Bren packsaddlery

Tom Ready
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Hi all

I am engaged in some research relating to the pack saddlery used with the Bren and Vickers-Berthier light machine guns and would like to ask if anyone has any information, especially images relating to it.

So far I have dug out the List of Changes references to it, the 1940 VAOS Section D1 Harness, saddlery and pack saddlery (which I have scanned)and the pages of a post war VAOS document that illustrate the infantry version. While at the Pattern Room Library I was lucky enough to find the photographs the drawings were taken from and another showing the magazine carriers in detail. I have also seen a couple of pictures from the Australian War Memorial archives that show a Bren bucket in use with the Light Horse but don't know if this is the same as the UK version.

I have the early WWII Bren SATs that cover, but unfortunately do not illustrate, the equipment and the relevant pages from the late war Indian LMG (Bren) SAT which show a entirely different set up but believe a earlier version (not the 1938, I have that, possibly the 1942?) of the Indian LMG SAT (V-B) may have photos and a better description of the LMG saddlery.

I have managed to pick up copies of the Handbook for Military Artificers 1915 (1918 printing which I will scan when I have time) and the the 1937 Manual of Horsemanship etc so know a little bit about pack saddlery but not much so please excuse my ignorance of things equestrian.

As to actual parts I have aquired a couple of the accesories cases and both the gun cover as listed in the LoCs and the simpler, earlier version which is shown in the drawing/photograph (incidently the photo clearly shows the gun to be a Czech made ZGB and not a Bren). One friend has one of the infantry ammunition cases while another has one of the smaller cavalry magazine case, although that may actually be for the Vickers- Berthier, since we don't have a image of the Bren one to compare it to. The same chap has the magzine wallets which fit onto the front of the UP saddle.

I would particularly like to see images of the cavalry specific parts, the pannels, gun bucket and barrel case as well as the magazine cases and related straps.

Any information would be gratefully recieved and if anyone has parts to sell or trade <i><b>please</b></i> get in touch.

All the best

Tom
tombear@btopenworld.com

By the way the Wife has started collecting pack saddlery and is slowly building up a Mk III PA ammunition saddle and, to humour me, a set of Mk V PGS.


Sam Cox
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try the asutralian war memorial archives
search WW2 using 10th Light Horse as your search,you will find some photos of Bren Guns
regards
sam

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David Hamilton
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Hello Tom,

Please post here if you have any luck - certainly would be an interesting subject given the Bren turning up as the horses were being phased out.

I believe the photo you mention was just a "one off" probably as an exercise for the saddlemakers.

For those wanting a look, click here and enter the number 052801.

- Dave.
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I know where there is hotckiss bucket for sale in Australia
Regards
Sam

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David Hamilton
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Tom can you email me again? My hard rive fell over yesterday and unfortunately I have lost all my data!

- Dave.
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Originally posted by David
Hello Tom,

Please post here if you have any luck - certainly would be an interesting subject given the Bren turning up as the horses were being phased out.

I believe the photo you mention was just a "one off" probably as an exercise for the saddlemakers.

For those wanting a look, click here and enter the number 052801.

- Dave.
I wonder if the Bren made it to any still mounted units? Does anyone know?

I mention this as the BAR, which is a robust weapon, actually didn't work out very well for US mounted troops. It was introduced, then replaced (along with the MG) with another variant of the same weapon, and then withdrawn. It didn't take to being packed well, and with it's long exposed barrel and gas system, I can see why that would be true.

It'd strike me as being equally true for the Bren, but I don't know that.

How were late period British cavalrymen armed, in terms of mgs, etc?

Pat
Tom Ready
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I’ve yet to find a photograph of the Bren saddlery actually being used by British troops. I know that the 2 regular units that went to the 1st Cavalry Division as well as losing their vehicles lost their Brens and were re-equipped with Hotchkiss Portatives.

I will send Dave the drawing of the equipment from the VAOS and photos of the few parts I have come across to put up, as its beyond me.

By the way if anyone knows of sources of PGS MK V parts, especially the breeching, pannels and adjustable tree could they please let me know? Christmass is coming...

Thanks

Tom
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Shoot it across Tom, my PC is rebuilt now.
Tom Ready
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Hi David
want me to start sending the rest of post war illustrated saddlery VAOS down the wire? Did you get the first batch?

Tom
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G'day Tom,

Caught your last email, apologies for no reply.

Yes to all. I have ten days off work with all the public holidays so I will be catching up on a few web projects. Up the top of the pile will be making available the huge amount of info you have shared. Stay tuned chaps - you will love it.

- Dave.
Tom Ready
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Hi Dave et al
I've just had another session at the Pattern Room Library and more or less by accident turned up some more saddlery stuff.

As well as a set of British LoCs from 1860 to 1965 I discovered they hold a set of copies of the Indian Army LoCs up to 1936. I've copied all the Vickers-Berthier saddlery entries (theres some modifications amongst them so theres some drawings of various parts) and copied some other bits and bobs where I spotted them. Perhaps the most usefull one is ILoC A-1403 of 1931 which lists all the old and introduces the new designations for saddlery stores and best of all has the ILoC for each item (introductions?). It runs to 30 odd sides of lists so what with all the other info we have to process it may be a while before you get them.

