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1937 Aussie webbing - what are these packs?

Article about: Hi guys, I have these two packs and I don't know if they are ww2 or later? There are two types of strap as well - any help as I'm a dunce when it comes to this stuff! Thanks in advance, Dan

  1. #11


    Quote by Danmark View Post
    Thanks all - if you look really really closely at my one with the leather straps you can see TWO faint boxes - one large and one small - just like the COL CAN one Ubique posted...... maybe mine was marked the same?
    I think you are right Dan.

  2. #12


    Interesting thread, guys

  3. #13


    Quote by Watchdog View Post
    Thanks mate,

    . The predecessor of the NSN was the FSN or Federal Stock Number (1953 - 74) which would have been the same but without the NIIN. I am sure this is what Australian Forces would have been using in the late 60s as the current 13 digit format was not around then.

    I would respectfully have to disagree as I have several examples of Australian (66) equipment from 1968 - 1970 which bear the whole 13 digit NSN (AKA Defence Stock Number over here) including the packs that Danmark and I photographed above. Maybe the UK had a slightly different system to us as we would regard the NIIN as being the complete 9 digit item identifier, not just the 2 digit country code. We usually used the 9 digit NIIN without need for the 4 digit Federal Supply prefix in the supply chain paperwork.

    Sorry Oz, you are correct on the NIIN, it is a 9 digit field and what I should have said was NCB (National Codification Bureau) which is in fact just the first two digits of the NIIN. The remaining 7 are simply a code number.

    However, the fact remains that the NSN in 13 digit format was introduced in 1974. I remember when I enlisted in 1975 the "Old and Bold" Quartermasters staff moaning vociferously about how difficult it was to handle and account for kit that was not marked with the new NSN especially if it did have an older nomenclature stamp (many had no marks at all). We as young Toms just thought they were moaning "Jobsworths"

    The problem was eased when stock that was still held at the very top of the logistic chain was retro marked with the NSN. This, cetainly in UK inventory explains why items known to originate earlier than 1974 (some even date stamped to add confusion ) bear the later nomenclature and NSN. As an aside I was issued a shaving mirror dated 1945 and some of the lads received the odd item of '44 patt webbing (jealously regarded by many but that is another subject).

    Sometimes this was done by limited re-packaging or the addition of adhesive paper labels which is absolutely no help to collectors now!!

    Of course, with Australia not being a NATO nation the system might have been employed slightly differently and I would not presume to disagree with someone with far greater knowledge from that perspective. I can only speak about that knowledge I have from my own service as an RQMS towards the end of my career in 1999.

    This is a very interesting thread (for collectors who do descend to the almost forensic level of identifying kit ) and it would be great to find any kind of documentary evidence relating to these policies. Who knows what we might learn from that which was once just dull and boring admin?

    For now, my opinion and it is just that, is that we see here at the top of the thread at least one very good example of an item manufactured before 1974 having been retro marked in the supply chain with a post 1974 NSN. Unless of course it was supplied to the forces post 1974. I don't know enough about Australian kit to know if that is even possible.

    As I say, just my thoughts but it doesn't change the identity of the item in question which I think is all the more interesting for this issue.

    Thanks for your input Oz, this is the way the hobby moves forward and we all learn from it to become "better collectors" if that makes sense?


    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  4. #14


    Thank you for your detailed explanation Mark. I have no doubt that what you have said is correct for the UK. Unfortunately I do not believe that the information you have given is correct for Australian kit which is the subject of this thread. To say that all pre 1974 Australian kit bearing a 13 digit stock number must have been restamped runs totally against the evidence in my collection. Restamping an item is very difficult to do without leaving any tell-tale signs such as different inks, fonts, font sizes, alignment etc. As an example I have attached a photo of four labels all attached to the inflatable mattress cover which was fairly standard issued equipment from the 1960's through to the mid 1990's in Australia. The label on the left is dated 1964 and bears the 13 digit stock number, as do the 1967, 1990 and 1991 examples in the photo. There is no evidence of the '64 and '67 items being restamped or relabelled. I could also supply photos of my Army manuals bearing the 13 digit code and printed in the late 1960's, as well as many, many other items.
    As Australian forces joined U.S. forces in Vn we had to update our supply system to be compatible and I believe this was the motivator for the urgent change to the 13 digit code. The U.S. supply system also supplied Australian forces, principally with expendable stores such as POL, food and Ammo (over 90% in the case of ammo). Although Australia was not a NATO nation we were, to coin a popular phrase of the day, "All the way with LBJ" (referring to U.S. President Johnson's visit to Australia in 1966).

