Hauptsturmführer in the SS
This Waffen-SS uniform is in the "mouse gray" or "mouse brown" color.
The wearer has earned the Close Combat clasp in gold, worn above his service ribbons, and is responsible for destroying at least one enemy tank, using hand held explosives, as shown by the Tank Destroyer badge on his upper right arm.
Around his neck is the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak leaves and the 1st Class Iron Cross is on his breast pocket. His Iron Cross 2nd Class is worn on his ribbon bar.
He also wears the distinctive SS officer's belt buckle. His hat bears the dreaded symbol of the SS, the "Death's Head" or Totenkopf.
Hauptsturmführer in a SS Panzer unit
The distinctive black panzer "wrap" tunic was developed for streamlining purposes, to eliminate buttons and flaps that would catch on the inside of a narrow hatch opening.
Black was the logical choice for a job where engine grease and soot are part of the daily grind. Note the cap piping and shoulder board underlay in the rose-pink "Waffenfarbe" (fighting colors) of the Panzer elite. His hat has the Totenkopf.
This officer has a "tank destruction badge" on his upper right sleeve, indicating that he has destroyed at least one enemy tank using hand held explosives.
Not surprising since his gold-and-silver Panzer Assault badge announces that he has taken part in at least 75 Panzer missions in various units, some in Poland, Holland & France in the early war but mostly on the Russian Front. On his right hand he wears the flashy red-enameled Iron Cross with SS runes ring complete with lightening bolts on the side. He thinks it a little too much but it was a gift from his widowed mother, so he wears it anyway.
His awards and decorations include the Iron Cross 2nd Class (worn as a ribbon tucked into his button-hole), Iron Cross 1st Class. It shows a bit of wear and tear as can be expected from a medal that is worn in the field. Some of the baked enamel finish has been knocked off his medal and shows the iron core but he wears it proudly regardless. He also wears the Wound Badge in black.
This Hauptmann wears the early Grossdeutschland cuff title and gold GD ciphers on his epaulets.
His leather Y-strap is the early war model. Later in the war a canvas mesh variation, originally designed for tropical use, was issued widely because of its lower cost.
His decorations include the Iron Cross 2nd Class, General Assault badge, Iron Cross First Class which is one of the variations made with a brass core, not iron, and so it shows up as a golden colour. This manufacturing practice was not allowed to continue and his is a rare item.
He also wears the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross), along with ribbons for the War Merit Cross First Class with swords and a 4 year Wehrmacht Long Service medal.
This later war "feldbluse" (4-pocket service tunic) was made of material inferior to earlier issues, and for that reason required an additional button to keep from "gapping" at the closures.
Note that the M40 stahlhelm lacks the tri-color and Heer eagle decals of earlier helmets, and is coated with "zimmerit," a cement-like paste used to thwart the placement of magnetic mines on armored vehicles.
Many infantry soldiers borrowed zimmerit from panzer units and used it to reduce their steel helmets' characteristic gloss finish.
Note too that he is wearing the German Cross in Gold, in an embroidered cloth version for field wear. He also wears the Wound Badge in Gold. Not surprising considering his record of combat.
He carries the 9-mm MP-40 sub-machine gun with folding metal stock.
Allied soldiers mistakenly referred to this weapon as the "Schmeisser,"
standard-issue M36 service dress
The Wehrmacht employed fashion designers as well as clothing engineers to create their notably striking uniforms. Equally important as functionality was the desired "look."
The tailoring of both officers' and soldiers' uniforms was calculated to inspire awe, creating an immediate impression of Prussian military bearing in even the most unimposing physique.
To further perpetuate the myth of the Aryan "superman," the designers placed the belt and the skirt of the tunic intentionally high, making the wearer's legs look longer and thus exaggerating his height.
Officers' standard-issue tunics, although similar in cut to those of the common soldier, were of somewhat higher quality in both materials and workmanship. They were also distinguished by their wide turned-back cuffs, which often served the functional role of a map pocket.
He wears the Infantry Assault badge (silver for infantry, bronze was for motorised infantry). He wears all 3 levels of the Iron Cross, 2nd class, 1st class and Knights Cross.
This officer is wearing a tropical cotton twill 5-button tunic, with specially reinforced additional seams for tough desert duty.
His "stahlhelm" (steel helmet) is the M40 design, virtually identical to the M35 except that its ventilation ports are integral to the shell instead of attached.
He bears an MG42 light machine gun, known to many Allied solders as the "burp" gun because of the characteristic sound of its 1,200 to 1,500 round-per-minute bursts. (The MG42 was the fore-runner to the now famous American GPMG M60 machine gun of the Vietnam war).
The Afrika Korps wore two distinctive cuff titles. It is said that the second one, seen here, was designed by Hitler himself with the simple legend "AFRIKA" flanked by twin palm trees on brown. As well they wore 2 different decals on their helmets.
Many Afrika Korps soldiers wore the M40 field cap whenever possible, as an alternative to the heavy steel helmet which became a "cooking pot" in the desert heat. Locally-purchased scarves were also more practical for everyday wear than the regulation shirt and tie.
Soldiers who participated in the joint Italian & German effort were entitled to wear the Italo-German Campaign award either as a ribbon or, as seen here, a full-sized medal. Above his 3 service ribbons this officer wears the Close Combat Clasp in gold, and below them the Iron Cross First Class and the Infantry Assault badge in bronze as well as the Iron Cross 2nd class ribbon.
in winter camouflage
The SS "oak" pattern camouflage hooded winter parka was reversible to snow-white. Care was needed when wearing the white side out, however, to prevent it from being soiled with mud and losing its camouflage value. The nylon blend material was hard to clean in the field, and even harder to dry in winter weather.
The G/K-43 was designed as Germany's answer to the American M-1 Garand. He also wears army-issue green canvas and leather shooting gloves. These cover his large and only semi-official Waffen SS ring.
Hauptsturmführer SS camouflage smock
This Waffen-SS officer is wearing the "blurred edge" pattern Type 2 camouflage smock. His field gray M40 SS helmet is also camouflaged with daubs of black and sand-colored paint.
This camouflage appears to have been applied by a spray gun, as was sometimes done en masse for an entire unit in the field with a paint rig borrowed from the motor pool.
In addition to paint, camouflage-pattern cloth helmet covers were used. Some soldiers took other creative approaches, adding chicken wire-type wire rigs to hold branches, leaves and grass. The smock also provides loops for tying on foliage.
Shoulder rank is not worn with the smock. On his right hand he wears a variation of the Waffen SS ring. Instead we see on his left sleeve the green embroidered Waffen-SS sleeve rank for a Hauptmann (Captain). He carries the "Sturmgewehr" MP-44, considered by many to be the world's first operational assault rifle.
Heree we see the same officer as above in service dress, with leather service belt and Luger pistol holster.
On his left pocket is the War Merit Cross 1st class without swords (non-combatant). The ribbons are 8-year Police long service medal and a 25-year NSDAP long service medal.
By a complicated system of extra-credit, it was not uncommon for Germans in military and Party service to receive the 25-year Long Service Award for far fewer years of actual service.
This officer tends to be a bit of a show-off so he wears a massive, unofficial swastika ring on his right hand.
This is how a police officer would have dressed for duty with a field unit.
Black leather ammunition pouch is the same as would have been worn with his parade uniform (for a long-term field assignment he would have acquired something larger and more utilitarian.
Probably a set of three standard army-issue brown leather ammunition pouches.
He wears a black Police M1935 helmet with party symbol decal on the right and the wreathed police eagle on the left.
His weapon is the K98 Mauser rifle.And for his efforts in eradicating various opposition elements and other enemies of the Reich, he has earned the Anti-Partisan defense badge in silver, worn on his left breast pocket. As another memento of his time fighting the partisans he wears the Anti-partisan ring on his right hand.
Luftwaffe officers wore either a white or blue shirt under their gray-blue tunic.
This officer's peaked "schirmmutze" cap bears the unpopular early-design "droop-tail" eagle design, which was soon replaced with the version seen over his right breast pocket.
These eagles would have been hand-embroidered of silver-aluminum flat wire, which may explain why this officer has not yet seen fit to lay out the necessary Reich marks to replace the one on his hat.
His tunic features smooth-finished aluminum buttons, as opposed to the low-gloss "pebbled" buttons used on army uniforms.
Instead if the standard square-buckle service belt, he wears a brown leather dress belt with Luftwaffe officer's parade buckle. The square-cut pocket flaps were also unique to Luftwaffe tunics when they were introduced. However many officers and men wore the traditional "scalloped" flaps. Note the collar tabs that indicate rank. In addition to his other awards, this Hauptmann wears the "Blood Order" of the NSDAP.
He wears the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd Class in the 2nd buttonhole of his tunic, the Iron Cross 1st Class on the left pocket and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross at his throat.
Above the ribbons is his gold Short Range Day Fighter clasp, which identifies his flying assignment.
The Luftwaffe designed its sleek leather flying jacket both to minimize bulk in the cockpit and to avoid the complications of flaps and buttons when climbing in and out.
