Category Archives: 51-Webbing

51 Pattern Mess Tin Pouch

One of the unique elements of Canadian webbing design was to add a dedicated mess tin pouch to their 51 and 64 pattern sets. Most nations carried their mess tins inside the large pack, or if the design permitted slung from a convenient strap on part of the equipment. Canada however seems to have looked at the experience of its troops in the Second World War where it was common for them to acquire a second water bottle carrier to be used as a mess tin pouch- the mess tin then being easily available at unexpected ration stops without the need to go hunting in the main pack:etool10etool10-copyThe 51 pattern set had a large pouch to carry the mess tins in:imageThe top flap is secured with a quick release pull tab fastener:imageA pair of mess tins fits inside, they are tight enough to prevent rattling, but easy enough to pull out:imageThe methods of attaching the pouch to the rest of the equipment follow the same pattern as the canteen carrier we looked at last week:imageWith a wire hook to attach to the belt:imageAnd a pair of brass Twigg buckles on either side to attach to the ends of the shoulder braces:imageAs with a lot of this 51 pattern webbing, the markings are too faint to read, however unusually this pouch appears to have been blancoed at some point in its life, giving it the slightly shiny appearence seen in the photos abovve. Interestingly despite adopting this pouch, and a similar one for the following 64 pattern webbing set, Canada abandoned aluminium mess tins in the 1980s due to fears of aluminium poisoning- something the British military clearly didn’t consider a problem for their troops as aluminium mess tins are still issued!

As ever my thanks go to Andrew Iarocci for helping me add this piece to the collection.

51 Pattern Webbing Belt

Continuing our in depth study of post war Canadian webbing, tonight we are looking in detail at the 51 pattern webbing belt. As with last week’s canteen carrier, the belt combines elements of contemporary British and American design:imageThe use of riveted eyelets along the length of the belt is clearly taken from the M1910 US webbing set. They allow items with wire hangers, such as the canteen carrier we looked at last week, to be hooked on easily with a slight adjustment in carry height depending on which set of eyelets are used. The central set of eyelets are not for wire hangers, but rather for the hooks fitted to the back of the ammunition pouches:imageThey are also used for adjusting the length of the belt as a hook is fitted centrally at either end of the belt:imageNote that the brass belt buckle and keepers are identical to British practice, as seen on the 37 pattern webbing belt and its antecedents. These were originally chemically blackened, but as is often the case this has now worn off.

The second British influenced feature is on the back of the belt where there are a pair of 1” Twigg buckles to attach the shoulder braces to, again lifted directly from the British mills designs:imageIn many ways this belt combines the best of two designs- the flexibility of the American belt eyelets with the far superior method of attaching the shoulder braces afforded by the British design.

51 Pattern Canteen Carrier

Tonight’s post starts with a hearty thank you to a fellow collector from Canada, Andrew Iarocci, who has kindly helped me add almost a complete set of 51 pattern Canadian webbing to my collection. This set is virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic and over the coming months we will be taking a detailed look at each component, along with its successors the 64 and 82 pattern sets all being well. To save you all from getting ‘webbing fatigue’, I am going to ration these posts to once a week on a Tuesday so it will probably take us all year to get through the whole lot but hopefully you will enjoy looking at something a bit more unusual than your typical British webbing.

We start tonight with the 51 pattern Canteen Carrier. Note that for the first time the Canadian military dropped the British nomenclature ‘water bottle’ and replaced it with the American ‘Canteen’. The design of the carrier is an almost exact copy of the American M1910 canteen carrier:imageIt must be said that this design was far better than the traditional British water bottle and carriers, as witnessed by the 44 pattern British webbing set which also looked to the US for inspiration for this component. The carrier is made of a softer canvas, with traditional cotton webbing fixtures sewn on as appropriate. This particular carrier was manufactured in 1952, as seen by the large stamp on the rear:imageInterestingly the canteen and carrier were the components in shortest supply when the set was introduced, with old 37 pattern waterbottles and carriers being pressed into service with the new set for the first few years whilst supply levels caught up.

The rear of the 51 pattern carrier has the same wire suspension hooks as American waterbottles, sewn securely to the rear with a wide strip of webbing:imageThe unique feature of the Canadian 51 pattern set is a pair of 1” Twigg buckles sewn onto either side of the carrier so it can also be attached to the ends of the shoulder braces offering either a choice of fastening, or giving extra support to a full canteen:imageThe canteen is held in the carrier by a pair of flaps at the shoulder, each has a distinctive shield shaped press stud:imageimageThe inside of the carrier is lagged with a pressed felt to help insulate the bottle and keep the contents cool:imageYou will notice I have not touched on the bottle itself in this post, we will look at that separately at a future date as it has some interesting features of its own.

