When jumping into combat, parachutists are heavily weighed down with equipment and weapons. Weapons especially are awkwardly shaped and difficult to jump with. Experience showed however that dropping them seperately was fraught with difficulties as men who became seperated from their small arms were very vulnerable during the initial stages of a landing and were not combat effective until they had found drop canisters and opened them.
To get around this various methods were employed to allow them to jump with their personal small arms and one method was to have a harness with bags attached containing the small arms. This was fastened to the parachutist until he jumped, when it was released and allowed to hang below by a cord. Once he had landed on the ground he had merely to follow the short cord to recover the bag with his weapon in. This method was experimented with during World War II, but post war saw development accelerated and by the late 1960s this set up was being issued to British parachutists:
Sadly I do not have the full set of harness and lines, I do however have one of the drop bags in my collection and today it is this weapon bag we are considering:
The sleeve is made of heavy duty canvas and in cross section is a squashed oval:
To help protect the contents from the shock of landing, the inside of the sleeve has a padded base to help protect the contents:
Down the length of the bag is sewn a heavy duty webbing tape that is used to attach the sleeve to the main harness assembly:
A drop line is woven back and forth through these loops so that when the sleeve falls away it slowly pays out to the end of the line. Note also the two pieces of sniper tape attached to the bag, one with the paratrooper’s name written on in marker.
A large label is sewn to the sleeve near its mouth:
These sleeves turn up every so often, however the harness and static line are far less common and I think it is going to prove challenging to build up a complete set…