Many Luftwaffe pilots removed the rigid framing of their "schirmmutze" caps, as done by Allied airmen whose practical excuse was that it enabled them to fit their radio earphones over their caps when flying.
Specially made, soft "crusher" style caps were also worn by many German tankers and even some infantry officers and NCO's.
His non-official but accepted Luftwaffe ring is worn on his right hand.
Instead of piercing his jacket with metal decorations, this Hauptmann displays cloth versions of his Iron Cross First Class and "Flugzeugführerabzeichen" (Pilots' Badge), as well as the Luftwaffe breast eagle. All are embroidered in the fine aluminum or silver wire bullion authorized for officers.
When he returns to the Officer's Mess after another combat flight he is entitled to (but doesn't) use his Luftwaffe Honour Goblet (Ehrenpokal), a ''non-portable award" that bridged the gap between the Iron Cross 1st Class and the German Cross in Gold or Knight's Cross (which he was later awarded and can be seen at his throat) . Established in February 1940, the Ehrenpokal was awarded by the authority of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to Luftwaffe personnel "for special achievement in the air-war". This was an award for aircrew only.
The award of the Honour Goblet automatically enrolled him on the Luftwaffe Honour Roll which is indicated by a clasp (spange) worn on the Ribbon of the Iron Cross.
NSDAP National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party)
This uniform is that of the only member of the "All Forces" collection who is not a military officer. Nor does he bear rank, in the traditional military sense.
As a "Kreisleiter," he is political leader over a Kreis -- a district typically taking in several small towns.
The scope of his responsibility might equate roughly to that of an army Colonel.
In addition to the coveted Blood Order medal, he wears the German Order, which Hitler himself is reported to have called the highest of all German decorations.
Of course, the gold party membership pin in the centermakes it clear that only NSDAP members were eligible for the award. Although the shums personal jewellery he does wear a NSDAP wedding ring. In dress uniformhe wearshis SA presentation dagger on his left hip.
It seems that this 8-year veteran should have advanced higher than captain by now.
The possible explanation is twofold:
First his 8-year N.S.D.A.P service ribbon applies to membership in the party, not in the SS (he has 4 years of service in the SS). And second, the chevrons on his right arm identify him as a former police officer, not a soldier.
He is also wearing two memorial party Gau badges, including the 1925 badge (when Hitler reformed the NSDAP and took control of it) and the East Prussia Gau badge.
He also has, but does not wear, the 1925/35 Commemorative Gau badge. Gau badges were civilian in nature but the SS were allowed to wear a mixture of civilian and military badges. He also wears his gold NAZI party membership pin, and of course the distinctive black-bordered SS party member armband.
The gold stars in place of staff corps sleeve insignia identify this Kaptitanleutnant as a command officer, possibly a junior exec. The gold braid below the stars communicates his rank.
He wears a ten-button double-breasted navy blue tunic and a white-crowned cap with the single row of gold braid on the visor appropriate to his rank. His gold-and-silver Surface Fleet badge (Das Flottenkriegsabzeichen) shows that he serves above the waves and hopes to stay there.
The gold-colored metal national-emblem eagles on his chest and cap are optional alternatives to the gold bullion standard-issue versions.
He wears all 3 versions of the Iron Cross, 2nd class, 1st class and Knights Cross. His Iron Cross 1st classis a brass cored version. There is unproven speculation that brass cores for the Iron Cross were first introduced for the Kriegsmarine to protect the medal against salt water induced rust.
Parachutists of the German Luftwaffe were called Fallschirmjäger, literally "parachute hunters." They were considered elite light infantry. Over his field-blue ("feldblau") Luftwaffe tunic, this Fallschirmjäger Hauptman wears a "knochensack" (jump smock) in 3rd-pattern "tan-water" camouflage.
His M-38 parachutist's helmet bears the German national tri-color shield decal on its right side and the Luftwaffe's eagle emblem on its left. Many paratroopers added homemade camouflage paint schemes to their combat helmets.
Chicken-wire rigs like the one shown were a common way of attaching leaves and branches as additional camouflage; other methods included string-mesh netting and simple elastic bands or the strap of a bread bag. Insignia other than sleeve rank were not authorized on the jump-smock except in parade dress or, as seen here, for portraits. Of course, like all rules in all armies, it was often ignored.
This Hauptmann's decorations include the German Cross in Gold, displayed below the embroidered Luftwaffe breast eagle zig-zag stitched to his jump smock. On his left chest is a ribbon bar showing the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords and a 4-year Long Service medal ribbon. It bears the Wehrmacht spread wing eagle device for his early Heer service (1935-39); The other is a 12 year service medal ribbon with the Luftwaffe silver flying eagle device (1939-43). The medals were identical for all military services, branch of service was indicated by the device. All military service counted and war-time service counted as double. Last on his ribbon bar is the ribbon representing the Sudetenland Campaign medal with Prague Castle device.
Beneath these ribbons is the Iron Cross First Class, and below it, closest to his heart, is the 1937-issue first pattern Army (Heer) Fallschirmspringerabzeichen (Parachute Jumper [qualification] Badge) he won as an early member of the Army's elite Fallschirm-Infanterie-Bataillon, or Parachute Infantry Battalion. (This battalion was transferred to the Luftwaffe at the beginning of 1939, becoming II./ Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1.)
The Heer badge had an oak-leaf wreath surmounted by a small Wehrmacht eagle clutching a swastika. In the later Luftwaffe version there is no Wehrmacht eagle; the large diving eagle itself clutches the swastika. The Luftwaffe version also introduces laurel leaves on one side of the wreath. Oak leaves are a symbol of strength. Laurel leaves, ever since ancient Greek athletes were first crowned with them, represent victory, excellence and achievement. Thus both are fitting in a badge awarded to the elite paratroopers who qualified for it by completing both rigorous training and an exacting test. In the case of the Fallschirmjager, that test comprised no less than six parachute jumps, including one at night. As a participant in three subsequent combat operations, this officer also wears the Luftwaffe "Erdkampfabzeichen," or Ground Assault Badge.
Lowermost of his decorations is the Wound Badge in Black, recognizing his two combat wounds. The two buttonhole ribbons he has inserted into a hand-cut slit in his jump smock represent the Iron Cross 2nd Class and the "Winterschlact" (Winter Battle) medal, officially called the Ostfront (Eastern Front) Campaign medal, for participation in the invasion of Soviet Russia.
Hauptmann Luftwaffe FJ
This Hauptmann of the Fallschirmjäger wears a popular combination for everyday duty throughout the Luftwaffe, the M40 "fliegerbluse" or flyer's blouse, along with the lightweight M40 "fliegermutze" (flyer's cap). The fliegerbluse was descended from field blouses worn by German troops during WWI.
Standard-issue versions of the fliegerbluse featured plastic or glass buttons hidden by the center flap, a hook-and-eye closure at the collar, and a streamlined torso with no external breast pockets. This Hauptmann's custom-tailored version also has sewn-in shoulder-boards.
As an officer, his collar and his cap are piped in silver-white braid. His tunic displays the Iron Cross 1st Class embroidered cloth version and his Luftwaffe "Fallschirmspringerabzeichen" (parachutist's badge), bullion version. On his cap is pinned the metal parachute badge of the 1st Fallschirmjäger Regiment in the Italian Theatre, which was an official German badge manufactured in Italy.
The 'Kreta' cuff title was awarded to participants in the battle to re-take Crete from the British in May 1941, where this officer and his men parachuted onto Retimo Airfield to lead the ultimately successful attack, codenamed "Operation Mercury."
His current unit, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen was raised in Oct 1943 from replacement units and conscripts and stiffened with some experienced men like our Hauptmann. It saw action against the US forces in Normandy from 10 June 1944 and suffered heavy losses.
The surviving parts of the division refitted in the Saar during Sep and took on manpower from Heer and Waffen-SS stragglers. It fought around Metz in October and November before once again retreating to the Saar, seeing action there in December.
and that misnomer still persists even though designer Hugo Schmeisser, famous for the Bergmann MP-18 submachine gun of World War I, actually had nothing to do with the MP-40.
The simplified Grossdeutschland cuff title is of post-1940 design. He has covered the gleaming gold officer rank pips with wool felt wraps matching his tunic, to make himself a less attractive target.
This officer wears the standard-issue M36 "feldgrau" (field gray) wool service tunic and peaked cap with cast-metal cap insignia and pebbled buttons.
He is not a superstitious man but manages to carry his 'good luck charm' on him at all times. It is a 2 Reich- mark coin given him by his Grandmother. As well he wears his Wehrmacht ceremonial dagger on his left hip.
This is against regulations but as it was a gift from a high ranking SS Officer a blind eye is turned to it.
On his left pocket, closest to the heart, and beside the Wound Badge in black, he wears the gold-and-silver Luftwaffe Pilots Badge, which has been called the most beautiful military badge ever created.
Hermann Goering obviously thought the design OK because he had a version of the Pilots/Observers badge made in solid gold and silver with diamonds to be presented to high officials in Germany and heads of State like Mussolini. As an early member of the Luftwaffe he proudly wears his 1st Model Luftwaffe Ceremonial dagger, with it's stiletto blade, on his left hip.
