When I originally covered the late pattern Australian M56 webbing a few years back I could not show the belt for the set as I had an American Alice belt in place, rather than the correct Australian produced belt for the set. Since then I have been able to add both early and late production examples of the Australian belt to my collection thanks to a fellow collector in Australia and it is these two belts we are looking at today:
The Australian M56 belt was a copy of the US M56 belt which in turn could trace its lineage back to the US M1912 Pistol belt. Initial Australian production was made of cotton with a horizontal weave to the fabric and three rows of eyelets to allow items to be attached to the belt:
The belt has a ball and loop fastener to secure it and four blackened metal belt keepers, each with the /|\ mark stamped into the metal:
Later these belts with horizontal weave were produced in nylon. A second belt can be found with a vertical weave that is a bit of a mystery as although it dates from the 1980s there is little evidence as to who used it or when, it possibly being a trials item:
The pattern of the belt buckle was also slightly changed:
The length of the belt could be adjusted on both sides and the back of the belts had a brass tab on the end of the belt material with a hook that could engage with the central row of eyelets:
The belts were marked on the reverse in black ink, however as this was the part of the belt constantly rubbing against the soldier’s body the markings do not survive well. There are no visible markings on the later nylon belt and those on the earlier cotton example are not particularly legible:
The two patterns of belt were used alongside each other together with examples of US origin and latterly ALICE type belts that were privately acquired were also accepted by the Australian Army as being suitable for wear with the M56 web set.