Review: reproduction paratrooper leg bag
I ordered this leg bag from The Military History Workshop back in November. These are the people who made them for Band of Brothers. Most orders are custom made, so it takes about two months, but it’s worth the wait. This reproduction British-made type leg bag is a dead ringer for the original. I compared it to good pictures I had on file from an original, and it is amazing. The same material (rivets, fabric, felt, rings, press studs, everything). It came with a reproduction quick release buckle, but I managed to find an original to replace it, so now it is as good as indistinguishable from an original. If I really must name one gripe, is that it is in unissued condition with just the slightest aging done to some of the khaki webbing and the white release tape. The brass rings also need to dull a bit with age, although they are not shiny. But come to think of it, a leg bag should look unissued when you put it on display on a mannequin with a parachute. That’s because US paratroopers never got to train with these bags prior to the Normandy jump (which is why so many lost their leg bags and all the equipment in it during the jump), and because these bags were discarded after the jump. So, in conclusion, and perhaps for the first time in any of my reviews, I have to say that this reproduction is perfect! The price of 200 GBP (plus about 50 for an original quick release buckle) is also very reasonable, especially compared to the 5000 EUR you can expect to pay for an original (if you can find one).
View the photo album
The British-made leg bag was used in TRAINING by the SCOUT Platoon (pathfinders) of the 2nd Bn./509th PIR at the U.S. Fifth Army Airborne Training Center, Camp Kunkle, Oujda, French Morocco, March-June 1943.
In May-June 1943 (same location) the very first group of PATHFINDERS of the 82nd Airborne Division used the leg bag, also in TRAINING.
The leg bags were used to carry the Eureka Mark II set and various lights (Krypton, etc.) into combat.
When the pathfinder training was canceled, the 82nd Airborne disbanding (initially) its pathfinders. Hence, no pathfinders or leg bags were used during Operation Husky (Sicily, July 1943). The 2/509th was also not committed in Sicily.
However, after the 82nd Airborne reached Trapani, Sicily during the last week of July 1943, the All-American's pathfinders got a new lease on life.
Between late July and mid Sep. the pathfinders of the 82nd and the scouts of the 2/509th DID TRAIN with the British leg bags in Sicily and Tunisia.
On the night of Sep. 13-14, 1943, the pathfinders of the 504th PIR used leg bags during the emergency rescue jump south of Paestum, Salerno beachhead, Italy.
This was the first American use of the British leg bag in combat, albeit within friendly lines.
The following night, the 505th PIR pathfinders did the same at the same locotion.
Simultaneously with the 505th's drop, one pathfinder stick of the 2/509th jumped near Avellino, Italy, deep behind the German lines.
Didn't mean to write a mini "thesis" but here it is anyway…
Hello, what are your sources?
Charles Eldon Clark was 101st Screaming Eagles Geronimo Company.He was sewing. parachutes in France. He was mad he didn’t get to go to the Front .He said the packs hurt your knees when you hit the ground .So he said I developed the Legbag .He said Uncle S Sam gave me 500.00 for the idea .
As the legbag was already in use before the 101st airborne came to Britain. It will not be this particular legbag he invented/made. The first recorded development of the legbag is by British Major Lander of the 21st Indenpendant parachute company (pathfinders) He got the idea when he saw British troops, during a transfer at a railway station, putting their kitbags on one of their feet and “walking” towards the arrived train. he took a regular, (smaller) kitbag to a tailor and asked it to be altered to his specifications. Other British paratroop units borrowed /copied some of of the first samples and it seems that other units paraleel had got similar ideas. A few years ago a ww2 instruction colour movie surfaced were British pathfinders demonstrate the use of this (early) kitbag and the use of the (early) kitbag. When the first American paratroop units arrived at Britain ideas , and several kitbags exchanged. After Normandy a Us Master sergeant Joseph Lanci maintenace section 501 Pir developed a US version used during Market-Garden. Information from the book 21st independant parachute company, and Special forces equiptment British parachute by Jean -Louis Perquin
Hello Jean-Louis, thank you for sharing this. We don’t know much about these leg bags, how they came about, and the different versions that existed. I am still glad I bought mine when they were still made. Other copies I have seen don’t come close. And I am pretty sure I once saw this same replica being offered for sale as an original. The only difference I could make out from the photos were some stampings on the inside. Regards, Wouter
Is there anywhere that shows how a leg bag was used?
Instruction manual, diagrams or video perhaps?
Hello Kevin, no not that I know of. I’d be interested too. Books that I have read all say they were issued last minute and that US paratroopers hadn’t actually had any chance to train with them. Hence the many mishaps with these bags on the combat jumps.
I bought the leg bag but it’s not the british it’s the US (reproduction). Do you have the pictures with this leg bag during the Normandie.
I see always the US Paratroopers with the leg bag British but not US.
Could you please confirm if this leg bag US was used in Normandie?
Thanks for your answer and your support.
Hi Xavier, I sent you an email. Looking forward to hearing from you.