On his left hip is his 2nd Model Luftwaffe Ceremonial Dagger with it's distinctive cross-bar/finger guard.
In the Battle of Britain he flew a Messerschmitt 110 twin engined fighter.
These were no match for the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF and only his skill and daring got him through that campaign.
Later he was transferred to a Squadron that was equipped with Messerschmitt 109 single engined fighters that were much more attuned to his skills.
A disagreement with a stupid and overbearing superior saw him do a short stint with a Squadron in North Africa flying a Stuka dive bomber in support of Rommel's Afrika Corps but he hated it and soon wangled his way back to fighters and his beloved 109s.
His hat bears the Death's Head badge or Totenkopf, the dreaded SS insignia.
They also often wore the cloth version. On formal ocassionshe wears his Kriegsmarine Ceremonial Daggerfolded wing eagle' handle.
He wears an enlisted ranks belt rather than the authorized officer's version, as a gesture of solidarity with his men and also as a memento of his enlisted roots. One of the interesting things about the Fallschirmjäger uniform was side laced jump-boots.
Starting from a small collection of Fallschirmjäger battalions at the beginning of the war, the Luftwaffe built up a division-sized unit of three Fallschirmjäger regiments plus supporting arms and air assets, known as the 7th Air Division. Later in the war the 7th Air Division's Fallschirmjäger assets were reorganized and used as the core of a new series of elite Luftwaffe infantry divisions, numbered in a series beginning with the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division.
During the Battle of Monte Cassino the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division operated as ordinary infantry. When the Allies bombed the Monastery of Monte Cassino they inadvertently created an excellent fortress of rubble. This enabled the still-present Fallschirmjäger troops to hold out for months against repeated assaults and heavy bombardment. They were nicknamed "Green Devils" by the Allied forces for their tenacious defense, though they were finally forced out of the position by British, Polish and French Moroccan forces.
Out of view in a special pocket on this Fallschirmjäger's trouser-leg is his gravity knife, which was issued to paratroops in case they had to cut themselves free from a parachute that had become tangled in a tree or other obstruction. A gravity knife is so named because it can be opened solely by the forces of gravity or centripetal force. The blade exits out the front of the handle point-first and locks into place.
Tucked into the Hauptmann's belt is an M-24 "potato masher" stick grenade. His sidearm is the Walther P-38 pistol. The P-38 was preferred by many Fallshirmjäger officers because it was more reliable and easier to maintain than the famous Luger P-08, and fired the same 9-mm parabellum ammunition used in German submachine guns.
The weapon he holds is the 7.62-mm FG-42 rifle, which was created exclusively for Germany's parachute regiments. FG stands for "FallshirmjägerGewehr," or "paratrooper's rifle."
His men held him in high esteem as a result of his personal heroism so did Generaloberst Student, who awarded him the Kreta Shield. Although successful, the spirited resistance of Australian & New Zealand troops at Retimo made it so costly to the German paras that Hitler banned any further para-assaults.
Capitano Italian Sirte Division
The Italian Army served alongside their German Axis partners in the battle for North Africa from 1940 to 1943.
The red enameled shield ("scudetto") on this Capitano's left arm identifies him as a member of the Sirte Division, which fought with the XXII Corps under Generale di Corpo d'Armata Petassi Manella, headquartered at Tobruk.
The bustina was unique to Italian uniforms.
It was worn on all fronts, in materials ranging from light cotton to heavy wool. It featured practical ear-flaps for cold & wind, and the split visor could be folded down to shade the eyes when needed.
The MVSN ("Militia Voluntaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale) was a Fascist Party organization rather like the German Nazi party's fanatical "brown shirts," the SA (Sturm-Abteilung).
Later the MVSN was redesignated CCNN, a name derived from the Italian for their black shirts, or "Camiecie Nere."
As fighting men the Black Shirts were at first longer on zeal and courage than on military leadership, tactics and training.
In time, however, some Black Shirt units distinguished themselves in combat and gained elite status with the designation "M" Battalions.
This CCNN Centurione (equivalent to regular army Capitano) wears on his black collar tabs the distinctive "M" Battalion insignia, based on Mussolini's own signature. His gold-bullion cap badge features the symbol of the Fascist Party, the "fasces" -- a sheaf of birch or elm rods bound together with a battle-axe -- which hails from the time of the Roman Empire and signifies the State's authority to impose discipline, either by birching or decapitation.
In the early years the standard headgear for all Black Shirt ranks was a black fez. Later a black bustina (field cap) or, as seen here, a peaked visor cap were often worn by officers. The three bands of gold lace on his cap band and cuffs show the Centurione's rank. He wears the standard-issue Beretta Model 34 automatic pistol. On his left hip is his Poiniard/Pugnale MVSN Dagger.
His decorations chronicle a distinguished Fascist Party career and service on several military fronts. The top row of ribbons shows the unofficial Fascist Party Campaign Medal with a date-clasp for 1922, when he was in his mid-teens. Next is the Fascist Cross in Gold, for outstanding contributions to the Party, followed by the Italian War Cross for military service.
Italy's Decima MAS Marines served proudly and well throughout the War.
Decima means "Tenth," and M.A.S. abbreviates the Italian words for "Motor Torpedo Boat," which harks back to the unit's formation as a speedy seaborne attack force in World War I.
This RSI period Capitano wears the distinctive metal arm shield of the Decima MAS. His rank is shown by the braid on his cuffs, here in a simplified yellow-thread version for battle dress.
The collarless woolen tunic was unique to the Decima MAS and Italy's "Paracadutista" (Paratroop) forces.
The ribbon in his top buttonhole is for the German Iron Cross 2nd Class, which was also awarded to Germany's Italian Axis partners. His single medal ribbon is that of the Medal for Navy Valour in Silver, the Italian Navy's second-highest bravery award. Beneath it is the badge of the Italian Navy's elite "Nuotatori-Paracadutisti," or swimmer-parachutists -- air-and-sea commandos not unlike the now-famous U.S. Navy "SEALs."
Below this badge is the Iron Cross 1st Class. On his right chest is the "Addestramento Germania" badge, given to members of the many Italian units who trained under the Germans. He also wears the signature Decima MAS M41 beret, with metal officer's insignia instead of the prescribed anchor-design cloth badge.
This was a popular example of "Fuori Ordinanza" meaning "out of regulation" uniform among the Decima MAS. His weapon is the Carcano M38 "Mannlicher" carbine, for which he wears the standard-issue dual ammunition pouches on his leather utility belt. Tucked in the belt is a German "potato masher" M24 stick grenade.
That weapon is his personal choice over the more normal and famous Italian made "Red Devils" or Bomba A Mano Model 35 grenades.
One of the most notable innovations of the Italian Marines in World War II was the human torpedo (originally known in Italian as the Siluro a Lenta Corsa - "Slow-running torpedo").
Capitano Italian Folgore Division Paracadutistas
The Army and Air Force parachute forces also wore the M41 collarless tunic. This Capitano of the famous Folgore Division paracadutistas is ready for a fight. ("Folgore" translates to Lightning Bolt).
He wears the M42 para helmet in Army green, and the embroidered badge of an RSI-period Paracadutista officer on his left sleeve.
The RSI period was the time following the surrender of the Royal Italian government to the Allies in September 1943 until April 1945, during which a "Repubblica Sociale Italiana" (Italian Social Republic) loyal to the exiled Fascist leader Benito Mussolini carried on in the Axis cause.
Above the Capitano's left pocket are his Army parachute qualification wings. The large oval badge beneath them bears the legend "Per L'Onore D'Italia" ("For the Honor of Italy"). This phrase sums up the motivation of the Italian military who felt that they had been betrayed by the capitulation to the Allies and elected to continue fighting alongside the Germans to the end.
Below this badge is the Volontario di Guerra badge, also worn by RSI-era volunteers. Centered on his left pocket is an enameled pin commemorating the Folgore Division's valiant stand at El Alamein in 1942. So tenacious were they in the defence of their position, and so aggressive and courageous in their repeated counter-attacks, that the British commanding General said afterward, "During my long life as a soldier, I’ve never met such valiant men as the Folgore’s paratroopers."
On this Capitano's right pocket is the Addestramento Germania, for Italian troops trained by the Germans. He also wears the ribbon of the German Eastern Campaign Medal in his top buttonhole.
The red and yellow ribbon is of a medal that recognizes service in support of Francisco Franco's Nationalist rebels during the Spanish Civil War, and the diamond-shaped pin beneath the ribbons is an Albanian award for participation in the Italian effort against Greece and Yugoslavia in 1940-41
Below these are ribbons representing three campaigns -- Ethiopia, France, and Russia. He also wears the "Fronte Russo" (Russian Front) campaign badge.
On his upper left sleeve is the CCNN Comando badge in gold bullion on black, worn by command officers of the CCNN. It bears the word FERT the motto of the Italian House of Savoy. It is an acronym that pre-dates the Fascist regime. It sometimes appears repeated three times on badges ("FERT FERT FERT") because is that it is understood as having three different meanings, each a phrase in Latin:
This was an electrically propelled torpedo with two crew sitting astride the device and provided with instruments to control and navigate the craft. The warhead was detachable and was used as a limpet mine. The crew wore diving suits while operating the device.
