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What did they wear on D-Day?


NEW! To try to help with the D-Day mania, we now have several "D-Day" Packages to simplify things.
Click here to go to the D-Day Packages Page.

This is the number one question of 2019. The short answer is, basically, anything and everything. If a uniform had been issued by 1944, someone, somewhere, was wearing one on June 6th.
We realize that this is not the answer most people are looking for, so here are the most common outfits seen in Normandy.

IMPORTANT! If you are new to reenacting/ "living history", and have not already done so, find a unit before you buy an impression. You will not be allowed to participate in an event unless you belong to a unit and a reenacting organization. Few if any events permit "freelancing". Greaser's guide for Newbies is a good FAQ for those considering or new to the hobby.

Although US Army impressions are pretty straightforward, many units have certain requirements and may be able to assist you with "loaner gear" or have alternative sources for some items. A good place to start is the Reenacting Units and Organizations page.


General Guidelines for WWII US Army Impressions

Below are the timelines for wear of the most common US Army uniforms and gear. We strongly recommend that you do your own, more in depth research into the particular unit you want to portray. Some outfits had peculiar methods of wearing their uniforms and gear, or were issued particular uniforms more often than others.

"D-Day"
:The items below are not "just for D-Day". The only things somewhat unique to D-Day were Gas Brassards, M7 Gas Mask Bags, Assault Vests and anti-gas impregnated clothing. (The latter amounted to soaking the uniforms in a nasty substance similar to shellac which you really don't want to mess with.)

Army Infantry in Europe: The exact uniform(s) and gear used at D-Day were worn throughout the entire War. From 1941 until the Fall of 1944, most infantrymen wore the same uniform- M41 or Tanker Jacket, wools and service shoes with leggings. Finally, in the Fall of '44 the M1943 Field Uniforms and new boots began to appear, but there were never enough on hand, and many troops never got them. Many soldiers wore the earlier uniforms until VE Day.
Generally, veteran troops were stuck with the older types and fresh replacement troops arriving in late 1944 had the new uniforms.

Wool shirts and wool trousers:
1940-45. Correct for the entire War.

HBT's:

From Summer '43- 1945 all 3 styles would have been in use. So, at D-day through the end of the War all styles are correct.
1st Model:
1941-45
2nd Model Light and Dark Shade:
Mid-1943-45. (Some light shades might have made it to Tunisia.)

Field Jackets
:
-M1941, Tanker, Mackinaw: 1941-45.
-Arctic M41 in limited numbers, (1941-45) more common after October 1944.
-M1943 Field Jackets, Field trousers: A few units fighting in Italy received them in the winter of '43-'44 for trials. Units fighting in France generally didn't get them until the Fall of 1944, but many troops never got them at all.

Boots
-
Service Shoes (both styles) 1941-45
-Jump Boots 1941-45 (many infantrymen acquired them.)
-Combat Service boots: "Two buckles" appeared in small quantities in late 1943, but did not become common until the Fall of 1944.

Helmets and Fieldgear:
These remained largely the same for the entire War. OD#7 (dark green) gear appeared in 1943 and became more common as the War went on.


Army Paratroopers

Jump Uniforms:

-Standard M1942's: 1942 - September 1944.
-Reinforced M42's. (Reinforcing was done in May-June '44 specifically for the Overlord Jumps.)
Note: Both styles of M42 were worn at D-Day. Many troops did not receive a reinforced suit in time for the jump.

-M1943 Field Uniform with Rigger modified trousers: September 1944-1945. Market Garden, Holland, Battle of the Bulge, Germany.
Note: Although all troopers were supposed to switch to the new uniform, a few veterans kept wearing their M42's out of pride and stubbornness.

Other Uniforms:
Paratroopers were issued all the standard Army uniforms in basic training, before they became "Airborne".
-Wool shirts and trousers: Most troopers wore wools under their jump suits. Europe is cooler in the Summer than the USA.
-M41's, Tankers, etc: When it got cold, they wore whatever they could get their hands on. Some paratroopers can be seen wearing parts of "infantry" uniforms in period photos.

Boots:

-Jump Boots: 1941-45.
-Combat Service Boots: Issued in August/ September 1944. Many troopers kept their jump boots.

Paratrooper Helmets:
-M-2 1942-45
-M-1C 1945
-M-1 Many troopers did not get "correct" parachutist steel pots and simply used regular M-1 helmets with paratrooper liners.

Fieldgear:

Generally it was the same as that used by the infantry, except that the Haversack was replaced by the Musette Bag and Combat Suspenders. od 7 (dark green) gear became much more common toward the end.








D-Day US Army Infantry
(includes Rangers and Glider Troops)

Our US Infantryman Package is "D-Day" correct.

