M56 Small Pouches

Although the Australians would go on to modify the design of their M56 webbing quite extensively during its long service, initially they purchased the sets off the shelf from the USA and had the same size ammunition pouches as that used by US Forces. These were considerably shorter than the pouches used later on, being designed for US magazines and the Australians would quickly move to develop deeper pouches. Despite their shortcomings, however, these shorter pouches were used extensively by Australian Forces in Vietnam. The pouches are made of green cotton, with internal plastic stiffeners to the front and rear faces of the pouch:

Originally these pouches would have been marked D/|\D on the front in black ink, although as is typical this has not worn well and is almost illegible now. The pouches have a box lid to the top of them, secured with a quick release tab:

Loops are fitted to the sides of the pouch to allow grenades to be attached:

These loops were rarely used for carrying grenades in practice as it was too easy for them to become lost whilst going through thick undergrowth. The loops were popular, however for attaching the toggle rope of a first aid pouch to and the feature would be retained on later patterns, even if their original use was seldom needed.

The back of the pouch has a heavy duty piece of webbing sewn to it through which a pair of metal clips are secured to allow the pouch to be mounted on the belt:

The top of the pouch has a vertical strap with a spring clip attached that clips to a corresponding ring on the suspenders. A buckle allows the length of the strap to be adjusted to suit different heights of soldier:

The pouches were marked under the top flap, however like the markings on the front these do not wear well and in this case is again almost unreadable:

Australian M56 webbing was heavily used and so few examples survive in good condition. This pouch is in reasonable condition and despite the wear to the ink stamps is still in a nice solid, serviceable state and an excellent addition to my early M56 webbing set which I have put together to contrast with my very late set.

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