The torpedo would be carried to the approximate location of the target by another vessel, typically a normal submarine, and then launched. Its crew then piloted it underwater to attach its warhead to the target, and used the remainder of the chariot to escape.
Operators of the human torpedo nicknamed it maiale ("pig") because the first model was so difficult to steer, while the British nicknamed it the "underwater chariot" and later built their own versions. The first attack of the Decima Flottiglia MAS under Ernesto Forza was on elements of the Royal Navy at Alexandria on 19th December 1941. The battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth were both severely damaged and out of operation for months. The Italians also carried out raids against shipping at Gibraltar using the merchant ship Olterra anchored at Algeciras with an underwater door to get within range of the harbour, and against shipping in Algiers Bay after the Allied North African landings.
German medals were awarded to, and proudly worn by, many RSI-era Italian troops.
Cradled on his lap is Beretta's highly regarded 9-mm submachine gun M.A.B. Model 38-A ("M.A.B." abbreviates "Moschetto Automatico Beretta," literally, Beretta automatic rifle). This sturdy and dependable weapon was used effectively both by the Italians and by their German allies, many of whom even favored it over their famous MP-40. These lightweight weapons have two separate triggers, one for semi-automatic and one for automatic fire. They use the same 9 mm ammunition as the Beretta Model 34 pistol, and have a firing rate of up to 500 rounds per minute.
On his utility belt is a canvas and leather ammo pouch holding three forty-round magazines for the M.A.B. 38. Also visible is the wooden grip of his 8-inch M39 fighting knife.
Captain, Imperial Japanese Army
Just as there were Japanese-Americans in the U.S. Army and people of Japanese descent in other Allied forces, so too some Caucasians served in the Japanese military.
Many of these were pre-war military advisors or instructors who were commissioned as officers when war broke out.
This Tai-i - Dai-i (Captain) is wearing tropical service dress while on a training mission to one of the many Japanese outposts in the Pacific rim.
His officer-issue "Katana" (ceremonial sword) bears the copper & blue cords and tassels of a company-grade officer. These are often mistakenly referred to as Samurai swords.
In spite of the myths that have grown up about World War II "Samurai" swords being hand-made family heirlooms hundreds of years old the truth of the matter is that most Officers carried mass produced models that were made in the 1930s and early 1940s. Even those (very few) Officers with links to the ancient Samurai families did not, as a general rule, carry family heirlooms into battle.
The badge on his right breast pocket shows that he is a graduate of the Imperial Army Staff College. The tab hanging from his left breast pocket shows the captain's rank.
Japanese infantry soldier
Japanese standard infantry soldier's uniform of World War 2.
Japanese naval lander
The japanese marine's olive-green uniforms - crossed anchors and single cherry blossom- of a leading seaman. He carries a type 96'Nambu' light machine gun. The japanese created their special naval landing forces in the 1920. and black leather boots and gaiters were distinctive. On this arm he wears the rank badge
Hanging from his dress belt with officers' rising-sun buckle is a clam-shell leather holster containing his 7-mm Type B "Baby" Nambu pistol. Only 6 and a half inches long, the Baby Nambu was preferred by many Imperial Japanese officers over the much larger and heavier standard-issue Type 14.
Kapitan in the Red Army
Stalin struggled for years with the difficult question of how to reconcile the fundamental Communist doctrine of a classless society with the Soviet military's practical need for uniforms and insignia that differentiate the various ranks of officers and men.
In the late pre-war era, after decades during which "tsarist" uniform trappings such as shoulder-boards, high collars and the red trouser stripes identifying Generals were banned, Stalin finally began to see the realistic necessity of these things for military order and started authorizing changes.
The transition was complete with the introduction of a new, more traditional Russian military dress uniform pattern in 1943.
Here we see a Red Army Kapitan wearing the high-collar M-43 officer's tunic. Both tunic and matching dress cap are trimmed in deep raspberry red, showing that he is an infantry officer. It also bears the Soviet Red Star badge. He also has a plain field cap. The large, stiff shoulder-boards include white metal stars to show the Kapitan's rank.
On his left breast he wears the Order of Glory 3rd class, Partisan Medal 1st class, and the Defense of Moscow campaign medal. Over his right pocket are the Order of the Red Star, awarded for outstanding service, and the Order of the Red Banner, for courage and bravery.
Kapitan Red Army wearing "Telogreika" jacket & M40 helmet
The quilted "telogreika" combat jacket is a Russian innovation that provided warmth without bulk. It featured a banded collar and painted metal buttons.
This Kapitan also wears a field-green M40 steel helmet with leather chin strap and red Communist star stenciled on the front. The yellow and red bands on his right chest are wound stripes -- yellow for "light" wounds, red for major ones.
Beneath these is the badge he wears as a member of the Red Guards, a paramilitary strike force that grew out of the armed workers of the Communist revolution to become the foundation of the Red Army.
The ribbon bar on his left breast shows the Medal for Valiant Labor, a high award related to his service in the Red Guards; the Medal for Valor in recognition of personal courage and valor in the defense of the socialist Homeland; the Medal for Distinguished Service in Battle, and the campaign medal for the Defence of Leningrad. He was later awarded the Medal for the Capture of Berlin. After the war, in 1965, he was awarded the 20th Anniversary of Victory over Germany medal, the first of the commemoratives.
His weapons are the celebrated 7.62-mm Mosin-Nagant M44 carbine, for which he wears the standard-issue twin leather ammunition pouches on his belt; and a double-action (officers' issue) Nagant model 1895 revolver, which he carries in a shoulder holster with a built-in ammunition pouch under its flap.
The Battle of Leningrad began in July, 1941. As usual, the Russians were out-numbered but they held strong in order to protect one of their most important cities. By September, the Germans had taken the railroads, cutting Leningrad off from the rest of Russia, and the only sources of supplies and reinforcements were by air dropping or by crossing Lake Ladoga.
This Kapitan of the Red Army is prepared to help defend Stalingrad from the Germans in the winter of 1942-3.
He's wearing a snow-white camouflage smock under his quilted white "ziletka," or waistcoat.
His hat is a Soviet original, the M-40 "ushanka" fur cap with the Red Star badge of the Soviet Army on the front. As an officer, he is entitled to wear a white fleece version of the ushanka, but these were seldom seen at the battlefront.
In this officer's case it is because he has elected to keep his old cap as a memento of his enlisted roots after receiving a battlefield promotion.
In battle his hat will be covered by the white hood of his camo smock. Superior protective winter clothing like the the Ushanka was an important advantage to the Red Army in the bitter Russian cold.
While his medals are not worn in this uniform he was awarded several including the 1st Class (gold) and 2nd Class (silver) Medals for Distinguished Military Service, and ones for the Defence of Sevastopol, Victory over Fascism, Liberation of Warsaw and Victory over Japan. In 1985 he received the Order of the Great Patriotic War 2nd Class and 7 more celebration medals were awarded over the years.
This uniform is a 1940-model "gimnasterka" style tunic, made of heavy cotton fabric and piped in Air Force cornflower-blue, with matching collar tabs.
The single red enameled collar bar shows the Kapitan's rank, and the winged-prop Air Force insignia behind it, similar in design to that of the U.S. Army Air Forces, verifies his branch of service.
The red chevrons near the cuffs also display the Kapitan's rank.
Russian Air Force Pilot's Wings were of cloth, not metal, and were worn almost halfway down the left sleeve as shown.
This officer wears an early-war Excellent Airman badge on his right breast. Above his left pocket is a Hero of the Soviet Union medal. He also wears the Order of Lenin for exemplary military service, and the Medal for the Defence of Stalingrad, where he has flown the famous Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik "Tank Killer" in countless sorties against German armour. The IL-2 was also nicknamed the Flying Tank, though some disagreement exists among historians as to whether the reference is to its sturdiness and heavy armor, or to its notorious lack of maneuverability.
On his belt he wears a pistol holster that carries his 1933 model Russian made Tokarev pistol. The Tokarev design is almost a straight copy (slightly smaller) of the M1911 Browning.
More than any other nation in World War 2, the Soviets made highly-trained snipers a major part of their wartime strategy.
During the Winter War of 193/40 the Russians learned from the Finns through bitter experience the value of snipers. Simo Hdyhd, a farmer, is credited with the killing of over 500 Russian soldiers in fifteen weeks with his Model 1928 Mosin-Nagant rifle.
As a result, the Russians began to place more emphasis on their sniper training programme.
Snipers were the eyes and ears of their units, as well as a key element in defensive efforts to slow down and demoralize the advancing Germans.
The men and women of the elite sniper corps were popular national heroes and role models, held to a higher standard than mainstream troops. They were also given an unusual latitude for personal initiative and creativity in carrying out their vital missions.
Responding to such criticism of the SVT-40, this Kapitan dryly quipped, "Никакой инструмент не будет правым инструментом если вы не умеете как использовать их." ("No tool is the right tool for the job if you don't know how to use it.")
