Field Gear

Haversack, M1928

The M-1928 pack (or haversack) was directly evolved from the M-1910 pack which differed in only a few details. These packs were carried by American infantry (and other arms and services) from before World War I through World War II. The M-1928 haversack straps had snap hooks for attaching to the pistol belt M-1936 or cartridge belt M-1923. Eyelets on the side of the pack are provided to attach the Springfield bayonet or Garand bayonet. A canvas tab with eyelets at the top of the pack is for attaching the cover for the M-1910 intrenching tool cover.

The Pouch, Meat Can, M-1910/1928 (canvas mess kit pouch) had four loops on the back that passed through buttonholes on the flap of the haversack, held in place with long straps underneath. It had three internal pockets for knife, fork, and spoon.

The Carrier, Pack, M-1928 was a triangular attachment to the haversack (called the "diaper") designed for additional gear such as shelter half or blanket. The top flap was usually stamped "US" and the manufacturer and date were stamped on the surface against the back.


Helmet, M1

A steel helmet is designed to protect the user from flying fragments of exploded ordnance. By extending further down the sides and back of the wearer's head and neck, the M-1 was a big improvement over the M1917 WW I style helmet. The M1917 model was considered suitable for protecting the top of the head. By removing its brim, by adding side pieces and earpiece, and by incorporating the suspension system into a separate inner liner, the World War II "Army helmet" came into being. The original test item was known as the TS3, and it received a favorable report from the Infantry Board in February 1941.Each M-1 helmet shell was stamped from a single sheet of manganese steel. The helmet has a chin strap "bail" or "bale" -- a rectangular wire loop -- on each side attached with either a hinge or welded directly to the helmet. A second component was the M-1941 helmet liner, a removable inner helmet constructed of resin-impregnated cotton canvas. The liner had an internal, adjustable suspension system and its own leather chin strap so it could be worn without the steel shell for duty that did not involve combat or combat training.




Cartridge Belt, M1923

The Model 1923 cartridge belt was adopted when stocks of the M-1910 belt were exhausted after World War I, designed as part of the infantryman's load carrying system, anchoring the M-1910 haversack and later the M-1928 infantry pack. It provided ten pockets for clips of .30-caliber ammunition for the M-1903 Springfield, M-1917 Enfield, and later M1 Garand rifle. The M-1903 and M-1917 rifles using 5 round stripper clips (two per pocket, total of 100 rounds) while the M1 Garand used a single eight shot clip per pocket (total 80 rounds).



Pistol Belt, M1936

The M-1936 Pistol Belt was a slight modification of the M-1912 with a more secure buckle. This basic belt is still in use, although changed to nylon material in the Vietnam War era. "US" was marked on the outside of belt, manufacturer and date on inside.
The pistol belt was intended for soldiers who were not riflemen such as officers or crews of tanks or other equipment. On left side, between first two sets of grommets, was a large snap fastener. This mated with snap on the .45 cal automatic pistol magazine pouch (Pocket, Magazine, Web, M-1923 or M-1918) which slipped over the pistol belt with a loop of webbing on the back. For garrison duty, a pistol holster (Holster, .45 Automatic, M-1916 attached with hook fastener, made of tan/brown leather) and the web magazine pouch for two magazines might be all that was attached to the belt. In the field, at least a canteen and a first aid pouch were added. Many other items were optionally attached to the pistol belt.



General Purpose (GP) Bag

This General Purpose (GP) bag was also known as a "Grenade Bag". Most soldiers used it to hold just about anything.


Gas Mask Bag, M6

The M3 and M4 series of Lightweight Service Gas Masks required a new carrier bag due to the shorter hose length. The M6 bag was used for both the M3 and M4 masks (and others) to hold the mask itself, the canister, plus accessory items such as anti-dimming sets (to prevent fogging of the eye lenses), covers and protective ointment. The bag has interior pockets for accessories and is stenciled with "Army Lightweight Service Mask" on the exterior front, near the bottom. The M6 bag has a top closure that is secured with three LTD fasteners. Like other WW II webbing and bags, the bag color was OD #3 early in the war but changed to the darker OD #7 shade in 1943.


Canteen, Cup and Cover

The web canteen cover held the canteen and canteen cup for most World War II soldiers. The design originated in 1910 is still basically in use today, although many details have changed. Dismounted covers attached directly to the belt with the wire hooks, while Mounted covers attached to a T-strap that hung from saddle gear. A T-hanger was available that converts a regular canteen cover to a cavalry model, with a snap hook and 2 hole tab.



First Aid Pouch and Kit
One of the most common items of web gear is the Pouch, First Aid Packet (see photo at top) in M-1910, M-1924, or M-1942 designs, all very similar. The early pouch was smaller and had two snaps, later changed to a larger pouch with single LTD closure, all designed to hold the Bandage, Carlisle, 1 each. The Carlisle Dressing was originally packed in an OD metal box but can be found in red boxes. Later, the box was replaced by paper packaging. Designated 'First Aid Packet US Gov't Carlisle Model' this bandage was impregnated with sulfa and was large enough to handle almost any wound. All soldiers carried one.

