1937 SETS

Originally another Army set this fine pattern was chosen as the new tri-service set being standardised as such from 1941 onwards, in practice all of the newer Naval units were equipped with it first, this set found a second wind post war being reproduced in white canvas for parade webbing and later in white courlene.

The Naval Commando shown wears the 1937 revolver set, note the C.P.O. row of cuff buttons on his battledress jacket a rare but not unknown wartime practice, representing a Combined Operations Pilotage Party (COPPS) instructor the usually seen belt order webbing is worn, major roles for COPPs personnel included obtaining beach samples to ensure that a target beach was firm enough to land vehicles on and to check that a proposed site had viable inland exits, during an actual landing they had to guide landing craft to the correct part of the beach, after a test operation on Rhodes in 1941 they performed their clandestine recce roles at Sicily, Italy then Normandy and units based in Ceylon undertook missions to Burma and Malaya.

The C.P.O. below in the Dennison smock armed with an automatic pistol is from the 30th Assault unit, headed from a London office by 007 writer Commander Ian Fleming this units role in North West Europe from 1944 was to race ahead of advancing Army columns to secure enemy paperwork for intelligence analysis, no modern automatics were issued to the Royal Navy until late 1945 so Naval Commandos had to obtain theirs from other sources, notice how R.N. Commandos were forced to neglect their webbing brass work to allow it to dull.

The .38 inch Webley mark four revolver was introduced in 1932 after beginning its service life amid some controversy, after approaching the Webley and Scott firm to produce this weapon the government of the day allegedly took the basic design to the government run Royal Enfield factory who came up with the Royal Enfield number two mark one .38 revolver, Webley sued and were awarded the sum of £1250 and a production contract (which was probably going to happen anyway) both models were produced simultaneously with some 280,000 Webley mark fours made during wartime (500,000 overall) and 270,000 RE number two mark ones, both were retired in 1963, the Webley below is stamped "War Finish", a major drawback of the .38 inch ammunition was its inability to fit into the 9mm weapons that were then becoming standard.

1937 webley 381937 webley 38 open

The Canadian made Browning high powered 9mm automatic was designated pistol number two mark one and had its first issue to British forces in 1945 with elite units receiving them first, 150,000 were supplied, the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife was a most successful weapon developed by two former Shanghai policemen who brought their formidable close combat skills back to Britain for WW2 becoming unarmed combat instructors at the Achnacarry Castle Commando Basic Training Centre near Fort William in the Scottish highlands.

1937 9mm browning

Both the 1937 pattern .455 and .38 holsters came with top hooks to connect underneath an ammunition pouch, the .455 holster was larger but otherwise identical to the .38 version shown here, our Commonwealth Allies produced many variations not generally used by the Royal Navy, the standard type displayed could be worn on or below the belt.

The 9mm automatic holster was easily identifiable by its level top edge almost all revolver holsters being angled upwards, stitch holes reveal that a top hook was removed from this 1945 example.

The neat little ammunition pouch could accommodate two 12 round packets, a fabric strip went over the brace adaptor and a fabric loop fitted at the bottom accepted the top hook of a holster.

The automatic ammunition pouch held two full magazine clips stowed upright, each Browning 9mm magazine held 13 rounds.

The handsome belt featured two brass sliders which gave it a well balanced look that was excellent for parade webbing when it was Blancoed white, fabric fitment tubes went around inside its entire length.

1937 belt front1937 belt rear

The brace adaptors were a repeat of the later Mk II 1919 model but the braces now came in two sizes long and normal.

1937 brace adaptors1919 braces

This Master at Arms is in later post 1942 badges and is equipped with the 1937 pattern rifle set with what are sometimes referred to as patrol pouches for the Small Magazine Lee Enfield .303, the lower badge set on the right was the Royal Canadian Navy version.


Rarely seen on sailors before 1943 were the twin rifle pouches, each pouch could hold two 5 round stripper clips of .303 ammunition for a total of 40 rounds, the top popper was used to secure two clips and the lower popper was employed when only one clip was aboard.

SMLE .303

1937 smle

The small and simple bayonet frog completed the rifle set.

1937 bayonet frog front 1937 bayonet frog rear