|D-Day and Combat May 44 to October|
|G.I's Gear for Rifleman Assault Team (Boat Position No 1 & 2)
Web waist Belt
Helmet with Liner
Handkerchiefs x 2
Wool Socks Impregnated
Protective Flannel Shirt
Protective Wool Trousers
Protective undershirt wool.
1 sleeve, gas Detector
1928 haversack and carrier.
Canteen, Cup and cover
First Aid Pouch and Bandage
SHOVEL, ENTRENCHING, M-1943 With Tan Carrier.
PICK-MATTOCK, ENTRENCHING, M-1910 AND CARRIER.
1 x Smoke Grenade.
2 x Frag Grenade.
Paratroopers First Aid Pack
1 1/2lb Block of TNT
1 x M1 Pull Fuse Lighter
8' Prima cord
Rubberised Gas Mask Bag.
1 tube ointment protective
1 set anti dim agent
1 sleeve, gas Detector
1 8 oz can shoe impregnate
1 gas cover individual
1 eye ointment, BAL.
1 M5 Gas Mask
2 vomit bags
4 ½ oz Heat units
1 vial water purification tablets
1 can dusting powder
1 pack seasickness pills
2 M1926 USN Life belts
1 Pliofilm cover for Rifle
Ike's Orders of the Day.
7 packs of cigarettes
1 razor blade
7 sticks of gum
280 matches ( 7 x 40 Boxes)
½ oz pipe Tobacco ( on demand)
3 K Rations ( Breakfast, Dinner, Supper)
3 x D Rations
Assault troops were to leave the mess kit, knife and fork in their blanket rolls. An extra mess kit was issued to them for use at sea. They were to leave it on board ship when they loaded into the landing craft.
Equipment to be placed in the Blanket roll.
1 Cotton drawers, short
1 pair shoes, service
2 pair socks, wool
1 undershirt, cotton
2 blankets, wool
1 towel, bath
1 suit HBT ( 1 or 2 piece )
Shelter half, pole, rope and 5 pins
( for assault troops - include mess kit, knife and fork)
176 Rounds of 30.06 Ammunition.
(80 in Belt, 2 Bandoleers of 96)
Additional Kit issued to individual personal depending on their role
Officers & Nco's
BAG, CANVAS, FIELD, OD, M-1936 ( MUSETTE )
SUSPENDER, BELT, M-1936
CASE, CANVAS, DISPATCH, M-1938
COMPASS, LENSATIC, AND CARRYING CASE
M3 BINOCULARS AND LEATHER CARRYCASE M17
For Automatic Riflemen
BELT, MAGAZINE,BAR, M-1937
KNIFE, TRENCH, M3 WITH SCABBARD M8
For men issued the M1 Carbine:
BELT, PISTOL, OR REVOLVER, M-1936
POCKET, MAGAZINE, CAL .30, M1
KNIFE, TRENCH, M3 WITH SCABBARD M8
For men issued with a Pistol:
BELT, PISTOL, OR REVOLVER, M-1936
POCKET, MAGAZINE, M-1923
HOLSTER, PISTOL, CAL.45, M-1916
KNIFE, TRENCH, M3 WITH SCABBARD M8
Issued to Medics
AXE, ENTRENCHING, M-1910 AND CARRIER
OTHER USEFUL ITEMS ALL MEMBERS SHOULD GET
FM 21-100 BASIC INFANTRYMAN'S HANDBOOK
.30CAL AMMO TIN
K RATION CRATE
OTHER BOOKLETS AND GUIDES
FUEL TABLETS FOR COOKING
|TAG, IDENTIFICATION, M1940.
Commonly known as 'dog' tags, these metal tags contained the wearer's key medical and personal information for both medical and graves registration purposes. Wartime tags can be recognised by their rolled edge and notched rim, which was to seat the tag in the stamping machine. Both tags contained identical information, in the following format: -
Serial Number + Date of Tetanus Inoculation
Next of Kin + Blood type
In 1943, the next of kin details were omitted as it was rumoured that details of killed or captured soldiers were being passed to German sympathisers on the American mainland. (In fact, it was simply to prevent excessive buckling of the tags). Similarly, contrary to mythology, both dog tags were to be left on the fallen soldier as removing them robbed the body of identification. One tag was buried with the body, while the other, after processing, became part of the soldier's grave marker
DRAWERS, COTTON, SHORTS
According to the table of issue, every GI received five pairs of under shorts. Early in the war, they were white, but as the war progressed, and interests of camouflage, they were produced in olive drab colour. They had three buttons at the waistband and had -in lieu of elastic – tie fasteners for final adjustment. While un-issued and reproduction underwear is available (and surprisingly comfortable) this is one area of authenticity we leave to the individual's conscience!
