The german Y-straps

Koppeltragestell auf leder mit hilfstrageriemen fur infanterie

Pre war period the german soldier was equipped with traditional and high quality equipment. One iconic item from this period is the Model 34 tornister, the socalled "affe".  It was attached to the koppelschloss with straps and was not intended for combat use. The field gear was attached to the belt wich was supported by internal straps in the feldbluse to carry the weight. As of 18.april.1939 (HM39, no 328) the Y-straps came into use as part of a new system for infantry. The tornister was redesigned losing the support straps. The M34 was designed to be attached to the Y-straps.  As accessory the gefechtsgepack fur infanterie (A-rame) was developed. It could be attached directly to the Y-straps for combat use or to the M34 Tornister backside. 

Later developments includet various canvas backpacks replacing the mor expensive, resource consuming tornister. The Y-straps followed the german soldier to the end of the war with minor changes.

Picture showing a late war soldier equipped with late war Y-straps. The support straps are fastened to the magazine pouches. He carries a M44 sturmgepack on his back. 

Soldier from early days of the war armed with an Mp40. The sturmgepack A-frame is attached to the sipport hooks on the back of the Y-straps.

Initially the Y-straps was issued to infantry troops, but it saw wider use as the war progressed. A belt hook similar to the one found (often missing) on the tornister secured the back to the belt. In front the hooks connected to the ammunition pouches or other gear by hooks. There were D-ring loops developed to the fasten the Y-straps to the belt, when no gear was used to attach the straps. The support straps with D-rings went under the arms and attached to the backpack the soldier was wearing. In the beginning the soldier hade the M39 Tornister attached with A-frame. The tornister carried various personal equipment and items. For combat, the A-frame detached form the Tornister and was hooked directly to the Y-straps.

The Y-straps was adjustable, both in front and in the back to facilitate the individual soldier.

early rare alumium Y-straps by "L.L.G" in Thuringen indicating produced by "Kritzler KG in rebbelroth, Køln. 

As much german field gear it was not limited to a certain small amount of factories. When the military contracts was in the horizon every lederwaren fabrik started producing Y-Straps to gain a share of the new marked. The war economy created a boost for several manufacturers. A complete list of all manufacturers of Y.straps does not exist. Due to the vast number of producers, the variations in details are numerous even they follow the same design. Many producers stille exist today. "franz Brehme Walsrode", one of the common seen producers is till making lederwaren today.

In 1939 when the Koppeltragestell was introduced, resources was still availeable in germany an the war was in the beginning. The Y-straps from this period has alumium hardware and are made of high quality leather. Y-straps are carefully made with precision as can be seen with the hidden stitching, displayed further below. During the course of the war, time an resource saving changes were made. The changes can not bed dated as the nurmerous manufacturers made the changes when resources and labour became scarcer. 

As with most field gear manufacture, use of alumium is replaced by greypainted steel from 1940/41. The timing for the simplified stitching (not hidden) cannot be stated. As of 16.09-1942 firms are instructed to use the Rb.No system. On this page a Y-strap by franz Brehme dated 1942 has hidden stitching. marked with hidden stitch can be seen but later in the war all specimens have visible stitching. As the war progressed the field grey painting of the steel aslo disappeared.

Around 1940 Y-straps of green webbing was made for the tropical Theathre and used for the Afrikakorps. Web Y-straps was used after the defeat in africa, both in tropical theatre and the more northern fronts.

The different type of stitching can be seen to the left. Left shows a Franz Brehme 1942 with hidden. Picture right is a Ewald Luneschloss late war specimen with visible stitching.

Same Y-strap from the side. The left has a split in the leather hiding the stitches from the front. Time consuming precision labor , but high quality both visual and material wise.

The Koppeltragestell consisted of three straps joined together on a D-ring om the soldiers back. The D-ring was protected by a leather flap. This basic design is common for all Y-straps. The two wode front straps are sown toghether in a lopp over the D-ring. The back strap is fastened with a locking nut making the bot adjustable and detachable. These backs straps are often missing or replaced by postwar examples. Even tornister straps can be seen-

Different variations of back strap hardware. Early examples are riveted to the leather, later ones are sown in a loop around the hardware. Later in the war both can be seen. Also are the "skeleton" hook made by wire.

Variatons of the D-rings on the back. Left is a early version made of alumium (L.L.G Thuringen 1940), Middle is a variety often seen and left is a angled D-ring. With Numerous manufacturers, the design is the same, but they differ in details. 

Front straps attachimg to pouches or D-ring loops- Left is a early version, right is later. The later versions has a buckle design for adjusting the auxilirary strap similirar to the one on the eraly tornisters. The early has teardrop shaped holes as found on all backtraps and a rivet for locking the adjustment. Note the numbering ppunched into the leather on the early version.

Examples of different Y-straps

Photographic evidences states that the Y-straps was in limitied use in the Polish campaign. In the Norwegian campaign, pictures shows the Feldbluse36 with internal straps in most combat photgraphs. The early Y-straps are rare. This particular Y-strap was made by L.L.G in thuringen 1940. It features all alumium hardware and the "old style" back hook. The straps are marked on both Wide straps with "L.L.G Thuringen 1940". Hidden stitching and early aux strap adjustment. Long shaped D-rings on aux straps. Numbering for adjustemnt is marke din the leather.

Above is a Y-strap made by Franz Brehme aus Walsrode in 1942. The leather company still exists today and was a manufacturer of various leather equipment for the military. Marked on the right wide strap with "Franz breme 1942". It features painted metal hardware and "old style" back hook. Note that the stitching on the back hook is not square but has a rounded route on the top. The Y-strap has the "old style" adjustment on the aux strap an the long D-rings. Numbering marking the adjustment found on the leather. Hidden stitching on the D-rings

RB.No: 0/0565/0025 Y-strap made by Kritzler KG in Nebelroth (Koln). It is marked on the protective flap of the main O-ring. It is made of thicker leather and no hidden stitching. The D-rings on the aux straps are oval in shape. It has the Thinner simplifed backstrap. The adjustment straps have the buckle design.

RB.NO 0/0561/0075 Y-strap made by Ewald luneschloss Militar effekten fabrik in Solingen. They produced leather for feltspaten, backpacks and belts for the military. Marked on the left wide strap with barely readable Y-straps can see,m unmarked, but with proper light an possible som talkumpowder the marking is often to be found. Painted steel hardware and narrow backstrap. It has the adjustement buckle on the aux straps wich also features the Oval D-ring. Some of the holdes on the aux straps has not been punched all out. Rivet for adjustment of backtrap made of alumium. 

RB.NO 0/0675/0122 Y-strap made by Joseph Braier from Frankfurt am main.  Features wide backstrap and grey painted metal hardware. The main D-ring has the angled design. on the right wide strap. This version has the buckle adjsutment and oval D-rings on the aux straps. Dark in color as they were found dried up but in very good condition so they have been treated.