2. Webbing

Now we have covered the uniform, we can move on to something a little more interesting. Things you can tangle yourself up in! Webbing.


One set of webbing to match your weapon will be essential. If you don't have your weapon yet, don't worry, but plan your webbing around what weapon you will get and what role you are. 

Although all the examples given below are all for Paratroopers, the main difference between the Paratroopers base webbing is that the glider men all wore the Doughboy 'Haversacks' Packs. Another item that stems from World War 1. Some glider troopers would have gotten hold of Musette packs but the bulk would all have had the Doughboy Pack. Interestingly the Osprey drawing below shows the glider man with a Musette bag.

Firstly - PLEASE DO NOT BUY ANYTHING UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT ROLE YOU WANT TO BE. You will only waste money on things you don't need or can't use. Have a look at the 'Your Role' page. 

Secondly, please don't start buying everything you see, simply because it looks right! It's better to ask us if we think its worth the money and worth buying. Even those who have been in the hobby for years don't know the best places to buy everything, but someone in the unit will. Also, try and avoid using soldier of Fortune as a one stop shop, we all know its easy to buy it all there... but the quality of the webbing will not last, the colours are lets face it 'weird' and there is much better out there. 

M1 Garand Rifle - Paratrooper Rifleman 

The backbone of the US Army during World War two was the much loved M1 Garand rifle. Its stopping power and semi automatic function was an ideal advantage over the Germans bolt action K98 rifle, they had a couple of semi automatic rifles, but in the grand scheme of things, very few were made. Not to the scale of the Garand that was available to every basic infantryman, not just specialists like other nations. 

We would ideally like every new trooper to be kitted as a rifleman, of course not everyone wants to do this and that's fine too. You'll just have to work out exactly what you want to do instead.  

US World War two webbing in my opinion is fantastic, I love the versatility of it all, its so adaptable and unless tangled up, is easy to put on and take off, with many ways of layout it out and wearing it.

Riflemen / Basic Troopers carrying the Garand and would have the following webbing :-
M1910/36 pistol belt, the multi purpose belt, ideal for paratroopers with the rigger pouches

2 Rigger Pouches these pouches come in a few sizes but the standard rifleman had about 3 or 4 of the small ones
First aid pouch and first aid tin (more on this later)

M1910/M19421 Water-bottle (canteen) set - consisting of cover, canteen and cup 

M1936 Suspenders

M1936 Musette bag

* Entrenching tool is covered later on.

This all clips or slots together easily, adjusting the suspenders so they don't feel uncomfortable or look ridiculous takes some tinkering with, but again, we can help you with that, as its easier to do when wearing them, but if your wearing them you almost need someone else to adjust it for you.

Left, the long rigger pouch with dummy 30 round Thompson mags
Right, showing how 4 Garand clips fits in neat and snug. People often like to say that everyone with a Garand would have the M1923... don't you believe them! 3 of these little pouches holds more than the entire M1923 belt!

As you can see right, a drawing from an Osprey book on US Airborne units, the centre figure (101st Glider Trooper) wears the Garand load out, complete with rifle in hand.

The figure on the left has the M1910/M1936 pistol belt with pouches that slide over, unlike the Garand belt where everything has to clip to the bottom. The soldier on the right with the M1A1 Thompson would also have this belt.

M1 Carbine - Paratrooper Specialists. For example  Mortarmen, Radiomen, Machine Gun crew, Assistants etc

This is one of the most versatile styles of kit layout. When using the M1910/M1936 belt it gives you the option of sliding things over the belt, as well as hanging them from the loops. Some pouches like the later M1 Carbine twin mag pouch also has loops at the bottom enabling you to hand things off them as well! There is one shown to the right of the holster.

 

1 M1910/M1936 pistol belt

2 First aid pouch and first aid tin (more on this later)

3 M1910/M1941 Water-bottle (canteen) set - consisting of cover, canteen and cup 

4 M1936 Suspenders

5 M1936 Musette bag
6 M1916 Colt M1911 Holster*

M1923 twin .45 mag pouch*

8 M1 Carbine twin mag pouch (ignore this pouch, all 502 paratroopers had Rigger pouches in Normandy

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*not everyone had access to a pistol, however, some specialist did as they were easy to carry when full-filling their normal role. Radiomen would have to removed the Musette pack from the back and the BC1000 radio is heavy enough, without carrying a rifle too. So the pistol was ideal, most still carried the M1 Carbine though, as the pistol wasn't much defence on its own. If not carrying a pistol the M1923 mag pouch would have most-likely been replaced with either a M1 Carbine mag pouch or a 'rigger' pouch. 

I will cover entrenching tools later, so ignore this for now.

M1A1 Thompson / M3 Grease gun Paratrooper

For those that were issued an automatic weapon, usually NCO's, or those lucky enough acquire one, there webbing would look something like this

1 M1910/M1936 pistol belt

2 First aid pouch and first aid tin (more on this later)

3 M1910/M1941 Water-bottle (canteen) set - consisting of cover, canteen and cup 

4 M1936 Suspenders

5 M1936 Musette bag
6 Thompson mag pouch !!! Important !!! The 3 x30 mag pouch was never used in the ETO, only in the Pacific. So the 5 cell, 20 round mag pouch is the only one that is correct.

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Hopefully you have more of an idea of what you need!

Lots of the items were carried by all soldiers, regardless of weapon carried or any specialise role. So we will start with those first - 

       M1924 First aid pouch and first aid tin

One of the most simply and what was one of the most common items to find for sale out of all the World War 2 US items. The were everywhere cheap too, not they are racing up in price also. Original examples can still be found if you look, reproductions ones are mostly good. Although those rarely come with the tins. However this isn't an issue as tins are always for sale on EBay, there seems to be a never ending supply of those... but then again, we thought that about most bits of militaria! Just now look at the prices of things. I mentioned this tin in the uniform section, because it can actually prove useful. Open the tin carefully, removed the useless bandage, our nurses would like it if you don't. So feel free to donate it to their cause. You now have a nice empty tin, I have a series of plasters, varying in size, great for blisters, cuts etc. I also have ear plugs for when we battle or your sleeping next to the officers tent, pain killers and even hay-fever tablets just in case. 

