Camouflage Uniforms in WW II

Camouflage uniforms saw limited use by the U.S. Army in World War II. They were much more prevelant with the U.S. Marine Corps in the island campaings of the Pacific, covered in the page on USMC camouflage uniforms in World War II.

Army patrol in two piece camouflage uniforms
Army patrol in two piece camouflage uniforms.

Today in WW II: 17 Jul 1936 General Francisco Franco stages a military revolt in Spain precipitating the Spanish Civil War. Nazi Germany supports Franco. More 
17 Jul 1944 Protected by the Royal Canadian Navy, the largest shipping convoy of WW II embarks from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
17 Jul 1944 Disaster at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine, CA, where the munitions ship SS E.A. Bryan, explodes killing 320, injuring almost 400 more, many of them African-American stevedores.
17 Jul 1945 Potsdam Conference with Truman, Stalin, Churchill [17 Jul-2 Aug].
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Suit, One Piece, Jungle

The 27th Infantry Division trains in Hawaii before embarking on the amphibious operation to seize Makin in the Gilbert Islands, Fall 1943.  Soldier in camouflage uniform is to the right.
The 27th Infantry Division trains in Hawaii before embarking on the amphibious operation to seize Makin in the Gilbert Islands, Fall 1943. Soldier in camouflage uniform is to the right.

A one piece jungle uniform was used briefly for U.S. Army troops in the South Pacific, in late 1942 and part of 1943 after which a two piece jungle uniform was substituted. The jungle suit was reversile with a green pattern outside and a tan pattern inside, suitable for use on a beach landing (sand) or later in the jungle interior (green), typical of the Pacific campaigns.

The one piece herringbone twill camouflage univorm was developed expecially to give maximum protection against insects and thorns while permitting the wearer to cool off as rapidly as possible.

No underwear or inner garmets were used with this uniform. The long zippered opening gave abundant ventilation when skin protection was not required. It was worn loose as was the cartridge belt, suspenders ot other equipment, and canteen or other articles were carried in the pack to keep away from the body. Internal fabric suspenders created a blousing effect for cooling and also supported the weight of grenades carried in the side cargo pockets.

One design defect was the lack of a drop-seat, making it necessary to disrobe for toilet functions, thereby defeating the purpose of any insect protection. Further, it was found that HBT became very heavy and suffocating when wet, often the case in the Pacific. These and other factors brought an early end to the career of the one piece camouflage suit in 1943.

Two Piece Jungle Uniform

In early 1943 a two piece herringbone twill (HBT) camouflage uniform was issued for Army units serving in both Europe and the South Pacific. The 1943 issue was then replaced with a 1944 HBT pattern that differed in the colors, going to a darker shade in the later issue.

In France immediately after the 6 June 1944 invasion, some U.S. Army troops of the Second Armored Division wore the "Jacket, HBT, Camouflage, Army", a reversible shirt-length jacket and its matching trousers. An unfortunate result was that they were shot at by other Allied soldiers who identified camo uniforms with the Germans.

In addition to the problem of confusion with Germans in the ETO, in the Pacific Theater it was found that single color olive drab clothing was superior to camouflage for concealment when on the move. Due to these considerations, by late 1944 camouflage uniforms had been largely phased out, except for limited use by snipers and other special purposes.

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