Commonwealth, Field Gear, WW1

1908 Pattern Webbing Equipment for Sale

1908 Pattern Webbing Equipment for Sale

A few years before the war broke out, the British Army began working with the Mills Equipment Company on a new design of webbing. The brief called for a tightly woven cotton webbing, similar to that being used by the US Army. It had to be both durable and practical at the same time. Following trials, one particular type was adopted for issue by the British Army in late 1907 and thereafter it became known as the 1908 pattern.

For the collector trying to buy a full set it can be quite expensive and some items are not readily available. However it is quite easy to build up a set slowly by buying the individual pieces separately, creating a full set over time. Today we take a look at some elements of British 1908 pattern webbing equipment for sale currently on the web.

The individual webbing components that make up the 1908 set are as follows:
  • 1 x belt
  • 2 x braces
  • 2 x cartridge pouch sets
  • 1 x bayonet frog
  • 1 x water bottle and carrier
  • 1 x haversack
  • 2 x valise straps
  • 1 x valise
  • 1 x entrenching tool carrier

A basic 1908 pouch and belt set

Below is a set of the basic elements you will need to start a 1908 equipment set. It comprises a left and right canvas ammunition pouch, the long canvas shoulder straps and a main belt through which the straps and pouches are fastened. This belt is dated 1919 and it has a Mills Co. maker’s mark stamped onto the inside edge of the belt. As a part set or when it was fully assembled, the webbing could be carried as a one-piece group and taken on and off in a similar way to a jacket.

This set is available from Battleflag Militaria in the UK for £395.

British Army WW1 Webbing for sale
This 1908 pattern webbing set includes left and right pouches, belt and cross straps. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)
1908 British Army WW1 Webbing for sale
The set as seen from the inside. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)
WW1 British webbing 1908 belt markings
The markings on the belt show a 1919 date and M.E. Co. stamp. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)

Battleflag Militaria

1908-pattern waist belt

If you want to start a 1908 pattern webbing set, then the first item you will need is a belt. The 1908 belts are distinctive because they have long fastening straps hanging from brass loops on the back. This one is in good condition and has some maker’s markings on the inside and the brass fittings are in good order. It is available from the Collector’s Guild in the USA. $145.

1908 pattern British Army belt for sale
A 1908-pattern belt front showing the brass front adjustment loops. (Credit: The Collector’s Guild)
WW1 British Army Belt markings
Inside of the belt there are some marks – they are possibly manufacturer’s or regimental markings. (Credit: The Collector’s Guild)
1908 ww1 british webbing belt for sale
This is the rear view which shows the cross strap mounts with the riveted tails, which are used for fastening other equipment such as the helve carrier or water bottle. (Credit: The Collector’s Guild)

The Collector's Guild logo

1908-pattern water bottle and carrier

All of the items together combined to create a potential weight of around 114 pounds (50kg). And that is before the soldier even picked up his rifle, grenades, wire cutters, maps etc. The water bottle was hung from the rear straps on the ’08 belt. Each soldier would carry a water bottle every day – either whilst they were at the front line or when resting. This example is for sale from CS Militaria in the UK, priced at £295.

1908 British Army Waterbottle
Front view showing the water bottle in the wide 1908-pattern webbing cradle. Again, all of the fittings and the fastening popper are made of brass. (Credit: CS Militaria)
WW1 British Army water bottle and webbing carrier.
The bottle shown taken out of the webbing carrier. The felt covering on the enamel water bottle gave it a degree of insulation and it also helped to reduce noise. (Credit: CS Militaria)

Also available from CSMilitaria is this pair of 1908-pattern cross straps. One of them is dated 1916 and the other 1918. They were an essential part of the 1908 pattern set as they allow the webbing to be worn over the shoulders and support all the additional pieces of equipment. These particular ones are priced at £40 for the two.

If any of the pieces you buy are dirty or just not completely matching, they can be washed and restored using a dry block of khaki powder called Blanco. It creates a paste type substance when mixed with water. Once painted onto the webbing and then brushed clean, you will end up with a complete matching set of khaki-coloured webbing.

WW1 British Army shoulder straps.
WW1 era 1908 pattern shoulder / cross straps with their distinctive riveted brass end fittings. (Credit: CS Militaria)
Some of the maker’s stamps and dates are visible – including the War Department arrow. (Credit: CS Militaria)

CS Militaria

A 1908 pattern small pack

Other items that could be carried alongside the webbing equipment included a bayonet, entrenching tool and 150 rounds of ammunition. The gas mask was worn on the chest in a canvas bag. Then there would also be any personal items that the soldier would need for washing, food, his eating utensils etc. and they could be carried in a side bag or small pack.

The small pack was an essential part of the 1908 equipment. It is a very versatile piece of webbing, so if you’re collecting a British WW1 soldier’s gear, it is a must. This example has some combat wear and tear which gives it character. It is dated 1917 and is in overall good shape. It is for sale from Battleflag Militaria in the UK for £65.

1908 pattern small pack for sale
Front view of the small pack. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)
1908 pattern WW1 British Army soldiers side bag for sale
Rear view with the attachment straps on the back and side. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)
1908 pattern British Army WW1 small pack for sale
Close-up of the usage wear. (Credit: Battleflag Militaria)

Battleflag Militaria

Rare Australian pattern 1908 leather webbing

We just wanted to throw this one in as a wild card to prove that not all WW1 1908 pattern webbing was produced in canvas. This rare pair of pouches was made in Australia from a light tan leather. They have the word ‘Australia’ stamped into them and have a distinctive riveted construction. These pouches are available from Regimentals in the UK priced at £425.

1908 pattern WW1 Australian Army Ammunition Pouches for sale
These Australian smooth leather pouches have a very distinctive look. (Credit: Regimentals)
1908 pattern Australian Army Pouches for sale
Rear view showing the rivets, fastenings and straps. (Credit: Regimentals)
Australian 1908 pattern Ammunition Pouches for sale
The pouches close with poppers. (Credit: Regimentals)

Regimentals Militaria

Here is another Article you might like : WW1 Imperial Belt Buckles

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