 

       M1910/M1941 Water-bottle 

After the first aid tin, this is the item you'll use all the time, especially in summer. You can get brand new bottles if your scared of germs, or you can sterilise an original. I have several original bottles I use and they have never yet been cleaned properly! Blurgh!!! When looking at reproduction covers, make sure that they will be strong enough to handle a full canteens worth of weight. As they are not light and if you have purchased a cheap one and the forced to run for any reason they will probably tear. Original covers can be got hold of, just takes a little looking. I recently got three covers, a belt and 2 bottles from the US for $50 including postage... of course I got stung for import tax, but still a great deal.  If your patient, you can find some good items and good prices. However, I understand someone wanting to get into the hobby doesn't always want to wait for those bargains to pop up.   

       M1936 Suspenders

Despite its have misleading name, these are worn over the shoulders and not below the waist! Without this essential bit of kit, all these bits wouldn't really be a set of webbing, just a belt that would never stay up. Unlike most things, originals of these can still be got at a good price. There is a company in the US who has a mountain of these at fantastic prices and they will shop to England the best way they can and avoid the import tax. I won't mention the name on here as I don't want to get them i trouble. You can contact me if you want to get originals for only a little bit more than lower quality reproduction ones!

       M1936 Musette bag

I have a weird love of the Musette bag, it is such a wonderful improvement over the M1910 and M1927 Dough-boy packs. Where if you didn't pack it correctly everything falls onto the ground, especially smaller items. This bag can just be opened and stuffed full of everything you want to carry, or keep it empty and insert an inflatable pillow to give it shape and keep it being super lightweight whilst looking full! You can get those on Ebay for about £1 each from China, you can then use them later at night... win win.

You can pretty much forget buying an original Musette pack, the prices are ludicrous! SOF do some good reproductions now, even in transitional colours for the geeks out there like me. Even if you don't wear this on your back because of a specialist role, you can buy a strap for it and wear it over the shoulder for extra storage.

       M1923 rifle belt - were not very often worn by paratroopers.

These have gotten fairly hard to buy originals of now, but on the plus side the reproductions have gotten better and better. ATF always have these in stock and they are very good quality. Soldier of Fortunes are OK, they are still suffering in my eyes from the year that they realised all that low quality 'orange' webbing. However when  I last saw there stock I was pleasantly surprised at how much better it had gotten since then. Almost all companies that reproduce US World War two kit will make and sell reproduction of these, they can always be purchased on EBay from China! Be wary, these may be terrible and only worthy of going in the bin... some things are getting better from China, but not all!

       M1910/M1936 pistol belt - the most commonly seen belt

Now unlike the M1923 rifle belt, both of these original pistol belts come up for sale fairly often and can be good prices too. I picked up a M1910 a few months back for the same as a reproduction. It even has all the older brass fittings and is great condition and looks great!  

If buying an original from anywhere that isn't one of the main companies, make sure the centre holes are smaller than the outer holes, there are some really weird reproductions out there! Check its not wafer thin too. This is going to take a lot of abuse and if its cheaply made, you'll soon find yourself with a belt that is loosing what's attached to it. The clips on the one below look ludicrous too! Avoid at all costs

When buying reproduction kit always look at the colour first, is it a weird orange tone?, is it almost neon green?, or is it just too brown? The examples below are original belts so give you an idea of what colour originals are, please bare in mind that, dirt, grease, sweat, oils, rain, food, drinks and time will darken and lighten the original colours of items. There are so great original items, that are a whole range of shades.

The items below can only be described as yellow crap! Not only wafer thin and a weird colour of yellowy-orangey-khaki, some items are just weird! The rifle belt show on the below right is missing all the holes to attach them to the suspenders? Ooops... who over looked that! If you have any doubts about what your thinking of buying, please get in touch. No points anyone wasting money on anything which is either wrong or just worthless crap! 

Entrenching tools + (axes & pick mattock)

All enlisted men were required to carry one of the following, either the M1910 entrenching tool, Pick/Mattock set or Axe. Out of every ten men, one would be carry a Pick/Mattock and one would carry and Axe, the rest would all have the M1910 entrenching tool.

M43 Entrenching tool. With the introduction of the new M43 entrenching tool, the need for the Pick/Mattock was gone (although this was only the armies opinion) the Axe was still on the issued equipment list. 

All of the above can be quite easily purchased through companies like Soldier of Fortune or found at any militaria event.

       Soldier of Fortunes Webbing Sets

One of the easiest ways to get a complete set of webbing in one go, mail order, pay on card, bish-bash-bosh simple, is with Soldier of Fortunes complete webbing sets. Although calling them complete is seriously wrong! They are not complete, I don't think any set of webbing could be called complete or incomplete, simply by the nature of it being such adaptable kit. 

However, despite the failure of the name, these aren't bad deals. Ranging from £70 - £85, when you break down the components you'll make a saving, of course everything is reproduction, but it's an easy way to buy it all in one hit. It is all interchangeable with original gear, so you could swap things over at a later stage.

I would recommend checking out SOF store online, even if your not going to purchase from them straight away, it will give you a good idea of prices of reproduction items again originals ones they you may see for sale later.

This is only a small part of what we do, a website is simply too small to handle everything. Facebook is where we started, nothing will ever beat its simplicity, powers of communication and ability to share photos, videos and knowledge, "come join us there too".

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