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.

Marine Raiders in Camouflage Uniforms,Marine Raiders in Camouflage Uniforms, 1944
Marine Raiders in camouflage uniforms, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, January 1944.

Today in WW II: 11 May 1939 Japanese begin attempt to seize Mongolian land to the banks of the Khalkin Gol River at Nomonhan, clashing with Soviet troops. More 
11 May 1940 Belgian fortress Eben Emael, on the Meuse River, reputed to be the most formidable stronghold in the world, falls to German Army glider assault.
11 May 1940 Luxembourg falls to the German army.
11 May 1940 On the night of 11-12 May, 1940 the Royal Air Force [RAF] attacked Mönchengladbach, Germany, the first Allied air raid on Germany of WW II.
11 May 1943 American troops invade Attu in the Aleutian Islands, beginning campaign to expel occupying Japanese forces [11-29 May].
11 May 1944 Allied Fifth and Eighth Armies launch long-awaited offensive, finally capturing Cassino and breaking the German Gustav Line [night of 11-12 May].
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

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.

Marine Camouflage Uniforms, Saipan, July 1944

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

Marine Camouflage Uniforms, Okinawa, April 1945

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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