I have been slowly collecting items of 1940 Pattern Cavalry webbing for the last ten years and alhough I never thought I would, I have finally found the last piece I needed to complete a wearable set. The 1940 pattern haversack, together with the shoulder braces, is described as ‘virtually unobtainable on the collectors’ market’ by Karkee Web, so I was extremely fortunate that a fellow collector had one and was happy to part with it so I could finish my set.
The best description of the haversack comes from the original fitting instructions which explains its form thus:
This consists of a rectangular bag approximately 11 inches by 9 1/2 inches by 4 inches and has a flap secured by two small straps and buckles.
The interior is longitudinally divided by means of a partition, which is in turn connected to the front of the bag by a small partition, to form two compartments of equal size. One of these compartments contains the rectangular mess tin and the other is used for small articles of kit.
On the back of the haversack two buckles are fitted for securing to the horizontal strap of the right cartridge carrier and one of the straps of the keyway fitting.
Side weather flaps are provided which are partially sewn to the back of the haversack to ensure they keep in position. A stud is rivetted in the base of the haversack for connection to the keyway fitting on the right hand of the back adjustment strap.
One interesting feature that is not immediately apparent until you try to assemble the set and read the fitting instructions is that the buckles on the back of the haversack have one side that is wider than the other, compared to most tongueless buckles in British use that are even on both sides:
This is to allow the straps to be doubled back on themselves to hold the components in place without any risk of them working loose under the motion of a horse:
The haversack was worn in the small of the back, but by releasing the keyway strap on the left cartridge carrier, and undoing the bottom keyway from its press stud, the haversack falls forward to allow the wearer to access the contents without removing it, helpful if you are in the saddle and don’t want to risk loosing your haversack.
Original photographs of the 1940 pattern webbing being worn are rare, but I have been pointed to this one that clearly shows the haversack being worn: