There have been many different versions of the Fitting Instructions for Web Equipment, Pattern 1908 issued during this pattern's long service life with different branches of the Armed Services of Britain and the Empire. Every variation of W.E. Patt. '08 Fitting Instructions that Karkee Web that has been able to locate is listed below, and most of them are available here as Adobe PDF files. You'll need to use the back button on your browser to return to this page after viewing these files.
Fitting Instructions - Mills broadside
Soon after Web Equipment, Pattern 1908, was introduced, the Mills Equipment Company produced an instructional broadside at the request of the War Office. This broadside was printed by Gale & Polden. We previously stated that it was probably printed in mid-1909. With the new discovery and publication of the May, 1908 War Office booklet below, we can now confidently state that it must have been released much earlier, in the first quarter of 1908.
This was the first form of Fitting Instructions for W.E. Patt. '08, predating the official manual. As stated by Albert Lethern in The Development of the Mills Woven Cartridge Belt 1877-1956, representatives of the Mills Company travelled to various army units and used this broadside as a tool whilst instructing troops on the proper fitment and use of the new equipment. Various photos from this sheet have been published many times. Now, Karkee Web is pleased to bring you the highest resolution reproduction of this document yet to be published, in a PDF of the original in the Karkee Web Collection.
The first British War Office set of W.E. Patt. '08 Fitting Instructions, entitled The Pattern 1908 Web Infantry Equipment was published in May, 1908, by Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty, in an edition of 10,000 copies. The photos are taken from the Mills broadside and show the earliest version of Web Equipment, Pattern 1908, as modified from the "Mills-Burrowes Equipment" used in the trials. As for the text, Section I - General Remarks, and the Appendix are new to this issue, whilst Section II - Description of the Equipment, Section III - To Assemble the Equipment, Section IV - Care and Preservation, and Section V - Marking, are revised versions of the text from the broadside.This version of the fitting instructions was taken from a photocopy supplied by KW stalwart Carl Woods. In order to give readers the best possible version, some restoration was required - the text by Rog Dennis and the Plates copied from the Mills poster.
The Table of Weights presented on page 11 refers to “Two 75-round cartridge carriers”, with a combined weight of 1 lb 7 ozs, or 11.5 ozs per Carrier. If reference is made to the 1913 edition below, the Carriers are presented separately at 14.5 ozs each – 3 ozs heavier. No modification ever occurred, let alone between 1908 and 1913, that could have caused this significant an increase.
As a rough-and-ready calculation, 14.5 ozs equates to 2.9 ozs per pocket. For a pair of Carriers, 5.8 ozs is temptingly close to the 6 oz shortfall. Only one thing could have caused this change – the table description has to have been incorrect.
We feel it should have read “Two 60-round cartridge carriers”, in other words 4-pocket Carriers. These are shown in the Patent and Lethern quotes an article from Faugh-a-Ballagh, the regimental magazine of the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers - Burrowes’ regiment:-
“…The original design of this equipment carried only 120 rounds of ammunition, but soon another pocket was added to each carrier on the top row, thus increasing the ammunition capacity from 120 rounds to 150 rounds…”
Having succeeded in getting their design a trial in 1907, Mills would have been very supportive, it being in their interest. Mills certainly prepared type-written notes on their designs of a few years later, so – logically – they would have produced a set of notes on assembling the soon-to-be Patt. ’08 Web Equipment correctly – in effect, rudimentary Fitting Instructions. Their experience of the Army’s misuse of the Lightweight Bandolier - with consequent War Office condemnation – might well be uppermost in the Mills’ approach?
At a later stage, a photo shows 5-pocket Carriers, with continuous flaps. A further modification gave these separate flaps. Might these Trials Notes have formed the basis for these subsequent official Fitting Instructions, published by the War Office? Whilst the text and photographs were updated to reflect the final version of the 5-pocket Carriers, did someone in the War Office, forget to also update the Table of Weights?!
Coincident with the first issue of W.E. Patt. '08 to Australia in 1911, the War Office issued an Australian version of Fitting Instructions entitled The Pattern 1908 Web Infantry Equipment | Published by the War Office, and Reprinted 1.9.11 (with corrections). It's interesting to note that, whilst the text has been revised, the illustrations for this issue are, for the most part, the same as the ones used in the 1908 versions above. These photos show the "trials" form of the Mills-Burrowes Equipment, not the actual Web Equipment, Pattern 1908, as issued. However, two additional photos have now been added. One of these, Plate VII, shows the Implement, intrenching, pattern 1908, introduced by LoC §14796, and the Carriers, intrenching tool, introduced by LoC §14795. The plate itself was taken from §14795. The second added plate, Plate VIII, shows the rear of the Water bottle carrier. This type of Carrier was unique to the first Australian issues of W.E. Pattern 1908. This document was printed in Melbourne by J. Kemp, Government Printer. This scan of an original copy was kindly provided to KW by Chris Henschke.
A revised British set of W.E. Patt. '08 Fitting Instructions entitled The Pattern 1908 Web Infantry Equipment | War Office 1913 was issued in 1913 under the Army Orders, 1st August 1913. This pamphlet version was printed in London by Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty, and is an expanded version of the 1908 issue. Moreover, the trials photos used in the Mills pamphlet, the 1908 War Office issue, and the 1911 Australian issue have now been replaced with new photographs of the equipment in its 1913 form. The two scanned versions presented here are taken from an original, well-loved copy in the collection of Graham Tweeddale. The first version, far left, includes the front and back covers, title pages, and the complete text and plates of the original. In this form the PDF file is approximate 3.5 mB. However, at near left, for the completist, Graham has also scanned the entire pamphlet, including blank pages and the appendix catalogue of Military Books Published by His Majesty's Stationary Office. As an added bonus we've included, at the end of this file, a scan of the cover of Maj. Arnold Burrowes's personal copy, used with permission of the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum. In this form, the PDF is approximately 6.5 mB. A short version similar to the one presented here has been made available previously, in a reprint dated 1986 from Tharston Press. As far as we are aware, this is the first time the pamphlet has been made available in its entirity.