First Issue 58 Pattern Kidney Pouches

In the second part of this series looking at early 1958 Pattern webbing, we turn our attention to the ‘pouches, rear’, known to one and all as kidney pouches. To recap, these were a pair of square pouches worn in the small of the back on the belt and sized to hold a mess tin half comfortably in each. they were used in lieu of the old haversack and held the items necessary for survival in the field such as rations, wash kit, spare socks etc. This pair look very similar to the later issue when viewed from the front:

The two pouches should be sewn together, but they were often cut into two separate pouches as in this case. The first patter pouches are distinguished by having metal reinforcements down the edges of the pouch lids:

This feature was rapidly dropped, leading to the second issue which is otherwise identical. The other difference between this first issue and the more common third issue is on the rear where the pouches are secured only with a set of loops and fasteners around the belt, there is not top set of fasteners to prevent the pouches from sagging forward and away from the yoke:

This was obviously a major design flaw, especially as some of the weight of the large pack was supposed to be supported by resting it on the tops of the kidney pouches! The other features on the rear of the pouches were to remain the same throughout the life of the webbing however, so we have four keyway straps and a securing strip of webbing to allow the pouches to be secured to the belt, but removed quickly if needed:

A white cloth panel is sewn to the rear to record the owner’s name and number on, although this has discoloured to a pale tan over the years:

The pouches are marked inside with the maker’s name, MECo, and the date of 1958. As is common with much early 58 pattern webbing, the markings are very faint and hard to read:

Although this pair have been cut, once assembled into a full set of webbing this will not be obvious and it was a common field modification done at the period. Here the first pattern kidney pouches can be seen being worn by a Royal Marine at the end of the 1950s and the stiffening strips to the top flaps can just be seen:

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