He had served as a young man in the Soviet contingent in the Spanish Civil War. They were awarded no medals at that time but many years later a medal was struck and he was retrospectively awarded one, even though by then he was an old man.
His brother, who was not in the military for medical reasons, won the Order of the Red Banner of Russian Labour in 1943 and, later, the Order of Labour Glory.
Thus began a nearly year-long siege in which over 600,000 people died of starvation.
Fortunately for the remaining citizens, Russian counter-offensives at Stalingrad drained the Germans of the necessary resources to carry out their planned final assault on Leningrad. Finally, in November 1942, the Soviets laid a roadway across Lake Ladoga's ice by which supplies and support began to flow into the city and half a million civilians were evacuated. Though the Germans would never take Leningrad, the defense of the city would be one of the costliest of the war for Russia.
A shy man, he felt his medal rack was getting a bit too ostentatious until he ran into his old commander, a Lt Colonel, at a reunion one day and on seeing that Officer's medal rack his mind was put at ease about his own.
Another big advantage was the weapon this Kapitan wields, the famous PPSh-41 submachine gun, which is credited by many with turning the tide in favor of the Soviets at Stalingrad. Over his shoulder is a special webbing pouch containing a spare 71-round magazine of 7.62-mm ammunition for the PPSh.
The only significant difference is the lack of a safety which required that for safety reasons the pistol always had to be carried with an empty chamber.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Victory he was presented with a "Polyot" wristwatch in 14 K gold, a special issue to Heroes of the Soviet Union. Engraved on the back, "To Hero of the Soviet Union", his name and "from the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the USSR Government". On the back it shows the number "584", a 14 K gold hallmark and a stamped maker mark.
Under the Soviet system, snipers were fielded in teams of two with a sniper and an observer. Both team members were qualified snipers and changed roles after each kill. The sniper was to provide both scouting duties as well as point and indirect fire to disrupt enemy activities and communications. The observer assisted in spotting potential targets, provided security and recorded and confirmed kills.
Next to it is the medal for Defence of Sevastopol, where valiant Russian Snipers were instrumental in delaying the eventual German victory over the city for an 8-month period in 1942. Here the Soviets dropped the 2 sniper team concept and the observer became just and only that.
On his right breast is his coveted Sniper badge. Next to it, closer to his heart, is a pre-war Marksman target-shooting award which announces that the wearer is "An excellent shooter, like [legendary Soviet Marksman Marshal] Voroshilov."
As he was often moved to hot-spots and to train new men his paper work was often well behind him. When it did catch up with him he had been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, not once but twice, and also the Order of Lenin.
Post war he worked in and later managed a tractor factory. As a result he was awarded the Veteran of Labor Medal as well as the 30 year Anniversary Victory over Germany Medal and 50 year Anniversary Victory over Germany Medal. He died at age 76 in Kiev. He was buried with full military honours.
Captain US Army, 3rd
This infantry Captain of the US 3rd Army is wearing the famous "Eisenhower" jacket, also called the "Ike" jacket.
Introduced late in 1944, the jacket was a popular option for both enlisted and officer ranks.
It is named for Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, who suggested that a short, close-fitting jacket similar to the British battle dress blouse be added to the official U.S. Army uniform.
Like the British BD blouse, the Ike jacket featured concealed buttons and an adjustable waistband for a trim, no-nonsense look.
The style quickly became so popular that supplies were often low and many who couldn't get the real thing had their standard 4-pocket coats cut off below the waist to create makeshift versions.
On his left arm, this captain wears the "AO" patch (Army of Occupation) of General George S. "Blood & Guts" Patton's famous 3rd Army. The crossed muskets on his lapels show that he is an infantry officer, and he wears the ribbon of the Silver Star Medal for individual bravery in the face of the enemy, the Soldier's Medal for heroic non-combat service, and the Purple Heart Medal, for being wounded He also wears above his service medal ribbons a CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge) which recognizes that he has participated in battle with an armed enemy.
The two "hash marks" on his left cuff designate 1 year's overseas service, with each bar counting for six months.
Here we see a World War 2-era Marine Captain in "winter green" uniform.
As shown by the scarlet-and-gold shoulder ropes and the subdued insignia on his lapels, this officer is serving as Aide de Camp to a Major General (2 stars).
He has won three high awards for heroism -- The Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star with "V for Valor" device denoting bravery in combat.
The gold star on his Purple Heart ribbon indicates that he was wounded in action a second time, not surprising given his impressive a combat record.
He is a career officer, as shown by the yellow American Defense medal ribbon, which dates his active duty to before Pearl Harbor. Also on that particular ribbon is the "W" device that denotes participation in the Marines' valiant defense of Wake Island. He also earned the "Foreign Service" clasp to that medal.
You will note the silver parachutists badge high on his right chest that indicates another of his accomplishments.
His formation patch bears the Southern Cross and reads "Guadalcanal" to signify the service of the 1st Marine Division in that bloody battle in the South West Pacific that lasted from August 1942 to February 1943. Lunga Point, "Iron Bottom Sound" and Henderson Field were names soon indelibly burnt into history. Loss of life, limb, ships and planes was huge on both sides.
This USMC Captain is holding a USMC "Mameluke" sword. The right to bear this weapon was won when USMC Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon and seven enlisted Marines along with a rag tag 'army' of Arabs and Greek mercenaries crossed 600 miles of desert to bring an end to the rule of the pirates of Tripoli.
He wears his high-collar "dress blues" uniform. On his cap frame with officer's gold and scarlet-red chinstrap, he wears a white cover.
His hat and collar display eagle, anchor and globe ("EGA") USMC badges of pure silver and gold overlay. The eagles on the smaller collar brass face inward per regulations.
He wears Rifle Expert and Pistol Sharpshooter badges.He has removed his white gloves, having just come off duty on the Staff of the Aviation Commander of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. He declined to wear the authorized Sam Browne belt while on sea duty in order to reduce the amount of luggage in his small, cramped officer's quarters.
As a Marine Aviator he wears Naval pilot's wings above the top row of his service ribbons -- which includes the Navy Cross and the Silver Star with two gold stars denoting 2nd & 3rd awards. The second row of ribbons displays the Navy & Marine Corps Medal, the Bronze Star with "V" for Valor device, and the Purple Heart.
The Air Corps was restless as an Army stepchild from the start. Its members were consigned to wear Army uniforms, but asserted themselves to the full limit of the regulations to look different from their land-bound brothers.
One popular motif was to wear a chocolate brown shirt with their khaki neckties. Some have speculated that the practice emulated Hollywood's stereotypical gangster attire, which often featured a dark shirt with light-colored tie.
If true, it would be a fitting and typically American response to German propaganda broadcasts of the day, in which Air Corps bomber crews were often referred to as "American Luftgangsters" (gangsters of the air).
On his left shoulder he wears the Formation Patch of the famous 8th Army Air Force. He was one of the pilots who flew both the B17 bombers with the 91st Bomb Group and the P-51D Mustangs of the 357th Fighter Group.
American military pilots took nose art and unit insignia to levels and applications not seen before.
They proudly emblazoned both their planes and their leather flying jackets with Squadron and Group emblems, sometimes in the form of cloth patches, sometimes by applying silk-screened decals, or sometimes even having the designs hand-painted directly on the leather.
The unofficial unit insignia on this U.S. Army Air Corps pilot's horsehide model A-2 flight jacket identify him as a member of the 67th Bomber Squadron of the 44th Bomber Group.
They served with the 8th Air Force from one of its many bases in England.
He holds in his hand a pair of early gold wire-rimmed Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, a perennial favorite with flyers since the 1930's.
This U.S. Navy Lieutenant (equivalent to Army rank of Captain) wears a summer service "suntan" uniform. The black wool rank marks on his shoulders have two gold-lace stripes to denote his rank and an embroidered gold bullion star to show he is a Line Officer.
His collars also display metal rank insignia so that when he works in shirtsleeves as was commonly done in the South Pacific, his rank is still visible. He wears a medal ribbon for the Navy Cross, which ranks just after the Medal of Honor.
Next to it is the Navy and Marine Corps Medal ribbon, followed by the ribbon for the Bronze Star.Above his ribbon bar is a gold pair of Navy pilot's wings to show he is a qualified Naval Aviator, probably assigned to an aircraft carrier like the USS Lexington which fought at the Battle of Midway.
Although perhaps not as well known as the 101st, the 82nd were just as dangerous to have as an enemy.
This Captain is ready to lead his men in Operation Neptune, the night attack into
Because he is battle-ready he has discarded his normal headwear for an M1-C paratrooper helmet with special leather chin cup with a first aid kit attached to the front.
His weapon is the M3A1 "grease gun" .45-caliber submachine gun with a 30-round box magazine and a webbing sling.
The grease gun, so-called for its obvious resemblance to the mechanic's tool of that name, was introduced in 1942 as a less expensive alternative to the famous Thompson submachine gun. With an effective range of only 55 yards, the M3 was less popular than the Thompson among regular infantry, but its smaller size, lighter weight and better reliability in battlefield conditions made it ideal for airborne troops as a close-combat lead sprayer.
