Soldier's Barracks Bag

Soldier carries his A Barracks Bag toward the point of embarkation at Hampton Roads, VA early in World War II
Soldier carries his "A" Barracks Bag toward the point of embarkation at Hampton Roads, VA early in World War II.

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Bag, Barrack

The Barracks Bag was an approximately 25" x 38" cloth bag utilized to store and transport a soldier's personal clothing that was in addition to what he was wearing. Generally two such Barracks Bags were issued to each soldier, to be marked "A" and "B" in large letters near the bottom seam of the bag.

A formation of soldiers wait with their Barracks Bags before boarding a train for transport to a port where they will be shipped to Europe during World War II
A formation of soldiers wait with their Barracks Bags before boarding a train for transport to a port where they will be shipped to Europe during World War II.

Prior to World War II and in the early days of the war, the "Bag, Barrack M-1929" was issued to soldiers. That bag was blue denim material with white cord double drawstring closures. The soldier's name and serial number were often stenciled on in white lettering.

By 1942 the blue denim bag was being replaced by a new pattern Barracks Bag made with olive drab fabric. Like other World WAr II equipment, early war barracks bags were the lighter Olive Drab #3 shade, then became OD #7 in 1943 or later.

Markings on the Barracks Bag

Early Barracks Bags had the white quartermaster tag sewn in, as was typical for clothing and equipment of that time. Stock numbers, the nomenclature, the contract numbers and manufacturer (eg Victory Clothing Company) will be on the tag. There were these models issued:

  • Stock No. 74-B-50 Bag, Barrack
  • Stock No. 74-B-50-10 Bag, Barrack, OD
  • Stock No. 74-B-50-25 Bag, Barrack, OD, Water Repellent

The image to the left shows the stenciled markings inside the modern Bag, Barrack, OG107. It was identified by FSN 8465-530-3692, then NSN 8465-00-530-3692, described by MIL-B-2378. In 1992, the specification was changed to the Commercial Item Description A-A-55105.

Evolution of the Barracks Bag

The major change in the use of the Barracks Bag came in 1943 with the introduction of the Duffle Bag. Thereafter, the Duffle Bag was used for storage and movement of clothing while the Barracks Bag was relegated to secondary use as a laundry or storage bag.

The Barracks Bag has changed little over the years, evolving primarily in the materials used in its construction and the switch to OG 107 color fabric. The early cotton bags were changed to stronger HBT fabric (herringbone twill) while later cotton poplin has been used.

The Barracks Bag remained an item of U.S. military issue at least until 2006 (image, right). The nomenclature is:

BAG BARRACKS, OG 107
A8 PROTECTIVE
NSN 8465-00-530-3692
Specification MIL-B-2378

Bag, Barracks NSN 8465-00-530-3692

Barracks Bags as Militaria

At most times, upon discharge, policy permitted the service person to keep his Barracks Bags to take home with his uniform and other service issued items that were not turned in. Therefore, the Barracks Bag is a commonly available military item. Other countries have also had Barracks Bags of similar design used by their military, some ending up in the U.S. market. There are also commercial copies of the Barracks Bag on the market at Amazon.com , closely resembling the genuine issue items.