    Thank you for your input too Mark.

    1937 Aussie webbing - what are these packs?


  5. #15


    Found a couple of interesting sites - one forum and a dedicated Webbing site..... interesting discussion on development of packs over the last century!

    Ditch Nylon and Plastic - Availablity of Traditional-Style Packs, Haver-& Ruck-sacks [Archive] - BushcraftOz - Australian Bushcraft Forum

    webbingbabel: Start Here
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  6. #16


    Quote by Ubique View Post
    Mark, the Aussies were using NSN's by the late 1960's, probably to complement U.S. systems in Vn?
    Here is a pic of my two, both an unusual shade of green and fitted with khaki shoulder straps which have unreadable stamps.

    Attachment 994069

    I bumped into this forum accidentally whilst looking for info on some other p37 type gear but wanted to say I own the smaller bag in my possession, it has the wider strap and is 1945 dated but the bag is 1968 dated with the Hugo Fischer stamp. I can photograph if you need verification. I bought mine in mint condition and unissued, and I know several more exist since there were a handful more of them at the Salvation Army store I bought them from. I'm guessing the government was clearing a random warehouse and donated them, but that is purely speculative as I can't think of any other reason why 5 or 6 of these would show up mint in one place. I only purchased it maybe 2 years ago? I have tried to research these unusual p37 type haversack packs and have never come across photos of them in use. They are definitely Vietnam-era but I find it hard to believe they were combat-used since they are so outdated, but I am still confused as to their origin. I would love to know. With the pictures you guys have supplied, I am now satisfied that the wide 1945 shoulder strap is correct for this bag. Thankyou.

    Also on the school bags thing, the modern ones you see from stores are the cheap Indian-made ones you describe, but years ago you could buy the proper ones from Aussie Disposals as well as pouches and straps. A local Aussie Disposals in Colac was still selling webbing straps for $2 a piece as recently as 1 year ago. I think I bought the last of them. I still see unusual stuff pop up in surplus stores every now and then so more may even show up.

  7. #17


    By smaller one I meant to say I own the first one with the canvas straps. For some reason I thought the leather-strapped one was bigger.

  8. #18


    Colac disposals used to be a little gold mine for ex-army gear. I spent a quid or two there myself.
    I have heard that there is some sort of disposals stores main warehouse who release old stock to their chain every so often. I don't know how true that is but it would explain the sudden appearance of good kit from time to time. The packs probably passed through a government auction.


  9. #19


    The bright green 37 Pattern satchels were I believe new-manufactured in the 1960s for signals equipment. I showed one of mine to my dad who was a sig in an inf platoon in SVN and he didn't recognise it.

    The NSN - 8465-66-015-7551 doesn't appear in any publicly-accessible NSN catalogues, so I can't be sure exactly what the satchels were for. Incidentally, I use these and the Dutch 1970s PVC P37 large packs for storing recovery gear in my Landcruiser. The webbing satchels came from Wellington Surplus in Perth and the Dutch large packs came from Aussie Disposals.

    Incidentally I have a few Canadian-manufactured, 1943-dated skeleton Pattern 37 Water Bottle carriers which were modded to Australian "jungle" standard with belt hooks sewn on. These have later NSNs printed on them (8465-66-018-7540) and I have a pic of my dad using one with a plastic 1 quart canteen during his recruit course at Kapooka in 1968. If you've ever wondered what those strange woolen covers for the plastic canteens were for, well now you know - they used them with Pattern 37 water bottle carriers.

  10. #20


    If your Dad was carrying the Antenna Lightweight for the 77 set then the antenna was probably in a WWII era straw coloured signals satchel. Some of these were still in service after 2000!
    Good info specopsaust!


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