Note the 82nd Airborne Division’s "Double A" shoulder patch. The one he wears grew from the several variations from WW1. The A's stand for "All American," a nickname derived from the fact that in World War I the 82nd's troops came from all 48 States.
Captain US 101st Airborne, wearing M42 Jump Jacket
When the 101st Airborne Division parachuted behind the Normandy beaches in the early morning hours of D-Day, they wore the M42 jump jacket as seen here.
This captain's olive drab M1 helmet bears the distinctive Ace of Spades insignia of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the "Para-Dice" unit in which Easy Company of "Band of Brothers" fame served.
He carries the famous M1 Garand .30 caliber (.30-06) rifle, which General George S. Patton described as "the greatest battle implement ever devised."
His leather shoulder holster contains the Model 1911 Army Colt .45 automatic, for which he wears a two-magazine ammunition pouch on his webbing belt.
101th, 2nd and 506th army patches
Captain, U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division - garrison cap
The elite paratroops of the 101st Airborne dropped into enemy territory to lead the D-Day invasion and then again in September 1944 to play an important role in Operation Market Garden, the Allies' abortive campaign to liberate Holland.
The 101st also endured the brunt of Hitler's all-out attack on Bastogne in December-January 1944-5.
This Airborne captain wears his paratrooper cap badge on the right side of his service cap -- instead of on the left as done by enlisted men -- so that his silver rank insignia doesn't cover the proud symbol of the Airborne.
On his left arm he wears the "Screaming Eagle" shoulder patch of the 101st Airborne.
Also, just above the cuff braid, two gold-embroidered "overseas bars," each signifying six months' service. Both are cross-stitched to his four-pocket coat with infantry-blue thread.
On his right arm is the 1st Allied Airborne Army patch, worn by Airborne units who participated in Operation Market Garden.
The two bronze stars on his silver "jump wings" symbolize the D-Day and Holland missions. Immediately beneath the jump wings is a Combat Infantry Badge.
His ribbon bar includes the Silver Star, Soldier's Medal, and a Purple Heart for being wounded in enemy action.
In the winter of 1944-5, the men of the 101st Airborne found themselves at the forefront in defending the surrounded Belgian town of Bastogne. They had insufficient supplies, very little ammunition -- and only a lucky few had proper winter clothing. This Captain is fortunate to have acquired an Army-issue Mackinaw coat in the early pattern with wool collar and attached belt.
To make himself less conspicuous in the winter snow while near the front lines, he wears a white cloth cover on his steel helmet. His private-purchase brown leather gloves may keep him from becoming one of the many who suffered frostbite during the siege.
The stenciled emblem on his helmet shows that this officer is assigned to the Regimental Headquarters staff of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Para-Dice) of the 101st Airborne Division defending Bastogne.
Even if it was only a few hundred yards behind the front lines, the regimental command post offered some shelter from the elements and from enemy fire.
For that reason, the captain has shed his gloves and the white camouflage helmet cover that he wears when on duty in forward positions, and his only weapon is the Model 1911 Army Colt .45 automatic that he keeps in a leather hip holster on his pistol belt.
His despatch riders/runners used Cushman Auto Glide Model 53 motor scooters which gave mobility unmatched in the Para-unit field of the time.
Because he was on HQ staff he saw the famous confrontation where a German under a flag of truce offered the US Commander of 101st Airborne Division, General McAuliffe a chance to surrender.
This captain's M43 Field jacket was regulation Olive Drab color when it was issued. But, like almost all of such jackets, it quickly faded to its present light khaki color with exposure to the elements, and for that reason many wrongly assume that it was issued in light tan instead of green.
His steel M1 helmet is covered with mesh netting which could be used to hold branches of leaves as camouflage in combat.
His shoulder patch identifies him as a member of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 3rd Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for 531 consecutive days of combat. At Anzio they fought off 3 German divisions.
Third Division soldiers earned 36 Congressional Medals of Honor during World War II. This Captain's weapon is the .30 caliber M1 carbine. Designed as a substitute for the Model 1911 pistol, it was roughly half the weight of the M1 Garand rifle and fired shorter (and somewhat less powerful) cartridges, usually in 15-round clips, two of which are contained in the ammo pouch on his belt.
Captain USMC in Combat Gear with B.A.R
The Marines in the Pacific fought on brown beaches and in green jungles. There was no one color or camouflage scheme that served well in every location.
This officer is wearing a popular combination, the olive drab ("OD") Model 1941 HBT (Herring Bone Twill) 3-pocket fatigue jacket, along with an HBT camouflage cover on his M1 helmet.
The Type 1 camouflage pattern is reversible to a greener woodland pattern where appropriate. It is emblazoned on the front center seam with a black-stamped "Eagle, Globe & Anchor" Marine Corps emblem. As usual, the seam has prevented an even imprint.
His khaki-and-OD M1937 cartridge belt holds six 20-round magazines for his .30 caliber (30-06) Model 1918 A2 B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle).
This was an uncommon weapon for an officer; only one or two were usually assigned to each platoon, and they were normally handled by well-qualified NCO's or enlisted men.
Captain, 2nd Armored "Hell On Wheels" Division, U.S. II Corps
The cramped quarters inside a Sherman tank allowed for little extraneous gear. This tank company commander carries only his Model 1911 Colt .45 automatic, in a special shoulder holster rig designed to hold it snug to his chest.
The jacket he wears was officially designated "Winter Combat Jacket," but was popularly known as the "tanker jacket."
Much warmer than the comparatively flimsy M41 & M43 field jackets, tanker jackets were highly prized on all fronts in World war II, not only by tankers but also by infantrymen, Navy & Air Corps pilots, and even Marines in the South Pacific.His 2nd Armored Division patch, worn on his left chest, is partly covered by a strap of his shoulder holster. On his right sleeve is the eagle & lion patch of II Corps. His leather tank helmet protects his head from injury inside the rough-riding tank. The rank insignia dry-transferred on the front of the helmet is barely visible through his tinted goggles.
General George S. Patton nicknamed his 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" in 1941. As a part of the II Corps under Patton the 2nd Armored fought in Algeria, Tunisia and Sicily in 1943.
Later they distinguished themselves in France, Holland, and in the Battle of the Bulge.
The American Volunteer Group, or AVG, was a force of American military pilots who were recruited by then-retired Captain (Major?) Claire Chennault to fight for China against the Japanese in the period before Pearl Harbor and America's official entry into the war.
The "Flying Tigers," as the Chinese affectionately dubbed them, were technically mercenaries, but actually both their services and the aircraft they flew were secret gifts to China from the U.S. This AVG pilot wears a Chinese-issue clone of the U.S. military's G-1 leather flying jacket, with knitted wool cuffs and fur collar.
A decal of the Walt Disney designed Flying Tigers Group emblem is above his right pocket, with a painted leather patch bearing one version of the emblem of the 1st Pursuit Squadron (the Adam & Eves) above the left. The emblem on his left shoulder is the China-Burma-India theater emblem, worn by those who participated in the defense of these areas against Japanese aggression.
This pilot is a member of the First Pursuit Squadron he probably flies a Curtiss P-40 "Warhawk" fighter with the Flying Tigers' famous shark-teeth design painted on its nose. On the ground these were guarded by Chinese troops.
When he flew he would wear his silk aviators scarf which has the Flying Tigers emblem hand embroidered on it. The tradition of wearing silk scarves by military aviators is no mere foppish affectation. Its original intent was to ensure against any chafing of the neck which might cause a pilot, even unconsciously, to reduce the degree or frequency with which he turns his head in scanning for enemies. It has been well documented from the beginning of aerial dog-fighting that he who sees his opponent first, usually wins. On the back of his jacket is a "blood chit".
He wears an overseas cap (sidecap) that had gold and black piping to denote his status as either a company or field grade officer. As a Captain he is wearing sterling silver rank insignia.
Eventually the Japanese completed a stealthy evacuation of their surviving ground troops in the early hours of 8 February 1943. It was here that our Captain earned several of his gallantry awards.
Third row is the Air Medal, a Marine Corps Good Conduct medal to show he started an as enlisted man and was a "Mustang" (took a combat commission), and finally the American Defense Service Medal with "W" appurtenance to show he defended Wake Island against assault by the Imperial Japanese Naval and Marine Forces in December 1941.
The 5th and 6th Marines in World War One were awarded three French Croix de Guerre Medals, two with a gold palm and one with a gold star. To represent those medals, he wears a French fourragere of green and red, the same colours as the service ribbon of the Croix de Guerre.
His carefree "go get 'em" attitude was more suited to fighters but he recognised the vital necessity of destroying the enemy's capability of making war products, the job undertaken by the bombers.
His cap badge shows the eagle facing his right; from 1869 to 1941 eagles faced the wearer's left.
He wears cloth badges of rank on his shoulder straps, a variation that later became the norm. On his right shoulder he wears his "invasion patch," an embroidered US Flag, "Old Glory."
The 101st was awarded the Netherlands Orange Lanyard in appreciation for its contribution to the liberation of Holland. The gold-framed Presidential Unit Citation, pinned above his right breast pocket, was awarded to the 101st twice; the bronze oak leaf cluster on it signifies the second award.
