Original pouches (German 1938-1945)
Historically, the MP40 pouches were developed to hold the loaded MP40 magazines, the magazine loader, the magazine brush, the muzzle cap and a blank firing adapter. This last accessory was never issued but is shown in both of the D167/2 partlists. The MP40 magazines were supposed to be inserted in the individual cells of the pouch with the cartridges facing down as instructed in the 1941 publication “Merkblatt für die Behandlung der Maschinenpistole zum Verhindern von Hemmungen”,this was done to prevent dust, dirt and (rain) water entering the filled magazine.
The MP40 pouches were listed on the D97 equipment list (Gerätliste) and had their own codes:
J 53 005 Magazine Pouch for 6 magazines
J 53 008 Magazine pouch left for MP38
J 53 009 Magazine pouch right for MP38
Basically, the MP40 pouches can be divided into 2 types of issued equipment. First, the pouches that were designed to equip the individual soldier (the J 53 008 and J 53 009) and secondly, the pouches that were especially designed to equip armored vehicles, tanks, ships and planes (J 53 005) together of course, with the MP38 or MP40.
I think this is a better way to distinguish the differences than simply making a difference in 3-cell pouches and 6 cell pouches. For example, the 6 cell pouch with the single flap was not designed to be carried around by an infantryman! Of course, for a short period of time it would be suitable but not if you had to carry it around with only a sling for weeks. Anybody who has carried around a bag with a sling knows it’s not very practical when you bend, sit down, or lay down with it. The pouches designed for the individual soldier had “D” rings to connect it to their “Y”-straps and belt loops to connect it to their belts. I realize that there are pictures of Fällschirmjäger carrying the 6 cell single flap pouch but I think these were “borrowed” out of vehicles or distributed because there was a lack of the regular pouches.
Another reason why I think that the 6 cell single flap was not used by individual soldiers was that the D167/1 is mentioning the weight of all accessories (Page 16 section “H”) it mentions the following weights:
-Weight of the filled magazine, 0.64 kg (1.4 lbs)
-Weight of the empty magazine pouch, right 0.23 kg (0.5 lbs)
-Weight of the empty magazine pouch, left 0.27 kg (0.6 lbs)
-Weight of the magazine filler, 0.15 kg (0.3 lbs)
No mention at all about the 6 cell single flap pouch while it is described in the same manual. Logically because this item was not to be carried around and therefore unnecessary to mention in the weight list.
Typically, only NCO’s were equipped with the MP40 pouches. From several sources I have been informed that in general soldiers who were part of a “field division” carried around 2 pouches, while the NCO’s that served as occupying forces only carried one pouch.
The earlier mentioned D167/1 also describes briefly the “Cleaning of the Accessories” on page 15 section F II.:
“The canvas Magazine Pouches are air dried after removing the coarser dirt and may only then be thoroughly cleaned. Dried dirt is to be brushed off.”
Types of MP40 Pouches
As I already mentioned it’s difficult to make a clear type description per pouch since the amount of variations are so enormous. Due to the war shortages, there were quite a few manufacturers that each had to deal with a constant change in the basic material supplies and a constant decrease in the amount of material supplied. So far, I have been able to identify the following group of manufacturers. (NOTE: A big “thank you” to the Rolv A. who supplied me the manufacturing codes of his enormous collection of original pouches!)
