MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELL
THE US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. THE PACIFIC
1: Infantry private, 23rd Infantry Division, October 1942
The 'Americal' was the first Army division to be deployed to Guadalcanal in support of the battle-worn Marines. This private still wears the one-piece HBT overall suit; most men found this to be too hot, and hard to remove when (the very prevalent) dysentery came calling. He has dispensed with his leggings, and is typically accoutered for combat with the minimum of web equipment; note that like the figures on Plate A he still has the World War I patterns of canteen and first aid pouch on his rifle cartridge belt. Like the vast majority of GIs during the war he has decided not to buckle his helmet chinstrap; he would rather hold the helmet in place while running than risk a broken neck. Unlike his Marine comrades this GI is armed with the M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle; on Guadalcanal the Marines quickly saw the value of its high rate of fire, and 'obtained' as many as possible. He also carries a fragmentation grenade in his right breast pocket.
2: Rifle grenadier, 25th Infantry Division, 1943
This 'sad sack' is wearing one of the handy new ponchos based on the USMC design; in its role as rainwear this green shelter-half, which had a myriad of uses, could be snapped along the edges to form loose sleeves, and covered both man and equipment. He is armed with the M1903A3 modification of the Springfield, the most discernible difference being the new placement of the rear sight; note also the rifle grenade launcher attachment at the muzzle. The short T-handled shovel of World War I was used throughout the war, although its (theoretical) replacement - the folding- head tool based on the German model - would soon arrive. The 25th 'Tropical Lightning' Division, with its prewar Regular Army cadre, would win a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions in the Guadalcanal campaign.
3: Infantry sergeant, 23rd Infantry Division, 1943
Although he has tucked the shirt into the trousers, his first pattern HBT two-piece uniform is identifiable by its pleated breast pockets. Because its green colour faded quickly with use it was sometimes overdyed a blackish green. This NCO shows no insignia; he is armed with a M97 Winchester pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, a .45cal pistol, and an early war MkIIA1 fragmentation grenade painted yellow all over - this was soon reduced to a narrow yellow stripe around the top of the grenade body. Shotguns were used by the Army and Marines throughout the Pacific campaigns, but in very limited numbers and not without some controversy.
1: Corporal machine gunner
An infantry battalion's heavy weapons company would normally have eight .30cal water-cooled M1917A1 machine guns. This GI cradles one of these weapons - which weighs 41 lbs (18.6kg) with water in the jacket. The M1917A1 and the lighter air-cooled M1919 were functionally almost identical, though the more awkward tripod and the water jacket of the 1917 model allowed sustained defensive fire. The corporal section leader wears the later pattern HBT shirt with long, unpleated pockets, and the new HBT trousers with thigh cargo pockets (both the shirt and trouser pockets could hold the new K-ration box). He displays no rank insignia, and is identifiable only by his role as gunner, his pistol belt and holstered .45 automatic.
2: Private second gunner
Like his crewmates he wears a second pattern HBT shirt. The blackened metal '13-star' buttons used on HBTs - sometimes known as the 'Starburst of Freedom' design - were sometimes later replaced by standard drab green plastic buttons. While not popular, this large-mesh helmet netting would last most of the war as an issue item. His footwear is the latest in specially designed jungle boots; while lacking in support their lightness and quick drying made them attractive to many GIs. (An ankle-length version was also seen in use.) The Browning tripod weighs 52lbs (23.6kg); he also carries an all-purpose ammunition bag (its LTD fasteners suggesting a locally made 'custom' example), an M1 carbine and its two-magazine pouch, and an entrenching tool.
3: Private ammunition bearer
Two or more men would be assigned to carry ammunition for a machine gun; each can carried 250 belted rounds and weighed 5lbs (.2kg). Old World War I vintage wooden boxes were also still in limited use, but this steel box was the standard (and has remained in US Army use with few changes to this day). This GI is wearing the standard mid-war HBTs - unusually, with leggings - and is using one of several similar patterns of issue machete to cut trail. Clips for his Garand are carried in his web rifle belt and a use-and-throw-away cotton bandoleer; the bayonet would hang on his left hip. These M1936 web suspenders were commonly discarded in the Pacific; here he has a MkIIA1 grenade fixed to one - GIs sometimes used tape to secure them.
1: Sniper of an infantry unit
This sniper wears the one-piece M1942 camouflaged suit, and the M1941 billed soft fatigue cap - a very popular item, and sometimes seen worn under the helmet. The one-piece suit was the first special jungle uniform issued, but like its HBT green counterpart it proved too hot and too awkward - when heading for the latrine the GI had to remove his web equipment and shrug the top half of the suit right down. The camouflage pattern of green and brown spots on a drab straw-coloured ground was also somewhat easy to spot when the wearer moved. Nevertheless, for snipers - who moved very little when working - the suit proved useful. This GI is armed with the M1903A4 with a Weaver 2.5 x scope sight. He carries a lightweight 60-round bandoleer for extra ammunition; behind him is the new M1943 jungle pack.
