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Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

Article about: The Union of South Africa received a great deal of webbing from both Great Britain and Canada during the Second World War. As the war progressed, the Union began its own domestic webbing pro

  1. #1
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    Default Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Union of South Africa received a great deal of webbing from both Great Britain and Canada during the Second World War. As the war progressed, the Union began its own domestic webbing production to bolster these stocks. The two main South African producers of webbing were D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD. (Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited) and S.A.P.A.W. (South African Proofing and Weaving Company (Pty) Ltd). Both of these firms were located in Johannesburg, but they both employed radically different methods of construction for the various components of the Pattern 1937 web equipment set. South African manufactured webbing is distinctive in that the fabric has a particularly yellowish hue and is commonly laminated, incorporating a bonding agent which discolours over time. Hence much unissued material appears rust-stained. Additionally, the fittings on South African webbing are made of a flimsy alloy, occasionally painted gold, that corrodes readily. Given its limited production and cheap construction, South African webbing is the scarcest of Pattern 1937 variants on today’s collectors’ market.

    South African-made Pattern 1937 Webbing Equipment set.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The set without the 1908 Large Pack. Note that the back buckles on the belt are South African-made, but not original to the belt.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    An inside view of the set.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Waistbelt is of South African manufacture, but lacks markings. Note the thin layer of webbing stitched along the inside of the belt (similar to the British economy pattern) as well as the alloy fittings. It is unclear if this belt was made by D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD. or S.A.P.A.W.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The buckle is also made of alloy. Note the corrosion.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The South African Braces were made by South African Proofing and Weaving Company (Pty) Ltd and are distinctive for the 1" strap that runs the entire length of the 2" shoulder section (possibly to add reinforcement to the inferior webbing). Note the partial Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The right brace is marked “S.A.P.A.W. ~ JHB. 1943”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The left brace is marked “S.A.P.A.W. ~ JHB. 1943”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The basic pouches were made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited and are distinctive for their 1” closure straps with alloy tips. Note the difference in the finish of the of the alloy fittings, with the pouch on the RH side in this picture having gold-painted parts (to possibly mimic the brass found on British and Canadian webbing).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Left basic pouch.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A close-up of the basic pouch 4-bar Mills patent buckle, again painted gold.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Left basic pouch is marked “D.I.F. & CO. LTD”. Note the Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The snaps on South African webbing initially used flimsy press snaps, but these were replaced later on with imported Canadian-made Carr snaps. Although items made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited are frequently undated, the snaps give a rough idea of the age. United Carr of Canada switched from a ‘pebbled’ texture to a smooth texture in 1942. If the snap is pebbled, the item roughly dates from 1940-1942 and if it is smooth it was more likely made from 1942-1945. The inside of this snap is marked “UNITED-CARR ~ CANADA”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The reverse of the basic pouch shows roughly-made belt hooks set very close together as well as the attachment of the 4-bar buckle and fairlead constructed of multiple pieces of thin webbing held together with multiple layers of stitching.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Right basic pouch. Note the smooth stamp, placing the production date at 1942 or later.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The right basic pouch is marked “D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD.”. Note the Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A New Zealand-made Cobalt Blue Mk VII Waterbottle in South African-made Waterbottle Carrier. As New Zealand and South Africa were both members of the Eastern Group Supply Council (EGSC), it is not unreasonable for a New Zealand bottle to have made it into the Union.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A top view of the Waterbottle shows the 9-inch Stopper Cord tied to a wire loop attached to back of the spout. The stopper is made of wood, a common feature on New Zealand-made bottles. Also note the smooth Canadian Carr snap on the Waterbottle Carrier, placing production between 1942-1945.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A view of the bottom of the Waterbottle shows the distinctive drawstring closure on New Zealand-made Waterbottle Covers as well as the paper production label. The label reads “MANUFACTURED BY ~ THE NATIONAL (NEECO) ELECTRICAL ~ AND ENGINEERING COMPANY LIMITED ~ WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Carrier is marked “D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD.”. Note the Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    South African Small Pack made by South African Proofing and Weaving Company (Pty) Ltd. Note the wide separation of the closure straps, similar in style to Canadian-made packs.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Small Pack is marked “S.A.P.A.W. ~ JHB. 1942”. Note the South African inspection stamp consisting of an ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’) adjacent to an inspector number ‘2’.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A view of the inside of the Small Pack shows the internal cloth dividers for the Waterbottle and Mess Tins.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    An Australian-made ‘Bayonet, Number 1 Mark 1’, alongside a South African-made No. 1 Mk II Bayonet Scabbard and webbing Frog. Note that this bayonet has been chromed for parade use.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Bayonet Ricasso marked with a bending proof ‘X’ mark as well as ‘MA’ denoting that the bayonet was manufactured at Lithgow Small Arms Factory in Lithgow, New South Wales.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Bayonet Ricasso marked with an Australian manufacture mark in the form of “MA ~ 1907 ~ I” acknowledging the pattern as well as the manufacture date of 1942.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The pommel is marked with a Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’). South Africa received a large supply of Australian-made 1907 Bayonets during the war.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The South African-made No. 1 Mk II Bayonet Scabbard was made by South African Railways, possibly at their Salt River Railway Workshop near Cape Town. Note also the South African inspection stamp consisting of an ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’) adjacent to an inspector number of ‘49’.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Scabbard is also marked 'W' for 'Waxed', referring to the finish on the leather.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The frog was made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited and is constructed of multiple pieces of thin webbing held together with multiple layers of stitching. It also features a buttonhole in the upper loop to accommodate a spike bayonet (most likely a later addition).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Frog is marked “D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD.”. Note the Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    South African-made Pattern 1908 Large Pack and Support Straps; note how the closure straps on the pack flap do not line up with the buckles.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    The Large Pack is marked “S.A.P.A.W. ~ JHB. 1944”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Note the Union of South Africa ownership mark (A Broad Arrow inside the letter ‘U’).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A close-up of the weather flap with its brass eyelet.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Shoulder straps made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited and again constructed of multiple pieces of thin webbing held together with multiple layers of stitching.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    These Shoulder Straps are marked “D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD.”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A close-up of the shoulder strap hooks. Note the alloy construction.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    A close-up of the shoulder strap fittings and running 2-inch Twigg buckles, all made of alloy.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Support straps made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited and once again constructed of multiple pieces of thin webbing held together with multiple layers of stitching.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    These Support Straps are marked “D. I. FRAM & CO. LTD.”.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Both straps have ownership marks. Note the faint trace of gold paint on the alloy fitting as well as the distinctive rivets, common on webbing made by Daniel Isaac Fram & Company, Limited.