|gmn||Phillipp Riebel & Söhne, Sattlerwaren- u.Sportartikelfabrik||WaA136|
|jkh||Carl Busse Fabrik für Ausrustüngen aus Stoff u. Leder|
|fkx||Gustav Sudbrack, Lederwaren u. Gamaschenfabrik||WaA869|
|clg||Ernst Melzig Lederwaren||WaA866|
|eyp4||Rudolf Vordemberge, Lederwaren u. Militäreffekten-Fabrik||WaA446|
|evg||Max Oswald, Lederwaren- u. Reiseartikel-Fabrik|
|bdr||Richard Ehrhardt Lederwarenfabrik,||WaA86|
|hcy||Max Ficker & Sohn, Lederfabrik||WaA300|
|jsd||Gustav Reinhardt, Lederwarenfabrik||WaA921, WaA14|
|?||Otto Koberstein Landsberg||WaA14|
|gmk||Kroymann & Co. GmbH , Schuh- u. Sportartikel-Fabrik||WaA170, WaA279|
|gap||Ernst Angerman, Lederwarenfabrik||WaA183|
|hms||Wilhelm Schmidt, Sattler- u. Lederwarenfabrik||WaA14|
|gjg||Kaspar Roth, Lederwarenfabrik|
|eue||Otto Reichel, Inh. Rudolf Fischer, Lederwarenfabrik|
|cgu||Stolla's Söhne, K.& A. Stolla, Wehrmachtseffekten|
|ojx||Deutsche Kunstlederwerke, Wolfgang GmbH|
|otf||Gottlieb Singer, Leder-, Treibriemen-u.Lederwarenfabrik||WaA721|
|gaq||Otto Stephan, Leder u.Lederwarenfabrik||WaA163|
|?||Robert Larsen Berlin sw68|
|jhg||Gustav Genschow & Co.AG,Abt. Lederwaren-Fabriken|
I realize that the list above is not complete so any new input is very welcome. Please send me pictures of your “original” MP40 pouch(es) and I will list the codes and the pictures. I know this is a sensitive subject with collectors, so I’m open for new information/pictures or corrections. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 6 cell single flap pouch
Without taking the different colors into account there are 4 types of 6 cell pouches with a single flap and one sling. These types of pouches do not have the D-Ring and the belt loops positioned to them to fit them on the soldiers Y-strap. The D-Rings have been designed for a sling. Of course it is possible to wear them as improvised personal magazine pouch. I found a picture (see below) on e-bay where a Fallschirmjäger wears a 6 cell single flap pouch but after further observation you see an improvised leather strap with D-ring attached to his Y-strap. This picture is from 1944 and the paratrooper probably “borrowed” the pouch from a vehicle inventory. As mentioned before, these pouches together with the MP38 or 40 to which they were part of a “kit” and were not assigned to a specific soldier but to an armored vehicle, tank or plane (see below). Just like a MG34 or 42 was assigned as part of a vehicle complement. In case of emergency, either the driver, the machine gunner, the navigator could make use of the MP38/40.
Only in the last 10 years has the 6 cell pouch become more popular for collectors. Before this time the pouch was never considered to be a “hot” item. Only recently it’s has become more and more valued as a rare and collectable item and therefore prices have sky-rocketed as with any MP40 accessory.
“Type 1” Pouch
The first 6 cell single flap pouch is the pouch that is shown in the early MP38 manual, the “D147 of the 2nd of August 1938; Maschinenpistole 38. Beschreibung mit Handhabungs- und Behandlungsanleitung.“ The items that are shown in the picture seem to be a kind of proto- type items. For instance, the hinged muzzle cap is a different version than the one I describe elsewhere on this website. The same for the magazine shown in the photo, as the picture shows the MP38 magazine with only “MP38” and the “Haenel” logo stamped on the magazine body. The pouch appears to be a very sturdily made 6 cell single flap pouch, with a small compartment for the loader and 2 other small compartments probably for the muzzle cap and some small spare parts like a firing pin and extractor. The pouch already has the square metal tips at the end of the pouch fastener. These metal tips were very common on the early pouches as they prevented the ends of the fasteners from getting flimsy.
"Type 2" Pouch
The second type of the six cell single flap pouch is made of a very sturdy canvas and has the early canvas pouch fasteners with the triangle metal tips. The side flaps seems to be slightly bigger than the later types. The small 7th cell offers space for the magazine loader. On the back of the pouch there are 2 belt loops fitted with D rings at the ends for the sling. On the back the painted MP38 u. 40 stamp is still very clearly visible. On the previous shown picture of the interior of an armored vehicle, the type 2 pouch is clearly visible. Below you see 3 pictures of this pouch.
“Type 3” Pouch
The third type six cell single flap is the more common variation. The canvas pouch fasteners have been replaced by leather pouch fasteners. The leather straps were much easier and cheaper to manufacture than the more complex canvas straps with the knitted button hole and the metal tips. Previously, I was always under the impression that there was an easy way to distinguish the original from the fakes by looking at the corners of the flap. If they were square I thought they were fakes. The more rounded flaps I considered to be the real thing. Recently I have seen a few 100% original pouches that had the square corners! An example is shown in one of the pictures below.
And another one!
“Type 4” Pouch
The fourth type that can be indentified is the lesser known version of the 6 cell single flap pouch. Although lesser known it might actually be the one and only real 6 cell pouch carried by Fällschirmjäger. There is quite a lot of early photo evidence where (mostly) Fällschirmjägers are pictured with this pouch. Interestingly the belt loops are fabricated from .30 belt loops of an US Browning Machine gun. The pouch do not carry any production codes or Waffenamt marks. It features a short single leather pouch fastener without the possibility to hold it down with a small loop, as is typical with all other pouches. This 6 cell pouch is fabricated from the usual regular rugged strong canvas seen on the other MP40 canvas pouch variations. On the back of the 6 cell pouch, the loops are made of canvas as well. See below.
