Many differnt overcoats were in use in World War II, with different models available to enlisted men and officers, and different in the land, sea, and air services. This page covers a few of the most common with the Army.
1945 Photo of tired Bazooka-man wearing Overcoat, Wool, Roll Collar with what appear to be brass buttons.
The "Overcoat, Wool, Roll Collar" was first issued in 1939 with brass buttons, similar to a design in use since 1927. It featured an olive drab, double breasted, wollen overcoat made with a convertible roll collar with notched lapels.
This overcoat was issued to every soldier along with his service uniform to provide sufficient warmth for winter campaigns. The 1939 revisions included action pleats in the back, a more square look to the shoulders, and a straight front opening. Other features included a long bottom split up the back and two slash pockets. A 1942 modification introduced green plastic buttons to replace the brass, a metal in shortage.
Labels in this overcoat will read "Overcoats, Wool, Roll Collar" or may say Wool Melton instead of just Wool. The Spec. is PQD No. 164 and will have a range of stock numbers for sizes similar to 55-Q-8910 or 55-Q-8950
Although the overcoat had been an essential clothing item in past wars, and was expected to be the same in World War II, the development of more funtional clothing, especially the 1943 Field Jacket and other components of the winter combat uniform, made the overcoat obsolete. It was relatively heavy to carry in combat and was often discarded. Although soldiers were seen with the overcoat through the end of the war, it gradually became used for dress wear over the service uniform rather than field gear.
Major Thomas M. Williams (L) of San Antonio, TX, Commanding Officer, 2018th Prisoner of War Detachment, wearing Overcoat, Short, Officer's, M-1926, an uncommon coat. S/Sgt. Jack N. Cobb (R) of Holland, MI, 5th Medical Bn, attached to the 5th Infantry Division, wearing Overcoat, Wool, Melton, OD, Roll Collar, 32 oz., with post-1942 plastic buttons. Photo dated 15 February 1945.
Overcoat, Parka Type, Reversible
The 1943 pattern of this coat was a full length parka with a hood, offering full body protection from the head to below the knees. It was reversible with an olive drab side and a white snow camouflage side. A long zipper closed the front with a button flap over it, plus three buttons at the neck to close the hood. There were two hand-warmer slash pockets above the web-belted waist and two large cargo pockets below (on the OD side). The bottom hem and the hood both had snaps that could be used to adjust the size. The sleeve cuff could be drawn tight with a two position strap and buttons. The button-in pile liner had knitted cuffs at the wrist to help seal out the cold.
The 1941 version of the coat was khaki and not reversible. It had a wider belt and a zipper on the hood allowing it to be opened up. The lining was alpaca or sheepskin.
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