The purpose of the information below is to give you a list of basic equipment which will permit you to come out and participate with 1 Can Para HQ Company. It is not, by a long shot, complete to the extent that there is more gear and accouterments that can be obtained and added to your impression over time. The material recommended below is meant to get you into the field quickly without wasted effort and money.
Load Bearing Equipment (LBE)
The common means of carrying equipment into the field was by use of the Pattern 1937 web gear. This web gear was issued universally throughout the Commonwealth and a large portion of its production was done in Canada. Made of heavy cotton canvas, the combat harness was assembled by means of brass buckles, enclosures, and often incorporated brass snaps. The whole assembled rig could keep its shape even when off the body of the wearer, which made putting on and taking off the entire battle harness quick and efficient.
Pattern 1937 webbing was universally darkened by means of a chalky substance known as BLANCO. Un-Blanco’d webbing was a rare event, but only blanco’ing the visible areas was done and generally was preferred as it did not wear off on the wearer’s uniform.
This material could trace its history in the British Army to the 18th C. when soldiers were required to whiten their leather accoutrements with pipe clay mixed with water. The same thing is done with Blanco as it was either issued in envelope powder form or in a solid cake form. Today Blanco is available in a liquid form, which can be diluted with a little water or even better wet your webbing before applying. It is truly a messy operation, so wear older clothes when applying. Blanco can be purchased from Soldier of Fortune, and you will want this shading Kay Canvas Liquid Blanco 1944 No3 KG (Khaki Green) Dark.
Below is a description of the required 1937 Pattern by members of the 1st. Canadian Parachute Battalion Headquarters Company. Items are listed in the order in which a trooper should acquire them.
Battle Order (basic framework of a paratroopers LBE)
All items listed can be purchased in either original or reproduced form; however, in the case of the latter it is recommended that you contact a member of HQ Company for recommendations as the quality of the reproductions.
a) Pattern 37 Belt (brass latch style with brass keepers)
b) Pattern 37 Basic Pouch (Left) used for holding one’s ammunition for one’s weapon)
c) Pattern 37 Basic Pouch (Right) used for holding 2 spare magazines for the BREN gun.
d) Pattern 37 Shoulder Straps (Left)
e) Pattern 37 Shoulder Straps (Right) Should have a loop sewn into the back to slip the left shoulder strap through.
f) Pattern 37 bayonet frog for holding Enfield No. 1 Mk. 4 spike bayonet.
g) Pattern 37 Entrenching tool and carrier (2-piece entrenching tool with separate spade head and handle)
h) Pattern 37 Water Bottle Carrier. The carrier comes in two basic styles: 1, (seen here) is often referred to as the “skeleton carrier”; 2, (not seen) is often referred to as the “Envelope” carrier and cover the entire bottom of the canteen.
i) Water Bottle is often coated in a wool cover with a simple cork stopper. The design of this canteen dates to well before the 18th C. and was worn by British and Commonwealth forces up into the 20th C.
Marching Order (web gear for living in the field and on the march)
The following items are worn in addition to the Battle Order web gear and will include most of the items you will need to store your personal items (i.e., mess kit, cutlery, cup, gloves, etc...)
a) Pattern 37 Small Pack with brass fittings.
b) Pattern 37 L-Straps, which affix to your Battle Order basic pouches by means of brass fittings in the rear of the pouches.
Canadian issued kit bag (essentially the Canadian version of the American Duffle bag)
Kit bags were issued to all troop in the Commonwealth and so it was with the troops Canada sent to fight in WWII. Canada generally produced its own version of the British kit bag, which was larger in diameter and just a marginally longer. Canadian kit bags were made of light tan heavy duck canvas, with double stitched seams and a doubly thick layer of canvas for it’s bottom. The enclosure had a row of heavy brass grommets to which a ¼” diameter rope was added to cinch the owner’s possessions closed in it.
The kit bag is not to be confused with the Airborne Leg Bag and did not accompany a paratrooper in combat. It was a transit item used for transiting troops to carry their essential gear to their next base of operation. For reenactors these bags serve a great purpose in storing ones equipment when not in use.
The bags themselves were never Blanco’d but were often marked with the owner’s name; home regiment; assigned company; and his serial number. Bags were also given a three-bar identification code to help reunite the bag with its owner.
All gear which is listed below are crucial for basic participation in 1st. Canadian Parachute Battalion Headquarters Company. The gear listed below is to be stored on or inside your small pack when not in use. Your small pack serves as your own personal file cabinet for stowing small items and during WWII all commonwealth troops lived out of their small packs for months on end.
duck canvas, with double stitched seams and a doubly thick layer of canvas for it’s bottom. The enclosure had a row of heavy brass grommets to which a ¼” diameter rope was added to cinch the owner’s possessions closed in it.
a. Toilet Roll or Holdall. This item kept small personal items needed for hygiene and regular maintenance of one’s uniform or equipment well organized. Other items that could be found in a Holdall were a safety razor, spare razor blades, extra shoelaces, matches, a field mirror, etc. Here you have a good deal of latitude to develop our Toiletry Roll and personalize it for yourself.
b. Sewing Kit/Housewife. Generally made of light tan canvas and had three pockets to carry extra buttons, thread, needles, and swatches of material for repairs in the field.
c. Enamel Mug. Made of pressed steel then enameled in either two main colors: Brown and White with a thin blue lined rim. This is always kept clean and affixed to your small pack when not in use.
d. German Folding Spoon & Fork. This item, while not issued, was very desirable amongst Allied troops as it kept two main eating implements together with a simple rivet. It is also easier to find than British/Canadian cutlery.
e. Knife, Fork, and Spoon (not pictured). All three implements were issued to all commonwealth troops during WWII.
f. Small Mess Tin. Can be made of either aluminum or steel; however, tinned steel is not recommended as lead was used in its production. Stored either within the Large Mess Tin or in one of the two inner pockets in the Small Pack.
g. Large Mess Tin. As mentioned about this tin could store the Small Mess Tin; however, whenever 24 hour rations were issued it served to protect the cardboard box from damage. Likewise this mess tin is stored in whichever inner pocket the small tin is not occupying.
h. Inside view of the Pattern 1937 Small Pack. The pack itself had three inner compartments to store all a soldier’s personal equipment.
i. Folded Rubberized ground cloth or Rubberized Gas Cape. An essential piece of kit for keeping you and your kit dry. Often rolled and then fold into the contents before closing one’s small pack, thus keeping the contents dry in case of inclement weather.
j. British Army Jack Knife. Made in the millions these knives trace their lineage back to the Crimean War and were issued initially to Royal Navy sailors only but during the Boer War these knives were issued out to all British Military personnel. The knife was made of high carbon steel and had a 3” blade, can opener, and a 4” long Marlin spike for dealing with ropes.