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Patronentaschen (Cartridge Pouches) M1909

This is an excerpt from an original manual indicating pouches were designed to hold 120 rounds.

The M.1909 Patronentasche (Cartridge Pouch) was part of the standard issue equipment of the infantryman, each man would wear two, one each side of the Koppelschloss (belt buckle). The back of the pouch was a single piece of heavy leather, with another sewn to the front forming three separate compartments, each with a lid secured with a leather strap that extended over the bottom and secured to a stud. Each compartment was divided into two sections with a rawhide strip rivetted to the sides of the compartment. Each section would hold two stripper clips (Ladestreifen), each with 5 rounds — or 20 rounds per compartment — with a total of 60 rounds per pouch. This brings the total carried by each infantryman to 120 rounds.

Original 1916 dated Patronentaschen. Note the hardware appears to be iron or
steel, and the front appears to have once been blackened, but the back shows no indication
of ever having been blackened.

5 round Ladestreifen (stripper clip).

Photo from The German Army in the First World War: Uniforms and Equipment, 1914-1918
by Jurgen Kraus for the Bayerisches Armeemuseum.

Two leather straps attached to sides of the back also extended to the bottom stud on the outer compartments, these attached the pouch to the equipment belt. In the center of the back a "D" ring was attached, this "D" ring was used to connect the shoulder straps of the Tornister (back pack), or when not wearing the Tornister the Brotbeutelriemen would be looped around the neck and the ends connected to the "D" rings on both Patronentaschen to help support the weight.

At the start of the war Patronentasche were issued in raw leather with rivets and hardware of brass. However, brass was needed for artillery shells and bullet casings and in January of 1915, the hardware construction was switched from brass to zinc-plated iron or steel. Later in the war, when leather became scare, construction of the pouches from painted sheet steel was approved for use, an image of the known approved pouches shown at right.

Original photo of a Soldat wearing M.1909 Patronentaschen

Unlike the WWII practice, the First World War German Soldat was not issued "Y" straps for his equipment waist belt. Instead, the M.1887 Brotbeutelriemen (breadbag strap) hooked to each cartridge pouch and passed behind the neck, serving the same purpose as the WWII "Y" straps.

Photo of an original IR63 Soldat demonstrating
the Brotbeutelriemen's use.

Each member will wear two M1909 Patronentaschen of black or brown leather, hardware may be of either brass or steel/iron. The use of Peruvian or pre-WWII Polish issue pouches, which are similar to original WWI German issue, is allowed at this time. German WWII pattern pouches are not acceptable.

There are some "Ersatz" reproduction pouches made of canvas trimmed in leather, to the best of our knowledge, these are a fantasy item based on a style of WWII era Ersatz construction - they are not approved for use in IR63.

Please note that often original german made Patronentaschen can be found for a relatively cheap price. This is due to the fact that many were given to Turkey during and after the war. The reason they are cheap is the Turks treated their leather with urine — yes you read that correctly. The pouches will smell awful — especially when wet.

Blackened leather is preferred, see "Notes on blackening leather" below. Please note that if you are blackening your pouches yourself, it is recommended to refrain from blackening the back, and take care when blackening the edges - dyes and polishes can and will wick into your wool tunic. Orginial blackened pouches are rarely blackened on the back for this reason.

Notes on blackening leather:

In 1915 order came down that all leather was too be blackened.  This was expected to be done by the soldiers themselves and was not part of the production process.  Therefore, depending on availability of materials to do the blackening, this was not always done.  There has been an ongoing debate since WWI reenacting began on how universal blackening was - and the debate continues.

Members of IR63 over the years have included many serious and casual collectors, and the sheer number of items dated 1916-1918 that we have observed that have never received blackening indicates to us that non-blackened leather was not a rare ocurrance (or blackening was definitely not universal). Therefore, IR63 is not going mandate that all leather be blackened (although blackened is the preferred condition.) See the "How-to" page for a non-dye method of blackening.

Now, deciding not to blacken leather DOES NOT mean you should show up at an event with pristine undyed leather. One limiting factor for blackening is oil - if you tried to blacken/dye heavily oiled leather the color would not take, and worse, it would rub off on everything around it - including your uniform and hands. Germans were fastidious on leather care as leather was a limited quantity and preservation of what they had was more important than its color. So, if you don't dye - OIL.

Over oiling is not good, but a good coat of oil applied periodically will naturally darken leather over time. So, how much is too much?  Hard to quantify, but the is an article on leather care Leather Preservation that should help.