The answer was short and concise..."Nuts". As a memento his men purchased him one of the trench-art plaques that were made towards war's end that celebrated that answer.
Two Mark II fragmentation grenades, identified by a band of yellow paint, hang from steel D-rings on his M1936 combat suspenders.
Rank insignia were seldom worn on HBT's at the battlefront, for fear of enemy snipers.
2nd Armored Division patch
Flying Tigers Group emblem
This was important to downed AVG pilots. It was a large sewn-on patch showing the Chinese Nationalist flag along with a notice in Chinese that the pilot was a friend of China, and promising a reward to anyone who helped him return to his base.
The two badges on his Chinese Air Force-issue cloth cap are the Nationalist Chinese sun-disk emblem and the CAF "peacock" badge for headquarters personnel, which indicates that this officer is involved in Squadron operations as well as flying fighter sorties.
Captain in British SAS, DSO MC GM MM
The maroon and blue Pegasus patches identify members of the elite British Special Air Service (SAS) paratroops.
The red beret is also part of the paratrooper uniform, here worn with the unique SAS "Who Dares Wins" cap badge.
Our Captain initially served as a Sergeant in an Infantry Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and he won his Military Medal (MM) on the Retreat to Dunkirk.
The George Medal (GM) was awarded when he saved a French child from drowning during the period of the "phoney war" in France before Hitler launched his Blitzkrieg.
Among his decorations is the African Campaign ribbon (the Africa Star), worn with a small silver rosette device. This indicates that his participation in the North African campaign was with a unit not attached to either the 1st or 8th British Armies; otherwise there would be either a small silver "1" or "8" instead.
He wears his parachute qualification wings proudly over his left breast pocket, as opposed to his upper right sleeve. This was a privilege granted to those who had made at least three jumps behind enemy lines. The Sten gun, accused by some as being finicky and unreliable, was not the choice of many Paratroops, but when silenced was almost impossible to hear firing.
The SAS was initially created as a land based desert raiding force to weaken Rommel's North African logistics network as well as to hinder aircraft operations. The reference to "Air Service" was originally a ruse. Their first successful raid happened in December of 1941, when two groups, with our Captain, at that time a Lieutenant, destroyed 61 aircraft at two airfields. When the force ran out of explosives, SAS soldiers began to use their personal weapons to shoot out the controls.
Another raid was launched soon after; this time twenty seven airplanes were destroyed. For individual bravery and excellence of battlefield command he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) on this second raid.
Following the German invasion of Poland the British Expeditionary Force was sent to the Franco-Belgian border in 1939. Our Captain was there as a young baby faced Corporal who started his moustache to add a little visual seniority.
His prewar service as a Cadet meant early promotion. His Unit sustained heavy losses and mounted a fighting withdrawal. Here is where he won the first of his 2 Military Medals "For Bravery in the Field" while attacking a motorized MG Section.
By the time his Unit was evacuated to England he was a Sergeant acting as a Warrant Officer. A mate who had been badly wounded gave him the well worn Sam Browne belt.
He now gave up his rifle and started to wear the .38 caliber Mark 4 Webley pistol. He was wounded during the evacuation by a strafing Messerschmitt. Note the wound badge on his left fore-arm.
Back in the UK the Battalion regrouped and he was posted to 1st Battalion 8th Lancashire Fusiliers which became part of 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The Division arrived in India in June 1942, was sent to Burma in April 1944 and back to India in April 1945.
The RAF allowed a wide latitude from regulation uniform, especially among its pilots. Many sported colorful ascots instead of the prescribed black woolen necktie.
Others, like this officer, eschewed neckwear altogether in favor of a turtleneck sweater. His pilot's wings identify him as a flyer, and the twin stripes of braid on his cuffs show that he is a Flight Lieutenant, equivalent to the U.S. rank of Captain.
His only visible service ribbon is that of the Distinguished Flying Cross. However, if you were to lift his left lapel, you'd find the unofficial "flying boot" badge of a pilot who has returned to his unit after being downed behind enemy lines.
During the Battle of Britain he flew the famous British fighter plane, the 'Supermarine Spitfire'. Later in the war he was transferred to a unit that flew Hawker Hurricanes, the first RAF fighter to exceed 300mph & the first eight gun monoplane to enter service.
In combat, British paratroops wore a special steel helmet.
Usually, as shown here, it was covered with 3/8-inch netting onto which were tied bits of camouflage-coloured fabric in order to break up its silhouette and blend in with surrounding foliage.
This captain's khaki webbing bandolier holds five spare 32-round 9-mm magazines for his MK III Sten submachine gun.
The heavy rope tied round his torso and shoulders is called a toggle rope.
With a wooden handle at one end and a sturdy loop at the other, these 6- to 8-foot ropes were used by paratroops and commandoes to quickly construct ad-hoc bridges and other rigs, such as for climbing and descending steep terrain. His darkened face makes him harder to see in dim light. The substance used may be a grease paint specifically designed for the purpose, or carbon soot from a charred cork, or even standard boot polish.
Captain British 9th Battalion 6th Airborne Division, Denison smock & beret
Away from the battle lines, most British Paratroops favored the famous red beret instead of the heavy steel helmet. Many even wore it into battle.
The camouflaged Denison smock is the distinctive garment of the British Airborne Forces. It was introduced in 1942 and replaced an earlier garment which was copied from the German parachutist's smocks.
This captain wears the first-pattern Denison with knitted woolen cuffs. Many parachute battalions used a system of identifying colored epaulet loops on both the smock and their Battle Dress Blouse.
The maroon loops shown here identify a member of the 9th battalion of the 6th Airborne Division.
The SAS operated in Europe as well; in one operation (codenamed Houndsmith), our Captain and 143 other men were parachuted with jeeps and supplies into an area close to Dijon, France. All told, the SAS inflicted 7,733 German casualties in Europe. 4,784 prisoners were captured and 700 vehicles were destroyed or captured. 164 railways were cut, seven trains were destroyed and thirty-three were derailed. The SAS was also used to "mop up" German war criminals. They hunted down senior SS and Gestapo agents and brought them before the War Crimes Tribunal. It was for leading a successful team in this work that won him the temporary rank of Major and the DSO.
As a Sergeant he won a Bar to his MM while serving with Brigadier 'Mad Mike' Calvert as one of Major General Wingate's famous Chindits.
It was also here that he won a battlefield commission to Lieutenant and his skill and daring as a leader soon saw him promoted Captain. He finished the war without further incident and after demobilisation went on to a successful business career.
When his unit dropped into Normandy in 1944 to make Operation Overlord possible they were supported by glider borne troops who bought with them anti-tank guns and even light tanks called Tetrarch. These were landed by the huge wooden British General Aircraft Hamilcar Gliders.
Captain, The Calgary Highlanders
This Captain serves with a famous Canadian unit with Scottish origins. His unit is affiliated with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders as can be seen in the tartan his kilt is made from and the A&SH regimental tie.
On his Glengarry cap he wears the sterling silver Officer's pattern unit cap badge on a black silk rosette. The beaver, a uniquely Canadian military icon is the centre-piece of the badge and matching collar dogs. It sits, surrounded by a wreath, on a background of the St Andrew's Cross, another reminder of the Scottish ties.
The dicing on the Glengarry is red & white only, unlike most Canadian Scottish units that use red, black & white.
The beaver, a large rodent, has appeared on Canadian coats of arms and other emblems since the 1600's. (Millions were killed for their fur which was Canada's first "industry"). Along with the maple leaf, it is now one of the official symbols of Canada. It is the centre-piece of the Unit badge of The Calgary Highlanders. The blue felt patches on his upper sleeve indicate that his unit is part of the 2nd Canadian Division.
As an Officer his have the symbol "II" inside a capital "C" made from gold wire "bullion" as opposed to the plain blue patch version worn by ORs.
His gold coloured Officer's issue buttons show a beaver surmounting a St. Andrew's Cross.
Captaine, French Foreign Legion
This Legionnaire is highly decorate. On the top row of his ribbon bar is the Légion d'Honneur, France's highest military and civilian medal.
Our Captaine won this award at the Battle of Bir Hakeim, which is considered by some to be over hyped and by others to be under-rated.
When given for war services, the Légion d'Honneur carried automatic award of the Croix de Guerre with palm, displayed next. Finishing off the top row is the Medaille Militaire.
This medal was usually awarded to Marshalls, Generals and other high-ranking leaders, but was also sometimes presented to NCO's and even enlisted men for special acts of merit.
Our Captaine received his Medaille Militaire as a Sergeant during Operation Exporter, the Allied invasion of the Vichy-controlled French Levant, for rushing a nest of enemy (Vichy French) machine gun posts, destroying them and, as a result, saving many men in his unit. The tragedy of Frenchmen killing Frenchmen haunted him all his life.
That is also where he won his combat commission. The second row of ribbons displays the Croix du Combattant, awarded to all soldiers who faced an armed enemy on the field of battle. Next, the Medaille des Evades, awarded to those who escaped from enemy captivity (that is a story that deserves to be told) and returned to continue fighting; and finally the Medaille des Blesses, for soldiers wounded in combat.
