The Sam Brown Belt, together with cross shoulder strap/sling
Additionally, a leather ammunition pouch; a leather revolver holster; and a leather whistle holder were all attachments, although none of these accessories can be seen in the Colchester Military Hospital 1918 photograph. All front row men are wearing a ‘Sam Brown’ belt and cross shoulder strap/sling.
The Other Ranks Slade-Wallace Belt
(aka ‘OR 1888 Pattern (Mark II) Valise Equipment’ or ‘Locket Union Universal’ belt)
This is the brown leather ‘Slade-Wallace Equipment belt – so named, after its two designers, Colonel Slade and Major Wallace. Supposedly, it became obsolete in general use from 1903 onwards. That said, some units were still using them in 1914. It was also used in full dress and was also issued during the equipment shortage in 1914/1915. The tongue of the buckle depicts the cross of St George with a lion in the centre and four eight-pointed stars at each corner representing the Southern Cross.
Only four of these belts (numbers 18, 27, 28 & 47 from the left, in the third row) are visible in the Colchester Military Hospital 1918 photograph. However, given that so many men’s belt buckles are obscured, there may be others present.
The ‘1903 Bandolier Equipment’ Belt
This belt (with its rectangular buckle and single pin fastening), is a ‘1903 Bandolier Equipment’ issue. It is made from brown leather. It was a short lived intermediate design issued to troops just after the Boer war but before the ‘1908 Pattern’ webbing was introduced. It continued in service with support troops such the Army Service Corps; Royal Army Medical Corps; and cavalry troops into the Great War.
It was reissued as standard, during the shortages of 1914/1915. Only one of these belts (number 15 from the left, in the 5th/back row) is visible in the Colchester Military Hospital 1918 photograph.
The ‘Snake’ or ‘S’ Belt
The ‘Snake’ or ‘S’ buckle belts in the Colchester Military Hospital 1918 photograph are most likely from the ‘1914 Leather Equipment’ issue, which was introduced to meet the shortage at the beginning of WW1. It was also made of brown leather. Behind the front row, the majority of belts visible on the Royal Army Medical Corps men are this type of belt – apart from the aforementioned known exceptions.
This particular Private stands out within the group, because of his height.