1919 Pattern Shoulder Braces

The 1919 pattern set was the first webbing set to use the design of shoulder braces that was to become far more familiar on the 37 pattern system, with a reduction woven strap that was 2” wide in the centre, but narrowed to 1” wide at either end. This design continued to be manufactured right through until the pattern was finally replaced in the middle of the Second World War with the 37 pattern webbing set (this element of which was coincidentally identical in design). Tonight we have a pair of 1919 pattern straps to consider:imageA 1926 Naval manual described them as:

Braces.- These are made of 1 inch webbing, broadening out to double width in the centre to form a wide load bearing surface on the shoulders. Once brace has a loop sewn on the inside at the rear near to the broad part, through which the other brace passes; this connection prevents the braces form slipping off the shoulders.

A 1940 publication advised the sailor how to assemble the shoulder braces:

Fix the braces to the buckles on the back of the waist belt, so that they extend about 6 inches below the bottom of the belt. The braces are to be crossed and one passed through the loop of the other; the loop is to be on the inside.

Pass the front ends of the braces through the centre openings of the buckles on top of the brace attachments from behind, down through the gate, then pass the end through the ring and inside the belt, so that the end extends six inches below the bottom of the belt.

Note- All four ends of the braces should extend equally below the belt.

Both these straps are male types, i.e. missing the loop. One is marked up as having been made by Mille Equipment Company in 1940:imageSo far then, these straps could just as easily have been produced for the 37 pattern set. What distinguishes these as naval, and hence being part of the 1919 pattern set is that on each of them one brass chape is stamped with a /|\ and ‘N’ to indicate Royal Navy ownership:imageLike so many items of more obscure British webbing, one has to look very closely to discover the marks that indicate what it actually is, and these straps coule easily be overlooked as far more common 37 pattern examples.

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