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'58 pattern

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'58 Pattern webbing was introduced in, you guessed it, 1958, to replace the old '37 Pattern ('44 Pattern was a special 'tropical' issue).

The standard set included: a belt; two ammo pouches, which could hold three SLR magazines each; a water bottle pouch with water bottle; two 'kidney' pouches; a poncho or 'bum' roll; two 'utility straps'; and last, but by no means least, the large pack.

As a practical way to carry your shit around, it wasn't so bad. The main drawback was that the webbing would get soaked so that the pouches themselves shrank, whilst the little webbing tabs which secured everything would expand and become impossible to thread into the metal securing loops. The poncho roll held a waterproof poncho which made a reasonable basha, and many people obtained a second one to put their NBC suit in to.

The large pack, however, was an abomination, sent by Mephistopheles himself to torture the human race for something or other. In the first place, it wasn't particularly large, having the carrying capacity of a decent sized supermarket shopping bag; secondly, it wasn't remotely waterproof or even water resistant; and thirdly, it attached to the yoke of the webbing via four poxy straps with hooks on the end, rather than having its own shoulder straps. Typically, the young Recruit or RMAS Cadet was obliged by training unit SOPs to carry virtually their entire 1157 around on exercise, crammed into the large pack, inside a black bin liner, together with Sleeping Bag, steel helmet, digging tool (either a shovel or a pick) and sleeping mat attached to the outside, like some thieving vagabond gypsy. Oh yes, and because they were trainees, recruits and RMAS Cadets weren't allowed a second bum roll, so their NBC suit had to go in the large pack as well, and thus would be the only thing removed from it during the course of the entire exercise.

Still it made us the men we are today.