2: Medical orderly, 93rd Infantry Division
This medic from an African-American unit wears the same one-piece camouflage suit as E1; it was in common issue in 1943. His footwear are the canvas and rubber jungle boots; and his floppy hat is the later green HBT version of the earlier 1940 khaki 'Daisy Mae'. His pair of medical pouches are supported by special yoke suspenders. This soldier is unarmed, although medics commonly armed themselves in the Pacific theatre due to the Japanese habit of targeting them; for the same reason he displays no red cross insignia. The carry-all bag at his feet, designed to hold a steel ammunition box, was used for many different purposes in the field. African-Americans served in segregated support units throughout the Army, but one all-black division - the 93rd, which had distinguished itself under French Army command in World War I - served in the Pacific.
3: Staff sergeant of a Tank Battalion
This staff sergeant wears the one-piece HBT suit intended for mechanics and vehicle crews. As was common with HBTs - but rare in the Pacific - he has inked his rank on to the sleeves of his coverall. He wears the first pattern of the .45 pistol shoulder holster, which was intended for the use of tankers and drivers. In his fibre and leather tank crew helmet he carries K-ration boxes, the breakfast, dinner and supper meals marked and colour-coded.
US tanks could easily handle Japanese tanks, but the enemy's 47mm anti-tank gun could knock out a Sherman from the side; suicide attacks by sappers with pole or satchel charges and anti-tank grenades were also a serious threat. Some of the Army tank and tank destroyer units which saw action in the Pacific included: SW Pacific: Bougainville, 1944 754th Tk Bn; Hollandia, New Guinea, 1944 4th Tk Bn, 632nd TD Bn (M10) Biak 603rd Sep.Tk Co.
Central Pacific: Makin, Nov 1943 193rd Tk Bn (M3 Lee); Marshalls, Feb 1944 767th Tk Bn (M4A1, M5A1, M10, flamethrower tanks), 766th Tk Bn; Marianas, June 1944 - Saipan 762nd, 766th Tk Bns Guam 706th Tk Bn; Palau Islands, Sept 1944 710th Tk Bn, 819th TD Bn (M10); Philippines, Dec 1944-Feb 1945 44th, 716th, 754th Tk Bns, 632nd (M10), 637th (M18) TD Bns. Okinawa: 706th, 711th, 713th, 715th Tk Bns.
1: Officer, Ranger or Scout unit
This officer wears the newly available two-piece version of the M1942 camouflage jungle uniform. By the final year of the war most GIs received - and preferred - the standard green HBTs, and use of the camouflage uniform became uncommon. Long range reconnaissance scouts did use this uniform quite frequently, however, and preferred the soft fatigue cap to the steel helmet. This man wears no insignia, but is probably an officer in the 6th Ranger Battalion, or perhaps a member of the 6th Army's small 'Alamo Scouts' unit? He wears the newly issued buckle boots, which would rapidly become the common issue footwear in this last year of the war. Magazine pouches for his M1 carbine are carried on his pistol belt and the butt of the weapon. Instead of an issue machete he carries a local bolo for cutting trail through the jungle.
2: Battalion commander, 11th Airborne Division
The Corcoran paratrooper boots are the only features that might identify this man as Airborne - for ground combat he has removed the special chin harness from his helmet liner. Nor does he wear any visible insignia to mark him as a lieutenant-colonel or major commanding a battalion, though his shoulder-holstered pistol suggests that he is an officer. This sort of smudgy helmet camouflage pattern was painted on by several units in the last year of the war. His M3 fighting knife will soon be replaced by the M1 carbine bayonet; and note the large green pouch of the jungle first aid kit.
The small 11th Airborne Division retained its 8,200-man establishment throughout the war; it first saw action as reinforcements on Leyte in November 1944. MacArthur also had at his disposal the independent 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, which jumped at Nadzab (1943), Noemfoor (1944), and - most famously - at Corregidor in February 1945.
3: Private, 26th Quartermaster War Dog Platoon
This left-handed private listening to a SCR 536 'handie-talkie' radio appears to be serving as a HQ runner. He too has a camouflage-painted helmet, and wears a late pattern HBT shirt, but still has the older issue ankle boots of 1941, with toecaps, and trousers without cargo pockets worn rolled over web leggings. He is armed with an M1 Garand and a MkIIA1 'pineapple' grenade. An immediate-use clip of Garand rounds was often carried jammed on to a web suspender, as here; interestingly, this GI has a complete clip of red-tipped tracer rounds (black tips identified armour-piercing ammunition). The platoon/company level SCR 536 (Set, Complete Radio) AM radio had a range of about two miles and was preset to a single frequency. It had no external switches and was turned on simply by extending the antenna.
Medium-sized dogs from one to five years old, measuring 20ins (50.8cm) at the shoulder and weighing at least 50lbs (22.7kg) could be 'recruited' for service in the 'K9' Corps; German Shepherds were the preferred breed, though the Marines liked Dobermans. Interestingly, the Quartermaster Corps provided both the dogs and their handlers. War dogs were trained for use as scouts, couriers, pack animals and to guard POWs. After hard service many dogs were found to be too sensitive to prolonged artillery fire, with disease (heartworm) and fatigue also taking a toll. (Dogs were not eligible for the Purple Heart...)
