MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELLTHE
US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. NORTH-WEST EUROPE
78th Infantry Division ('Lightning'). Aachen, Roer River, i Ruhr (Germany). White lightning on red semicircle.
79th Infantry Division ('Lorraine'). Normandy. Vosges Mountains (France), Germany. Grey Cross of Lorraine on blue shield edged grey.
80th Infantry Division ('Blue Ridge'). Normandy. France, relief of Bastogne (Ardennes), Moselle River, Germany.
83rd Infantry Division ('Ohio', 'Thunderbolts'). Normandy, France, Ardennes. Germany. Yellow 'Ohio' monogram on black triangle.
84th Infantry Division ('Railsplitters'). Ardennes. Hanover (Germany). First: red axe head, blue handle & lettering 'Lincoln' & '84' on white disc edged red.
Second: White axe splitting white log on red disc.
86th Infantry Division ('Black Hawk'). Dachau, Ingolstadt (Germany). .
87th Infantry Division ('Acorn'). Ardennes. Germany, Czechoslovakian border. Yellow acorn on green disc.
89th Infantry Division ('Middle West', 'Rolling W'). Bingen. Eisenach (Germany). Black stylised 'W' and edge on brown disc.
90th Infantry Division ('Texas/Oklahoma', 'Tough Ombres'). Normandy, France, Ardennes, Germany, Czechoslovakian border. Stylised red 'TO' monogram on brown square.
94th Infantry Division ('Neuf Quatres'). St Nazaire (France). Siegried Line, Moselle River, Saar (Germany). Black '9' & khaki '4' on opposite-coloured divided disc.
95th Infantry Division ('Victory'). Metz (France). Moselle River. Siegried Line, Saar (Germany). Red '9' & white 'V' interlaced on blue oval.
97th Infantry Division ('Trident'). Germany. White trident on blue shield edged white.
99th Infantry Division ('Checkerboard'). Ardennes, Remagen Bridgehead (Germany). Blue/white checks on black shield.
100th Infantry Division ('Century'). France, Remagen Bridgehead, Saar (Germany). '100' halved white over yellow, on blue shield.
101st Airborne Division ('Screaming Eagles') Normandy, Netherlands, Bastogne (Ardennes), Germany. White eagle's head with yellow & red details on black shield under yellow-on-black 'Airborne' tab.
102nd Infantry Division ('Ozark'). Siegfried Line, Ruhr, München-GIadbach (Germany). Yellow overlaid 'O', 'U' & 'Z' on blue disc.
103rd Infantry Division ('Cactus'). Stuttgart (Germany), Austria. Green cactus, blue ground, yellow sky.
104th Infantry Division ('Timberwolves'). Rhine crossing, Cologne, Ruhr (Germany). Grey wolf head on green disc.
106th Infantry Division ('Golden Lions'). St Vith (Ardennes), Germany. Yellow lion mask, red & blue details, on blue disc edged white inside red.
Aboard ship off Normandy, June 1944: this 2nd Division MP checking the Army's official phrase book/travel guide displays the 'Indianhead' patch on his left shoulder and - just visible - painted above the 'MP' on his helmet.
St Vith, Belgium, December 1944: GIs from the 23rd Armored Infantry, 7th Armored Division take a watchful rest in the streets, covered by a whitewashed M4 Sherman. The GIs are wearing field-expedient white helmet covers and capes apparently made from bedsheets.
August 1944: soldier of the 26th Infantry, 1st Division, wearing the experimental load-carrying combat vest issued in some numbers to assault units of the 1st and 29th Divisions and Rangers for the D-Day landings, but not usually kept this long. On the Normandy beaches the pockets scooped up large quantities of water and wet sand; most GIs found it bulky, hot, burdensome and awkward, and soon discarded it or cut it down. Based on the British limited issue 'battle jerkin' - which the Tommies also disliked - the US cotton duck canvas version had four generous patch pockets on the front and a integral pack and 'butt pack' on the back; the side of the pack had a sleeve for the bayonet, and the shoulders had quick release straps. The vest was closed with buckled web straps at the waist and chest. Normal web belts were supposed to be worn under the vest - not over it, as here - so that it could be shed quickly in the water if necessary. (See Plate B2.)
