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Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916

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Of all the articles of equipment associated with the 1910 Infantry Equipment, the Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916, which was fabricated by the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, is arguably, the least understood and most misidentified piece of World War I era web field equipment.


Over the years this pouch has been incorrectly referred to as a “Squad Surplus Pouch” – “Squad Leaders Pouch” – “Sergeant’s Pouch” – “General Purpose Pouch” – “Grenade Pouch” – “Medical Pouch” – “Pederson Device Pouch” – “BAR Magazine Pouch” – “Spare Parts Pouch” and “Pouch for the Springfield Rifle’s Experimental 20 Round Magazine”.


The conditions of service in Mexico in 1916, combined with the Army’s continuing effort to rid the Army of foot and shoe problems, along with the need for a convenient location in which to store the squad housewife collectively, spawned the need for the Pouch for Small Articles.


This post is a feeble attempt to explain how this misinterpreted pouch came to be and what its purpose actually was. If anyone can add additional period photographs of the Pouch for Small Articles in use or elaborate on any of the information within this post … please do so.


Links to other forum posts about the Pouch for Small Articles from which much of the data and many of the images used in this post were gathered:






Pouch for Small Articles,

Model of 1916

(Ordnance Property)


Photo No. 01: From left to right a 1918 contract dated pouch, a 1917 contract dated pouch, and 1918 dated contract pouch bearing an as yet unidentified stencil that possibly represented use by the American Red Cross, an AEF Hospital or the Medical Department.

Left hand photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Center photo courtesy of the Dustin collection

Right hand photo courtesy of 44th Avenue Collectors.com


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The advent of the Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916, was the result of several events, all of which converged in 1916. Each of these unconnected events played a small, but vital role in the Army’s decision to create a small pouch that would be prescribed for and issued to NCOs:

  1. The 1910 Haversack and Pack Carrier, as issued to dismounted soldiers in the U.S. Army, did not provide any means for a soldier to carry small articles that needed to be accessed frequently without first disassembling the pack.
  2. Regular foot inspections were made mandatory sometime between 1912 and 1914 for all foot troops. The purpose of these inspections was to reduce the number of men that fell out as a result of foot injuries caused by a lengthy march.
  3. The United States intervention into Mexico to capture the bandit leader Pancho Villa in 1916 resulted in thousands of American soldiers riding and marching hundreds, if not thousands of miles across the rugged deserts and mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. The toll that expedition took on the men’s feet, shoes and clothing drew attention to the fact that the Army needed a more robust field shoe; an alternative method in which to transport the squad housewife and a special pouch that was easily accessible in the field or on an active military campaign.

Why the Pouch Was Needed

The Army’s sudden need for a pouch in which adhesive tape, zinc oxide adhesive plasters, foot powder and other useful articles could be carried was brought about by …



Mandatory Foot Inspections

The purpose of the Army Shoe Board that was convened in 1908 and lasted until 1912 was to permanently rid the U.S. Army of its never ending foot and shoe problems once and for all. Early 20th century statistics showed that on average, anywhere from one-fourth to one-third of a command would sustain foot injuries after several days of marching. Not less than ten per cent of those injured would wind up in the hands of the regimental surgeon. During the period 1908 to 1912, the shoe board discovered that the majority of foot injuries sustained by marching troops were caused by:

  1. Shoes that did not fit the soldiers’ feet.*Injuries that were that were the result of stockings that were either too small or too large, darned stockings and stockings with holes.
  2. Blisters and abrasions that were allowed to fester through neglect or failure to seek proper medical treatment.
  3. Fungal infections brought about by the failure of the men to wash their feet, launder their stockings and dust their feet with foot powder at the end of each days march.

*Prior to adopting the findings of the 1908 Shoe Board the Army paid more attention to the shoeing of horses than it did to the fitting of the enlisted men’s shoes. In a study conducted by the 1908 Shoe Board, it was determined that approximately one out of every five soldiers, when allowed to select his own shoe size, had managed to properly fit himself with shoes of the correct size and width. Out of the 1,130 enlisted men tested, only 21.35% wore shoes that properly fit their feet. As a result of the 1908 Shoe Board the following articles were adopted by the Army. In 1909 a Shoe Size Stick was adopted and in 1912, a new pattern “marching shoe” (1912 Russet Leather Shoe) was adopted to replace the 1907 ‘Improved’ Russet Marching Shoe’.