1: BAR gunner, 77th Infantry Division
The BAR - here stripped of all its attachments - provided the basis of the rifle squad's firepower, and was a key player in the bunker-busting teams used in the last year of the war. Dressed in standard late war HBTs, this BAR man also wears the new buckle boots now commonly issued. His helmet shows the 77th Division's 'Lady Liberty' insignia worn on Okinawa; this has been illustrated as a plain white outline, but close-up photos (e.g. one of a company commander, Capt Buckner M.Creel, receiving the Silver Star) show that at least some helmets carried the full yellow-on-blue symbol on the white ground on both sides. Except for camouflage, markings of any kind on helmets in the Pacific were rare, although rank symbols were occasionaly painted on the back. At one time men of the 27th Division also displayed a formation symbol, a white outline parallelogram on the left side of green-and-black camouflaged helmets. Also to be noted here is the elastic helmet band commonly issued in the last year of the war. Metal-framed spectacles with almost oval lenses were standard issue to GIs who needed them.
2: Flamethrower operator, 77th Infantry Division
This combat engineer dressed in late war HBTs wields the M1A1 flamethrower; he needs to use both hands and to brace himself when firing or he might be knocked over by the 'recoil' force of the nitrogen propelling the napalm fuel.
3: Infantry private, US Marine Corps
Marines and GIs fought side by side on Guadalcanal, at Cape Gloucester, on Saipan and Okinawa, and although rivalry was often intense the Army's 77th Division enjoyed an unusually good relationship with the USMC. This 'lost' Marine - at 18-20 years old, about eight or ten years younger than the average 77th Division GI - has been volunteered to join an Army unit for the time being as an assistant to a flamethrower man. The rifle-armed assistant helped protect the laden operator; turned on the fuel and propellant tanks for him when going into combat; and by this date would carry a 5gal jerrycan of napalm fuel to reload the flamethrower.
Items that indicate this man's Marine identity are the standard USMC HBTs - known as utilities or dungarees - with the distinctive 'USMC' and eagle, globe and anchor pocket stencil, the Marines' unique camouflage helmet cover, and the K-bar fighting knife. Marines had no access to buckle boots so this man wears the issue 'rough-out' low quarter boots. In a pocket he should be carrying a 'WP' grenade for throwing in case the lighting mechanism on the flamethrower muzzle fails to ignite the fuel.
1: Rifleman, Kiska Task Force; Aleutians, summer 1943
Though technically serving in the Pacific theatre, this GI is necessarily kitted out for winter conditions - the Aleutians lie far north in the Bering Sea. He wears bib-fronted, wool-lined, cotton canvas tanker's winter trousers under his 'M1941' Parsons jacket. His boots are either from an early trials batch of M1944 shoepacs, or the privately purchased civilian type on which these were modelled. Winter overboots, though dry and warm, could make the feet first sweat, then freeze. Members of the Kiska Task Force apparently wore the knife shoulder patch on whichever sleeve they liked. Attu fell to the 7th Division after a stiff fight, but although the Japanese had already evacuated Kiska the island still cost the US Army 2,000 casualties due to foot disorders and sickness. A variety of cold weather gear was tried out in this campaign, including mackinaws and the longer arctic model of the Parsons jacket.
2: Supply sergeant, South-West Pacific, 1943
This rear area NCO is dressed for comfort in a khaki shirt and shorts. It was very unusual to see combat GIs wearing shorts, since any scratches or insect bites almost invariably became infected (artillerymen sometimes wore shorts, but they were more static). Nearby is the early war issue pith helmet, but he is wearing a semi-official 'swing' soft cap, the slightly longer-billed version of the M1941 favoured by the 11th Airborne Division. His boots are the Australian-made hobnailed version of the low quarter 'service shoes'. On his pistol belt are a compass pouch, a canteen and a holstered revolver - either a M1917 .45cal or, more likely, a Smith & Wesson .38 Model 10.
3: First sergeant, 8th Army Headquarters; Japan, late 1945
In the chilly Japanese autumn this veteran NCO, enjoying the fruits of victory, wears his brown drab wool service uniform. The overseas cap is piped in infantry light blue. The 'Ike' jacket - offically the M1944 OD wool field jacket - was very popular as a Class A walking-out dress, and rapidly supplanted the four-pocket wool coat whenever it could be acquired. On his right and left collar points respectively he wears the EMs' brass disks bearing 'US' and the crossed rifles of his branch. This prewar regular soldier has completed two enlistments and has been overseas for 2.5 years, as shown by the diagonal and straight 'hash marks' (the latter for six months each) on his left forearm. His current posting to 8th Army HQ is shown by his left shoulder patch; on his right shoulder he is allowed to continue to wear the patch of the 25th 'Tropical Lightning' Division (inset, 3a) in which he served in combat. Below the blue and silver Combat Infantryman's Badge on his left breast his ribbons include the Bronze Star with 'V' for valour, and the Asiatic- Pacific campaign ribbon with four battle stars. Obscured here, he would wear above his right pocket the blue Distinguished Unit Citation (renamed postwar the Presidential Unit Citation).