During any war, an army inevitably builds up a huge amount of kit to be carried by the individual soldier. With differences in kit for each weapon and specific equipment for different units, the variations are enormous. That is part of what makes this hobby so interesting.
Most of the standard items of British Army 37 pattern Allied equipment can be found relatively inexpensively at shows and online, with some specialist dealers selling the rarer pieces.
There is always going to be a part of the kit that you will need, so we decided to explore some of the 37 pattern basics – and a couple of the more interesting items. They are available on our partners websites.
First up is this complete British ’37 pattern webbing set
This webbing was issued to infantrymen in the British Army from 1937 onwards and simply became know as the 1937 pattern. The design meant that items could be added and removed easily from the belt and shoulder straps with the use of buckles and brass hooks.
This basic set consists of a pair of cross straps, a small pack, a belt, a pair of Mk II ammo pouches, an entrenching tool and carrier, plus a water bottle and harness.
It also has a No 4 frog and a Savage manufactured No 4 in good condition, plus a small pack which is dated 1944. This is an ideal set for a re-enactor – a collector or for a museum display.
It is available from Battleflag Militaria priced at £220.
WW2 British Army First Aid Bag with contents
This is a ’37 pattern British Army First Aid satchel which would have been issued to medics. It includes a number of bandages, wooden splints, numerous packs of safety pins and other items that would have been used in combat situations to treat wounded soldiers.
It is available from Oliver’s Army Militaria priced at £65.
WW2 Australian/British 37 pattern Webley Holster & Ammo Pouch
An Australia ’37 Pattern canvas Webley Holster which has a detachable ammo pouch sitting above it. They are dated 1943 and 1944 respectively, as well as being WD Broad Arrow marked.
They are available from Sabre Militaria and priced at AU$57.00.
Next up is a WW2 spare barrel case for a BREN
During the Second World War no Allied infantry unit would have been without one of these and it was used to carry spare barrels and cleaning equipment for the Bren. This example is in almost mint condition with a 1943 date. It is maker marked FINNIGANS LTD and it would be hard to upgrade.
Available from Chelmsford Militaria and priced at £55.
WW2 British issue anti-gas eye shields
Although gas was not used during WW2 there was still the ever present threat that it could be and equipment was given to the troops just in case. Here are some 1944 dated British Army issue anti-gas eye shields.
These examples are still in their original wrappings which each contain a packet of 3 plastic goggles with adjustable elasticated straps.
These 1944 dated packs are unopened old-stock and although dusty, they are in perfect condition. Every soldier was issued with them and they were carried in the front pouches of the standard canvas British Gas mask bag. The Allies stocked up on these and they were distributed in preparation for D-Day.
Available from The Militaria Shop priced at £8.99 per pack of three.
A Mk.III British Army Marching Compass
Since WW1 the hand held compass had become an essential part of any soldier’s kit for navigating. Often they were fitted with luminous dials for night work and attached to a lanyard so they would not be easily lost. This example is painted black and maker marked ‘T. G. Co. Ltd – London on the back. it is in good functional condition, has clear lenses and only light surface wear. It is very typical of the type issued during WW2.
It is available from World Military Collectables £85.
This British Army issue Mk.III marching compass is 1939 dated and comes with the lanyard.
Now a WW2 Australian 37 pattern map case
Another essential piece of kit which would go hand in hand with the compass… this is a nice condition Australian marked map case / plotting board which has a canvas shoulder strap.
It is marked C. G. HARTLEY Co. with a date of 1943 and comes complete with a plastic overlay cover for maps, a space for pens and a hard back clip-board which could be used for writing. The size is approximately 10.5 inches x 9 inches.
Two basic items for any British Army soldier a Bren Pouch for storing ammunition and a canvas Water Bottle harness
The seller says that he has a quantity of these original British Army WW2 dated, 37 Pattern Bren Pouches with varying dates and makers marks. Every infantryman was issued with a pair of these.
A British Army Mk 1 Bren LMG sling.
This is a standard issue British Army Mk 1 Bren Gun LMG sling. Measuring approximately 54 inches long, it comes complete with two heavy steel swivel sling hooks on each end. One of which is still covered in the original manufacturer’s wrapping paper.
It is available from Saracen Exports for £35.
A matching pair of 37 Pattern British Army Cross-Straps
No set of ’37 pattern webbing could function without shoulder straps as they form the main structure of the equipment. For sale here is an unissued pair of 37 pattern British Army khaki cross-straps. They are both well maker marked MECo (Mills Equipment Company) as well as being dated 1943 and stamped ‘LONG’.
The length of the straps to be used were dictated by the height of the wearer.
When possible it is better to find matching coloured strap when possible as they could look odd later when put together with the rest of the set.
This pair are for sale via Battleflag Militaria and priced at £25.
You will need a cover for that !
Following the creation of the new pattern of webbing equipment in 1937, the Canadian Army made a direct copy for their troops – and by 1940 it started being manufactured in Canada and in October it was being distributed directly to their troops. The Canadian canvas was different to the British issue as it was more yellow in colour and they would also use brown paint to cover the metal fittings.
This Canadian Enfield cover would have been issued to keep dust and damp away from the rifle when it was not being used. It is approx 47 inches long and 9 inches wide which tapers down to approximately 5 inches at the barrel end.
A webbing strap is used to close the cover and the exterior has a pocket designed to carry a 50 round bandolier. This example is in clean condition and it is dated 1942, as well as being broad arrow marked.
Available from The Collector’s Guild $136.
A British Army issue Chocolate & Boiled Sweets Tin
Large tins of Chocolate and Boiled Sweets were widely issued during the Second World War especially to Allied troops in the run up to D-Day. They are very distinctive with their brown tin and green lettering. This example is in good condition and it has a September 1943 packing date.
It is available from CS Militaria priced at £65.
A rare Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Ammunition carrying pouch
A rare items to find, this pouch was created to carry Boys Anti-Tank rifle clips. It is manufactured in canvas with tin fastening buttons and It carries 2 clips. It is dated 1-1942, as well as having a makers mark of P. B. & Co. Ltd stamped on the underside of the closing flap.
Available from Chelmsford Militaria £25.
A British Army WW2 Issue gas mask bag
Each Allied combat soldier was issued with a gas mask which came housed in a canvas bag. The bag was designed to be carried over the shoulder loosely when not in use… but in combat conditions it would have been worn on the front of the chest with the flap opening away from the wearer.
There is a small string which fits in a pocket and it could be stretched around the back to help steady the bag on the wearer’s chest. The gas mask could then be worn on the face with the weight of the large filter unit and tube being carried inside the bag.
This great condition example is available from Oliver’s Army Militaria £35.
The rear view. This would have sat against the chest of the wearer.
The maker’s marks are stamped on the inside of the flap. The date of 1943, H & S V and the Broad Arrow mark.
A 1937 pattern – 1945 dated British Commando Bergen
A 1942 pattern British Army Commando Bergen or rucksack became an essential way for combat soldiers to carry around their much needed equipment. This type was very popular with Royal Marine Commando’s and they were widely used on D-Day.
The top of the interior is closed by eyelets with a draw string which pulls it closed over the contents. The exterior closing straps were designed to be extra long to enable larger over-sized loads to be carried.
It has all of its’ straps, the zip works correctly and all the metal framework is in good shape. This example is dated 1945 and it is in original condition.
It is available from Vigo Militaria priced at £115.
Are you interested in WW2 British Army headgear? CLICK HERE to see more.
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