Sable belts (also know as Corps or Regimental Belts in the New Zealand Army) have their origins in the British Army. where they were initially worn by cavalrymen as part of their working dress.
During the mid 19th Century, British Cavalrymen realised that by modifying a Cavalry “Surcingle,” they would have a belt that was very useful in providing lower back support when cleaning stables and tending horses.
Initially worn by cavalrymen (and ASC and AOC personnel from trades associated with horses) the modified Surcingles were wider at 4″ than the 2½” width of modern stable belts. predominately made out of canvas, the buckles were worn on the left so not to scratch and catch on on horses and equipment.
With the adoption of coloured belts by officers in the British Indian Army in the mid-1800’s, the British Army at home started to adopted the practice in the late 1800’s as the coloured belts added a splash of colour and individuality to the drab khaki working uniforms the use of stable belts spread to other branches of the British Army during the 1950’s.
A modern stable belt is a wide webbing belt, usually of a single solid colour or horizontally striped in two or more different shades. Worn around the waist, either through the trouser belt loops or over a jersey.
With the original cavalry stable belts having the buckles at the side, later versions of stable belts were buckled at the front with a metal buckle bearing the badge of the Regiment or Corps.
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
The 1st pattern RAOC Belt was introduced before World War II and would be continued to be worn into the early 1950’s. This pattern of belt was 4” (10cm) wide and was fitted with leather side fastening straps (worn to the left)
The 2nd pattern RAOC Belt was introduced in the mid-1950’s and was fitted with the buckles at the side. It had a single yellow stripe bordered on either side by thin blue and red stripes and a broad blue stripe on the outside edges
The 3rd RAOC Belt adopted at around 1961 was initially fitted with buckles at the side, the leather side buckles were soon replaced with a brass buckle bearing the badge of the RAOC on the Right (male) fitting and the words ‘Royal Army Ordnance Corps’ in a circlet on the left (Female) fitting. The belt had four wide blue stripes with 3 narrow red stripes and would become the pattern for most Commonwealth Ordnance Corps Stable Belts. The Brass buckle was in time replaced with a chrome metal buckle.
RAOC personnel posted to the Commando Ordnance Squadron and 82 Airborne Ordnance Company, exchanged the RAOC buckle for the buckle of the parent unit they belonged to.
Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps
The RNZAOC was slow to introduce stable belts, and it is mentioned in a 1969 edition of the Pataka magazine that plans for the introduction of a stable belt had been rejected and would not proceed.
Stable belts for the RNZAOC were approved for use in 1972. The Belt was based on the RAOC belt having four wide blue stripes with 3 narrow red stripes, the buckle departed from the RAOC pattern, having a 7–6 cm chromed buckle on which a RNZAOC Badge was mounted.
Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps
The Australian Army adopted the stable belt in the late 1970s; however, they were removed from service in 1995 and are no longer worn.
Based on the 2nd pattern RAOC Belt, the RAAOC belt was fitted with a buckle with the RAAOC badge on the Right (male) fitting and the words ‘Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps’ in a circlet on the left (Female) fitting.
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps
Used by the Royal Canadian Army Ordnance Corps between 1953 and 1961, the RCOC stable belt was based on the 2nd pattern RAOC Belt. The RCOC belt was fitted with a buckle with the Ordnance Shield mounted with a St Edwards Crown on the Right (male) fitting and the words ‘Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps’ in a circlet on the left (Female) fitting.
Malaysian Kor Ordnans DiRaja (Royal Ordnance Corps)
Based on the 2nd pattern RAOC Belt, the Malaysian belt is fitted with the buckles at the side.
Ghana Army Ordnance Service
Based on the 2nd pattern RAOC Belt, the Ghana Army Ordnance Service belt is fitted with the buckles at the side.
Kenya Armed Forces Ordnance Depot
Departing from the traditional RAOC colour pattern, the Kenyan belt is fitted with the buckles at the side.
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Copyright © Robert McKie 2017