Photo No. 02: The 1907 ‘Improved’ Russet Marching Shoe* (left) was responsible for a wide variety of minor foot injuries. As a result, this field shoe was disliked by enlisted men. Its replacement, the 1914 Russet Leather Shoe (right) was designed by the 1908 Shoe Board. After its issue Army wide in 1914 the Army’s new shoe was well liked by senior officers and enlisted men.

*The 1907 Russet Marching Shoe was a slightly shortened version of the 1904 Russet Marching Shoe. The earlier marching shoe was shortened because its stiff leather upper frequently caused blisters to form on the lower calf where the high top rubbed against the skin.


Right hand photo courtesy of the Library of Congress


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In short, the Army had learned that enlisted men could not be trusted to select their own shoe size, something which they had previously been allowed to do. The men also apparently neglected to properly care for their feet, shoes and stockings at the end of a long hike. To ensure that the enlisted men’s feet remained healthy and that their shoes and stockings remained in good working order, periodic foot inspections were introduced in Special Regulations No.28. The special order that mitigated foot injuries placed the foot inspection directly under the supervision of a company commander. The order partially read:


Company, troop, battery and detachment commanders, by frequent inspections and care throughout the year, will maintain the feet of their men in condition for proper marching. They will cause the proper trimming of nails, removal or paring of corns and callouses, relief of painful bunions, treatment of ingrown nails and other defects, sending serious cases to the surgeon.

Before a march is undertaken by foot troops, company, troop, battery and detachment commanders will personally inspect the bare feet of their men. While on the march they will personally see each day that their men wash their feet as soon as possible after reaching camp, nice guy and evacuate blisters and cover such blisters or excoriations with zinc oxide plaster, supplied by the Medical Department, applied hot. Dust the feet with a foot powder supplied by the Medical Department and put on clean socks. Hereafter, an undue amount of foot injury and disability from shoes will be regarded as evidence of inefficiency on the part of the officers concerned and as causes for investigation.


War Department Special, Regulations No. 28, date of issue unknown

Photo No. 03: From left to right, some of the articles required to properly conduct a foot inspection: 1918 dated one-quarter pound tin of foot powder, iodine swabs and a tin of commercially made zinc oxide adhesive plasters.


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Whether on campaign or in garrison, during a routine foot inspection the men’s feet were examined for cleanliness and injuries, the state of their shoes, as well as the condition of their stockings were also evaluated. When present, blisters were opened and swabbed with iodine. Abrasions were cleansed and covered with adhesive tape or an adhesive plaster. Serious injuries were referred to the regimental surgeon. Broken or damages shoes were dispatched to the company cobbler or saddler for repairs. If the shoes were beyond repair, new shoes were requisitioned from the Company Quartermaster Sergeant. Stockings were checked for size, condition and cleanliness. In almost all instances after the foot inspection concluded, the men were admonished to keep their feet clean and to wash their socks and hang them to dry before sleeping each night.


The unpleasant task of inspecting the men’s feet was made the responsibility of platoon commanders. As the senior officer of a company, troop, battery or detachment, the 1st and 2nd lieutenants were not expected to be in possession of the articles needed with which to properly conduct the foot inspection. Thus the senior NCO in charge of each squad, in addition to his regulation equipment, was further burdened with a small bottle of iodine or a packet of iodine swabs, adhesive tape and adhesive plasters to cover blisters and tins of foot powder to reduce fungal infections or decrease friction. Squad leaders also frequently carried extra soap for the men to wash their feet. At the time this order was generated squad NCOs had no pouch, bag or satchel in which the articles necessary for the foot inspection could be housed.


Photo No. 04: A company commander inspects the feet, shoes and stockings of a rifle squad in his command.


