Non-Patterned Equipment: Introduction

It's simple, really.

If it's khaki, it's Pattern '37.

If it's green, it's Pattern '44.

What more do you need to know?

Sadly, it sometimes seems that some people seem to think that really is all there is to it. As anyone who has perused the pages of that well-known internet auction site has seen, "Pattern 1937" dog leads (our favorite), "Pattern 1944" nail clippers, and other improbably wild and wonderful items are proudly displayed and offered for sale as Patterned Equipment every day. And that's not to mention things that seem like they should be part of a pattern but just aren't, like "Patt. '03" Pistol cases and "Patt. '08" Rifle slings. From our beginning, one of Karkee Web's goals has been to bring order out of chaos by providing the best information we can, presented as simply and clearly as we know how.

It's now been a full year since we here at Karkee Web started this effort, and quite honestly none of us had any idea it would work out as it has. We've not computer programmers or website developers, we are collectors, students, scholars and enthusiasts. We've felt our way along, changing our plans and designs as we discovered their limitations, so that KW has grown and changed hugely since its inception.

What you are seeing here is perhaps our biggest change yet. The problem we are tackling is a major one. For every Pattern of Equipment, there are items that are officially part of the pattern, and more (sometimes many more) items that are associated with it by collectors, but which aren't actually patterned equipment. The perfect example of this is Pattern 1937. If you added up all of the different "Patt. '37" bits shown in books and websites, you'd think that there must be at least seven squidgibillion different pieces in the pattern. On the other hand, please take a few minutes and examine the spreadsheet shown here. You will see that, at most, there are only 40 items that were ever part of this most popular of all British Equipment Patterns, and that Patt. '37 never included more than 33 items at any one time.

Until now, Karkee Web has handled the mass of non-patterned, "associate" webbing and equipment by adding "Associated Equipment" pages to the various pattern sections. Up to a point, this has worked, because it gives the reader a good chance to locate an item in or near the pattern section where he or she expects to find it. The limitation we are running up against, though, is there is simply so much non-patterned equipment, and much of it could logically be associated with not just one but two or more patterns. So where to list it?

What we've decided to do is to break with the past, and establish an entirely new section dedicated to Non-Patterned Equipment. We're starting incrementally, with Rifle and Light Machine Gun Slings. To do this we've moved Rifle Slings from W.E. Pattern 1908 Associated Equipment to Non-Patterned Equipment. Over the next weeks we will do the same with the rest of the "Patt. '08 Associated Equipment", as well as the "Associated Equipment" sections for all of the other patterns. This will allow us a much broader scope, so that we can finally include all of those ration carriers, medical bags, and all of those other bits-n-bobs you've been telling us we've left out of Patt. '37.

Not to worry, though. We recognise that there is already a navigation issue on the site. It's quite easy to find something if you already know what it is, and have some idea of the general history and organisation of British equipment patterns. KW is not so easy to use, though, if you are trying to identify a piece of mystery webbing and you haven't a clue what it is or where it belongs. We are exploring ways to solve that problem (and looking to you for ideas on how to solve it, too!), but in the meantime we are going to keep the "Associated Equipment" entries in the pattern indices, and just change the links to point to the new page locations.

We really think that this will make the site better and, we hope, more useful.

John Thorne, Rog Dennis, and the Karkee Web Research Team
23rd December 2009