UNDERSHIRT, SUMMER, SLEEVELESS.
Like the under shorts, each GI was issued five singlets. These too, were initially white at the start of the war, but due to camouflage reasons, production was changed to olive drab cotton. Original undershirts are available – as are very good reproductions and, like the GI under shorts, the choice between original and reproduction is left to the individual's scruples.
There were two types of socks for the infantryman – cotton and wool – and every soldier was issued three pairs of each. While original socks are available, modern military examples are acceptable and, longer lasting.
SHIRT, FLANNEL, OD, COAT STYLE.
Like the wool trousers, every GI received two wool shirts. The phrase coat style is because it opened fully at the front – unlike the “pull over” predecessors and had two breast pockets with button down flaps. The shirt came in two types - 'regular' and ‘special’, the only difference being the special had a gas flap behind the buttons and gussets to protect against vesicant chemicals. Some shirts also have a pair of buttons underneath the collar intended as fastenings for the gas hood. Many soldiers removed the gas flaps as they added thickness and bulk when worn with their Class A & B uniform.
BELT, WEB, WAIST M1937
Every soldier was issued one of these trouser belts. At 1 1/4 inch width, the belt had a metal tip and an "open face" buckle, which is a design still in service today. While "Closed face buckles", akin to those worn by officers, were sold at the PX, we insist on the "open face" type, which was more typical of the type issued to the enlisted man.
TROUSERS, WOOL, SERGE, OD, LIGHT SHADE M1937
On entering the service, every soldier was issued two pairs of wool – or more accurately 18-ounce serge trousers. The trousers have two side seam pockets, a watch pocket on the right front waistband and two rear hip pockets. Because they are made from a lighter shade material than the service coat and, to differentiate them from the darker, later war production runs, they have earned the anachronistic term of “mustards” by collectors. The cut of the wool trousers was improved following combat experience in North Africa, the most notably being the increase of the seat by two inches and the addition of an anti-gas flap across the fly. Later runs had flaps covering the rear pocket opening and button and tab adjusters at the bottom of the leg.
SWEATER, HIGH NECK.
In 1944, the sweater finally appeared on the individual table of clothing and equipment list. At this stage of the war, the Army had finalised its policy of “layering” clothing, in which long underwear, shirt, sweater, Ike jacket and M1943 Jacket could be worn in combinations to meet the demands of a temperate climate - while replacing special warm clothing (like the overcoat etc). Prior to this, many soldiers received knitted garments from the Red Cross or, from family members, which meant the sweater could come in variety of styles and designs. The Army issue sweater, however, was the “five button” worsted type, which featured a stand-up neck, elasticised cuffs, and waistband. Over fourteen and a half million sweaters were produced and an almost identical design remains in service today. Reproductions are available. Other period designs were sleeveless with round neck, or long sleeve with 'V' neck.
Prior to 1939, the US Army's intention was to fight in the service coat. However as the clouds of war closed in, the Army decided to search for a more practical garment for fighting in, and which would ultimately consign the service coat to dress occasions. The resulting garment was based on a civilian jacket – it was short olive drab jacket made from windproof, water-repellent cotton poplin with a flannel lining. It had two slash pockets at the front, adjustable cuff and neck closures and had pleats at the shoulder allowing more flexibility. As one might expect, the jacket was not a particularly successful as the poplin material tended to wear out quickly in combat, was hot in summer and cold in winter, lacked a decent pocket capacity, and tended to show up against dark backgrounds. While attempts to improve the garment resulted in the M1943 combat jacket, such quantities had been produced that these were the most common jacket until well into 1945. Collectors anachronistically call these jackets as M41 (after the pattern date) to differentiate them from the later M43 pattern. The real GIs, untutored in designs, patterns and model numbers simply call them.... field jackets.
The service shoes were ankle height, of russet leather with a composite rubber sole. The leather was flesh outwards. The laces were of the brown flat type.
LEGGINGS, CANVAS, M1938, DISMOUNTED.
Leggings were issued to all enlisted men and came in four sizes. They were made of canvas duck material, and fastened over the service shoes with a webbing strap. The leggings were then laced up by means of hooks and eyelets, which made them notoriously unpopular with the soldiers, being awkward and time consuming to lace up (especially when wet and cold).
HELMET. STEEL, Ml, COMPLETE.