The M-1942 pouch continued in use for many years, and was redesignated as either "Pouch, First Aid" or "Pouch, Lensatic Compass" being a size suitable for either use. It was finally replaced by the now common LC-1 pouch.



Meat Can and Utensils

The M-1932 Meat Can is the style that was in use during World War II. It was based on the aluminum mess kit that was in use before World War I, consisting of a pan with a hinged handle plus a lid that fits over the pan and is held together as one unit when the pan handle is folded over. A ring attached to the edge of lid, off center, can be slipped over the pan handle so the two can be dipped in boiling water together. The unit when folded is about 9 inches long and 7 inches wide.
The older style mess kits had the flat lid that could also be used as a plate. The M-1932 unit had the plate divided into two sections so food could be separated. The folding handle, when closed, fits into the groove formed by the divider. The ring on the plate was moved to the end of the groove so the lip of the handle fits right into it. The M-1932 Meat Can was made of "corrosion resistent" galvanized steel, not aluminum. It used the same WW I style narrow profile steel handle attached by a cast hinge.
The M-1942 Meat Can body was the same design as the M-1932, but made of stainless steel. The M-1942 handle was thicker and wider, made of the same material as the body, and attached by a stamped part, not the cast hinge. The M-1942 style remained in use long after World War II, through the Vietnam War.
The Meat Cans are almost universally marked US on the folding handle, along with the date and manufacturer. When the plate/lid was put on top of the pan and the handle foled over and snapped in place, the Meat Can became a unit that was stable and quiet. It was normally stored in the Meat Can Pouch of the M-1928 Haversack (most of World War II), or inside the Musette Bag, Combat Pack, or Rucksack.
The M-1926 pattern Spoon, Fork, and Knife are individual utensils that were issed to soldiers from prior to World War II into the 1980s. The M-1926 utensils were virtually identical to earlier versions except that each had as slot in its handle so they could be slipped over the mess kit pan handle, along with the plate by its ring, for cleaning in boiling water.
The utensils were stamped from tin plated steel or rust resistant steel. There are variations, especially in the knife handle. During World War II the knives had bakelite or aluminum handle, thicker than the stainless version. Later contracts returned to stamped stainless steel, a simpler design.
All the utensils were stamped "US" on the handle front. The contractor name may appear but often there is no date, even on knives which are most frequently dated.
The utensils were stored with the mess kit, but it was important to keep noise down so the could not just be thrown in the pan. Some rucksacks or packs had slots for the utensils sewn in so each item could be slipped into its own noiseless fabric slot. Another idea was to wrap the fork, knife and spoon in a sock.

M-1910 Entrenching Tool and Cover
Most soldiers have carried an entrenching tool since before the 20th century. Entrenching Tools have usually been in the form of a shovel or a pick mattock that can be used to dig a foxhole, slit trench, or enable other common field tasks. In a crunch, the Entrenching tool also becomes a hand to hand weapon, quite effective when used forcefully. It is also called the  "E-tool". The entrenching tools in use at the time the U.S. entered World War II underwent rapid development through the war years and thereafter as experience and new materials enabled much better tools to be produced. Each soldier had one Entrenching Tool, M-1910, a shovel with wood handle shaft that ended in a T, and a metal shovel blade. The Haversack, M-1928 has a canvas tab with eyelets near the top, under the meat can pouch, for attaching an Entrenching tool cover M-1910. Several soldiers in each squad would be issued the Pick Mattock, and a web carrier that hooked to the pack or pistol/utility belt. The double-bladed pick had a heavy metal head, with a short wooden handle that slipped out of the head when stored. The Axe, Hand, M-1910 was also issued selectively, with its cover/carrier. Before World War II the canvas covers were all khaki in color, stamped "US".


M-1943 Entrenching Tool (Folding)

The M-1943 Intrenching Tool was a combination shovel, hoe and pick ax, with a wooden handle and folding blade. It could be easily carried, assembled, and required almost no instructions for use. These were issued starting in 1943, but the M-1910 continued in use through the end of the war.
The M-1943 had a one piece handle that was permanently attached to the blade via an adjustable hinge. Using a large nut to loosen or tighten the connection, the hinge could be freed so the shovel and handle could be set up in a line (use as a shovel), at a right angle (use as a hoe), or folded over (to store in its cover). The khaki or later olive drab canvas M-1943 cover had a foldover flap with snap closure and a hook on the back for attachment to a utility belt or pack.
The M-1943 shovel went through a series of improvements without changing the basic design. The biggest change was the M-1951 version that added a pick, hinged and attached to the same pivot as the shovel so it too could be folded out or laid flat for storage (photo, left). The M-1943 cover would fit the M-1951 intrenching tool.