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"Help Identifying a uniform from WWII" Topic

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Cormac Mac Art12 Sep 2020 6:17 a.m. PST

I've got a photo of my grandparents in post-war Europe. I'd like to identify his uniform. I figured I'd come here to all the amazing minds of historical gamers to help with the identification.

Here is the link to my blogpost with more info

Here is the photo:


Legion 412 Sep 2020 7:10 a.m. PST

Certainly looks a bit "British" …

Griefbringer12 Sep 2020 7:31 a.m. PST

Uniform seems to be British battle dress (also worn by Canadians), though the shoes look a bit odd and the usual ankle protecting pieces (gaiters?) seem to be missing.

No idea about the badges at cap and shoulder, though.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 8:39 a.m. PST

The formation sign on the shoulder appears to be Eighth Army, which is consistent with service in Italy.

Martin Rapier12 Sep 2020 9:08 a.m. PST

The trousers look like late pattern BD but I'm not at all sure about the provenance of that jacket. Shiny buttons and lapels?

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 9:48 a.m. PST

It is post war, so probably specially tailored as walking out dress. Note also the complete lack of any rank insignia (which is odd).

Any thoughts on the cap badge? I'm not sure who Serb would've signed up with in Eighth Army. It doesn't match any Polish badge I can think of and based on the shape there aren't many British contenders. Also, one would expect at least a shoulder title and Corps or Divisional sign if he were with a British unit. By the shape, possibly Italian Co-belligerent?

laretenue12 Sep 2020 9:51 a.m. PST

It might help to have a few clues about your grandfather, If he immigrated to the US, where did he come from and in whose military might he have served>

The battledress is certainly British/Commonwealth in cut, but this was also copied post-War by many others: Belgium, Netherlands, Italy etc. As has been observed, the shiny buttons look un-British, and I also find that something about the pocket style and the angle of his beret reinforce this belief. If pushed, I think the uniform could be Italian, but I know nothing about the badges we can see. I'm guessing that the uniform cloth is a dark khaki, but it might be blue.

Over to someone more knowledgeable.

Griefbringer12 Sep 2020 10:15 a.m. PST

It is post war, so probably specially tailored as walking out dress.

That would explain the big, shiny buttons – if you can obtain such from some source, it would be a pretty straightforward tailoring operation to replace the original buttons with them for a shinier appearance.

Also notice how wide the collar is worn, that would require leaving open or removing the topmost button.

laretenue12 Sep 2020 12:07 p.m. PST

I don't think that battledress has been tailored, it seems more likely that it's been cut like that. British BD until 1949 had a closed collar, but while 1949-pattern had stepped lapels to show a collar and tie, these lapels were not pointed – like an American tunic – as we see here. This is the later style of some other army than the British. And by the way, I think even with off-duty wear, a British squaddie would be courting disaster if he let a senior NCO see those buttons …

OK: battledress with pointed lapels, shiny buttons, pleated pockets with rounded lower edges and square flaps… None of this is British, so which Continental European army are we dealing with here? My hunch still says Italy.

gamershs12 Sep 2020 1:23 p.m. PST

Italian units served with the allies in Italy. The British were supposed to supply these units and were under the British supply system. I suspect that this could be an Italian serving in the Italian forces under the allies being supplied by the British. This would explain why it was a British uniform modified.

laretenue13 Sep 2020 1:04 a.m. PST

Except I don't believe that it's a British uniform that's been modified. Pocket shape and flaps and wrong, apart from anything else. If I'm correct, the jacket is manufactured by another country which has set up its own industry post-War.

Web belt is also British in design, but plenty of armies were using this for decades after 1945.

I acknowledge that the arm flash resembles that of 8th Army, but let's fce it: we can't see this clearly or with any colours.

laretenue13 Sep 2020 1:08 a.m. PST

However, I also recall that the Italian military tend to sport colourful collar badges, which we don't see here.

To the extent that it;s safe to say this, the faces look more Mediterranean to my eyes.

How did the Greek Army look in the late 1940s?

laretenue13 Sep 2020 1:10 a.m. PST

OK, sorry, only just read more info on OP's blog. I've said all I can.

Ironsides13 Sep 2020 1:43 a.m. PST

Royal Yugoslav air force in exile?

Pauls Bods13 Sep 2020 3:23 a.m. PST

Donīt know about what uniform but the story attached to the photo is great. Stella sounds, as you say, tough. Excellent photo as well.

Griefbringer13 Sep 2020 3:29 a.m. PST

From the blog post:

He was born in Serbia in 1911. His name was George Jovanovich before he came to the USA. He dropped the 'h' from the end of his last name to make it sound more "American". I believe he lived in Belgrade.

I would like to add that he may have also "Americanised" his first name when emigrating into the US – there is a Serbian first name that is pronounced almost like the English name George, but is written differently in both Latin and Serbian Cyrillic alphabet:


So if there are any WWII service records in existence for him somewhere, then his name may appear in some other interesting forms.

Cormac Mac Art13 Sep 2020 2:23 p.m. PST

Thank you all for all the great info to get my investigation started. This is all helpful.

So, British-esque uniform, but not British. My be Italian Co-Belligerent, or another South-Eastern European nation.

Also, George with a different spelling is possible too.

I'm going to talk with my Dad some more to see if he has any more info.

Thanks everyone!

HMS Exeter13 Sep 2020 2:39 p.m. PST

Your grandfather looks like Robert the younger Bruce from Braveheart.

Cormac Mac Art13 Sep 2020 5:21 p.m. PST

The trousers look like British Pattern 40 Trousers, with the single thigh pocket on the left leg.

The shiny buttons, and cut of the collar look like an officer's jacket. The pleated chest pockets look American.

That's all I've got for now.

DBS30314 Sep 2020 1:37 p.m. PST

A long shot, but… the Yugoslav First Tank Brigade was formed by the British at Bari and shipped across the Adriatic to support Tito, ending up in Trieste at the end of the war. If your grandfather was serving with Yugoslav forces in Italy, that is one possible answer.

HMS Exeter15 Sep 2020 5:49 a.m. PST

I doubt the uniform is going to be of much value in expanding the story. Its hard to tell from the photo, but it appears the shoulder patch and the beret badge are unadorned single color fabric. Very uncharacteristic. Rather suggestive of an interim uniform, or a uniform for a provisional unit. With the post war chaos, there must have been many instances of reconstituted militarys using whatever they could cobble together. It might even be an interim police uniform.

The only likely inference to be drawn is that it was not in an area controlled by the Soviets.

A lot more data points are needed. The most intriguing question seems to be, how did an apparent refugee from Lithuania ever end up meeting a soldier whose service was in southern Europe?

Please keep us updated on this. A most interesting tale.

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