Continuing our look at the elements of the 58 pattern webset, this week we are looking at the ‘Carrier, Cape’, more commonly referred to as the poncho roll. Previously we have covered the trials version of this piece here, but tonight we are going to consider the example that was actually put into widespread production.The official fitting instructions describe this piece as:
This holds the cape, or poncho, in the form of a roll 18 inches long, and is sufficiently large to take the jersey as well. Spring hooks on top of the carrier connect to the ‘D’ rings on the belt. Two adjustable straps and spring hooks are provided at the sides for connection to the ammunition pouches. The lightweight pick-head may be carried in a pocket on the outside of the carrier. The carrier was rolled up with the contents inside and could be secured with a quick release buckle that attached in one of three places depending on how full the carrier was:The instructions explain how to fit the carrier to the rest of the 58 pattern webbing set:
Take of the webbing equipment and place it on a level surface, with the inner uppermost and the yoke furthest from you.
Lay the carrier on a flat surface with the pick-head pocket uppermost and furthest from you. Lift the cape carrier by means of the two central spring hooks so that it folds over with the pick-head pocket away from you, and attach the spring hooks to the two ‘D’ rings on the rear of the waist belt.
The two spring hook straps on the ends of the cape carrier should be fully extended, and the spring hooks attached to the metal links on the bottom rear of the two ammunition pouches. When the equipment is worn, these two spring straps should be tightened by pulling the free ends of the straps forward. This prevents the bottoms of the ammunition pouches chafing against the body.
Make a further check by wearing the equipment with the waist buckle unfastened. If the equipment hangs with all the components fitting closely to the body, without a gap between the belt and the wearer’s back, the fit is correct.
Although initially designed just for carrying the poncho, the cape carrier soon became the place to store NBC kit, as explained in this excerpt from a 1990 Army training manual:
The cape carrier using extra utility straps will carry the poncho and the NBC clothing
This particular cape carrier is very late in manufacture and actually dates from 1992:Apparently many units, especially territorial army units, were using 58 pattern webbing long after the introduction of PLCE. My thanks to Ian Hannant who reports that units such as 7LI were using 58 pattern until at least 1996, with olive green PLCE only being issued for prestigious events like Exercise Lion Sun.