SAM BROWNE SETS (non issued)

The Sam Browne set was originally designed to securely carry a sword into action and was first adopted by the British Army in 1900 with holsters being a later addition, its front line career lasted until 1943 when it finally became a dress uniform item for ceremonials only, this set had become standard issue to Army officers during WW1 but its only Naval use was restricted to both the Royal Naval Division and the Royal Naval Air Service and as none of these sets were issued to the Navy they must have been privately obtained in an age when virtually every commissioned officer wore a tailor made uniform, by 1915 swords were very rarely worn into action.

The Royal Naval Division was formed in 1914 when First Sea Lord W.S. Churchill persuaded the Admiralty to use spare reservists (including 2,000 ex-stokers) who had been recalled to the colours on the outbreak of war to boost a Royal Marine Advanced Base Force that was intended to seize and fortify crucial ports, joined by new recruits three brigades were formed:

1st BRIGADE 2nd BRIGADE 3rd BRIGADE (all Royal Marine light infantry)
1st Battalion "DRAKE" 5th Battalion "NELSON" 9th Battalion "PORTSMOUTH"
2nd Battalion "HAWKE" 6th Battalion "HOWE" 10th Battalion "PLYMOUTH"
3rd Battalion "BENBOW" 7th Battalion "HOOD" 11th Battalion "CHATHAM"
4th Battalion "COLLINGWOOD" 8th Battalion "ANSON" 12th Battalion "DEAL"

By 1915 khaki Army uniforms with Naval insignia were being worn with caps (khaki) after the Dardanelles campaign control passed to the Army so in 1916 the R.N.D. was reorganized as part of the B.E.F. becoming the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division on the western front.

By late 1917 the 63rd (R.N.) Division looked like this:

1st Royal Marine Battalion "HOOD" Battalion 4th Bedfords
2nd Royal Marine Battalion "DRAKE" Battalion 7th Royal Fusiliers
"ANSON" Battalion "HAWKE" Battalion 18th Artists Rifles

63rd (R.N.) Divisional Engineers - 63rd (R.N.) Divisional Artillery - 63rd (R.N.) Machine Gun Battalion

14th Worcester Battalion (support)

The double Sam Browne set with a short .455 Webley revolver is worn in this series, representing a R.N.D. officer the Army khaki drill uniform is worn with a khaki drill Woseley pith helmet (officers in the rest of the Navy were normally issued with white Wolseleys) with a Naval puggaree (hat band).

The Royal Naval Air Service was formed on July 1st 1914 to provide maritime reconnaissance for the fleets with 93 aircraft and 6 airships on its muster book, by 1917 there were 17 fighter/scout squadrons on the western front assisting the Royal Flying Corps and protecting channel supply ports, units at home were covering Naval bases and became involved in the defence of London against the Zeppelin raids as the R.F.C. and the Army were officially out ! on April fools day 1918 when the R.N.A.S. and the R.F.C. merged to become the R.A.F. the Naval wing was operating 2,900 plus aircraft and over 100 anti-submarine airships.

Yes it is a BE2 with its wings removed, note the hot air pipe from engine to bag, max speed was 50 mph.

The Royal Naval Air Service also had a swashbuckling armoured car section which began in 1914 when Commander Charles Rumney Samson had three of his officers' privately owned cars locally fitted out with machine guns and ex pre-dreadnought 6mm boiler plate armour at his aerodrome near Dunkirk, official Admiralty pattern Rolls-Royces and Talbots soon followed with a R.N.A.S. armoured car division forming at Sheerness sending its first four squadrons to France in October 1914, from 1915 as static trench warfare developed most units were transferred out to the middle east, a collar badge set is seen below with an armoured support lorry beneath.

The R.N.A.S. Flight Sub-Lieutenant wears the single Sam Browne set with a .455 re-chambered Colt Automatic, the darkened metal cap badge below was for use on khaki uniforms, the brass sleeve eagle badges first seen in 1914 on most R.N.A.S. officers were after 1916 used to denote flying officer pilots only.

Seen in this series is the long Mk 6 Webley in a strap holster originally made for earlier model long barreled Webleys, as can be seen the anchor cap badge was normally retained by officers who had obtained their Naval commissions prior to transferring to aerial duties.

The Flt.Sub-Ltn. in this sequence is a direct entry officer who obtained a commission after joining the R.N.A.S. so wears the eagle style cap badge and has a .455 Webley Auto in a standard Naval issue holster with a magazine clip ammunition pouch.

This holster was developed for the American designed Colt M1911 to go onto the British Army Sam Browne sets, the brass rings allow it to be worn slung freely from a brace as an alternative to being worn on the belt, a slightly larger near identical looking version was also available to purchase for the Webley Auto.

Private purchase right handed strapped holsters for the earlier short Webley revolvers were also offered for sale.

This long holster has no visible maker or date stamps but I have seen a 1912 example so pre-dates the long Mk 6 Webley of 1915, it was originally privately made for the Webley-Pryse of 1877 or the Webley Greener of 1885 both of which were manufactured  until 1900, the commonly seen flap strap repositioning modification allowed the Mk 6 to be carried.

A variety of twin or triple magazine clip ammunition pouches were available for both the re-chambered Colt M1911s or the .455 Webley Autos.

The sturdy belt has a small central stud to secure the end which prevents it from flapping around whilst on the run, the top brass rings secure to the braces whilst the lower ones allow a variety of equipment to be carried, this universally popular set has only modest amounts of brass work to polish.

A simple separate brass ring adaptor has to be slid onto the front of the belt to convert the single Sam Browne set into a double.

The adjustable brace turns over the belt brass ring and returns to its stud to fasten to the rear and buckles to the brace connector at the front.

The brace connector also had its own simple stud fitting.