Lanchester Pouches

The Royal Navy adopted the Lanchester Machine Carbine in 1940, with its very lengthy 50 round magazines. To accompany their new gun, they would also need a set of new pouches to carry its magazines. The design adopted was set up for use with the 1908 pattern webbing then in use with the RN. By mid war, however, the RN had decided to adopt 1937 pattern webbing as this made the supply chains much easier with all three services using the same pattern of equipment. The original Lanchester pouches were modified for use with the narrower 37 Pattern belt and newly manufactured pouches were fitted with belt fixings for the 1937 pattern webbing as standard. Today we are looking at a pair of these Lanchester pouches produced from new for use with the 1937 pattern webbing set.

The two pouches are made of pre-shrunken cotton webbing and based on the 1937 pattern basic pouch in so much as they share the same box design, however they are much taller to accommodate the extreme length of the Lanchester’s 50 round magazines:

Each pouch has a box lid, secured with a tab and press stud:

Lifting the lid, it can be seen that the interior is split into three compartments by an internal divider:

Each compartment of the pouch holds a single magazine and enough space is left at the top to allow the magazines to be easily pulled out, essential with what is a very awkward and bulky pouch to start with:

One of the two pouches, intended to be worn as the right hand pouch, has a small pocket sewn to the front to carry a loading tool and possibly cleaning equipment for the machine carbine:

As one would expect from such a bulky pouch, the back of the pouch is fairly complicated to ensure it attaches to the rest of the webbing set securely with no flopping and pulling away from the wearer’s body:

From top to bottom, we have a pair of brass C-hooks to attach to the belt with:

Then half way up, a brass buckle to attach the shoulder braces through and the L-Straps of a small pack if being worn:

Finally there is a steadying loop, secured with a press stud, at the top to help hold the pouch tight against the body and prevent the top falling away:

A number of manufacturers produced these pouches and one of this pair was made by the Mills Equipment Company in 1944, the other by Albert Gill Ltd in 1943:

The Lanchester would remain in RN service through until the 1970s, although it is unclear if the pouches were also used as late as this. Pictures of the pouches in use are unusual, but their distinctive size and use makes them easy to spot, as here where several members of a landing party from HMS Cumberland in late 1945 can be seen using the pouches:

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