Uniform:
-M-1 Helmet (most were "fixed bale": swivel bales did not become common until late 1944)
-Wool shirt and trouser
-Tank top or t-shirt
-M41 Field Jacket, Parsons Jacket or Tanker Jacket
-HBT's (2nd pattern)
-Service Shoes or Roughout Service Shoes with leggings

Many troops wore jeep caps, sweaters, long johns etc under their uniforms.

Basic Infantry Gear:
-Troops landing on the beach were issued M7 Assault Gas Mask Bags and Gas Detection Brassards.
-Assault Vest (some troops)
-Haversack or Musette Bag (any model)
-Cartridge Belt, BAR Belt, or Pistol Belt with ammo pouches for their respective weapon
-Canteen w/ Cover
-T-Handle or M1943 Shovel with carrier
-First Aid Pouch (any model)
-GP Ammo Bags were often used for added capacity
-Bayonet (for troops carrying M-1 Garands or Springfield rifles)

Nice article: There is a crew of wannabe historians who insist that HBT's weren't worn in combat, and certainly not at D-day. I suppose all those original photos have been "photoshopped". Here's a good write up- it applies to the ETO in general, not just 5th Rangers.






D-Day US Army Paratroopers:
(includes 82nd, 101st, and Pathfinders)
Our US WWII Paratrooper Package is "D-Day correct".

Uniform:
-M2 Paratrooper Helmet (M-1C's did not appear until 1945. Many troopers actually wore regular M-1 "Infantry" helmets with paratrooper liners.)
-M1942 Jump Suit, Standard or Reinforced (not all troops got their uniforms modified.)
-Wool Shirt (worn underneath the jacket)
-Jump Boots
-Many troopers wore jeep caps, A4 caps, sweaters, long johns, etc, under their uniforms.

Basic Paratrooper Fieldgear:
-Like the troops landing on the beach, most were issued M7 Gas Mask Bags and Gas Brassards.
-Musette Bag
-Combat Suspenders (any model)
-Cartridge Belt, BAR Belt, or Pistol Belt with rigger or ammo pouches for their respective weapon
-Canteen w/ Cover
-T-Handle or M1943 Shovel with carrier
-First Aid Pouch (any model)
-GP Ammo Bags were often used for added capacity
-M-1 Bayonet (for troopers with M-1 Garands or Springfield rifles.)
-Many troopers carried M3 Knives

Reference: These websites are useful for historical information about WWII Paratroopers.
WWII Airborne: Many, many original photos and unit information.
Trigger Time: Mark Bando's site has massive amounts of information on WWII Airborne.






US Marines:

The Marines did not hit the beach in Normandy. The only Marines present were the security details on US Navy warships and a few officers there as observers and liaisons.
Our Marine Infantryman Package is correct for campaigns from mid-1942 until the end. This covers all major battles except Wake Island and Corregidor. (It was also worn in the early stages of the Korean War, Inchon etc.)



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Gas Brassard Gas Brassard




Gas Brassards were issued to all American, Canadian, British and Allied troops involved in the D-day Landings- both infantry and paratroopers. They were designed to change color in the presence of chemical agents in the event that the Germans resorted to using gas to defend their lines.

To wear, simply slide it up the arm of the outer garment, and fasten the epaulet through the loop. These were copied directly from an original, and are made from the same style of coated paper.
(No, these will not detect poison gas.)
Imported

Price: $9.99
M7 Assault Gas Mask Bag M7 Assault Gas Mask Bag

Rubberized (waterproof) bag for the US gas masks. This pattern bag was widely issued to assault troops in the Normandy Landings as well as numerous other amphibious and airborne operations. Our bags are very difficult to distinguish from the originals- we used the correct weight and color rubber, and realistic Chemical Corps stencils. The rubber bag itself is imported- then we install the straps here in our shop using US made original or mil-spec hardware.

Markings: Just like originals, the stencils on the rubber isn't always flawless. Again, like originals, the markings wear off with use anyway.

Why do these cost more than other reproductions? We use Scovil brand snaps and US Made snaps hooks and slides which don't bend and break the first time you use them. Our materials are as good as the military bags issued in WWII.

Partially Imported/ partially USA Made

Price: $49.99
Assault Vest, OD7 Assault Vest, OD#7



Olive Drab #7 version of the WWII Assault vests, used briefly during the Normandy campaign. Made from water repellent #10 cotton duck, with all the details of the original. (Yes, we own one.) The assault vest was intended to replace the cartridge belt, suspenders and pack. The vest features grommets at the waist to attach canteens and first aid pouches, the entrenching tool was fastened to the upper rear flap (as on a Haversack), large upper and lower pockets at the rear for personal items, grenades pouches, and six cargo/ ammunition pouches.

The markings are professionally applied and the ink is heat cured for durability.

Sizing: These are properly oversized to allow them to fit over a field jacket. Simply order by your chest size.


Made in USA with US materials and genuine Scovil and Stimpson hardware.

Made in USA.
Sizing: Vests are oversized to compensate for wearing a uniform underneath.

Price: $249.99