M-1944 and M-1945 Combat and Cargo Packs

As World War II went on, an improved version of the field pack was developed and issued. The Pack, Field, Combat, M-1944 was made of olive drab canvas and webbing in OD #7 color. The field pack was used with matching M-1944 suspenders to form a Combat Pack. A separate Pack, Field, Cargo, M-1944, could be added to the Field Pack with quick release straps for additional storage. The next year, the very similar M-1945 components were standardized as improvements over the M-1944.

M-1944 Pack, Field, Combat (top) and Cargo (bottom)
M-1944 Pack, Field, Combat (top) and Cargo (bottom). Photo: Courtesy of Bob Law.

Today in WW II: 28 Sep 1943 More than 9000 Japanese troops escape from Central Solomons to southern Bougainville in a well-organized evacuation effort [28 Sep-3 Oct].   

Pack, Field, Combat, M-1944 and Pack, Field, Cargo, M-1944

The M1944 pack design was based on the M-1941 USMC system. The intention was for the M-1944 combat field pack (upper unit) to carry lighter necessities like underwear, mess kit, and toilet articles with a poncho or bed roll strapped on. It could be joined to the M-1944 cargo pack (lower unit) to carry extra clothing, more rations or other items.

Tabs with eyelets were on the pack to hold an M-1943 intrenching tool (plus a strap to hold down the shovel handle), or other tools or bayonet. The separate Cargo Pack, with a web carrying handle, had many uses including as furlough bag . The Suspenders, Pack, Field, Cargo-and-Combat, M-1944 could be used for carrying pack, or used alone to help with the weight of a pistol or cartridge belt.

Pack, Field, Combat, M-1945 and Pack, Field, Cargo, M-1945

Pack, Field, Combat, M-1945 and Pack, Field, Cargo, M-1945

Pack, Field, Cargo and Pack, Field, Combat M-1944 were soon replaced by the very similar M-1945 version. But the combat and cargo packs of the two are not interchangeable. The quick release buckles of the M-1944 packs will not work with the double-bar buckles used with the M-1945 version. M-1945 Combat Suspenders were issued to match the packs. These packs were only used by a few units in the last days of World War II (perhaps after February 1945) but continued to be made and remained in service through the Korean War.

The Field Pack had a waterproof liner, interior divisions, and numerous straps to close the main flap, to use as shoulder straps or attach to the suspenders, and to hold the intrenching tool handle. Two canvas flaps with eyelets were provided: M-1943 intrenching toolon top center, and a side flap for bayonet or canteen. Bottom straps attached to the Cargo Pack to join the two. You can see the pack on the soldier in the photo to the right, taken in Korea in 1953. The intrenching tool M-1943 is attached to the pack; no cargo pack is in use. He is wearing a pistol belt, not a cartridge belt, and his canteen flap is open.

The Cargo Pack had a waterproof closure inside, two straps to close the main flap and short buckle straps on top to mate to the straps on the bottom of the Field Pack. The Cargo Pack also had a web handle on top making it a handy furlough bag or even a tool bag.

Both parts of the packs were made in OD #7 canvas and webbing with "US" stamped on the outside of the flap and the manufacturer and date on the inside of the flap. A large instruction sheet was printed on a white label inside the bag with drawings and detailed descriptions of how to pack and use the components.

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