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On WW2 White Army webbing -


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For many years I have poked around archives and talked to people to find out the story of exactly how and where MPs got their white web gear. Aside from the belt and strap made in the UK for them (and I do have authorization orders for those to MP units in London), I have never found any reference to the issue of them in any TBA or T/E, no record of any official purchase, and none that looked like that had a WW2 era manufacture mark on them.

 

 

I examined a pair of white leggings that had a perfect provenance (coming right out of the estate of a WW2 MP) and they had no markings of any kind on them. I have seen some that were painted standard web, but also talked to WW2 MPs who said they were issued white web belts, etc. that were not painted, but they had no idea how it had been obtained.

 

 

In short, they kind of appear from nowhere, there’s no paper authorization for them (which I read as meaning various level commanders had leeway in what they wanted their guys to wear), no seeming way for the gear to be ordered within the QMC system, and yet there they are in so many photos.

 

So I figured I would ask if someone has any info on this, or found something I have missed.

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Jon,

I have nothing authoritative to add, but I think this is an interesting question. I, for one, was under the impression that the MP gear was either painted or was bleached (after all if you bleach the khaki gear the dye will come out and it would eventually become white again) but was regular GI equipment. Not one of the MP veterans I spoke to through the years could remember where they got the white gear.

Tom Bowers

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And I've heard/read that US Navy white webbibg was also used. Is it also possible that web coloring (like British "Blanco") was used to make the khaki web white?

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Charlie Flick

Jon:

 

I can't directly answer the questions you posed. However, I am posting the pic below of an MP belt from 1971 which shows the nomenclature of the belt and other data. Perhaps that might allow you to "back in" to more information on the predecessor belts that may eventually help you to answer your questions.

 

Regards,

Charlie Flick

 

WhiteUSMCMPBelted.jpg

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Jon,

 

In all my years of collecting I have never found a WWII white piece of web gear, that is until recently. Out of the estate of a WWII MP comes this white pistol belt marked RMCO 1941. The belt is dirty and age stained but it is in fact a white pistol belt, not faded khaki. In one of the photos I slid back the hardware to show the true color of the belt that was not exposed to age process.

 

Rob

post-168-0-78639000-1350829641.jpg

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This white pistol lanyard is from the estate of the same MP, it is simply and oddly marked "Made in the USA" on the hardware.

post-168-0-24999100-1350830901.jpg

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What's also interesting is that it looks like steel fittings and not brass. Which seems odd for 1941 as substitute materials were not yet being used, and it probably says something about there 'not' being an actual spec for it which would allow the firm to use a cheaper material. If it were on standard Army contract I would assume that they would say same as spec #(what ever for the belt) only in white color, which should have then been brass fittings.

 

Now I wonder about trying to find some Army/Navy type catalogs from the period to see if they were made for civilian purchase- which I am pretty sure they were in terms of veteran's unit and bands and such. I know my grandfather's Legion honor guard wore white sam brown belts for ceremony.

 

It's just someplace there needs to be a piece of paper that instructs MP units on how to acquire these things. In one or two cases I can see some officer making the guys go down to the local A/N store and buying them out of their own pocket (with threats of transfer to the infantry), but not many. When you start to look at large numbers of MP photos you start to see all kinds of variations in dress and equipment depending upon unit type and time period.

 

Really the only place I see it mentioned is in a QMC report for the ETO in which is states that "after 1944 MPs had white helmets, lanyards, gloves, and leggings." but never found the actual document authorizing them or where they came from. And also odd they did not mention belts.

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Jon,

 

I can confirm that all of the fitttings on the belt are made of blackened brass.

 

Rob

I'll bet that it started life as a Khaki belt but was bleached. Khaki webbing is only khaki because it was dyed that way. Soak it in a barrel of bleach and it turns white.

Tom Bowers

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If that was the case Tom the RMCO 1941 markings would have disappeared in the bleaching process. The fact that the markings are still present & readable is proof to me that the belt was always white.

 

Rob

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If that was the case Tom the RMCO 1941 markings would have disappeared in the bleaching process. The fact that the markings are still present & readable is proof to me that the belt was always white.

 

Rob

 

 

Perhaps it was dyed? I have seen dyed items that retain their markings very clearly.

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For years I looked for original WWII era web equipment that was made in a white color, I didn't find much.

 

I was only able to locate one WWII era belt that was clearly manufactured in white. I do not recall any name or other markings, and I suspected it dated to the KW period, the hardware was brass, and the grommets spaced just barely too close together for attachment of holsters or pouches.