Snatching a moment's rest during the savage fighting in the Normandy bocage, this battle-worn infantry sergeant from the 4th Division wears green HBT fatigues over his wool uniform (see Plate B3). He is armed with his M1, a spare bandoleer of ammunition and two 'frag' grenades. Like many GIs he seems to carry letters or photos from home stowed inside his helmet.
Operation Cobra, July 1944: two GIs from the 41st Armored Infantry, 2nd Armored Division watch over a seriously wounded buddy during the Normandy break-out battles. All wear the two-piece camouflage fatigues briefly issued to some units in Normandy (see Plate C3). The casualty has been treated and tagged by the medics. The Thompson gunner, probably a squad leader, also carries a fragmentation and a smoke grenade. (Photo Robert Capa, Magnum)
During the Battle of the Bulge a chaplain (second right, wearing an Air Corps flight jacket) stops to chat to men of the 2nd Bn/504th PIR. 82nd Airborne Division. Most of the paratroopers wear wool overcoats or raincoats (see Plate F2); some carry 'hobo' bedrolls slung with rope instead of packs.
Operation Market Garden, September 1944: a classic shot of an 82nd Airborne Division lieutenant and NCOs going over the orders before putting on their 'chutes for the drop over Holland. With the issue of the well-liked M1943 field jacket after D-Day the special M1942 paratrooper's jacket began to be a rarity. The buckle boots also began to replace the jump boots in the Airborne, much to the annoyance of paratroopers. Note (left) the white-painted horizontal NCOs' recognition stripe on the back of the corporal's helmet.
Part of a group photo of command and staff personnel from the 17th Airborne Division chuted up ready for Operation Varsity, the joint US/British drop across the Rhine in March 1945; after serving in the Ardennes this was the 17th's only airborne deployment. All wear the M1943 field jacket apart from (standing second left) one with the M1943 jacket's pile liner, and (kneeling right) the lieutenant in the old M1942 Airborne field uniform, as illustrated in MAA 347.
Germany, early 1945: officers of the 5th Ranger Bn still wearing their D-Day 'Sunoco' diamond-shaped Ranger shoulder patches, and probably also the orange Ranger diamond on the backs of their helmets. They wear 'tanker jackets' and matching trousers (left), an Air Corps flight jacket (second right) and a mackinaw. Among the visible weapons are a bazooka, a .30cal machine gun, two M1 rifles, an M3 'grease gun' and a Thompson, taped grenades and a captured P08 Luger.
1: Colonel, Corps of Engineers, US 3rd Army
This 'bird' colonel wears his rank on the epaulettes of the regulation officers' service coat in the darker OD shade 51, with trousers of the optional light drab colour popularly known as 'pinks' - in this case with a cavalry-style inseam. Either cap could be worn with this uniform; he has the service cap, in this case an example with a noticeably lighter shade ribbed band - colours varied in officers' privately purchased uniforms. It has the standard russet leather visor and strap and gilt officers' badge. The coat has the drab-on-drab lace band above each cuff indicating officer rank, and - a peculiarity which survives to this day - special Corps of Engineers buttons. Officers' collar badges came in cut-out pairs, here two 'US' cyphers over two Engineer castle emblems. His left chest displays ribbons for service dating back to World War I; among his 'fruit salad' are the DSC and Silver Star, 1918 Victory medal with two campaign/battle stars, the French Croix de Guerre, and both the Pacific and European theatre ribbons. His cuff stripes show one year's overseas service in World War I and two years (four bars) in World War II. Re-enlistment stripes are not worn - officers don't enlist. The 3rd Army patch of an 'A' inside an 'O' represents its service after World War I as the AEF Army of Occupation in Germany.
