Webbing, 1958 pattern (Skeleton Order)

Catalogue number
  • EQU 4215
Department
Exhibits
Materials
  • Waist Belt: metal
  • Waist Belt: canvas
  • Waterbottle: plastic
Alternative names
  • full name: Webbing, 1958 pattern (Skeleton Order)
  • simple name: personal equipment: British
Category
Equipment

© IWM (EQU 4215)

Purchase & License
Physical description

Belt, pouches, yoke, waterbottle & mug and cover. canvas waist belt, ammunition pouches (2), yoke, black plastic waterbottle with mug and cover.

History note

Following previous load carrying personal equipment, the 1958 pattern, issued to infantry battalions from 1960, was the first set of universal equipment that appeared to have the soldiers' best interests at the forefront of its design. Like the 1908 pattern it could be put on and taken off 'as a jacket', but unlike the 1937 pattern was comfortable and could be adjusted, making full use of a variety friction buckles and quick-release straps. Made of dark green pre-shrunk canvas webbing, the equipment could be cleaned by scrubbing instead of the application of 'blanco', (or in the case of some units, polish, as had been the case with the 1937 pattern). All metal components were of lightweight painted alloy and therefore required no intensive cleaning. The system comprised a waist belt, two ammunition pouches (left pouch fitted with an external bayonet frog, right pouch fitted with a pocket to encase a grenade rocket launcher - more often used to carry eating utensils), a waterbottle case (containing plastic waterbottle and mug), box-shaped 'kidney pouches', padded yoke, cape carrier, and large pack. Either a pick axe or shovel could be carried, being attached to the rear of the yoke. Originally, the soldier's load was to be carried at full capacity thus: ammunition pouches = four SLR magazines (80 rounds of 7.62mm), linked belt of 50 x 7.62mm GPMG rounds, two grenades, bayonet and scabbard, weapon cleaning kit. Kidney pouches = mess tins, rations, knife/fork/spoon, washing & shaving kit, footpowder, spare socks, housewife, towel, spare laces. Poncho roll = contained nylon poncho (later included spare NBC suit). Large pack = beret, cap comforter, drawers (underwear), parka, spare shirt, socks, gloves, boot cleaning kit, sleeping bag. Designed at a time when it was widely believed that the modern soldier would seldom carry the entire kit together, and suggesting that it was more likely that his large pack would be placed in his mechanized transport. However, the practicalities of actual soldiering proved that this hopeful concept was essentially flawed: soldiers continued to carry the entire load. The large pack was nothing more than a soft suitcase and when worn as a complete kit would weigh heavily on the shoulders and drag down on the rear waist whilst the carriage of digging tools proved to be a subject of much criticism. Worn in Light Fighting Order (LFO), with the above minus digging tools and large pack, the system was superb and comfortable to wear for long periods. For weapon training and range practice, the webbing would be further stripped down, retaining just belt, pouches, yoke and waterbottle, termed as 'Skeleton', or 'Musketry Order'. The 1958 pattern equipment sustained the British soldier well, seeing service in West Germany (BAOR) Aden, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands and the 1991 Gulf War. It was superseded by kit designed for use in association with the 5.56mm rifle.

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