We also turned up a box of Vickers-Berthier documents and I was able to copy one which has near and off side photos of the cavalry equipment, gun bucket and all. Next time I go I will dig through the rest for more images.

One find was a copy of the "Pack Equipment Pattern 1917 for the Hotchkiss Machine Gun (Cavalry)" Printed Feb 1917 . 16 pages of text and tables and 9 of plates.

More soon

Tom
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Just been browsing through Cavalry Training (Horsed) 1937, and remembered this thread, Chapter X LIGHT MACHINE GUNS WITH CAVALRY, this seems to refer to the LMG, ie Bren, 30 round magazines, bipod and tripod along witht he fact that a footnote says'pending the issue of light machine guns, some troops wills till be armed with .303 Vickers machine guns'

Para 5 refers to the gun being carried in two parts by oner man on his horse.

Other members of the gun team carried spare barrels (again hints at Bren)parts and ammo.

David Puckey
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Originally posted by Dpuckey
Just been browsing through Cavalry Training (Horsed) 1937, and remembered this thread, Chapter X LIGHT MACHINE GUNS WITH CAVALRY, this seems to refer to the LMG, ie Bren, 30 round magazines, bipod and tripod along witht he fact that a footnote says'pending the issue of light machine guns, some troops wills till be armed with .303 Vickers machine guns'

Para 5 refers to the gun being carried in two parts by oner man on his horse.

Other members of the gun team carried spare barrels (again hints at Bren)parts and ammo.

David Puckey
Given that the war started only two years later, I wonder if those plans were ever carried out to any extent?

Pat
Tom Ready
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Hi Folks
I wish I could post the drawings of the Bren saddlery (the infantry version I've still to find pictures of the cavalry set) but it's beyond my meagre computer skills.

However heres the relevant section from the 1939 LMG SAT, the justification is a bit messed up so please e-mail me for a Word version. If somebody could copy me the bits from the 37 Cavalry training I'll be profoundly grateful.

All the best

Tom

Mounted Bren Equipment

No. 1 - Light machine gun carried In two parts, i.e. the body and bipod in a bucket on the off side, the barrel in a detachable case on the near side.

Ammunition 3 magazines in a bandolier on the man;
4 magazines (reserve) in two wallets on the front arch of the saddle.

No. 2 (section leader) - Spare barrel and detachable case on near side.

Ammunition As for No. 1.

Pack horse Top load - the tripod.
Near side - 4 magazine carriers, each containing 6 magazines.
Off side - 4 magazine carriers, each containing 6 magazines.

Total: 48 magazines = 1,440 rounds.

Total ammunition carried in the section: 62 magazines = 1,860 rounds.

The normal source of supply to the light machine gun will be from the pack horse. The ammunition in the wallets on the saddles of the section leader and No. 1 will be kept as a reserve; that in the bandoliers should be used for the initial supply when speed in opening fire is essential. When ammunition from the bandolier is expended, it should be replenished from the pack at the earliest opportunity.

3. Fitting of light machine gun equipment:-

No. 1. i. Fit the gun bucket as high up as possible, on the off side, by passing the strap
round the rear arch of the saddle. Pass the surcingle through the loop on the arm.

ii. Fit the barrel case on the near side in a similar manner as above.

iii. Place the wallets over the front arch of the saddle. The brass link on the front arch attachment passes through the slot in the connecting band and is secured by the releasable strap. The wallet straps are passed through the slots and Ds on the front of the saddle and buckled round the wallets.

No. 2. Fit the spare barrel case and wallets as in ii. and iii. above.

Pack horse Place the tripod on the tree, traversing arc to the front and, clamp.
Suspend 4 magazine carriers on the near side and 4 or the off side of the pack saddle by the Ds. Secure as follows:-

Top rear:- Pass through the loops on the pannels and through the fairway of the rear suspenders. Buckle round the magazine carriers which are attached to the hooks of the pack-saddle by Ds.

Top front:- Pass through the loops on the pannels and through the loops, at the ends of the leather fitting which is attached to the cross-bar of the tree. Buckle round the magazine carriers.

Bottom:- Pass through the loops on the pannels and buckle round the magazine carriers.


PS I've got some more bits to send to he other Dave, The 1931 version of the Harness etc VAOS, more LoCs and what have you.
Tom Ready
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Hi Folks
is there anyone out there who will put up some images of the Bren stuff if I email it to them? I just can't get it to work for me.

Tom
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Originally posted by Tom Ready
Hi Folks
is there anyone out there who will put up some images of the Bren stuff if I email it to them? I just can't get it to work for me.

Tom
tombear@btopenworld.com
I will, but I'm operating at about 3/4 speed right now, so it could be a few days after you send them to me before I pust them up.

Pat
Tom Ready
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Cheers! first batch sent off.

Tom
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Courtesy of Tom Ready, more to follow:

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Courtesy of Tom Ready:

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Bandoleer

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Bren Wallet

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Bren Wallet

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Bren Wallet

Pat
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