2: Captain, 70th Tank Battalion
He chooses to wear a khaki shirt and prewar black tie with his service uniform. The Sam Browne officers' belt, with sword hanger, had been required before the war, but purchase became optional during hostilities. Note the Armored branch emblems on his lower collar, shaped like a British World War I tank. Unit crests for officers, when available, were worn on the epaulettes. This officer wears American Service and ETO ribbons. Independent tank units - i.e. those unassigned to a division - used the Armored Force shoulder patch with no number in the yellow segment; battalion numbers were sometimes custom-woven onto the patches later in the war. The 70th Tank Bn was the first of these independent battalions to be raised, from a picked group of men; it fought in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, France, the Bulge and Germany. Over his arm this officer carries a trenchcoat; these were to be seen in colours ranging from khaki-beige to medium green. Originating with the Duke of Wellington's prejudice against officers with umbrellas, it is to this day against regulations for an American officer to carry one (unless with a lady).
3: Platoon sergeant, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division
This technical or platoon sergeant wears the enlisted man's M1939 four-pocket coat in OD shade 54; either this overseas cap or the limited-issue visored service dress cap ('saucer hat') could be worn with this uniform. The overseas cap could be piped in his mixed green/white arm-of-service colour; it is worn here unpiped but displaying the divisional sign in enamelled metal. On his upper collar are bronze discs bearing the national cypher (right) and his arm-of-service emblem (left). Most GIs did not have pairs of unit crests in enamelled metal for wear on the lower collar, but this NCO proudly wears those of the 66th Armored Regiment. This was the oldest tank unit in the US Army, tracing its roots back to the 351st Tank Battalion in World War I. He wears the divisional patch on his left shoulder, and rank chevrons - in prewar silver-on-black - on both upper sleeves. The two bars on his left forearm are two six-month overseas service stripes (nicknamed 'Hersey bars', after the director of the US Draft, Gen Lewis B.Hersey); the diagonal bar is a re-enlistment stripe, showing this NCO to be a prewar volunteer regular rather than a draftee. On his left chest are the ribbons of the American Service and European-African-Middle Eastern medals, the latter with a bronze campaign star; this NCO fought in Sicily.
1: Corporal, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
At H-Hour of D-Day, 6 June 1944, elements of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions were the first units to land on Omaha beach, supported by engineer troops and men from the Ranger force. Expecting heavy losses, most D-Day units were 10 per cent overstrength when they embarked. The assaulting regiments of the 29th Division lost about 60 per cent of their men on 6 June.
This corporal wears the 'M1941' Parsons field jacket with OD wool shirt and trousers treated with anti-gas impregnation. On his right shoulder would be worn the gas detection brassard illustrated on B2 - this would change colour when exposed to chemical agents. The US Navy floatation belt he wears was also attached to important equipment so that if lost it would float ashore. If inflated by a heavily-loaded man who was out of his depth it was often lethal, tipping him upside down to drown. Besides his normal web equipment and the M1928 pack he carries the M5 assault gasmask in its black waterproof chest bag, and a general purpose ammunition bag. An Airborne-style aid pouch, including bandages, sulfa tablets, and two morphine syrettes ('one for pain, two for eternity'), is taped to his left shoulder brace - again, see B2; and he carries his M1 Garand in a clear Pliofilm cover. The helmet he is staring at reminds us that Rangers from the 2nd and 5th Bns landed on Dog Green and Dog White sectors of Omaha soon after the first waves of the 29th.
2: 1st Lieutenant, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
The 29th was a National Guard division originating from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the blue and grey 'yin and yang' divisional sign symbolised unity created from the opposing Civil War histories of these states. It was among the first formations deployed to Britain, and stayed so long that it was nicknamed 'England's Own'; no doubt the division's personnel contributed honourably to the British stereotype of the GI as being 'over-sexed, over-paid and over here'.
The 29th landed on Omaha beach wearing fully painted helmets and with their chinstraps down. The men of both the 1st and 29th Divisions had their shoulder patch designs painted onto the fronts of their helmets for D-Day; 4th Division GIs commonly had them painted on their helmet liners. The divisional markings on helmets soon faded, and it became unusual to see them after the Normandy campaign.
This carbine-armed first lieutenant is uniformed essentially like his men, his rank marked by the bar painted on his helmet below the divisional sign, and metal insignia pinned to his epaulettes. Over the Parsons jacket he wears the assault vest, issued in quantity to D-Day units and not only to Rangers as is sometimes assumed. It was a rational approach to reform of the load-carrying web equipment, but was not much liked in practice - most were dumped soon after the landings, though not as swiftly as the M1926 US Navy lifebelts.
