This page provides some information on the personal equipment used by machine gunners. It is not intended to provide technical information on the equipment but more about how they were used and worn by the Machine Gunners themselves.
Technical and historic information on webbing can be found on Karkee Web.
1914 Pattern Equipment
A set of personal equipment made in leather as a wartime expedient to enable wider production outside of those factories equipped with cotton looms to produce webbing. It consisted of a number of component parts in several configurations. The pistol order and rifle order are those used with the Machine Gun Corps.
From the schedule of equipment for a Machine Gun Battalion in 1918, it would appear that the 1914 Pattern leather equipment was that authorised for use with the Machine Gun Corps as opposed to the 1908 Pattern web equipment.
Army Order 424 of December 1916, as an amendment to Infantry Training 1914, describes the purpose and use of the ammunition pouch.
…The ammunition pouch of the Pattern 1914 Leather Equipment is designed to carry 60 rounds of .303-inch small-arm ammunition in chargers, viz., 50 rounds in the cotton bandolier and 10 rounds in a small pocket, which is provided with a securing strap, and is fitted inside the pouch.
The cotton bandolier should be packed in the pouch so that the stud fasteners of the pockets are placed uppermost; the fasteners can then be undone and the ammunition in the chargers readily withdrawn.
Ammunition is not to be carried loose in these pouches as it is liable to be lost.Army Order 424, December 1916.
1944 Pattern Equipment
Introduced particularly for fighting in tropical climates, the 1944 Pattern equipment was green lightweight webbing, much finer than the 1937 Pattern that it replaced in those areas. It saw extremely limited use towards the end of the Second World War, with evidence showing it was only distributed in North West Europe to some of the occupation troops arranging to take the surrender of the German troops as well as some of the airborne troops in the Mediterranean (these were all units that had been intended to go to the Far East but were dispatched.
It remained in service throughout the 1950s and 1960s and it was used alongside the 1958 Pattern webbing after that entered service; however, mainly in the Far East and Middle East where a lighter-weight equipment was needed. It also included the General Service Manpack within the equipment.
More information is available in the 1946 manual on the 1944 Pattern Equipment.
- The National Archives, WO 123/58, Army Orders 1916.