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THE Anatomy Of The US Army Haversack - WWI / WWII - The haversack was the primary means for US soldiers to carry their food, supplies and general belongings during WWI and the early days of WWII.  The precursor to the modern backpack. The word haversack actually comes from the German word hafersach which means "a cavalry trooper's bag for horse provender". In later years the French began to use the word haversac to mean "a single strap bag worn over one shoulder and used for carrying rations". This term eventually made it to the English language and it retained the same meaning. The usefulness of the haversack was in doubt from the start. The haversack proved to be too cumbersome for use in battle.  The items stored in the pack were not easily accessible.  You pretty much had to take the whole thing apart in order to get to the personal belongings.

Another flaw with the design is that the pack attached directly to the utility belt.  If a soldier needed to go in a light  mission he had to carry the entire pack - or leave everything behind. 

As the WWII progressed, different styles of backpacks were developed, special backpackes were developed to satisfy the needs of forces like the mountain troops.  Their backpack ended up being the precursor to the modern ALICE pack.

This page provides a comprehensive breakdown of how the haversack was designed and how the rest of the soldier's equipment connected to it.



THE BEGINNING

The Infantry Equipment Board (IEB) held a meeting at Rock Island Arsenal in 1909. They discussed lessons learned from the Spanish American war. The result was the development of an entirely new set of equipment which was adopted by the army and was designated as the Model 1910. The haversack evolved from being worn on the side to being worn on the back. The Rock Island arsenal remained the primary manufacturer up until the start of WWI when the manufacturing contracts were opened to other companies.

THE M-1910 HAVERSACK ANATOMY

Unlike a standard pack which consists of a large bag, the M-1910 haversack body consisted of a bottom flap with a strip of webing running down the center, stitched to form a series of cloth loops. This flap folded up while two side flaps folded across and were secured by three evenly placed straps held by metal buckles. The top flap folds down and is secured by a single strap and a metal buckle.

The main body has web shoulder straps with four snap hooks on the end. The shoulder straps attach tp the cartridge or pistol belt.

The following two photographs are for a US army 1918 (WWI) haversack.


Rear view of the haversack


HAVERSACK ATTACHMENTS

The haversack must be attached to the pistol belt to become functional. The belt also holds items such as the canteen and first aid pounch. The belt has a set of four metal gromets located in a series of columns. The snap hooks of the haversack connect to the belt gromets.
Most of the haversacks were stamped with the name of the manufacturer and the date of manufacturing. The markings were stamped in black ink and were commonly placed in the inside near the neck area.

However, it is possible to find examples that have no markings at all.

The haversack represents an early example of an American combat pack where extra accessories could be attached. The example shown here is called the meat pouch. It was used to carry the mess kit, fork, knife, etc. the earliest versions had a rounded bottom and was attached by lacing it to the flap. This was quickly changed to a larger pouch with a squared bottom held to the flap by four metal loops passed through slits in the flap secured by two web straps.

Some of the gear were marked to display the unit where the soldier belonged. This was done by using a stencil and black ink. Notice the markings on the meat pouch.

Another common attachment used on the haversack was the pack carrier body, also known as the diaper due to its shape, its purpose was to extend the pack to provide more support for the bedroll that was carried vertically inside the pack. It also provided a place to store items that were not as essential.

The diaper is attached to the main body via the use of a Brown leather strap that weaves through a series of slits cut at the bottom of the pack.


Another item commonly attached to the haversack was the T-handle shovel. A canvis cover fit on the head of the shovel. The cover then attached to a double-gromet flap.




Inside view of the haversack


THE M-1928 HAVERSACK

The construction of the haversack between WWI and WWII remain very much unchanged. Only minor changes were implemented between both periods. An upgraded haversack was developed in 1928 that came equipped with quick release buckles and a web strap with a buckle closure on the meat pouch (replacing the metal button). The model M-1928 haversack went into production in 1940. As it is almost always the case, older haversacks kept being issued until the inventory rank out.

The photos below illustrate a 1942 haversack. Manufactured by the Boyt company. Most of the equipment was issued in Khaki color. However, there were exceptions where the pack was produced in different shades of green.





A list of some of the known manufacturers of haversacks follows:

  • A. Beif & Co.
  • Atlas Mfg Co.
  • Baker-Lockwood Mfg Co. Inc.
  • B. B. S. Co.
  • Boyt
  • Crawford-Austin Mfg Co.
  • G & R Co.
  • Hamilton Scheu & Walsh Shoe Co.
  • Indianapolis Tent & Awning Co.
  • Laird Schuber Co.
  • Langdon Tent & Awning Co.
  • Ruberto

    Each company stamped its logo on the haversack. Usually on the inside of the top flap however, there are exemptions to this rule. It is possible to find haversacks without any markings. The following picture depicts a representation of a WWI soldier wearing the haversack.





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    The value for the WWII US Field Gear and other military antiques and collectibles is provided as a means to educate the collector community and individuals who have a general interest on the field. The following is an estimated value. Prices may vary in every state and every country. This service is provided courtesy of MilitaryItems.com . The source for military antiques and collectibles in the web.

    Year 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
    Value $60.00 $70.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
    Availability Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium
    Invest Grade B B B B B B B B B B


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