Photo courtesy of the John Adams-Graf Collection


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Other factors that contributed to the Army’s sudden need for a pouch in which a squad housewife and other useful articles included …


The Harsh Environment of Northern Mexico

The hostile geography of Chihuahua, Mexico in which the Punitive Expedition operated was such that after less than one month of scouring thousands of square miles of Pancho Villa’s backyard, the Yanquis from El Estados Unidos at the forefront of the expedition were rapidly approaching rag-order. By mid-April the far-flung cavalry regiments had outpaced their supply organization by hundreds of miles. In some instances, this fact forced the widespread cavalry troopers to live almost entirely off the land. The consequences of operating so far from the company sewing machine and cobblers tool chest was that their service dress had been transformed into a motley collection of frayed and patched Army khaki mixed with an ad-hoc collection of Mexican shoes, boots, stockings, leggings and trousers that had been picked up along the way. In spite of the supplementary Mexican made garments, the leading elements of the Punitive Expedition were still in desperate need of replacement clothing of all types.


Photo No. 05: Regulars of the 16th Infantry Regiment in ‘light marching order’ trudging through the Sonoran Desert of Chihuahua, Mexico circa 1916.


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To illustrate the worn condition of the men’s uniform, one trooper of the 11th Cavalry Regiment, who’s reinforced mounted breeches, after weeks in the saddle, had completely worn through at the seat personally wired the regiment’s home base in Arizona with this urgent plea, “Send me a pair of breeches, am getting sunburned!” Also, a 1st Sergeant riding with the 10th Cavalry Regiment noted the lengths to which his men went to mend their ripped and torn service dress and to repair their deteriorating russet leather shoes*:


Native beef and parched corn were the principle ration and for many days the men went without salt. They were in the mountains of Mexico following the trail of Mexican bandits. Men wore out their clothing and shoes and were obliged, in many instances, to use their shelter tents for patches and their stirrup hoods tied around their feet to keep from being absolutely barefoot.


1st Sergeant Vance Hunter Marchbanks, Troop C, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Punitive Expedition


*The Army’s recently adopted triple duty 1912 Russet Leather Shoe (it was prescribed for dress, garrison and field duty), failed miserably in its first fulltime role as a field shoe. Due to the nature of Northern Mexico’s abrasive rock, gravel and sand covered landscape, the russet shoes were reported to be falling apart in as little as one to three weeks. An emergency field shoe (1916 Heavy Marching Shoe), which was both hobnailed and sturdier, was rapidly devised. Issue of the replacement field shoe in Mexico began during the summer of 1916. The Army’s heavy marching shoe destined for Mexico and America’s southern border was described thusly in a May 1916 newspaper article:


Hobnailed Shoes for the Boys on the Border

The War Department has ordered 250,000 shoes of a new type for the regulars and militiamen in Mexican service, 20,000 of which have been delivered. All the troops along the border and in the interior of Mexico will be outfitted with these shoes just as soon as they reach the front. These shoes are used by the allies, though they were first used by the Turkish armies. They are hobnailed, as the photograph shows … whereas, all the shoes now used by the army are smooth. A distinguishing feature of the new shoe however, is that the leather is worn inside out, and is exceptionally soft, the shoe has no cap. The old shoes lasted barely three weeks in Mexico, their particular enemy being malpais rock, which rapidly cuts them into shreds. The old shoe weighs two pounds and three ounces, while the new model weighs three pounds and seven ounces.


The Ogden Standard (City Edition), May 1, 1916, page 09


Photo No. 06: Since the 1912 Russet Leather Shoe was designed with comfort rather than durability in mind, it received excellent marks as a dress and garrison show. As a marching or field shoe however, the lightweight russet shoe wore out much more rapidly than anticipated in Mexico (left). As a result the Quartermaster Corps ordered 250,000 pairs of hobnailed Heavy Marching Shoes to be fabricated and distributed to the troops serving in Mexico and along the Mexican border (right).


