Mule saddle/ equipment carrier type thing?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by High Wood, May 15, 2015.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I came across this unusual item at an antiques market this morning. The seller claimed that it was an equipment carrier used to load equipment on to mules. There would be one of these attached either side of a saddle. It is WD marked and is dated 1944. Can anyone please confirm that is designed to be used on a pack mule? If it wasn't, then what is it for?

    Attached Files:

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  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    It is part of a pack mules equipment. There was a standard saddle and a variety of different fittings similar to this one. I have seen them with fittings for machine guns, wireless sets and farriers equipment. Standard versions were used for supplies, ammunition etc. Some carried mountain artillery pieces. I cannot identify this one.

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  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    This is part of the standard 'saddle, pack animal, ammunition MkII'. This does not mean that it was used for ammunition. it was the basic saddle used by all pack animals. Special panniers etc were fitted for specific roles. It is designed to carry all the spare parts and tools etc for the pack animal.

  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    thank you for the information. I am guessing that it is a fairly standard mule item and not particularly scarce. That said, I have never seen one in over 40 years of collecting militaria but then again I have never looked for one. There must be stacks of these stored in depots around the country as I would be surprised if the British army still uses mules.

  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    It is upside down. Straight edge to the bottom, curved corners to the top. I guess that most of the leather pieces fixed with studs are reinforcing attachments etc on the rear. I have not seen a picture of the rear of one.

    I am at present looking at the various components of a pre war cavalry division. They had a lot of pack horses.

  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    That is quite an elaborate piece of leather work Simon, thanks for putting the photos up on the forum. I have often wondered about the mule harness/equipment/panniers etc. in relation to the animals used in Burma.
  7. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    I would like to point out that technically it was the stall holder who had it upside down, but then again he did know what it was which was more than I did. I didn't buy it but I do have the stall holder's phone number if anyone is interested. (I am not on commission by the way).
  8. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    my first thought was Chindit pack animals when I saw it but then it occurred to me that their equipment was probably Indian made and unlikely to turn up in unissued condition at an Oswestry street market.

  9. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    I have quite a big book on the use and equipment of mules in the British and Indian armies and I would warn you that the Indian standard pack saddle which was probably common in the Far East was different from the British one.

    I do like the post above which says that the pictured equipment was used to carry the spare parts and tools for the animal. Very useful if the mule stood on a mine and lost a leg! Sorry, Mike, but I couldn't resist it!

  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Mules were of course used extensively during the Italian campaign and it may well be that the authorities were expecting to be sending British mule transport and equipment to the Far East. There were huge stockpiles of other equipment which suddenly became unnecessary when the war against Japan ended.
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Very droll. I think that the loss of a leg would be beyond the units capabilities anyway. It would need to be backloaded to a workshop.

  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I think any such limb would have been straight into the cooking pot in Burma.
  13. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    I remember as a student stopping off at a sales viewing at Ruddington about 1977. The catalogue had a number of pages dedicated to mule equipment however we couldn't find it amongst acres of landrover parts, supposed welding sets for tanks (sold in twos, tens or fifties), clothing, as scrap rags (slashed with a bale hook) plus piles of dosimeters and geiger counters!
  14. sigcollector

    sigcollector Member

    Hi it is British made and Is one half of the Engineers pack saddle to go with the G.S frame it was used to carry tools such as picks small axes shovels billhooks and other tools.
    I did a colour illustration of this a while ago showing one kitted out with many of the other pack saddles.

    Cheers jonathan
  15. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Definitely the deluxe model which obviously hadn’t reached 56 Recce by December 1944, looks like they were still using the Mk1 version, still it came with an instruction manual. Apparently nails could not be used!

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  16. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    thank you for posting the orders.

  17. REME245

    REME245 Member

    The last pack animal transport unit in the British Army survived until the mid 1970's in Hong Kong. Sounds like they were clearing the stores in 1977 at Ruddington.

    During the recent campaign in Afganistan there has been reference to UK special forces receiving training on pack animals.
  18. Yorkman1

    Yorkman1 New Member

    Jonathan, any chance you can tell me where I would be able to see a copy of your drawings of the carriers full of kit? Thanks, Ian
  19. Ken P

    Ken P Active Member

    I have an original copy of 'The Manual of Horsemastership, Equitation and Animal Transport' 1937 and stamped inside to the 8th Army.

    There are many variations of pack saddle within it (including for camels!) but none like the one originally pictured.

    If I could post images I would also show you photographs of the ORIGINAL 'Universal Carrier' used with mules...
  20. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    While I am short on the subject of parachuting mules, I do know that mules were flown in by glider in the Burma campaign. Apparently stalls were improvised using bamboo to confine the animals and to ensure they did not kick themselves through the skin of the glider, but they did have a problem. The mules ate the bamboo!
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