The British Army adopted the Sirhind style of entrenching tool and its associated cover in 1941 and it was a great improvement over the Linneman type of entrenching tool we looked at earlier this month. The cover was an adaptation of the 1908’s kidney shaped cover, with the addition of loops at the top to hold the helve. Practical service in the field, however, revealed a minor short coming in this design- it was possible for the helve to slip out of the loops and be lost when moving through thick undergrowth. To counter this problem, in 1945 a revised entrenching tool cover was issued that had been modified to remove this perceived problem:
The change was quite a simple one, an extra webbing tab was fitted to the end of the cover with a press stud:
This tab was secured over the end of the helve to prevent it falling out, before the buckle was fastened over to secure the head inside the cover- the combination of straps providing a very secure fit:
Interestingly, this example of the entrenching tool cover is also lined with a very dark brown shade of cotton drill:
Whether this modification was really needed, and whether the problem of lost helves was that serious is open for debate. Officially the older pattern would have been recalled and modified to the newer pattern, but there seems little evidence many ever were. The modified cover was introduced very late in the war and photographs of it in use during wartime are very scarce. Both the older and newer patterns of cover seem to have been used alongside each other for many years after the war.
If you would like to learn more about 1937 Pattern webbing, its history and variants please check out my book here.