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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Australian Leather Equipment aka ("Pattern '15)


4thGordons
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For no obvious reason over the years I have picked up some bits of the Australian produced leather version of the '08 equipment. This is often called "Pattern 15" but I do not believe this is an official designation. The excellent Karkeeweb site has a nice discussion of that.

I am fairly certain I have read somewhere about mixes of 08 and Australian leather pattern being worn. Could anyone point me in the direction of period pictures of a mix being worn?

It is unlikely that I will ever complete a set of Australian Leather equipment but if I could substitute a couple of key bits of 08 web I might be able to display it - so I suppose what I am looking for is 1) period pictures of Australian Leather equipment on the Western Front and particularly 2) references and pictures to substanitate the wearing of a mix of the standard 08 web and leather eqipment.

Thanks in advance for any pointers,

Chris

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There's a couple items of 'green leather' on ebay at the mo (Shoulder straps and a large pack) which I'm sure you've seen.

Out of interest, what are the rarest parts? I'm remember seeing a 'set' about 15 years ago at fairs in the North - belt, shoulder straps, ammo pouches, large pack and entrenching tool pouch. I think the belt may have been '08. I think some parts were named as well, but later on the same stall the set had been broken up and was being sold separately.

I sort of wish I'd picked the set up at the time but it's not my field. Obviously the vendor had to be commercial about these things.

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Hello, Paul -

The rarest by far piece of P-15 equipment is the helve holder. A friend told me that even Australian museums lack examples. Additionally, I've never seen any of the narrow equipment straps that secured the large pack.

The next rarest piece is the bayonet frog. The same friend was fortunate to find one for his own collection, but I haven't been able to acquire an example. I expect that if I ever obtain one I'll have to pay dearly for it.

The remaining pieces of the P-15 set still can be found, although at higher and higher prices. The most common pieces are canteen carriers, cases of which seem to have survived.

For a long time many collectors were convinced that P-15 equipment was not worn on the Western Front. However, I've examined the remains of several P-15 sets that were unearthed on the Somme, so some of the P-15 equipment was worn in France into mid-to-late 1916. I doubt that it remained in use after that.

To answer Chris, I don't recall seeing any photographs of P-15 equipment being worn in France. Someone should ask Dominique at Le Tommy if any of the collection of photgraphs of Australian soldiers that he acquired included any images of soldiers wearing P-15 equipment.

This information is based upon my personal observations, and I could be wrong. [Perhaps a crate of P-15 helve holders will be found somewhere!] Anyway, I hope that this information will be of some use.

Regards, Torrey

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I am not that knowledgeable on the webbing equipment variations, but I do have a little background information learnt from some things I have read.

Australia did always have an abundance of harness leather available for all manner of leather construction, at that time cotton was less abundant.

All of the Pattern equipment that was made prior to the war was made from leather, and there is still much of this about, usually marked to the CMF.

When the war began, of course there was a shortage of the modern style WE brought about by the rush to mobilisation, so leather was substituted.

This worked well except for when confronted by the harsh conditions of the trenches, where things quickly began to fall apart due to the wet conditions.

Pieces were replaced as the need arose or whenever better equipment became available, I think evidence would need to be found from 1915/16 only.

There are many more photos from the later war period on the Western Front, but by then all of this equipment would have been replaced by the webbing.

I will go back through some of my books with an eye open for the leather equipment. You don't usually see this kind of thing unless you are looking for it.

Cheers, S>S

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Chris,

I wonder whether it is worth while having a troll through the Aust War Memorial collection. They have thousands of photos in their collection

which is on line and can be easily accessed.

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I've just had a flick through the good Australian book, "The Broken Years" by Bill Gammage, the illustrated edition, my copy published 2010.

Some of the pictures in that show a quite interesting and unexpected time-line of evidence for the use of leather equipment during the war.

All of the early war departing troop photos and those from Gallipoli show the webbing equipment in use, just the odd leather canteen holder.

But then at Pozieres in 1916, photos of leather equipment being used, and then later 1917, reinforcements leaving home with leather pouches.

So it seems that there were adequate supplies of webbing early on, but this ran out, and then later reinforcements were shipped with leather.

There is an interesting photo of a man writing his last letter dockside prior to departure (October 1917) clearly showing leather ammo pouches.

Cheers, S>S

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Apologies for the delay responding - have been a bit caught up at work.

Many thanks for the comments and suggestions I will follow up on those.

Chris

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