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Accoutrements for Volunteers and Territorials


The Volunteer movement was first initiated in 1859. The War Office supplied weapons, but everything else, including accoutrements and uniforms was funded by the Volunteer unit itself. For the most part, the former were minimal – essentially just a Belt, an Ammunition pouch and a Bayonet frog – i.e. a stripped-down order of K.E. (Knapsack Equipment). These were either procured commercially, or by purchasing surplus War Office stocks. The Regular Army then progressed from K.E. through three patterns of V.E. (Valise Equipment). This should have meant there were surpluses available to them, but what is more evident in photographs are hybrid patterns, using features mostly from V.E., O.P. (Old Pattern – erroneously termed “Patt. 71” by most writers) and V.E. Patt. ’82. Several distinct patterns emerged, manufactured by commercial concerns, such as the Victorian designs of Firmin-Jones (Simplex) Equipment which is seen below left.










Another was the Lintott Frame Equipment, dating from 1890, seen here (above right) on members of the London Rifle Brigade. This was a rather more imaginative solution, reminiscent of 2WW German Assault Frames, or Gurtbandtragegerust   Both patterns appear in photos of early 20th C Territorial soldiers.

At the end of the Boer War, the Army authorities set up numerous committees, each charged with examining the deficiencies that the war had revealed. One result was the over-hasty abandonment of Pattern 1888 Valise Equipment, in favour of Pattern 1903 Bandolier Equipment – seemingly without even the formality of a trials process. In 1908, the Volunteer Force battalions were turned into the Territorial Force, numbered-on from the Line and Militia battalions. Many were still wearing old V.E. designs, in both buff and brown leather.

The Volunteers were only liable for service within mainland U.K. – significantly excluding the whole of Ireland. The Boer War saw many Volunteers electing to serve in South Africa and, on the back of this, members of the Territorial Force could volunteer for overseas service, if required, and wore a white metal breast badge of a crowned tablet, which was inscribed IMPERIAL SERVICE. For this to be viable, improved accoutrements would be necessary and a Marketing Opportunity was thus presented to commercial suppliers.
(Photo from The Long, Long Trail)

As originally introduced, Pn. ’03 B.E. catered for 50 rounds carried in detachable Belt pockets, with a further 50 rounds in a Bandolier. The belt element comprised a pair of 15 round Cartridge pockets, one each side of the belt buckle, with a further 10 round Cartridge pocket worn alongside each larger pouch, nearest the belt buckle. At some point, quite early on, the 10 round Pockets were abandoned, being replaced by a second pair of 15 round Pockets, thereby increasing the total rounds carried to 110. Scales of accoutrements were set out in Table 2 of the Regulations for the Equipment of the Army Part X Section Y Territorial Force and the 1914 edition listed “…Bandoliers, or pouches, ammunition *…” the asterisk being footnoted as “To carry not less than 100 rounds per man”. The use of “or”, rather than “and” is interesting. If it referred to B.E., it should be “and”, but this perhaps allowed for Mills’ webbing 100 round double loop cartridge belt being used as a Bandolier, or a leather Bandolier of lesser capacity, with a single Pouch.

Patt. ’08 W.E. had capacity for 150 rounds, in 10 separate pockets, ganged into two, handed Cartridge carriers. Some T.F. units had procured Patt. ’ 03 B.E. from commercial sources and the possibilities of modifying B.E. to emulate the “look” and - to an extent - the capacity of the Regulars’ accoutrements, seems to have become obvious, most probably to the commercial suppliers. It was also desirable to obviate half the capacity being in a Bandolier, which bore down uncomfortably on the wearer’s chest.

Rog Dennis July 2014