Bonderised Mk III 37 Pattern Basic Pouch

Collecting a set of the 37 pattern webbing with bonderised blackened fittings is an ongoing project I am working on, with almost all standard aspects of the 37 Pattern webbing set available with these blackened fittings rather than the more usual brass ones. Perhaps the defining piece of the 37 Pattern set was its large basic pouches which allowed a great flexibility in terms of ammunition to be carried, holding everything from Bren magazines to rifle ammunition and grenades. It is there an essential component for any set of webbing and getting one with the blackened fittings was always going to be crucial. Happily I managed to snag a pair of eBay a few months back for a very small sum and today we are going to look at them in detail:

These pouches are the Mk III pattern, with an extra half an inch of room to allow Sten gun magazines to be more easily carried. They also incorporate the late war update to the quick release loop and tab, but made of bonderised steel rather than brass:

The buckle at the top of the pouch is again made in black:

As are the C-hooks to allow it to be attached to a belt on the rear:

Even the eyelet on the base of the pouch for drainage has been produced in blackened metal:

The pouches have a stores code printed on the rear, complete with the letter ‘B’ to indicate the nature of the metal fittings:

The actual manufacturing details are under the top-flap, however, and these pouches were made in 1953 by MW&S:

Bonderising is a chemical process in which steel components are treated in a phosphate bath that leaves a matt black layer of chromate on the surface of the metal. This acts as a stop to corrosion and allows much cheaper steel to be used in place of brass. Normally steel was avoided because if it got wet it rusted which then started degrading the fabric of a pouch, the bonderising process was a quick and cheap solution which allowed this cheaper metal to be substituted with no ill effect. It would appear that the webbing with blackened fittings was issued alongside traditional brass fittings and no attempt was made to get uniform sets, although it is hard to tell which item is which in many black and white photographs.

With the addition of the belt, which we will look at next year, I am not approaching the point where I can assemble a wearable set of the webbing with blackened fittings, I am just looking for the shoulder braces to allow me to have an incomplete, but useable set.

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