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The Squad Housewife

Prior to 1916, U.S. military manuals encouraged individual soldiers to carry out minor repairs to their service dress whenever needed during their off duty hours. This task was accomplished with the aid of the soldier’s personal Housewife* (sewing kit), which was an article of issue initially provided by the Army Subsistence Department as part of the “Recruit Kit”. Unless otherwise ordered, the soldiers’ Housewife was generally stored inside the barracks bag when not in use.


*At the time of posting I was unable to discover when the soldier’s housewife was first introduced as an article of issue or what its contents consisted of. If any member or visitor can provide that information, please do so.


In 1910, the Infantry Equipment Board put forth the idea that one large size squad housewife, as opposed to eight small size individual housewives, would provide superior service when in the field or on campaign. Unfortunately, the board members failed to mention the thought process behind that assertion. The 1910 Report of the Infantry Equipment Board suggested that the contents of several individual housewives initially be combined to create the larger squad sized housewife:


The housewife for use of the squad in the field and campaign will consist of the housewife of a member of the squad, supplemented by articles taken from the housewives from other members of the squad.


In addition to the contents of the housewife at present issued in recruit kits, it will contain three cards of thread, 8 sweater buttons, and 12 each of O.D. shirt, service breeches, underdrawer and undershirt buttons.

It is recommended that one sweater button be added to the individual housewife.


1910 Report of the Infantry Equipment Board, page 149


The Infantry Board’s recommendation regarding the squad sized housewife was adopted by the Army, presumably in 1911 or 1912. The 1912 Report of the Cavalry Equipment Board confirmed this fact when it stated:


That the housewife be issued as a squad and not personal equipment for field [use] as recommended by [the] Infantry Equipment Board.

1912 Report of the Cavalry Equipment Board, page 177


The 1912 Cavalry Report also verified that the squad housewife was henceforth to be housed in the Squad Surplus Bag that was adopted by the Army on October 17, 1911, along with the spare clothing for an eight man squad and one jointed rifle cleaning rod with case.


Photo No. 07: Until either 1911 or 1912, a soldier’s personal housewife was typically stored in his barracks bag when not in use. At left is the 1905 Barracks Bag made from white cotton duck. As indicated by the stenciled markings on this example, older pattern Barracks Bags were still in use during WW I. When the squad housewife replaced the individual housewives for field use around 1912, it was stowed in the recently adopted 1911 Squad Surplus Bag (right) along with one squad’s spare clothing, which was comprised of one pair of shoes, two pairs of stockings, one pair of extra shoelaces, and one each of: drawers, undershirt, flannel shirt, and service breeches. Surplus Kit Bags were issued: one per squad, one per sergeant and one bag was shared by each company cook and bugler.


Left hand photo courtesy of the Solcarlus collection

Right hand images courtesy of Hayes Otoupalik.com


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Thus between 1910 and 1912, the soldier’s individual Housewife had been replaced by the larger squad housewife for field duty. The squad housewife’s official place of residence was in the more spacious Squad Surplus Bag until the Pouch for Small Articles was adopted by the Army in either 1916 or 1917. When in use, the Squad Surplus Bag was stowed on a company wagon in the advance field train; which in Mexico, in1916, was almost always miles away from the troops in the field whose service dress urgently needed mending.


Because the squad housewives were stowed in a separate location far from the soldiers’ encampments, the wardrobe worn by Pershing’s tattered troopers consisted of mismatched regulation issue and Mexican garments, many of which were shabby, and covered in an array of makeshift field repairs. The un-soldierly appearance that the vanguard of the Punitive Expedition presented was another reason that compelled the Army to devise a more mobile repository in which the squad housewife could be transported into the field. The more mobile receptacle turned out to be the Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916.


One year later in World War I the regulation squad housewife’s contents, which was now carried by each squad NCO inside the Pouch for Small Articles, was comprised of the following items:

  • One pair of scissors
  • Three large needles
  • Twenty common pins
  • Eight safety pins
  • One card each of: Black, white & olive drab thread
  • One card of 24 buttons for the flannel shirt
  • Two cards of 24 buttons for drawers and undershirts

In addition to the squad housewife and iodine, adhesive tape, adhesive plasters, foot powder, soap needed for the foot inspection, other items that were commonly carried in the Pouch for Small Articles included a rifle screwdriver/takedown tool, which was issued one per squad, rifle patches, and gun or 3-In-One oil.


