• Due to flash photography and monitor settings; the color in the photos may be slightly different than the item actually is. Also; this is not meant to encompass ALL types of gear, rather is is an overview of the major items used by the Rangers and many other GI's in WWII. For a vendors list on the XO's Corner, click here.

M1928 Haversack and Carrier, Pack, M1928

The M1928 haversack was first developed in WWI as the M1910 and is nearly identical with the exception of the rear “Y” shaped rear straps instead of the single strap; and the buckle closure on the Meatcan pouch rather than the button closure. The haversack was used to carry the blanket, rations, bayonet, intrenching tool, toiletries and personnel items. The addition of the carrier at the bottom of the haversack extended the capacity to carry the shelter half, overcoat, raincoat and more; per field manual instructions. The carrier is not required and is seldom; if ever used. The example pictured here is a rare OD#7 (green) M1910 Haversack with an M1928 Meatcan pouch. These were made on a trial bases usually from dyeing existing packs. 99% of them are OD#3 (khaki) as seen at right. The OD#3 khaki M1928 haversack is the type seen in use by Ranger forces throughout the war, from the landings in North Africa to the fighting into Germany. Only in the last days of the war was the Haversack starting to be phased out and replaced with new pack systems.

There was also a British made variation of the haversack with buckles and snaps in the British pattern. The snaps in particular are distinctly different; being made out of heavy gauge bent steel wire and blackened. Haversacks were somtimes modified by cutting off the front belt support straps and wearing them simply as a backpack. In this manner, it could be slipped off quickly as needed. Click the photo for more information on the Haversack.

 

Belt, Cartridge, Cal .30, M1923, Dismounted

The 10 pocket cartridge belt carried the infantryman's ammunition (80 rounds for the M1 Garand, 100 rounds for the 1903 or 1903A3 rifle) as well as any number of items that could be fastened to it using the M1910 wire hook and eyelets. The canteen, first aid pouch, bayonet or fighting knife, and sidearm holster were common. It was supported by the integral suspenders of the M1928 Haversack or the M1936 field suspenders.The belt is similar in appearance to the WWI belt that features bronze fittings for attaching the belt at the waist, while the WWII version uses cast fittings. Pre-war and early war models were OD#3 (khaki) while later models; starting around the fall to winter of 1944 were starting to be made in OD#7 green canvas.

In regards to re-enacting; the cartridge belt is very important as it carries your ammo and all other gear that attaches to it. Getting a quality belt is worth the money and way better than getting a sub-par reproduction and having eyelets rip out, lift-the-dots fail, and fall apart altogether. For M1 en-bloc clips; you will need to use spaces. More info on that is listed in the XO’s corner here.

 

Belt, Pistol or Revolver, M1936

This was a web belt issued to anyone who did not carry an M1 Garand or 1903A3 rifle; including MG crews, those carrying the M1 Carbine or SMG, and medics. It was usually worn with the pistol holster attached; and featured a female snap-button on the front left hand side for snapping the M1912, M1918, or M1923 magazine pouch or the Carbine magazine pocket onto it.
The belt was often worn in reverse; with the “US” appearing upside down in photos; this was done for a few reasons: One was to move the magazine pocket snap over to the right hand side. Another was that the eyelets would rip out after considerable use; so flipping the belt over allowed the user to utilize the other eyelets to hang gear from. Often gear was modified with loops to slide over the belt; rather than hang from it.

 

Belt, Magazine, BAR, M1937

A web belt for carrying 12 magazines for the Browning Automatic Rifle. It had 6 pockets; 3 on each side that held two 20 round magazines each. A loaded magazine weighed around 2 pounds which made the total weight nearly 25 pounds for the belt, mags, and ammo alone. Some BAR gunners wore it with the medic yoke rather than the M1936 suspenders; as the wider straps of the medic yoke better distributed its heft.

