|CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT LISTS FOR THE WINTER UNIT IMPRESSION|
|JACKET, FIELD, M-1943.
In 1942, the Army had already begun work to create a combat uniform which, was not only superior to the olive drab field jacket (M1941), but also capable of replacing the variety of different uniforms in use by the paratroopers, armoured force, mountain troops, etc. After much internal disagreement within the quartermasters, the resulting Combat Jacket was a four - pocket jacket made in the olive drab No7 shade sateen. The cut of the jacket was far superior to the earlier field jacket, with roomier sleeves and greater pocket capacity. Although the pattern was dated M-1943, the first jackets were field tested at Anzio in 1944 and, following favourable reports, rushed into production. Unfortunately, supplies of this jacket didn’t start reaching the front-line in adequate numbers until the fall of 1944. In late 1944, a hood was produced that buttoned on to the combat jacket protecting the neck and ears from the cold and wet. Again, supplies didn’t generally reach the front line troops until late in the winter campaign.
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.
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.
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.
The Army approached World War II with the Type I service shoe - an ankle height, “chromed”, brown leather boot - with a toe cap and plain leather sole. It quickly became clear that the service shoe’s soles quickly wore out and, consequently, were unlikely to withstand the punishment of combat. The solution was the unimaginatively titled “Type II” service shoe, which featured a composite rubber tap (sole) and heel. In mid-1943, combat experience revealed areas for design change, resulting in the creation of the Type III service shoe. Anachronistically called “rough-outs” by collectors to describe their appearance, they were constructed with the flesh side of the leather on the outside of the shoe, which was easier to break in, more comfortable and, in theory, capable of absorbing dubbing and gas proofing pastes more easily. Unfortunately, the shoe tended to absorb water equally well. This problem would also afflict the M-1943 combat boot, which used the Type III as the basis of its construction.
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).
BOOTS, SERVICE, COMBAT.
The combat boot was introduced in 1943 as a move to replace the service shoe and leggings, as well as standardise the different boots in service with the Army. It was essentially the standard service shoe in use at the time (Type III) but with a leather cuff added at the top, which fastened around the leg with two buckles. The boots gradually began to reach the front-lines by late 1944 and were generally well received by the troops, although the main complaint came from the flesh out surface of the boot that tended to absorb moisture easily which, in turn, contributed to trench foot. Similarly, the rough finish didn’t hold a shine or polish which, with the return to a “spit and shine” mentality following hostilities in 1945, would be the bane of many soldiers lives while they sweated out the wait to go home. Interestingly, the 1945 table of equipment still lists the issue of two pairs of service shoes and leggings, describing the combat boots as being for field use only.
DRAWERS! SHORTS, WOOL COTTON MIX, COTTON.
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, WOOL COTTON MIX.
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.
HELMET. STEEL MODEL Ml PLUS LINER.
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.
The overcoat was a double-breasted wool garment with two slash side pockets, epaulettes and a buttoned half-belt in the back that could be loosened to allow the wearer greater manoeuvrability. It originally had brass buttons, but in 1942, the buttons were replaced with plastic to conserve materials. While it was very smart, unfortunately, it wasn’t particularly effective as a combat garment, being stiff, tight fitting and heavy (especially when wet) while the length of the coat tended to impede movement when marching or fighting. As such, it was to be replaced by the “layering” system of the M-1943 combat uniform and consequently was relegated to use with the service uniform and formal dress. However, shortfalls in the production of the M-1943 combat uniform and lack of warm clothing meant that stocks of overcoats had to be rushed to Europe for the winter campaign.
A wool knit item in Olive drab.
GLOVES, WOOL, OD, LEATHER PALM.
Standard issue winter gloves, not to be used as work gloves
BELT, CARTRIDGE, CAL. .30, DISMOUNTED, M-1928.
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.
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.
POUCH, MEAT CAN.
A small TAN canvas pouch that attached to the outer flap of the haversack. The pouch contains slip pockets for the knife, fork and spoon and a space for the meat can assembly. 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.
SHOVEL, ENTRENCHING, M-1943 With OD Carrier.
PICK-MATTOCK, ENTRENCHING, M-1910 AND CARRIER.
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.
AXE, ENTRENCHING, M-1910 AND CARRIER
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.
BLANKET - Wool M-1934.
An enlisted man was issued six olive drab wool blankets. Only one was used in the blanket/bedding roll.
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
.3006 Cal. ammunition was brought up in cases pre loaded into spring clips and then into cotton bandoleers which could be slug over the shoulder. Each bandoleer held six clips. A good way of carrying 'more ammo' for an in combat impression.
GENERAL PURPOSE AMMUNITION BAG.
A tan canvas bag designed to hold a 250 round ammunition can, with shoulder strap used to carry extra ammunition, grenades etc.
FLASHLIGHT, RIGHT ANGLE.
Almost identical to the modern right-angled torch, the flashlight was olive drab in colour and made of either metal or plastic.
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.
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 titted 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.
WIRE - CUTTERS + CARRYING CASE.
A good item to have for the D-Day impression. Look for a carrying case in TAN canvas dated up to 1943.
CASE, CLEANING + RODS FOR Ml RIFLE.
A set of cleaning rods in a canvas carrying case, which could be suspended from the haversack or cartridge belt. The Rods would fit any weapon with a .30 06 Cal. bore.
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