Monday, 12 December 2016

More on Blanket Rolls

In the last blog I talked about the American Civil War (ACW) horseshoe roll. A point worth stressing is that a horseshoe roll does not need to be constructed from a blanket.

As we saw with the Soviets and ACW horseshoe rolls can be used to carry long greatcoats. A modern sleeping bag, for example, can also be carried as a horseshoe roll. I have a four or five season sleeping bag I brought many years back. It is a great bag but I have seldom used since it is so bulky. I cannot carry it if I have to also carry any other reasonable amount of gear. If I put it in my pack I have very little room for anything else. If I tie it to the top of my pack I’m over seven feet tall, and this is with the thing in its compression sack! Rolling the thing into a horseshoe roll may very well be a better way to carry it. Worn in this way it will also provide some insulation when walking, which may very well be needed in any climate where I actually need such a high-rated bag.

The over the shoulder horseshoe roll is not the only way to carry such items. In many armies of WW2 shelter halves and the like were rolled into a horseshoe that was placed around the pack. A shorter blanket roll that could be carried above or below the pack was also used.

Like the soldiers of the ACW the WW2 Japanese soldier often used a horseshoe roll instead of a backpack. This could be constructed from the shelter cloth. Alternately a canvas “hold-all” was used as described here:

“Instead of the pack a canvas hold-all is sometimes used. This is simply a piece of light canvas with carrying straps at each end, and two long tapes, with shorter tapes to help secure the load. When rolled it can be carried across the back, slanting diagonally upwards from left to right, the straps and long tapes making an X across the chest where they are knotted. The hold-all serves as a combat pack and usually includes overcoat or blanket, shelter half, and tent poles and pins, besides whatever gear is not carried in the haversack. Canteen, ammunition pouches, and gas mask and carrier complete the combat gear normally carried by the Japanese soldier.”

As I discussed in the last blog, many modern waterproofs lack the robustness to make a good blanket roll cover. Something like Japanese hold-all described and illustrated is worth looking into. Such a thing could be combined with the methods for making your own gum-blanket. If the unrolled blanket roll cover was of sufficient dimensions to serve as a groundcloth that would be no bad thing.

Below is another example of a roll being used to carry equipment:
Variations on wearing the web equipment began to evolve while the Canadians trained in England, as Battle Drill put men and gear through increasingly more challenging situations. In Sicily, however, contacts with battle experienced soldiers of the British 8th Army led to quick revisions in how best to carry equipment in action, leading to the adoption of "Fighting Order." The small pack, or haversack, was quickly discarded due to its distinctive outline and the mess tins were instead added to a water-bottle carrier, and worn suspended from the brace-ends, in a spare water bottle carrier, on the left side of the waistbelt, opposite the water bottle. The gas cape was used to wrap spare clothing, rations and kit, then tied to the back of the waistbelt with spare blanket straps.”


Troops of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment at Ortona, December 1943, wearing Fighting Order. LAC Photo.

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