At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. soldier wore a service shoe with canvas leggings. The leggings were difficult to put on and take off and did not provide much protection. The deficiencies in the shoe plus legging led to the development of the combat boot to solve the problems.
Solider of the 10th Mountain Division, wearing the double buckle Combat Boots, near Bologna, Italy 14 April 1945.
The World War II combat boot design evolved from the service shoes used with leggings. The "Boots, Service, Combat" became the first true combat boot, made by extending the service shoe with a high top cuff that closed by a pair of buckles and straps [See top photo on this page, below and right]. The boots were developed as part of the M-1943 field uniform, authorized in November 1943, but not issued to many troops until late World War II, and then issued only to overseas units. The higher top replaced the leggings, a great simplification of both supply and combat use.
In construction they were the same design as the "Shoes, Service, Reverse Upper" with the extended top (some made by literally adding the cuff to previously contracted shoes). The leather was reversed, rough side out, to absorb waterproofing oils and wear better than a polished leather. Some boots were made with the cuff smooth side out, others with rough side out. The one piece sole and heel were molded synthetic or reclaimed rubber.
Early production M1943 Combat Boots (also called the M43 boot) had the inner surface of the cuff made from olive drab canvas. This covering was in the back part of the cuff, against the leg, not the wrap-around part with the buckles. Later production used white canvas in the same location, instead of the olive drab material.
The "Boots, Service, Combat" were also made for women, using the same patterns as for women's service shoes with the double buckle cuff added.
During the period from 1943 to 1945, when the Boots, Service, Combat M-1943 (Double Buckle) were not yet available, Rangers and some regular infantry units were issued the paratrooper's jump boots as a substitute. This was extremely popular due to the elite status of airborne units. To the relief of the paratroopers, the practice was stopped when the double buckle combat boots were in good supply. Then, for a period, paratroopers were issued the double buckle boot instead of their distinctive boot. In 1948, after World War II, a new russet leather combat boot was introduced with a high top lace-up design, similar to jump boots, for regular toops. The distinctive paratrooper boot for the airborne units was gradually phased out.
Boots, Service, Combat M-1943 (Double Buckle)
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