3: T/5, Engineers, 2nd Infantry Division
Combat engineers played a key role in clearing water and beach obstacles on D-Day. Several types of joint Army/Navy engineer units were created for the invasion, and a number of volunteer engineers from the 2nd Division served with these. (The bulk of the 'Indianhead' division began to come ashore on D+1.) They wore anti-gas impregnated HBT fatigues over their woollen uniforms; some officers and many of the beach clearing personnel wore specially authorised paratroop boots. This engineer from the 2nd Division carries a purple smoke grenade - in case he has to signal landing troops to keep clear of an area rigged for demolition - and a demolition bag filled with half-pound or one-pound blocks of TNT. He sports a British-made aid pouch on his belt and would also be carrying an Airborne pouch. He is armed with a carbine, but like many GIs he may pick up the more powerful M1 Garand on the beach. The 2nd Division's most important action during the war was its stand holding the north shoulder of the 'Bulge' during the Ardennes fighting of December 1944. (Inset) 2nd Infantry Division patch.
1: Rifleman, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division
Like the 3rd, the 2nd Armored was a 'heavy division' (see MAA 347) with two tank regiments (66th & 67th Armor) each of three battalions, and the three-battalion 41st Infantry. Its Combat Commands A & B landed over Omaha beach between 11 and 14 June, and it saw very heavy fighting during the July/August break-out from the beachhead areas. This lightly-equipped rifleman from the 41st Armored Infantry wears the so-called 'tanker jacket', which was actually commonly worn by many non-tank troops of armoured divisions, including the infantry. Otherwise his combat uniform and web equipment are standard. His gasmask has been 'lost', and his pack was last seen hanging off the side of his halftrack. Web canvas slings on M1 Garands began replacing the complex leather sling in mid-1944. It was common to see an 'immediate use' clip carried like this on a web brace or bandoleer sling, with the fabric trapped between the two rows of cartridges.
2: BAR gunner, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
Every infantry squad had at least one man armed with the Browning Automatic Rifle. This 'Ivy' division GI carries a BAR with the bipod removed to save weight; he also has a Mk II fragmentation grenade. Like many GIs, he carries minimal equipment and has stuffed his 'M1941' field jacket into the back of his belt. The normal load carried by a BAR gunner was 13 x 20-round magazines - two in each pocket of the six- pocket belt, and one in the gun - but a designated assistant would carry two more belts. One 6ft 4in, 240lb BAR gunner from the 2nd Armored Division actually carried in combat 27 magazines in various pouches and pockets. Part of the 4th Division rode 2nd Armored Division tanks during 'Cobra'.
3: Rifleman, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division
During the break-out the 2nd Armored Division swept through the initial oppositon, but on 28/29 July a fierce counter-attack by tanks and infantry from 2.SS-Panzer- Division 'Das Reich' hit the 2/41 st Infantry and 3/67th Armor near St Denis-le-Gast. The attack was repulsed after desperate fighting, in the course of which LtCol Coleman, CO of the 2/41st, personally manned a bazooka before being killed in action. Later the division's Combat Command A served under the tactical command of the 29th Division.
While the great majority of infantry in Normandy wore the standard wool uniform, field jackets and/or herringbone twill fatigues, there was a limited experimental issue of the Army's two-piece M1942 camouflage uniform. Given the lush, sun-dappled terrain of summertime France this was reasonable. However, the resemblance of the unfamiliar printed pattern to that of the camouflage clothing routinely worn by the Waffen-SS troops encountered in Normandy led to its withdrawal after tragic cases of mistaken identity. Elements of the 2nd and 30th Infantry Divisions received this uniform, as did the 17th Engineer Bn and elements of the 41st Armored Infantry from the 2nd Armored Division; other individuals also received it when issued replacements for worn-out clothing during July and August. This figure is based on photographs of the 41st AIR taken by Robert Capa. The M1 helmet is garnished with a net and small strips of burlap scrim. Light field equipment is worn, without packs - like B1, this soldier travels in a halftrack and stows his gear on the vehicle. His web belt carries 80 rounds and the expendable bandoleer has an additional 48 rounds.