Leading up to World War 2 the British designed a new type of infantry harness known as the P37 or British Pattern 1937 Webbing. It was an update to the p08 1908 pattern webbing that was used during the First World War. The webbing was constructed of pre-shrunk canvas, found to be extremely durable and worked in almost all conditions.
93 year old Chelsea Pensioner Norman Mitchell, of the Grenadier Guards, explains the basics of the British Army’s 1937 Pattern Equipment Webbing.
While the P37 used to be widely available, it has become more scarce these days. There are also many reproduction versions. I have seen at least 2, but I am sure there are more. The P37 or 1937 Belts are composed of canvas and all the hardware is brass. Reproduction ones typically will have skimped on some of the brass hardware.
I have heard that as the war progressed, the 1937 pattern belt underwent a few modifications, due to war time economics. As with many wars that drain resources, more costly parts are usually swapped out with cheaper material. The brass keepers were replaced with thin webbing. The small buckles on the back were replaced with sheradised steel. Some of the buckles and adjustment hooks would be swapped out for steel.
Along with the canvas belt, there was the 1937 Webley leather belt, which was all leather with brass fittings. A rather nice looking belt, which looked very close to the Pattern 1937 webbing belt.
Here is the British Pattern 1914 Belt. Notice the differences between the 1914 and the 1937, the main differences being the front buckle attachment and the rear buckles.
Here is a list of companies known to make the webbing during the war
A.N.H. & Co. Ltd. (A. N. Holden & Co. Ltd.)
B.S.C. (Bata Shoe Company) Private, Limited in British India
D&M LTD (Durie & Miller Ltd.)
M.E.Co. (Mills Equipment Company)
S.N. LTD (S. Noton Ltd (Oldham))
Here is a manual from the Austrian Military Forces (1941) – The Pattern 1937 Web Equipment.
Sometimes you will here the word Unblancoed or blancoded. This is a compound that was used to rub on the webbing. The term Unblancoed means without blanco or untreated.
Here is a link to an amazing site that talks about about Blanco (http://www.blancoandbull.com).
Here is a link to the various shades of Blanco (http://www.blancoandbull.com/blanco-history/the-blanco-shades-over-time)