 

Shovel, Intrenching, M1943 & Carrier, Shovel, Intrenching, M1943

Developed in 1943, this shovel was much improved and more robust. It can be used as a shovel or folded and locked to become a mattock or pick. It can be carried in the same manner as the M1910 E-tool in one of three types of carriers: the common 3-posistion adjustable carrier, the early fixed “low hanger” carrier, or the seldom seen “middle hanger” carrier. Most are OD#7 (green) or transitional but OD#3 (khaki) carriers are around. These E-tools were issued in time for the D-Day landings and were common after the fall of 1944. It was not terribly uncommon for Rangers to saw around 6 or 8 inches off the end of the handle to make a more compact tool that could be easily carried on the belt or pack. Sometimes the M1943 Intrenching tool was packed without a carrier at all. The blade would be folded and it would be tucked into the belt or web gear as shown here.

 

Shovel, Intrenching, M1910 & Carrier, Shovel, Intrenching, M1910

The M1910 “T-handle” shovel was carried over from WWI and was used throughout the war. Its canvas carrier attaches to the Haversack under the meatcan pouch, or to the eyelets of the cartridge or pistol belt. T-handles were not as common after the fall of 1944. These shovels are quite rare now; and originals are generally in rough shape as they do not hold up well. Most retain little or no paint; as it wears off with use.

 

Pick-Mattock, Intrenching, M1910 with Carrier & Axe, Intrenching, M1910 with Carrier

The pick mattock (or sometimes called the pick-mattox) is carried as shown, disassembled in 2 parts in a web carrier on the standard M1910 wire hook. It was used to break up hard earth or frozen ground.
The M1910 Axe pictured here has a late pattern 1944 dated carrier that is closed with a lift the dot snap. Earlier pouches were mostly OD#3 (khaki) and closed with a web strap and buckle identical to that on the meatcan pouch on the M1928 Haversack.
Both the Pick-mattock and Axe were carried in a limited basis during the war; the standard being the M1910 or M1943 Intrenching tool. The pick and axe were prescribed on a basis of one pick and one axe per 12-man squad; but this field-manual declaration was deviated from.

 

Wire Cutters, M1938

Used to cut thru barbed wire and other entanglements; the cutters were carried in an open top pouch from the 1910 metal hook. The grips were thick plastic material and the date was stamped into the head of the cutter. These were a common, practical item and were carried by many Rangers on D-Day usually on the assault vest but sometimes without the pouch; tucked inside one of the pockets. A variation with a larger, strengthened cutting head and a flap on the pouch was also made in limited numbers.
Pictured is an excellent example of the change in color of web material that was used during the war on many items; not just the M1938 wire cutter pouch. From left to right; they are dated ’42, ’43 and ’44 respectively. The earlier pouch is made from the OD#3 (Olive Drab) shade of cotton duct web, commonly called “khaki”. The middle is a “transitional” pouch, illustrating the use of both types of material during the move to the new OD#7 colors; while stocks of OD#3 still existed. The last is a OD #7 green pouch from later in the war when the new duct material was really beginning to see widespread use. Another example of the use of materials in manufacture is available here.

 

Pocket, Magazine, Double-Web M1923

This was the newest type of M1911 & M1911A1 magazine pouch. Unlike the M1912 and M1918, it had only a single lift the dot snap mounted on a sheet metal riser between the pockets. It did retain the button at rear on the inside of the belt loop to snap to the M1936 pistol belt and held two standard 7-round magazines.
Oddly enough; the British produced a version of the M1912 magazine pouch up until 1944 from British webbing using lift the dots; long after it was replaced by the M1918 and subsequent M1923. Any of the pouches Model 1912, 1918, or 1923 are acceptable for use.

 

Pocket, Magazine, Double-Web, Carbine, Caliber .30, M1 & Pocket, Cartridge, Cal. .30, M1, Carbine or Rifle

The first model M1 Carbine magazine pouch held two 15 round magazines and slid over the pistol belt. It could be snapped to the button on its front. It was typical to see these also on the stock of M1 Carbines; as they could be slid over the weapon once disassembled from the muzzle end. The two pictured on the left are both dated 1943. The one at far right is the newer model; with eyelets at the bottom; two simple web loops on the back in lieu of the full back with snap and it accepts both M1 Carbine 15 round magazines and 8 round M1 Garand en-bloc clips. It could not be fitted on the stock as with the earlier model. Five magazines and two pouches were standard issue but more were frequently carried. When empty, magazines were not discarded.

