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USMC WW II Camouflage Uniform
The U.S. Marine Corps used camouflage uniforms and gear in World War II, but only in the Pacific where camo fit naturally with the jungle fighting encountered there. In the ETO, where few Marines were deployed, German camouflage uniforms created the possibility of confusion so U.S. camouflage uniforms were rarely used.
World War II USMC Camo Uniforms and Clothing
Early in World War II the Marines used the camouflage pattern one piece jungle suit developed for the Army, in the field since 1942. The fabric was printed on both sides, with a green pattern on one side and a brown pattern on the other. Although it was natural to assume that the camo cloth would provide concealment in the jungles of the South Pacific, in fact Marine units found that plain olive drab clothing was less visible when troops were moving. Camo only had the advantage when held still, such as when used by a sniper placed in a static position.
In addition, the Marines had the same complaint as the Army about the one-piece suit -- you had to get undressed to take care of toilet functions exposing your skin to the plentiful insects and thorns. The one-piece suit gave way to a Marine Corps designed two-piece camouflage uniform which then, during 1943, was replaced by cotton sage-green herringbone twill utility uniform. As you can see in the photo to the left, taken at Betio (Tarawa) in November 1943, the supply in combat zones was mixed and individuals used the uniform parts that were available to them and suited their preferences.
In 1944 a further redesign of the two piece camouflage uniform was adopted. The jacket had larger, deeper breast pockets with a snap closure, accessible from outside or inside. The trousers had large cargo pockets front and back, also with snap closures. This uniform first saw service in Saipan (June 1944) and was used mixed with the earlier versions of the uniform through the end of the war. The photo to the right shows Marines in Saipan, firing a captured Japanese artillery piece (July 1944).
When used by the Marine Corps, the left breast pocket of both the one-piece and two-piece camouflage uniforms had "USMC" stenciled over the Eagle, Globe and Anchor Marine Corps symbol.
USMC Camouflage Helmet Cover
By the time of the landings on Guadalcanal (August 1942), the Marines had been outfitted with the then-new M1 steel helmet. In USMC use, the helmet was covered with a camouflage cloth cover, almost universally seen as the symbol of a Marine in combat. The cover was a component of the 1942 camouflage uniform ahd had the dual reversible color scheme. The 1944 version had slits pre-cut to attach locally obtained materials to the cover for further concealment. The photo to the left shows Marines landing on Okinawa, in Higgins boats, early April 1945.
Camouflage Shelter Half and Poncho
Like the Army, the Marines carried a shelter half such that two men together could assemble one two-man tent. A camo version of the OD canvas shelter half was issued in 1943 as was a reversible camo print poncho. One of these is often seen in WW II photos (e.g. above left) as the outer wrap of the horseshoe blanket roll on Marine backpacks. The camo roll was used whether or not the camo uniform was issued to the same unit.
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