The Army’s sudden need for a pouch in which useful squad articles could also be carried can also be attributed to …


The 1910Haversack& Pack Carrier

The Army Infantry Board of 1910 designed a new set of infantry equipment that dispersed the entire weight of the soldier’s load over his entire body. The Board had determined that fifty pounds or approximately one-third of a soldier’s body weight was the maximum that an enlisted man should carry to avoid exhaustion.


The centerpiece of the Infantry Equipment, Model of 1910 was comprised of three components: the 1910 Haversack with shoulder straps, the 1910 Pack Carrier and the 1910 Cartridge Belt to which the shoulder straps were attached. With slight modifications over the years, this load bearing system remained in service for nearly four decades. Perhaps the primary disadvantage of the 1910 Haversack and Pack Carrier design was that, other than a few unauthorized personal articles, there was no unused space within the pack in which a soldier could place additional articles. Another major flaw of the 1910 pack system was that any small articles could not be removed from the haversack’s interior until the entire assembly had been taken apart. This particular oversight made by the 1910 Infantry Equipment Board was another factor that contributed to the need for a small articles pouch.


Photo No. 08: As these images attest, when packed with the regulation load, the 1910 Haversack and Pack Carrier left very little room for the addition of regulation or non-regulation equipment. Note that the National Guardsman on the left has failed to secure the handle of the entrenching shovel with one of the haversack’s adjustment straps and has mistakenly placed his first aid pouch on his right, front hip instead of the left, rear hip, which was the prescribed location for the pouch.


Right hand photo courtesy of the John Adams-Graf collection


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Photo No. 09: This early training diagram depicts how the official load of a haversack was to be packed inside the haversack. Clockwise from upper left, the regulation contents included the: 1910 Bacon Can (and later the 1913 & 1916 Bacon Cans), 1910 Condiment Can, one carton of hardbread, toilet articles rolled in spare underwear and three additional cartons of hardbread.


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Advent of the Pouch for Small Articles

In 1916, while the Punitive Expedition was serving in Mexico, the fact that:

  • NCO’s didn’t have a readily accessible pouch in which foot powder and other useful articles could be stored …
  • Squad housewives stowed inside the Squad Surplus Bag were largely inaccessible by the men who needed them …
  • The 1910Haversack was designed to carry nothing more than the regulation load … all became critical problems that urgently needed attention.

In the 1916 Annual Report made by the Chief Ordnance Officer of the U. S. Army to the Secretary of War, a little over three lines of text were devoted to the announcement that trials of a new article of equipment would soon commence. The new piece of web gear, which would eventually be manufactured and issued by the Ordnance Department, was printed in the aforementioned tome as the “Pouch for Sergeants”. The three lines of text were as follow:


POUCH FOR SERGEANTS. – As a result of recommendations from the service, a limited number of pouches have been manufactured and issued for test. The object of this pouch is to provide a safe and convenient receptacle for sergeants to carry adhesive tape, foot powder, the housewife, etc.”



Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30 1916, page 821


Photo No. 10: Ordnance Department photos of the front and back of a 1917 contract dated Pouch for Small Articles fabricated by Rock Island Arsenal.


Photos courtesy of the Dustin collection


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The choice of the Ordnance branch of the U.S. Army to develop a special purpose pouch to house items such as adhesive tape and foot powder, both of which fell under the domain of the Medical Department, and the squad housewife, which was an article of issue governed by the Subsistence Department, may seem unusual. But it wasn’t. The Ordnance Department was tasked with manufacturing the pouch for sergeants because, like the 1910 Bolo Knife, 1910 Pick Mattock and 1910 Entrenching Shovel, the new pouch was categorized as an article of “Squad Equipment”. All of which, along with their respective carriers were fabricated by the U. S. Army Ordnance Department.


