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"US World War II Infantryman's Field Gear" Topic

11 Posts

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3,059 hits since 5 Jan 2012
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ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 7:41 p.m. PST

I'm putting together a World War II impression for an American Rifleman. I've done American Civil War for a long, long time and I was struck by the difference in the WWII gear. I don't mean the obvious stuff brought about by 90 years of technical advancement, but rather by the fact that the ACW private was very much self-contained, while the WWII private was not. What do I mean? Well, both privates carry weapons, ammunition and a canteen. Both men can carry about three days of food comfortably. But the ACW private has a backpack with a blanket (maybe 2), a rubberized poncho/groundcloth, a shelter half, and extra clothes and personal items. Getting together with a pard he can set up a reasonably comfortable little camp. But the WWII private only has a 'haversack' (which is worn on the back like a backpack) and pretty much all it carries is his food, mess kit and maybe an extra shirt and a pair of socks. That's it, it won't hold anything more. Theoretically there was a 'haversack extension' which might allow a blanket to be carried, but nothing else. No tent, no poncho, no sleeping bag, and without the extension, not even a blanket. Now I know the GIs were issued all that stuff, but they had no way to carry it when near the front. I'm guessing all that stuff was stored somewhere in the rear, but it couldn't have been very convenient. It's just very surprising that the ACW private was better equipped than the WWII GI.

Personal logo Wyatt the Odd Supporting Member of TMP Fezian05 Jan 2012 11:23 p.m. PST

The ACW private didn't have logistal support like the WW2 infantryman. The GI moved farther, faster and had more ordinance than his Revolutionary counterpart thanks to the semi-automatic weaponry.

The ACW private would have to cast his own bullets, etc. The WW2 private also had a shelter half and bedroll. But, depending on the situation, he had the haversack and then a pack carrier attached to it or not.

Now, if you need some hardware, I might be able to help:



ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2012 5:00 a.m. PST

Well, that's sort of my point. The WWII private has all of this logistic support, but if you put him and his Civil War ancestor in fluid tactical situations where they are on the move all day and end up well away from any handy roads, then at the end of the day a Civil War private will be fed, warm, and dry, while the WWII soldier might be fed, but he won't be warm or dry. Just seems a little ironic :)

OH, and BTW, Civil War soldiers did NOT cast their own bullets. They got their ammunition in exactly the same way as WWII soldiers: it was made in factories and shipped to the front in wooden boxes and then handed out to the troops. :)

Tachikoma06 Jan 2012 6:22 a.m. PST

There were plenty of complaints about the M1928 haversack/pack and how it could only comfortably hold exactly what it was designed to hold, and did not even hold that well if some of it wasn't there. As the war went on, men tried to scrounge M1936 musette bags, since they were much handier. Parachute infantry were, in fact, issued the musette bag instead of the haversack, and by the end of the war it was being isued to more and more regular infantry as well.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2012 6:55 a.m. PST

Yeah, I have both the M1928 haversack and the M1936 musette bag, but the musette bag doesn't hold all that much, either. I could see the GIs putting the musette bag on a carrying strap (they had those, too) and carrying both the haversack and the musette bag.

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member06 Jan 2012 7:46 a.m. PST

And the WW2 Russians used blanket rolls similar to the ACW Yank or Reb.

Jovian1 Inactive Member06 Jan 2012 1:10 p.m. PST

I think you would be surprised that in a fluid tactical situation that the Americans in WWII would still manage to keep the men in the field equipped and supplied. In cold weather, they were issued extra clothing and winter weather gear which was much better than that issued/used in the ACW. Just my thoughts.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jan 2012 8:06 p.m. PST

"…then at the end of the day a Civil War private will be fed, warm, and dry, while the WWII soldier might be fed, but he won't be warm or dry."

Scott…excuse me?…

Where do you get that generalized concept of the warm, dry, fed, ACW soldier?…Take a look at the trenches of Vicksburg, Petersburg, Burnsides "Mud March", The mess of the Wilderness, or Stones River or Shiloh…or a hundred other places that would disprove that statement….

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jan 2012 6:18 a.m. PST


Okay, I should have said the Civil War soldier could TRY to be fed, warm and dry :) At least he had the implements to try. The WWII soldier didn't even have those. At least on short notice. Given time and a stationary location then the WWII soldier would have his logistical train catch up and be able to do a lot better.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Feb 2012 11:54 a.m. PST

All right, a follow-up on this. I've been perusing photos of actual WWII US infantry on the march and I see that they are carrying a lot of non regulation stuff. Some of them have made blanket rolls which they've curved around the top of the haversack and tied in place. Almost all of them have some sort of extra bags either on shoulder straps or tied to their regular gear somehow. Clearly these men have realized that they can't really get by on what the regulations call for and have improvised in the field to carry what they need.

number4 Inactive Member23 Feb 2012 7:47 a.m. PST

The GI's pack and bedroll was supposed to be stored with the company baggage and brought forward at night if the troops were in a defensive position. ACW troops didn't normally do a lot of night fighting so usually could afford to set up bivouacs

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