EQUIPMENT OF BRITISH AIRBORNE FORCES IN WWII
BRITISH 1937 PATTERN WEB GEAR
The main item of the webbing equipment was the waist belt (1), provided with a brass patent clasp buckle, two runners or slides and two rectangular buckles at the back to which the braces fastened. The latter were attached on the front onto the buckles of the basic pouches (2), which in turn were attached onto the waist belt by means of hooks that slide in the beltís inner hoops. When the pouches were not worn, the front ends of the braces were fastened on the buckle with special straps which were pinned in the loops of the waist belt. The braces, once fastened to the waist belt were attached to the Entrenching Tool (4) and the Water Bottle (3).
The water bottle (3), the case of the entrenching tool (4) and the haversack (5) were provided with a pair of short straps ending with a buckle for fastening on the ends of the braces. The water bottle was intended to be placed in the haversack, but by late in the war, it was usually suspended in a framework of straps or in a special web sleeve. The entrenching tool was made up of the blade, carried inside the case, and the handle carried outside.
The spike bayonet (8) could be fitted on the narrow end of the handle thus providing a mine-prodding tool. The haversack (small pack) was usually worn on the back by means of two L-shaped braces (1a) which were hooked on the buckles of the basic pouches.
The entrenching tool was then usually attached to the ends of the L-braces, below the haversack. The same braces were then used to support the valise, or large pack although this was rarely seen in combat.
The spike bayonet (hidden in the above illustration under the Entrenching Tool) matched the rifle No. 4 Mk. I. Sometimes the frog from the SMLE No. 1 (*) was used in favour of the frog for the No. 4. The gas mask or respirator (7) could be worn on a strap or attached to the belt. If worn on the strap, the string tied across the back to prevent the case from dangling loosely.
Here are some illustrations of a fully equipped paratrooper
Various Equipment Illustrations