Canadian 51 Pattern Webbing Basic Pouch

A few weeks ago we looked at the complete 51 pattern webbing set of Iain McRuvie here. At the time I said we would look at the individual components in more detail as and when I added them to my collection. I am happy to say that since that post a reader, Stuart Howes, has been in touch and kindly helped hook me up with a pair of mint 51 pattern ammunition pouches to start my set off with. The pouches themselves are slightly larger than a traditional 37 pattern basic pouch and are pre-dyed in a deep green shade:imageThe flaps are secured with a quick release tab and a metal staple and loop:imageThe back of each pouch has two sets of loops, to allow it to be worn in either a high or a low position:imageA central tab is fitted to the rear of the pouch with a hook on the end that can engage with eyelets on the belt to prevent the pouch from sliding along the belt:imageAt the top a darkened metal fitting is provided to attach the pouch to the cross straps and to hook the L-straps of the pack to:imageThese pouches are marked under the top flaps, but due to the darkness of the webbing even on these mint unissued pouches it is hard to make out many details:imageHere a Canadian soldier can be seen wearing the 51 pattern webbing set during trials of the Heller anti-tank weapon in 1956:hellerIn close up the pouch can be seen in greater detail:heller-copyIt is noticeable that it is larger than a traditional 37 pattern pouch, but otherwise the two webbing sets look similar form some angles such as this. This is the first piece of the webbing set I have picked up so far- one of several different sets I am now trying o complete. As is often the case, tracking down the components of Commonwealth equipment sets can be tricky but the fun lies in the challenge!

Canadian 1951 Pattern Webbing Set

My thanks go to Iain McRuvie for providing the photographs for tonight’s post. Iain has kindly sent me pictures of his Canadian 1951 pattern webbing set. Unfortunately I have not managed to find any of this very interesting webbing set myself yet- if and when I get some elements we will look at the individual pieces in greater detail, but tonight we are just taking an overview of the general setup.

The 51 pattern webbing clearly draws heavily upon both traditional Mills webbing products form the United Kingdom, but also on elements of design from the US Army’s wartime equipment sets. The final design was a modified version of the old 1937 pattern webbing with a number of unique features. The most obvious difference is that the set is pre-made in an olive drab colour and uses blackened brass fittings:c7Note the two large pouches, clearly inspired by the 37 pattern design, secured with quick release fasteners. These are larger than the Bren pouches of the 37 pattern design and have a choice of two different fixing positions. A third pouch was provided to hold a mess tin in:c8As can be seen the waterbottle and carrier are clearly based off the US M1910 design, as indeed was the British 1944 pattern example. The belt of the set had a series of three eyeleted holes along its whole length:c6The back of the pouches had loops to thread the belt through and a metal hook that engaged with the holes on the belt:c3Two different haversacks were produced as part of the set, one roughly the size of the old 1937 pattern small pack, and one equating to the old large pack:c5Turning to the rear we can see that they use the same design of ‘L’ strap popularised by the 1937 pattern webbing:c4Officially this design was replaced by the 1964 pattern set, but this was so poorly regarded that the older pattern continued in use for many years.

Canadian 1951 Pattern Browning Holster

Following the end of the Second World War, Canada decided to move away from British military equipment and weapons and move more towards the US for its inspiration. To this end the country began acquiring US designed webbing to equip its forces and sold off a lot of 1937 pattern equipment. This plan came to a juddering halt when the Korean War broke out and the Canadian Army found itself desperately short of equipment; a new equipment set was rapidly developed that could accommodate both British and American weapons and this was christened the 51 pattern set. One home grown weapon that the Canadians used was the excellent Browning Hi Power 9mm automatic and a special web holster was developed for this:imageThe holster is made of olive-drab cotton webbing (this example has been blacked at some point), with a single flap closure, secured with a quick release tab and staple fastener:imageA large pouch is attached to the front of the holster:imageA spare browning box magazine:imageFits snuggly inside this pouch, which secures with a Newey stud:imageThe inside of the pouch has metal reinforcement to help keep the magazine protected:imageThe rear of the holster has a large belt loop:imageAnd a wire ‘C’ hanger to allow the holster to be slung from an eyeleted belt:imageThis design feature allows the holster to be worn with not only the 1951 pattern belt, but also older stocks of P37 and US M1910 style belts. Opening up the holster we can see traces of the original olive drab colour:imageAlthough produced by Canada, these holsters saw British Army use as the 58 pattern webbing set was originally designed without a holster for the Browning automatic used extensively at the time- the Canadian 51 pattern holster was a popular substitute in the early Cold War. This is the first piece of 1951 pattern Canadian Equipment I have found, and I would like to find more pieces in the future- like the Aussie webbing however that is not always the easiest thing on this side of the world!