Pattern 1939 Leather Infantry Equipment
Haversacks and Packs
The envelopes of these were the standard Patt. ’37 W.E. forms. Unlike the first issues of Patt. ’14, the flap straps of the Haversack and Pack were in ¾-, or 1-inch webbing respectively and fitted with standard Tips, brass. The buckle chapes and tabs were also webbing. In other words, there were no Patt. ’39 Haversacks and Packs. Lest it be thought perverse to have these webbing items in a leather pattern, there was the precedent of Patt. ’14, but the point really is that these could be easily assembled by any company with heavy-duty sewing machines. The “clever” items of Patt. ’37 – those made by reduction- or integral-weaving – were beyond the manufacturing facilities of all but M.E.Co. and M. Wright & Sons.
The Haversack, W.E. Patt. 37, was introduced with Web Equipment Pattern 1937 with List of Changes entry No. B 1623, approved 8th June, 1938. This Haversack was intended to be worn at the left side, when in Field Service Marching Order. It was much larger than the Patt. ’08 type, quoted in LoC B1623 as “…1-in. deeper and 21/4-in. wider than the patt. ’08…”. The terms were poorly chosen as deeper ought to be higher, allowing wider to be deeper (meaning front-to-back), leaving the term wider to mean side-to-side, as this dimension was identical to Patt. ‘08. It was provided with weather flaps. These tapered on the forward edge, being an extension of a slight taper on the upper front edge of the sides. It was divided from side to side, with a second divider splitting the section furthest away from the wearer’s back. This gave accommodation for the new Bottle, water, aluminium (in its Carrier), next to the new aluminium Tins, mess, rectangular, which were a nested pair. This example, from the Karkee Web Collection, is maker marked "M.W. & S. Ltd." and date 1941.
The W.E. Patt. '37 Haversack, officers had a checkered early history. The first version (in 1938) was a modified Patt. '08 Haversack, followed by the form shown here in 1939. Shortly after its introduction, it was made obsolete, then finally reinstated in 1941. In shape, it was the modified Patt. ’08 Haversack, but the 1-inch buckles were now on chapes stitched to the rear face. The carrying handle was retained in this new design and a half-depth external pocket was stitched to the front face. This was divided vertically, off-centre, these open-top pockets being closed by a press stud. Whilst there is no official documentation showing the Patt. '37 Officers' Haversack was used with Patt. '39, it seems plausible that it, like its O.R. counterpart, was used with the officers' version of the new ersatz equipment. The example shown here is maker marked "M.E. Co." and dated 1943. From the John Bodsworth Collection, photographs © John Bodsworth 2009.
No Pack was listed for Pattern 1937 W.E., as the Pack, W.E. Patt. ’08 was used. This situation, and therefore its nomenclature, prevailed until 1 April 1946, when Patt. ’08 was made obsolete by LoC C 2568. The Pack, W.E. Patt. ’08 and Straps, web, supporting pack, W.E. Patt. ’08 were retained and the “Patt. ’08 W.E.” nomenclature was simply dropped.
The example shown is from the Ed Storey Collection, and is maker marked "Bagcraft Ltd." and dated 1941. Interestingly, it is also marked "AA 1370 OT", which makes it the earliest example we've seen of an item marked with its stores code. The meaning of the "OT" is unknown. Photos © Ed Storey 2010.
Rog Dennis, December, 2010