In the late 1950s the British Army introduced a new webbing pouch to allow a pair of SMG magazines to be carried on the belt without the need for a full set of equipment. This was presumably in response to experience in Malaya and the practice of short jungle patrols where all a man needed was some ammunition and a water bottle. Over the 1950s and 1960s this pouch would undergo a number of updates and through various iterations, with the initial design seeming to be better suited to Sten magazines, later patterns widening the pockets to better fit the magazines for the Sterling SMG. Today these pouches are almost universally referred to as Sterling magazine pouches, but on earlier examples it is not actually possible to fit the Sterling magazine at all due to the curvature of that design. The example we are looking at today seems to confirm to what Karkee Web has identified as the first production version of this pouch:
The design has two long vertical pockets to hold a pair of Sten magazines which do (just) fit inside:
Each pocket has its own top flap, secured with a quick release tab. Prototype examples were made of brass, but production versions such as this have blackened metal fittings:
The rear of the pouch is very plain, and the makers mark and date can just be made out, although they are too faint to read with any certainty:
A couple of simple belt loops are sewn to the top of the pouch and when worn the pouch hangs down below the waist:
Interestingly this pouch has been camouflaged at some point with a pattern of green and black painted on in either ink or paint:
It is unclear exactly who was issued with these pouches- it is often held that they were issued to the SAS and to tank crews but I am unsure if this is the absolute truth or whether it is a story embellished by those selling the pouches. They were certainly manufactured by established companies in the UK rather than being an in theatre local purchase and they were certainly used as witnessed by the wear on this pouch, however photographs of them actually in service are very rare and the pouches themselves remain scarce.