articulation:This seems a very complicated method of attachment compared to later designs and reflects the time and money that can be expended in peacetime for a limited production of a design that would only see limited service.
These pouches were used by airmen in the Royal Air Force armed with rifles such a sentries and those marching between establishments carrying rifles. They remained in use and production until about 1941 but as they were not compatible with 37 Pattern equipment in the way the pistol equipment was they seem to have been disposed of very quickly and don’t survive in any great numbers. These pouches are not a matched pair and are dated 1935 and 1941- sadly it proved too difficult to get a photo of the markings.
My thanks go to Andy for letting us look at this rare piece of interwar webbing and I look forward to finding my own set of these pouches in the not too distant future!