The 1st Regiment FFL diamond shaped pocket badge hangs from his pocket. Around the crown of his dark blue kepi, the distinctive headgear of the Foreign Legion, are three bands of gold braid identifying him as an Infantry Captaine.
His rank is also shown by the three strips of gold lace on his shoulder boards.
Our French Air Force Captaine was a well travelled fighting man as his decorations show. He fought the Germans in the Battle of France, where the French Air Force accounted for 600 German planes destroyed.
He then joined De Gaulle's Free French Air Force in Britain after France fell, saw service in the Battle of Britain, spent nearly 12 months in the bitter fighting of North Africa and then served in Russia with the French Normandie-Niemen Squadron making him one of the very few to have fought on both Eastern & Western fronts and in North Africa.
He was slightly wounded and was returned to UK.
He recovered in time to take part in the air war over France and the support for the D-Day landings.
The Armée de l’Air uniform was designed after the regulation 1928 (Army) Air Service uniform. It was made dark blue with a single row of four gold buttons and a golden stripe (passant) on each shoulder. The rank insignia was on the sleeves, just like the Army and Navy at that time.
The cap was to be worn blue from October 1st to April 1st and white the rest of the year. The aviators chose a dagger as ceremonial side arm where the Army and Navy had sabers.
Since he is not in full Parade Dress he does not wear it and he wears only ribbons not the full medal rack. The French aviators of the famous Cigognes Squadron chose to wear black ties, instead of the regulation blue, as a sign of mourning after September 11th, 1917, when Ace Georges Guynemer was shot down.
The three gold lace "rings" or bands on his sleeves and hat indicate his rank. Above his right breast pocket is his Branch of Service badge and on the pocket is his pilot's badge.
Badge of French elite brigade
The "flaming grenade" on his kepi is used as an infantry symbol by both the French Army & the French Foreign Legion. Above that pocket is the unusual badge of the elite French Commandos.
Its twin seahorses on a winged anchor symbolize the commandos' swift and deadly effectiveness as both an airborne and seaborne force.
In 1943, the Free French Air Forces and the Vichy Air Force were reunited and equipped by the Allies. General de Gaulle sent a squadron to the USSR (the Normandie-Niemen squadron) making France the only western ally to fight on both Western and Eastern Fronts. The reunited French Air Force participated in the Air war over France and Germany before the Normandy landings and fought over Germany until May 8th 1945. The French Ace of Aces of WWII was Captain Pierre Clostermann of the Free French Air Forces who shot down 38 German planes and attacked hundreds of ground targets in Spitfire, Typhoon and Tempest aircraft which put him just ahead of our Captain who had 35 confirmed "aircraft-kills".
His service post WW1 would, in any other Air Force, have seen him with higher rank but between wars the French nearly destroyed their own Air Service (biggest in the world at end of WW1 and still part of the Army until 1934). Promotion for aviators was slow, almost non-existent.
The traditional service uniform of both the British Royal Navy and those of Commonwealth nations is a blue-black double-breasted wool tunic with matching visor cap.
Only his distinctive brass buttons with the legend "Australia" identify this officer as serving with the Royal Australian Navy.
The gold braid on his cuffs shows the rank of Lieutenant (equivalent to Army Captain).
His decorations include not only the (Imperial) Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) but also the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM), which was awarded to Petty Officers and Seamen.
The DSC recognizes his heroic actions as an Officer aboard HMAS Yarra, which went down fighting in the Sunda Strait at the Battle of the Java Sea in March 1942. He was one of the few survivors.
In addition to these honours, he wears the Africa Star with a silver rosette signifying non Army-related service. This was earned while HMAS Yarra served as an escort vessel on the "Tobruk Ferry" in support of the beleaguered port of Tobruk.
This bloke is a Captain in the Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF). Before the war he was an Accountant.
He earned his short term commission "in the field".
He served with the 2/24th Battalion of the famous 9th Division AIF who were the backbone of the defence at the Siege of Tobruk in 1941.
That is where he won the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's most prestigious gallantry award. Note the wound badge on his left forearm. Note the "T" (for Tobruk) shaped colour patch.He carries a Thompson sub-machine gun (Tommy gun) with the war time box magazine, not the better known "gangster" drum magazine. Note the folded (early issue /private purchase) cotton puggaree instead of the later issue woolen type.
At war's end he received the relevant Campaign Medals. His post-war medal rack also shows the DSO he was awarded later in his career, the Mentioned in Despatches Oak-leaf and some medals to signify his attendance at Coronations and the like.
RAAF Flight Lieutenant, DSO & bar
Many RAAF men served with the RAF against the Nazis. When they did, they wore their RAAF uniforms with shoulder arcs bearing the title "Australia."
This Flight Lieutenant wears an RAAF four-pocket tunic with the prescribed pale blue shirt and black necktie. He also sports a jaunty forage cap in place of the usual visor cap.
RAAF uniforms, though virtually identical in every other respect to those of the RAF, were of a somewhat darker blue and often featured blackened bronze or bakelite (plastic) buttons and insignia in place of the RAF's bright brass.
Unique to the RAAF are the subdued miniature crown and eagle insignia - smaller versions of the RAAF cap insignia - which were placed just above the rank stripes on the cuffs of the service tunic. The four red overseas chevrons on the right sleeve indicate two years of active duty in foreign theatres of operation, with each chevron representing 6 months' service.
RAAF Flight Lieutenant in Tropical Uniform and Slouch Hat
Most of the Royal Australian Air Force personnel deployed during World War 2 served in Africa and in the South Pacific, where oppressive heat called for something cooler than the standard blue wool uniform. This Flight Lieutenant wears a cotton "KD" (Khaki Drill) tropical 4-pocket tunic with sewn-in belt and black bakelite (plastic) buttons. Although similar to the Army's KD tunic, the Air Force version is distinguished by its pointed trim at the cuffs. Instead of the prescribed blue wool visor cap, he has chosen to wear his Akubra slouch hat. Attached to the RAAF puggaree with its single blue fold are the tri-color RAAF branch flash and a brass RAAF hat badge. Unlike the Australian Army, which pinned the left brim of their slouch hats to the crown, the RAAF wore the brim flat as shown.
Instead of the standard four-pocket tunic, this Flight Lieutenant is wearing the more casual battle dress uniform ("BDU") with his cloth-visored RAAF peaked cap. The cap and badge are identical to the RAF's version except for the darker RAAF blue.
Instead of the regulation necktie, he boasts a colorful and decidedly non-regulation silk ascot. The RAAF, like their British cousins, allowed room for individual expression in the wearing of uniforms, especially among pilots.
This pilot's wings are embroidered in silk on a wool background that matches his uniform. His decorations are a bit of a puzzle:
Presumably for downing a large number of enemy planes, he has received one of the British Commonwealth's highest military awards, the Distinguished Service Order - not once, but twice (as indicated by the gold lion's head device). How is it, then, that he has avoided the promotion in rank that one might expect to accompany such accolades? Is it perhaps because he is as much of a hell-raiser on the ground as in the sky?
Captain, Royal New Zealand Artillery
The famous "lemon squeezer" hat marks this Captain as a New Zealander. His badges indicate that he serves with 34 Battery 7 Anti-tank Regiment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery.
As a Bombardier in the Regular Force he was sent to England at the outbreak of the War and helped train new recruits for the NZEF at Aldershot.
In 1940 his unit went to Maadi Camp Egypt and he quickly rose to the rank to Sergeant. During 1940 & 1941 he saw active service in Greece and Crete as part of Lustre Force. On 12 April 1941 in Greece, General Blamey declared I Australian Corps to be ANZAC Corps, much to the delight of its Australian and New Zealand formations.
The Long Range Desert Group, initially known as the Long Range Patrol, was one of the first special forces formed in World War II.
Although part of the British forces, the unit was made up mostly of New Zealanders from 2NZEF with some Rhodesians, South Africans, Brits. and the occasional Australian.
The LRDG became the forward eyes and ears of the Allies in North Africa and together with the Special Air Service played a secretive but vital role in the Allied victory.
Although the LRDG carried out many daring raids behind enemy lines, disrupting enemy communications and supply lines, it was first and foremost a reconnaissance unit. This Captain wears the primary tools of the LRDG. His Canadian-made War Office issue binoculars enable him to scan the desert horizon from afar. On his M37 webbing belt is a leather pouch containing his MT prismatic compass, vital for pinpoint bearings.
It was here as a Petty Officer that he won his CGM. He also displays the Pacific Star, the British Defence Medal, the British War Medal, the Australia Service Medal, and finally, the U.S. Legion of Merit -- another honour bestowed for his deeds at Sunda Strait. As a foreign award, it is correctly worn last even though ranking higher than other decorations.
Apart from the officially awarded medals he also wears the unofficial but accepted Seige of Tobruk medal.
How very Australian, if true. His other two ribbons are the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) (little wonder) and the Burma Star with a silver rosette that signifies he is also qualified for the Pacific Star. On the medal itself a clasp is worn.