Canadian Bren Gun Spare Parts Wallet

Canada started producing Bren guns in 1940 and by 1942 was turning out 10,000 guns a month. To accompany these weapons, every weapon would need an accompanying set of accoutrements in the form of a spare barrel bag and spare parts wallet. Therefore, as Canada’s webbing industry geared up to produce 12937 pattern sets of webbing, it also started developing and producing the webbing items needed to accompany the Bren gun and today we are looking at a Canadian made example of a spare parts wallet:

This particular item has had a very hard life and is engrained with old oil and grease which accounts for the dark appearance of this example- it would originally have been in the slightly yellowish shade of webbing manufactured in Canada. The interior design of the wallet matches British practice and has pockets for a spare parts tin, pull through, oil bottle and combination tool (for more details of the contents please look here):

Examples of Canadian manufacture can be found with press studs rather than QR tabs to secure each of the interior compartments. The wallet folds around itself and secures with brass quick release tabs, note here the slightly green shade around the brass fittings which is the remains of a protective coating applied to the brass work to prevent tarnish which has clearly worked well in this case as they look in far better condition than the rest of the webbing!

The wallet is marked on the inside of the top flap with a black ink stamp that describes the wallet and indicates that is was made in Montreal by JE Lortie:

JE Lortie is a company that is still in existence today, although today known as Jelco, having originally been founded in 1892. The company’s website offers this history of the company:

One day in 1892, a 26-years-old Joseph Edward Lortie left his native city of Ottawa where he had apprenticed to the trade of saddlery and harness-making with his father Leon. He moved to the big city of Montreal and eager to strike out on his own, he started business on the second day of May of that year. His original handwritten ledger, still in corporate archives, shows that he started with a capital of seventy-five Dominion of Canada dollars, not bad in those days.

His younger brother Oscar joined him and they proceeded to manufacture a line of quality dray horse harness and ancillary leather goods with the help of a few trained craftsmen. The burgeonning industry of telegraph communication and electric energy distribution involving wood poles created a need for leather pole climbing belts and straps which the Lorties began to manufacture, hence the long association of the company with fall prevention devices.

Joseph Edward married and had six children, two of his sons, Gerard born in 1905 and Albert in 1907, were to join him in business and continue the manufacture of quality leather products and arrange the incorporation of the family firm into a federal charter as a limited shareholding corporation.

They would face the onset of World War II and join the war industrial effort by diversifying into the manufacturing of canvas goods such as dunnage bag and army webbing to exacting defence specifications, a field in which the corporation is still active today.

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