25 Pattern RAF Webbing
All collectors have in their collections particular items that they are particularly proud of. These might be rare pieces, particularly impressive or beautiful pieces or objects with sentimental value. One of my favourite items is a set of RAF 1925 pattern RAF webbing. This particular set represents some of the things I like best about collecting militaria- fellow collectors helping one another to get a set, hard work hunting down pieces and finding a bargain and a sense of triumph when all that hard work pays off.
Briefly, 25 pattern webbing was designed by the Mills Equipment Company in an attempt to recapture the success it had had with the 08 pattern webbing set that became the standard during WW1. The new 1925 pattern was a development and supposed improvement on the earlier design, boasting a more flexible pack, larger haversack and other minor changes which it manufacturers hoped would persuade the British Army to adopt the new webbing. However in the 1920s the British Army was short of cash and had huge stocks of 08 webbing left over from WW1 so Mills was forced to sell its new set to the Canadians and the newly formed RAF. Whilst the Canadian army bought its 25 pattern webbing in traditional khaki, the RAF had theirs dyed blue-grey.Like all their sets, Mills designed their 25 pattern webbing to be modular so it could be constructed in a number of ways with different parts to suit different uses. My webbing is set up as a pistol set, with holster and ammunition pouch, however other users could replace these with rifle ammunition pouches. These pouches are virtually unobtainable now, hence why I went with the pistol set up. For more details on the individual components of 25 pattern webbing, please check out the excellent section on Karkee Web:
It took about six months to track down all the components for my set, with a good friend supplying me with both the repaired rucksack components and the belt.The haversack was a lucky find as its one of the hardest parts to track down. This one is dated 1935 and has the crown and ‘AM’ marking for the Air Ministry:Similarly I got lucky with the holster, cross straps and waterbottle holder. These are virtually identical to the later and very common 1937 pattern webbing, and thus were sold very cheaply. However as the dates are all 1941 or earlier, we can say with confidence that they were manufactured for the 1925 pattern set as the RAF only starting manufacturing 37 pattern webbing later on in the Second World War.This set of webbing has been a labour of love to pull together and as a set is worth more than the sum of its parts. I am just looking for a single blue grey brace attachment to complete the set (an army 37 pattern is standing in for now), but its one of my favourite pieces and one that gets some interested looks from those in the know at WW2 events.