U.S. Marine Corps WW II HBT Uniform

Marine truck driver in HBT fatigues, Camp Lejeune, New River, NC May 1942
Marine truck driver in HBT fatigues.
Camp Lejeune, New River, NC May 1942.

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World War II USMC Herringbone Twill (HBT) Shirt

In the 1930s Marines wore one or two-piece blue denim fatigues (called "utilities" or "dungarees") for work detail. In the summer of 1941, following selection by the Army, new work uniforms were issued made of cotton herringbone twill (HBT). Although they replaced the blue denim uniforms, they were also called "dungarees". These were sage green in color, a shade used only by the Marines, a lighter color green than the Army OD #7. Shirts had USMC over the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor stenciled on the left breast pocket of the garment.

The shirt of the two-piece uniform (called "Jacket, HBT, USMC") had three pockets, one on the left breast and two lower pockets. The pockets had no flaps or closures, as seen in the top photo on this page, worn by the truck driver. In 1944, a second pattern jacket was issued with two large chest pockets that opened vertically, parallel to the shirt opening in the center. An additional flap patch pocket was on the outside, left breast position. Also called "Jacket, HBT, USMC" the 1944 pattern had a gas flap, unusual for Marine clothing. Buttons on the HBT shirts had U.S. Marine Corps embossed in a circular pattern, as in the photo, originally bronze, but changed to blackened steel in August 1942 to save on scarce materials.

World War II USMC Herringbone Twill (HBT) Trousers

Like the USMC HBT shirts, cotton sage green HBT trousers were first issued to Marines in the summer of 1941. They had two front diagonal pockets, cut through to the inside of the legs. Two rear hip pockets were patch style, open at the top. The trousers had belt loops and early production had a watch pocket, later dropped. The HBT trousers had the same metal USMC buttons as the shirts, photo above left. In the photo to the right, Lt. Paul Dorsey, a Marine Corps photographer attached to Cdr. Edward Steichen's Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, is standing beside a wrecked Jap plane on Guam in 1944.

In late 1944 a second pattern of HBT trousers appeared. These had a large cargo pocket on each thigh, covered by a flap with two buttons. A third cargo pocket, suitable to hold a folded poncho, was in the center rear, covered by a three button flap. These trousers had belt loops at the waistband and eyelet holes for suspenders. The 1944 pattern HBT trousers did not reach troops in the field in any quantity before the end of the war.

HBT Utility Cap

USMC Bougainville Marine Hwy

The Marines issued a utility cap with the HBT uniforms, first appearing in 1943. It was based on the Army HBT field caps, with a short visor and pleats around the crown. The USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor were stenciled on the front. A 'Daisy Mae' style field hat was also issued. When the 1944 pattern HBT uniform was released, a new field cap was also issued with a longer brim and higher crown. In the photo to the left, Seabee Chief Earl J. Cobb and Marine Raider Cpl. Charles L. Marshall shake hands at the site of a sign erected near Bougainville's "Marine Drive Hi-Way".

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