The M1 steel helmet is synonymous with the image of the WWII GI. It consisted of two parts –an outer steel pot with web chinstrap and the removable plastic liner - which held the adjustable sweatband and cradle. The liner could be worn for ceremonial duties, while the outer steel cover (in addition to offering protection) could additionally serve as an improvised basin, bucket, or entrenching tool. The outer surface of the steel helmet was sprinkled with ground cork and coated with a thick coat of olive drab paint to reduce glare from the sun. A net was also placed over the top, to hold camouflage to break up its distinctive outline. In the First Division, it was an SOP to hand-paint the unit insignia on the front of both the helmet and liner.
CAP, WOOL KNIT, MODEL M-1941.
Fondly recognised as being the headgear worn by Radar O'Riley from MASH, the jeep cap was a close fitting wool cap designed to sit beneath the steel helmet in cold weather. The small peak and fold down sides covered the ears and mirrored the helmet edge. The jeep cap's unmilitary appearance is alleged to have made it one of General Patton's pet banes.
BELT, CARTRIDGE, CAL.30, M-1923, DISMOUNTED,
This was the standard piece of equipment for anyone armed with the M1 or M1903a4 rifle – and carried 80 or 50 rounds respectively. The belt comprised of a left and right section of five pockets each, linked by an adjustable back strap. Along the base of the belt were eyeholes, which allowed the suspension of equipment – such as canteens, aid pouches etc.
POUCH. FIRST AID PACKET, M1942.
This pouch was used to carry a soldier's "Carlisle" field dressing and sulphanilamide wound tablets. Officially, it was supposed to be worn to the rear right of the wearer's rifle belt. In combat however, it tended to be moved to the front, where it could be reached more easily when hit.
COVER, CANTEEN, DISMOUNTED, M-1910.
As the name suggests, this was the felt lined cover for the canteen and cup. According to regulations, it was to be carried on the rear left of the wearer's belt, but was not really enforced outside garrison.
CANTEEN M-1910, CUP M-1910.
The M-1910 canteen and cup carried a quart of liquid. It was initially made of aluminium, with a matching aluminium cap, however this was substituted by stainless steel (with a bakelite cap) to conserve precious metals. The canteen was slightly convex to follow the contour of the body and similarly shaped canteen cup, into which it fitted. The canteen cup had a folding handle that clipped around the bottom of the cup when not in use, and has the maker's name and date stamped on it.
The complete assembly fitted in to the canteen cover.
The haversack was the infantryman's pack, into which the soldier would roll his raincoat, rations, bedding and personal effects. Erroneously called a "doughboy", the pack had two hangers, for the bayonet (side) and entrenching tool (back) respectively. The shoulder straps enabled the haversack to clip to the cartridge belt, and support some of the weight of the ammunition and canteen from the wearer's waist. The haversack was never popular with the infantry, and was declared "limited standard" from 1943 in favour of a more practical design. However, with over 7 million haversacks constructed, they were still in service after 1945.
This was an item of equipment issued to the first wave troops exclusively for D-Day. The assault jacket was a waist length, sleeveless garment made from canvas duck and fastened by two quick release straps allowing it to be shucked off if the wearer found himself struggling or at risk of drowning. The jacket had two chest and two lower pockets on the front, a large pack at the top of the back (with eyelets for the bayonet and entrenching tool). Beneath that was a pouch, which covered the base of the spine while at waist height was eyelets to allow the fitting of aid pouches, canteens etc.
The Assault Jackets were issued just day's prior to embarkation and consequently, were viewed by some soldiers with distrust and avoided, in preference to the tried and tested rifle belt and haversack.
This was a short paper sleeve, coated in vesicant detecting paint, which changed colour when it exposed to gas. Worn on either shoulder, it was tied by a fabric loop to the field jacket epaulette.
POUCH, MEAT CAN.
A meat can pouch was actually a component of the M1928 haversack and attached to the outer flap by two straps – allowing the entrenching tool to fit behind it. Designed to house the soldier’s mess gear (or meat can), the inside rear of the pouch contained three pockets for the knife, fork and spoon – each in leather sheaths. The outer pouch held the meat can and fastened with a buckle. Frequently, the meat cans were thrown away or left with the company kitchens; leaving the pouch free for the soldier to carry his emergency rations.
KNIFE, FORK, SPOON, M-l926.
With the meat-can, every GI was issued a set of stamped stainless steel cutlery (or silverware as the Americans call it). The fork and spoon were stamped from a flat piece of steel and had the US initials embossed in the handle. Early knives had a black, bakelite handle, which was a move to save aluminium for the war effort. All items in the set had a hole in the handle to allow the implement to be hooked onto the meat can handle – enabling the whole ensemble to be immersed in boiling water as part of the sterilization process after washing up. In combat, most soldiers discarded all but the spoon, which best suited the stew based rations.