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

    Thank you for taking the time to read this thread! You now know as much as I do about South African webbing and you should be able to identify it if you come across any in the future (as it will likely be mislabeled).

    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

  2. #2
    CBH
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    Another great informative thread , thanks for posting .

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    "... Given its limited production and cheap construction, South African webbing is the scarcest of Pattern 1937 variants on today’s collectors’ market."

    Of course, leave it to Karkee to have a full set of it! Great stuff!

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys...and the best part is that I didn't get tetanus from to sharply cut and corroded fittings while assembling/disassembling the set! Lol

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    Absolutely outstanding thread Mate! I've been there four times and could only pull out a ZA greatcoat and a couple ZA helmets!
    Regards
    René

  6. #6
    AIF
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    Another great set up display! I have seen the odd piece of SA Patt 37 here and there over the years but I have never seen a complete set before.

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    Another great post. Just a few additions. This is my DI Fram small pack, mine differs in having khaki drill binding on the edges to prevent fraying:
    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in PicturesUnion of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in PicturesUnion of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures
    And this is a variant of the shoulder brace, far cruder even than Karkee's example, but clealry SA in origin due to the stitching to reinforce the layers of webbing:
    Union of South Africa Pattern 1937 Webbing Set in Pictures

  8. #8

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    Very interesting read!

    Do all SA braces have the extra strip of cloth sewn to then? A friend and I each have a pair and all have the strip, like the ones on your set?

  9. #9
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    Great pack Warspite! In addition to the cloth binding, your DI Fram pack differs from my SAPAW pack (and every other make of small pack in the Empire) by having 1" closure straps, instead of the standard 3/4" inch straps.

    Your brace was almost certainly made by DI Fram as well, given the construction (similar to the shoulder straps in my set).

  10. #10
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    Quote by earlymb View Post
    Very interesting read!

    Do all SA braces have the extra strip of cloth sewn to then? A friend and I each have a pair and all have the strip, like the ones on your set?
    As far as I know, all wartime braces made in South Africa seem to be of this design. With that said, I don't know if the style was used in later postwar patterns. If your straps have alloy fittings, I would suspect that they are South African and wartime production.

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