SMALL ARMS SCHOOL CORPS

DESIGNING A BUCKLE FOR A STABLE BELT

The buckle relates to the SASC Stable Belt, which when I transferred to it in 1984, was unusual in having just a plain male-female buckle in nickel and of the same style as used on 37 and 58 pattern webbing.

What motivated me to ask to change the design was the fact that there was no accepted pattern of best belt for SASC Sgts, SSgts and WOs2 so that they had to wear the tacky green plastic belt in No 2 Dress. As an ex-infantryman I thought this was deplorable and I resolved myself to making suggestions to change that in 1987.

My idea was in 2 parts. First I felt that Sgts and SSgts should at the very least have a smart buckle of locket type that could be added to the green plastic belt and second that WOs2 should wear the 'Sword Belt Ensign' with trailing slings, as worn by Line infantry WOs" (the SASC is aligned with the infantry). I felt that the easiest way to do this would be to re-design the stable belt so that it was fitted with a removable, locket type buckle that could be detached and used with the green plastic belt.

I thought the best way to present this idea to the SASC Regt Committee was to draw some designs of locket type buckle and arrange also for Hobson & Sons (dominant in the stable belt market) to send me an example of an adjustable stable belt with a removable buckle. In essence the buckle drawn by me and submitted to the Committee as 3 options:

Option 1. The cap badge on the centrepiece and the Words Small Arms School Corps on the Circlet.
Option 2. The cap badge on the centrepiece and a blank circlet.
Option 3. The locket configured so that the centrepiece consisted of the central part of the cap badge with crossed rifles and MMG in relief, and the circlet comprised the outer part of the cap badge, the laurel wreath and title.

In the end the Regt Committee agreed the proposal and unimaginatively (in my view) selected Option 2. The Regimental Secretary was tasked with placing the necessary orders and as so often with these things it was in the execution that things went wrong. Somehow the idea of the buckle being removable was completely lost and the SASC ended up with a standard fixed locket stable belt. Those who knew of my involvement were not best pleased as the old belt had been light in weight and comfortable and the whole point of changing (based on my rationale) had been lost, but there was little I could do about it. It amuses me still when I see SASC SNCOs and WOs wearing 'my' buckle.

As a footnote, I submitted a proposal for the 'Sword Belt Ensign' with trailing slings separately and, although there were favourable noises, nothing was done at the time. I recently learned that my proposal was resurrected quite a few years later, long after I had been commissioned in another part of the Army and moved on. I understand that my proposal was accepted this time and that as I envisaged, WOs 2 in No 2 Dress now wear a Black 'Sword Belt Ensign' with trailing slings and a nickel silver locket (to match the colour of that in my stable belt design). I do not know if Sgts and SSgts now wear a stable belt 'type' locket with their green plastic belts.

With thanks to Major R G Bennett AAC

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