Some contemporary photo's of this pouch:
Due to the nature of the great need to supply the Wehrmacht with pouches, I feel certain that there were other variations of the 6 cell single flap pouches that could be listed. Please let me know if you know of a 6 cell version that could be added. email@example.com
The Double 3 cell pouch” (designed for the individual soldier)
The 3 cell pouches were individually designed for the soldier’s belt and Y-Strap. First line NCO’s were carrying 2 pouches with a total of 6 magazines. The left pouch (left for the soldier) had a smaller compartment sewn to the pouch body in which the magazine loader and the magazine brush were carried. Each individual cell has its own flap and fastener. Over the course of the war, the fastener changed in material. Initially the fasteners were made of canvas with square or triangle metal tips, but over time, it was changed to leather fasteners with square metal tips. Later on the fasteners were manufactured without the metal tips.
The fastener of the small magazine loader compartment also came in different versions. Most fasteners have simply a flap with a small button hole in which the typical “button” locks the flap, but some do have a leather fastener just like the magazine flaps.
On the back, the early pouches were fitted with canvas belt loops and a canvas strip for the D-ring. Overtime, production gradually changed over to the leather loops and straps.
Most of the time, a white thread is used but in some cases the tread is in a matching color to the pouch. The pouches came in several colors variations. Several sources indicate that the green and grey pouches were used by the Wehrmacht, the blue ones by the Air force, the yellow/sand colored ones for the Africa Korps. Maybe this was true at the beginning of the war, but later on, several colors were used by several Army units in a mixed way. I have also observed some “two tone” colored pouches (see right)!
As stated above, there were many manufacturers of pouches. During my search for information I most frequently encountered the “clg” (Ernst Melzig Lederwaren) stamped pouches. Most of the time, the code is stamped in one of the belt loops together with a “Waffenamt” stamp. I also have seen painted, mostly white, manufacturers stamps.
To my surprise I noticed painted “bnz” (Steyr) stamps on the back of some pouches (see left).I was initially under the impression that Steyr only manufactured small arms like the K98, the MP40 and the MP44, but apparently they also manufactured pouches. If you have any information about bnz/Steyr production please let me know, firstname.lastname@example.org. I must add, that many of the pouches I encountered did not have any codes stamped on it at all!
I should mention that with the 3 cell pouch, we can further distinguish the above 4 types without taking the coloring and the types of leather into consideration.
Like the early 6 cell single flap pouch, the early version of the three cell pouch also had canvas fasteners with the square metal tips at the end of the pouch fastener. The belt loops and the D ring strap were also made from canvas. These pouches are very often seen in pictures with “Fällschirmjäger” attending the invasion in Crete. Later I will also describe a rare kind of 6 cell pouch that was used by the “Fällschirmjäger” in Crete. The pouch pictured has the “bnz” (Steyr) stamp on the back.
The second type of the double 3 cell pouch is a very rare type. It already has the leather pouch fasteners like the third type but still the ends are mounted with a metal tip. Apparently they saw little use in having metal tips on leather fasteners also it’s a waste of material and energy so they discontinued this type very quickly. Probably this type has the best quality fasteners of all pouches. See pictures below:
Type 3 is the most common pouch of all the pouches. It features the leather fasteners as well as the leather belt loops. Although there are exceptions; earlier versions do still have the canvas belt loops. The leather fasteners come in different gradients of brown or black leather and usually have a somewhat polished look. As stated the flap of the smaller magazine loader compartment is generally locked by a small button. Some rare pouches have, like the one in the picture have a small leather strap to lock the small magazine loader compartment.See pictures of a beautiful set below:
The fourth types are the leather pouches usually defined as being “early” pouches. This is however not the case. The leather pouches were introduced after the pouches with the metal square fasteners and were manufactured in 1941, 1942 and 1943 by the following manufacturers:
Gustav Sudbrack, Lederwaren u. Gamaschenfabrik (fkx)
Gustav Reinhardt, Lederwarenfabrik (jsd)
Stolla's Söhne, K.& A. Stolla, Wehrmachtseffekten (cgu)
Gottlieb Singer, Leder-, Treibriemen-u.Lederwarenfabrik (otf)
Otto Stephan, Leder u.Lederwarenfabrik (gaq)
Kroymann & Co. GmbH, Schuh- u. Sportartikel-Fabrik (gmk)
The leather pouches are very difficult to find these days and prices are going through the roof. I’m sure there have been other manufacturers so if you have more information then please let me know email@example.com
I have to mention the following persons who helped me a lot with making this page. These are: Alex K. from www.HZA-Kulmbach.de, Rolv A., Dennis v/d B. and of course Rich U.
1) The Crete pouch
2) Double 3 cell single flap pouch
3) MP28 pouch
4) Customized pouch
5) Ammunition logistics bag
2) Czech Republic
5) (former) Yougoslavia