1880 SEA SERVICE SETS
Replacing the Adams pistols with Enfield revolvers and the Snider rifles with Martinis brought the new more comprehensive 1880 webbing sets into use for a revolver, rifle or cutlass, this was the first Naval pattern to have dark brown stained leather (from February 1881), a note to the list of changes 3969 read : "A few issues of new pattern accroutrements unstained have been made and unstained articles of old pattern will be issued to ships in commission which have unstained accroutrements generally on charge".
The 1880 revolver set is displayed here, on a cutlass belt for older ships or the pouch belt for vessels with new sets, the blue puggaree (hat band) was adopted in 1881 and the white tropical uniform in 1885.
For this pattern the 4.76 inch Enfield B.L. (breech loader) was adopted into Naval service replacing the Adams pistols which were passed on to the Coast Guard who were also given an 18 round ammo pouch which had a cork insert with 18 holes.
The 1856 pattern Adams holsters were re-worked for the Enfield by the use of a round cork insert in the barrel tube to help support its weight (although the weapon was marginally longer), these new build dark leather holsters were titled first "holster, leather, brown, sea service, for revolvers, Enfield B.L." then four months later when all of the 1880 pattern was issued "holster, leather, revolver, sea service (Mark I)".
And the 35 round Adams ammunition pouch was modified with a new cork block in its base, now for 36 rounds being redesignated the 1880 pistol set, they were joined by a new build pistol implement case for tools (a picture of which still eludes me).
The 1880 rifle set with the 1859 cutlass bayonet and the 30 round rear pouch is shown below.
In this series the 20/30 round ammo pouch combination is worn with a rear ammo bag.
The 1880 cutlass set is displayed here which introduced the dark brown leather becket which was worn around the wrist to prevent the cutlass from being dropped, this replaced the 1863 leather becket which was white.
The Martini Henry .450 inch rifle entered Royal Naval service in 1872, an eighteen inch bladed sword bayonet was added in 1879 and was referred to as a sword in all shouted commands (so "fix swords" rather than "fix bayonets").
The 1880 pattern webbing featured a sturdy three piece belt two inches wide with quick release snake clasp fastening and fixed brass brace attachment loops, like most Naval belts the side adjustment was a bit fiddly, its official title was "belt, leather, waist, brown, pouch, sea service (Mark I)".
The long braces doubled around the brass belt loops and joined to the 1 inch buckles on the braces both front and back, brass studs high on the front allowed equipment to be attached to them, they crossed at the rear with a retaining third brass stud rather than a rivet, the stud was on the lower brace with a slot in the upper brace so they could be separated again if required.
A Mk I leather kneepad was part of the rifle set.
A pair of the Mk I sea service 20 round rifle pouches were normally worn each for two ten round packets, twin belt straps secured underneath opposite to the closure tab, artist renderings for the Illustrated London News seem to indicate that the brass plates may have been removed whilst on campaigns.
The rarely seen 30 round Mk II pouch was intended to be worn at the rear, a re-work of the 1867 Snider pouch its top strap was to secure to and steady the white haversack when that item was worn on the back, as the tin inserts had been deleted three packets of the large Martini rounds were just about squeezed in, this pouch was also described as being worn on the left, with a 20 round pouch on the right.
The large and gorgeously handsome "bag, ammunition, leather, brown, sea service Mark I" was normally worn at the rear on this pattern, it had soft leather sides with firm front and rear panels which allowed it to expand or contract, a feature repeated by the later 1901 pattern ammunition pouches, it was big enough for five packets of the large Martini bullets and a pair of internal pockets also carried some rifle tools, alternatively it was used for loose ammunition replacing the unfortunately termed ball bag of the earlier pattern.
Carried inside the two pockets were from left to right : a brass oil bottle, a jag (sprung cleaning rod attachment), a protector (muzzle plug) and a snap cap (firing pin protector).
The multi-purpose Mk II frog was robust enough to carry a sword for officers, a bayonet or cutlass bayonet for the rifle set, the Mk I frog was to be issued for cutlass men until stores were used up and the earlier buckled 1856 waist belt was redesignated 1880 pattern cutlass belt.
The British Army Oliver pattern wooden water bottle was used and its long strap carrier (also known as Italian pattern) followed the Army shoulder strap layout, it was issued alongside the belt version but allocated for use by cutlass men and then from 1882 by cannon crews, in practice newspaper artist illustrations indicate it was used by most ratings, it also seems to have been much favoured by Officers.
A belt mounted variant appeared and was altogether beefier, termed a short strap water bottle carrier and intended for riflemen it was designed for a quick release of the bottle.
The Mk II white canvas haversack could be worn on the back suspended from brass studs on the braces for riflemen or worn slung crossways over the shoulder by cutlass men, a rear mounted one inch buckle below the spare button joined the 30 round pouch when it was worn on the back, an earlier Mk I version just had the shoulder strap and pre-dated the 1880 sets by a year.
In 1884 the Royal Navy adopted the British Army 1882 pattern e-tool, (i-tool in Navyspeak) a metal shovel with a wooden shaft the tee of the handle was metal covered with one side being pointed and the other end a flat pick.
The "belt, intrenching implement, leather with frog, Mk I" was based on the Army design of belt hanger, a picture shows that a shoulder strap version was also available, a distinct lack of images of either model indicates that it was rarely issued or needed.