CAN, MEAT TOP AND BOTTOM WITH HANDLE
This was the standard eating 'dish' of the soldier. It came in two parts - an upper lid and a lower pan, with a folding handle, which clipped the two components together. The date of manufacture and maker's name was stamped into the folding handle, which is useful to note as the design remains in use today. Early model meat cans were simply copies of the first war pattern, but as supplies of aluminium fell short, the design was improved and produced in stainless steel. In combat, tactical conditions made it hard to heat food - let alone use the meat can and, cleaning the gear well enough to prevent dysentery or food poisoning was a problem. Similarly, the bulky and noisy metal kits meant many units would pool the company's mess gear with their kitchen for when the men were pulled from the line and could use them.
TOOL, Entrenching M-1910.
As the pattern date suggests, this was a pre-first war design that was pushed into service for WWII. It is effectively a small shovel that allowed the soldier to dig in against enemy fire. The blade of the shovel fitted into a D shaped duck cover, which buckled with a web strap around the haft to hold it in place. The back of the cover had the hooks that allowed it to be suspended from the haversack or belt. This intrenching tool had a 'T' shaped handle which was considered a design flaw in that it could snag on obstacles like barbed wire and impede movement. For this reason, it was declared "limited standard" when, in 1943 a more versatile digging tool was adopted, but sufficient quantities had been made that the T-handle can be seen in use late in the war. According to the pre-D Day 1944 Company T/O&E, (i.e. official theory) each ten men had seven shovels with the remaining men carrying pick mattocks and axes.
The M1910 pick mattock, like the intrenching tool, was also a Great War product and, was to augment the squad's ability to dig in on hard or stony ground. Comprising a hafted pick axe head and short handle, it fitted into a convenient carrying case which allowed it to be carried identically to the shovel. There were thirty-seven of these in a rifle company and were issued on the basis of two every ten men. Unlike the shovel, the pick mattock wasn't completely replaced by the M-43 intrenching tool.
The M1910 hand axe was issued on the basis of one to every ten men. Unfortunately, the ability to say who carried the axe in the squad is impossible – although this item is issued to medics who were to use it to fell small trees and branches to make overhead cover for holes, chop out roots and presumably improvise poles for litters. In combat, most soldiers went for one of the more practical digging tools described above – although sharp eyes can sometimes see the axe in photographs.
The US Army entered the Second War armed with the M1905 bayonet from Great War. The stockpiles which fulfilled the Army's peacetime needs began to run out with mobilisation of millions of men, so production of the M1905 bayonet resumed in 1942. In 1943, the army realised that a 16" blade was neither desirable nor practical, and set about redesigning it. The resulting M1 bayonet was functionally identical, but had a 10" blade and shorter scabbard. To help speed production, the decision was made to take existing stocks of M1905 bayonets and cut the blade length down to 10 inches too; a practice, which continued through to the end of the war. These cut down blades came in two styles – "spear point" (tapering to a tip) and "beak point" (curved and tapered back from the top of the blade). During basic training, the average infantryman underwent 8 hours tuition in bayonet fighting, although incidents of bayonet use were few.
BLANKET - Wool M-1934.
An enlisted man was issued two olive drab wool blankets. In combat, another two blankets (or one wool sleeping bag) were rolled together to form a "bedroll". These tended to be kept with the Supply Sergeant and brought up to the soldiers if – or when combat conditions permitted.
M7 WATERPROOF CARRIER FOR M5 ASSAULT GAS MASK
Issued to assault troops, the M5 gasmask was a compact version of the Army gasmask, which replaced the standard tube with a cylindrical, cheek mounted respirator. The simplified M5 design was adopted and, with minor refinements became the standard M9 gasmask during the Korean War. The most noticeable difference is the Wartime masks are made of black neoprene and have a cylindrical terminal. Fortunately, the gasmasks weren’t needed during the landings - although some soldiers are alleged to have used them against burning brush smoke as they climbed the bluffs on Omaha. The masks were recovered from the troops within weeks of the landings – as were the conventional types when it became clear they were unlikely to be needed.
The M7 carrier which held the mask was constructed of black rubber and marked on the front with the US Army chemical warfare symbol and the wording “US Army assault mask” in olive drab paint. Its construction was simple – being effectively a black tube, sealed at the bottom and whose open neck was rolled down and sealed by poppers. The straps attached to the corners of the bag enabled the soldier to wear it against his leg, across the chest or in the conventional position - under the left arm. It is alleged that the airtight nature of the bag enabled it to work like a life preserver – but evidence of this has to be proven. It’s also told that the masks and bags were issued in the embarkation camps, only to be withdrawn a few days later for re-issue as the wear and tear of speed marches was damaging the rubber coatings of the bag. The gasmask carrier remained in production through out the war, making appearances again in Operation Varsity. However, these later issue bags are marked with just “Service gas mask” and substitute lift-a-dot fastenings for the poppers.