 

RC

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This white pistol lanyard is from the estate of the same MP, it is simply and oddly marked "Made in the USA" on the hardware.

 

 

Are the sliding keepers plastic?

 

I used to see these all the time new in the package.

 

RC

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I don't think the belt was dyed white either. If you look at the photo with the markings you will see they used cotton stitching that looks to be green in color. I learned to never say never in this hobby but wouldn't the stitching have been dyed white as well?

 

I am not sure if the keepers on the lanyard are plastic or not, they might be made of hard rubber.

 

Rob

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I actually have the specs for that lanyard someplace. It is offically "Lanyards, M.P." Tentative Specification PQD 478 11 Nov 1944. Final spec authorized in 1946. The question is, is it a pistol lanyard or a whistle one? All MP's were issued whistles, but there was actually limited issues of handguns to MP's. (per to T/O&E) . If you measure the rubber bits they should be 3/4" long. That is a different and simpler clip so I wonder if that is the 1946 version.

 

OK so not steel on the belt, drat.

 

However, I can tell you that bleaching kahki webbing WILL NOT WORK. There is too much dye in the fiber to ever get it out (I have tried) and if you kept doing it eventually the fibers start to rot away from the acidic like bleach and it'll fall to bits.

 

Also you cannot dye material white. white cotton is the absense of color, so if you put color on it, you can't overdye a lighter color. It has to be made in white to stay white.

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Interesting that the lanyard was in production for so long, I know they switched to braided nylon sometime in the VN era. I used to see buckets of them for $1 still in the wrapper. Last one I found (about a year ago) the seller wanted $5, too much for me as I have no use for them.

 

I think the nomenclature (by then) did include the word "Pistol", it was on a sheet of paper inside the wrapper.

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Okay, so I measured the keepers on the lanyard and to add to the mystery a little they measure 1/2" long each. Afetr a close examination of the hardware I am not so sure I would trust it to support the weight of a pistol, I think a whistle lanyard might make more sense.

 

Thanks for clearing up the bleach & dye theories on the belt. I am no expert when it comes to that sort of thing but the belt appears to me that it was always white.

 

Rob

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Here is the only photo I have of the belt I found, I don't know if I even have it anymore.

 

It looks like steel keepers, and it appears the end tab was also steel.

 

 

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It looks like that must have made them later than I knew of, this is pretty close to what the VN counterpart looked like, except the label had no barcode and was just a slip of paper inside the wrapper.

 

Same lanyard, different name.

"8465-00-262-5237

8P429

 

LANYARD, INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT CARRYING CORD, WHITE, CLASS 1

 

1 EACH

 

SP0100-97-F-EA53

 

[bARCODE]"

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One of the things I keep coming back to is that pre war photos of MPs in White web gear are non-existent. Garrison belts, even sam brown belts but no white pistol belts, leggings etc. None of the white gear was regulation. So why would it have been produced in 1941? I spent some time looking at AR30-3000 the price list of Clothing and equipage effective July 1 1943. This document lists the price and the Stock number of darn near everything the QMC supplied and many items not in the QM supply catalogs. NO and I repeat NO white web gear is listed. For every item where there is a color or size choice, the separate stock number is listed and for example the pistol belt is listed but no white pistol belt is listed. Leggings also, the stock numbers exist for both Khaki dismounted leggings and Olive drab leggings, but not white. So as late as July 43 no white equipment was available for issue through the QMC, or they would have had a price for it. Next question is if the later QMC price lists have listings for the white gear at all. And if they didn't then where did the gear come from?

Tom Bowers

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Well, up until the war there was no corps of MPs. There. Were reserve officers, but it was a branch of service. Men were assigned to it as a duty. So they bring it back in41 with the expansion of the army, and then we start seeing white show up- mainly when going to the UK ( think blackout). White gloves had been used by police for a long time in directing traffic.

 

But this is exactly my point- where did it come from? Was there some way of special ordering it? Which maybe, but just seems odd.

 

 

 

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Just my two cents. RMCO 1941 doesn't have yellow brass keepers, but made out of blackened copper or red brass. You can see that they are soft soldered on the back while steel keppers are always chinched. The fact they appear rusted proves the belt (originally greenish and not khaki) was chemically decolored.

 

In the pic from top RMCO1941 mint, salted RMCO1941, well used RMCO1942

post-67-0-92121000-1350974374_thumb.jpg

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