In 1910, the Infantry Board charged with designing the 1910 Infantry Equipment determined, “that the equipment for the sergeants of a company be modified so as to relieve them from carrying an intrenching [sic] tool.” Therefore, during the Punitive Expedition in 1916, the web frog on the outside of the 1910 Haversack’s flap, from which the squad tools were suspended, remained vacant when worn by a company sergeant. That vacancy provided Ordnance Department designers with the ideal location from which to hang a Pouch for Small Articles. Hence the pouches long web strap, which allowed it to hang on the haversack’s flap just below the 1910 Meat Can Pouch. Sadly, at the time of posting, no period photographs depicting the Pouch for Small Articles residing below the meat can pouch have been found.


Photo No.11: During the WW I era, U.S. Army squad tools were made up of (from left to right) the 1910 Entrenching Shovel, 1910 Pick-Mattock, 1910 Hand Axe and the 1910 Wire Cutter, which was prescribed to be worn on the cartridge belt, but is here suspended from the web frog on the 1910 Haversack’s flap. Other squad tools which are not shown included the rifle screwdriver/take-down tool, the jointed rifle cleaning rod, and the 1910 Bolo Knife. Note that the left and right hand soldiers have the early half-moon shaped 1910 Meat Can Carrier riding above the squad tools.


Photos courtesy of the John Adams-Graf collection


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Photo No. 12: Close ups of the primary squad tools employed by the U.S. Army during the WW I era. From left to right: 1910 Bolo Knife, 1910 Entrenching Shovel, 1910 Pick-Mattock, 1910 Hand Axe and the 1916 Pouch for Small Articles minus its contents.


Left hand photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

All other photos courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com


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The Pouch for Small Articles in Service

The above text verified that the “Pouch for Sergeants”, as the Pouch for Small Articles was initially called, was devised and field tested in 1916. However, when the pouch was adopted and first issued Army-wide remains a mystery. If there was an urgent need for the Pouch for Small Articles by the Punitive Expedition during its time in Mexico, the pouches construction was such that ten or twenty thousand could easily have been manufactured and shipped to and beyond America’s southern border. To date, no photographs or documentation of the pouch being used in Mexico have been found.


Photo No. 13: The Pouch for Small Articles was 8 inches wide by 5 inches high and made from olive drab and khaki colored canvas. The large flap, emblazoned with the initials “U.S.”, was secured by two lift-the-dot fasteners and opened to reveal the interior’s one pocket pouch. The rear of the pouch featured four metal grommets whose purpose are unknown and a web strap to which was sewn a wire belt hanger. This example, fabricated by K.T. Co. has a contract date of September 1918.


Photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com.


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If not used in Mexico, the Small Articles Pouch was likely adopted/issued sometime during 1917 as pouches bearing 1917 contract dates are known to exist. However, during the years 1917 and 1918, when America was involved in the War to End All Wars, the Small Articles Pouch was made an official article of issue by the AEF. According to the AEF manual, “Equipment Manuals for Service in Europe – No.1: Infantry Regiment”, each 3,699 man Infantry Regiment was to be in possession of 453 Pouches for Small Articles (Ordnance property) and 436 Squad Housewives, which by 1918 had become the property of the Quartermaster Corps. In general, the pouches and housewives were distributed among the leader of squads and sections as directed by the company commanders.


Photo No. 14: Manufacturer and contract dates were stamped on the front of the pouch, under the strap (left) or on the reverse of the pouch underneath the web hanger (right). An inspector’s acceptance stamp also typically appeared on the back of the flap.


Left hand photo courtesy of 44th Collectors Avenue.com

Upper right photo courtesy of the New Romantic collection

Lower right photo courtesy of the Artu44 collection


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In the July 1918 “Handy Manual for the Organization of New Infantry Companies”, the Pouch for Small Articles was once again mentioned under the sub-heading, “Squad Equipment”:


1Pouch for adhesive tape and foot powder {Each corporal, each squad, one each.”