M26 U.S. NAVY LIFE PRESERVER
Strictly speaking, these were navy issue. All army personnel in the assault waves were issued these and some 16th Infantry veterans recall that each member received two - possibly because of previous amphibious experience in North Africa and Tunisia. The life preserver was a belt like item consisting of a pair of rubber tubes, which were inflated by CO2 canisters. There were two black tubes, which could be used to manually inflate the belt – or top it up. The belt was supposed to be worn beneath the armpits, but had a tendency to slide down to the waist which, could prove detrimental to the soldiers who tended to be top heavy. It has been speculated that the inflated life preserver may have contributed to as many drownings as it prevented.
PARACHUTE FIRST AID PACKET
This was a special item of equipment issued to the assault troops and was to augment the individual's first aid dressing. This was important as the casualty rates were expected to be high and opportunities for medical evacuation limited during the first few hours of the landings. Originally designed for aircrews, it consisted of a rubberised pouch with two cotton tabs that allowed the wearer to tie it on his equipment according to his choice. Inside was a tourniquet, carlisle bandage, and a ½ grain syrette of morphine. The packets were called back a few weeks after D-Day as there were concerns about the application of morphine by "untrained" hands.
TENT, SHELTER, HALF x2 AND PINS
In theory, every soldier carried a shelter-half, a collapsible tent pole, a rope and five pegs – or "pins". Soldiers would pair off; button their halves together to make a pup tent. In practice, front line troops seldom got to pitch tents in the front-line which provided perfect targets for the enemy. The wartime shelter half had two design flaws. It was a light tan shade which was a camouflage concern, and was open to the elements at one end. While these problems had been identified as early as 1941, production of the double ended shade shelter-halves did not commence until 1943. During this period, such huge stocks of single ended shelter-halves had been produced that, the double ended, OD pattern remained uncommon. We prefer the earlier open ended pattern, but will allow double ended tents on the proviso that they are button fastened only - not press studs.
Re-supplies of rifle ammunition was brought up to the line in wooden crates containing cotton 25 bandoleers. Each bandoleer had six pockets and could carry 48 rounds of clipped M1 ammunition or 60 rounds of '03 ammunition in stripper clips. It should be explained that the '03 stripper clips were also used to refill the BAR magazine. The bandoleers were hung over the shoulders to augment the infantryman's basic ammunition load and were discarded when empty.
BAG, CARRYING, AMMUNITION, M1.
Everyone in the rifle squad carried one of these with the exception of the Browning Auto Rifle ammunition bearers for the, who were supposed to carry two. The ammunition bag could hold 5 rifle grenades, or 11 hand grenades (in their card containers) or 250 rounds of ball ammunition.
A similar design, albeit more elaborate, is still in use today with the army. They were typically made in olive drab plastic although metal was used early in the war. Contrary to popular belief flashlights, like watches, compasses and whistles were the preserve of Officers and select NCOs in the Weapons Platoon. Indeed, only 28 were issued to a company of 192 men!
ROLL, TOILET, Complete.
This is a collective term for the soldier’s basic ablutions equipment. Every GI was issued a toothbrush, shaving brush and razor (with five blades), a comb, one bath and two huck towels. Different rolls based on civilian styles were sold at the PX, although the most effective was an olive drab 'tool roll' type bag. Toiletries were supposed to be carried in the haversack, although combat conditions could pare the contents down to the basics - just a toothbrush. Opportunities to clean occurred in a rest area.
Original toiletries are still available but, like the underwear, we leave the decision to use these vintage items to the individual. For those that choose to – watch out for the nylon in the toothbrushes - it tends to harden with age and the tooth powder is very abrasive. The grit soap, happily, doesn’t smell too bad though!
COVER, CANVAS, MUZZLE, CARBINE OR RIFLE.
As the name suggests this was a small cylindrical piece of canvas, closed at one end that fitted over the muzzle of the carbine or rifle. A canvas bag with a tape and press-stud fastening secured the cover, which was to keep the barrel clear of mud and snow when not in combat. Every soldier was issued one.
CUTTER, WIRE, M1938
Each rifle company had thirty seven of these – and they were issued on the basis of two to every ten men. These came in a canvas duck pouch and would be suspended from the rifle belt. These should not be confused with the wire cutters which came in a leather pouch and were exclusively for linesmen.