It is not known how many of the small article pouches actually saw service during the Great War as period photos of the pouch in use are exceedingly rare. There are however, a number of WW I unit marked small article pouches in private collections, and unit marked examples have also been offered for sale on various militaria dealer websites. This proves that the pouches were used by at least some AEF organizations.


Photo No. 16: Two examples of unit marked small article pouches. The stencils on the left hand pouch presumably represent the 159th Regiment, Company ‘I’ and soldier number ‘24’ on the company roster. Oddly, the regiment’s branch of service (artillery, infantry, engineer, etc.) was not indicated. The right hand pouch once belonged to a soldier bearing roster number ‘3’ from Company ‘A’, 531st Engineer Regiment.


Left hand photo courtesy of the New Romantic collection

Right hand photo courtesy of the Red Diamond 1918 collection


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Photo No. 17: A number of pouches bearing a red cross have surfaced over the years. It is not known if the red crosses were applied by and used by AEF medical personnel or if they were applied by and used by charitable organizations, or i9f they were applied post-war by commercial vendors selling the pouches for first-aid purposes. The handful of pouches stenciled with a red cross that I have examined, like the example shown in the photo, were all in used condition. Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether the pouches weathered condition was the result of wartime or post-war use. This Pouch for Small Articles was fabricated by “N.B. Co.” and features a contract date of October 1918. The maker and contract date of this pouch is shown in photo number thirteen.


Photos courtesy of 44th Collectors Avenue


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Photo No. 18: Of the two known WW I era photographs of the Pouch for Small Articles in use, this one depicts a YMCA volunteer with a pouch suspended from an unseen waist belt. Note that there appears to be no Red Cross insignia on the volunteer’s pouch.


Photo courtesy of the Teufelhund collection

Inset courtesy of 44th Collectors Avenue.com


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The precise number of small article pouches that were produced since its adoption in 1916 or 1917 is not known. However, according to contractual data found in the annual reports, Rock Island Arsenal fabricated a total of 500 “Sergeant’s Pouches” in 1916, 3,369 pouches in 1917, 16,231 in 1918 and 16,400 in 1919. Including the Rock Island Arsenal figures for 1917 and 1918, between April of 1917, and November of 1918, approximately two million of the Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916 were produced. Among the numerous wartime contracts that were simply labeled “Pouches”, only the “OMO” and “LN Gross” contracts were specifically labeled “Pouch for Small Items”. Between September 3, 1917 and December 7, 1917, those two firms produced a total of 460,000 small article pouches.


Photo No. 20: The only other wartime image of the Pouch for Small Articles in use, shows the pouch hanging beneath a 1910 First Aid Pouch which is suspended from the soldier’s rifle cartridge belt.


Inset courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com


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Photo No. 21: In this uncropped shot of the Pouch for Small Articles in use by the AEF, the AEF organization, to which these Doughboys belong, as well as the date and context are not known.


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Post War Pouch for Small Articles

It would appear that after the War to End All Wars ended a large number of the Pouch for Small Articles were sold to civilian vendors as surplus. Many of those pouches had the wire belt hangers removed and the web extension was often cut off or folded over and stitched down to create a belt loop. Other surplus examples have been professionally modified by the addition of a shoulder strap. As far as it is known, all of these non-regulation small article pouches were never an article of equipment used by either the AEF or the U.S. Army. Unless there is compelling evidence to suggest otherwise, all of the pouches that have been tampered with were modified to be sold in the civilian market place as military style first aid pouches, ammunition pouches, etc.

Photo No. 22: Three examples of post-war modified surplus small article pouches. Clockwise from upper left: the reverse of a November 1918 contract dated pouch made by “H & P’ with a cut strap that has been riveted to form a belt loop, a pouch whose hanger and web strap have been shortened, and a pouch whose web strap has been removed and replaced by a shoulder strap.


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I thought I would add the manufacturers (that I've come across) of the Pouch for Small Articles, Model of 1916 ... feel free to add others:



K.T. Co.

LN Gross

N.B. Co.



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Great post Brian


Very informative and answers many questions about this pouch.

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..

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