 

Pocket, Ammunition Magazines, (3-Cell) & Case, Magazine, 30-Round, with Shoulder Strap

At left is a 3-cell 30 round Thompson or M3 Grease gun magazine pocket. Each pouch is individually closed with a lift the dot snap. It is carried on the belt by means of the wide loop on the back. These were made in both OD#3 khaki and OD#7 green (pictured) canvas. There was also a 5-cell pouch that held 5 twenty-round magazines; typically used with the M1928A1 Thompson.

To the right is 30-round stick magazine case; that could hold 6 mags for the Thompson or M3 Grease gun. It was slung over the shoulder and had no belt loop. Grenades and other ordnance could also be carried in the bag if desired.

Both were frequently used by Army Rangers; as the 30-round Thompson magazines were preferred.

 

Bag, Carrying, Ammunition, M1

Called the “GP” bag for General Purpose, the bag was made to hold a can of .30 Cal MG ammo. It was used however for holding everything from ammo to toilet paper. The bag could accommodate 11 rifle grenades or 28 fragmentation grenades w/o the fiber tubes. It had a short strap that looped around the bottom with clips on both ends for attaching to the GP strap. It also had two pairs of D-rings on its rear; one pair on each side; for strapping the bag to the wearer or to a vehicle in any number of fashions. This bag was the most common of any general purpose carrying solution during the war. It was used more often and for all number of purposes over the 3-pocked grenade carriers or a M1936 Musette bag slung on the shoulder.

It closed by a single strap and buckle on the front; and had a collapsible inner cloth pocket that could be used to separate the bag into two parts. The material itself is very durable and it will stand up on its own empty. It is dated on the inside under the lid and can be encountered in the typical shades of canvas and often as a transitional item; with solid OD#7 green bags existing as early as 1943. It’s a very useful piece of equipment, then and now.
As a side-note; these are not to be confused with the Satchel Charge bag. The bag used for demolitions in that role was of much lighter weight construction and closed with a pair of string ties on the front. While the GP bag was very rarely used in that role; it is not one in the same with the satchel charge bag.

The Strap, Carrying, General Purpose pictured at right was used to carry the GP bag over the shoulder. It could also be used with the M1936 Musette bag (the pocket on its side was for carrying this strap when not in use). The early model had D-Rings on the end and was OD#3 (khaki) while the later model had snaps on the ends. They were adjustable using the slide buckle out to about three feet in length.

 

(L to R) Holster, Hip, M943; Holster, Pistol, Cal. 45, M1916; and Holster, Shoulder, M3

At left is the leather belt holster for a 4” barreled M10 Victory model Smith & Wesson revolver in .38 Smith & Wesson caliber. Shoulder holsters were more common, mostly in the PTO among Marines and flyers, but the Victory did see action in the ETO; with this simple holster. The leather thong is for securing it to the thigh; but unlike the M1916 holster; it lacks the slots at rear to wear on the trouser belt and must be hung from the eyelets of a web belt.

Middle, is the M1916 holster. It was the standard leather holster for the M1911 and M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol. It had the standard M1910 wire hanger for wear on the belt; with a slot in the rear for use on the M1937 Web Waist belt if needed. The holes at the bottom were using a leather thong to tie the holster to the thigh. Only right-hand draw models were made.
Rangers circa January 1945 can be seen in photos wearing the M1916 holster with the flap removed as a cross draw rig. The holster would be worn on the left side; and drawn across the body with the right hand.

The M3 Shoulder holster was originally intended for airmen who carried the M1911 or M1911A1; but it quickly found its way into the hands of tank crews, the airborne forces, and infantrymen altogether. It was used frequently by officers; and many surviving examples bear the owners name and/or ASN written on the item. The M3 was a cross draw shoulder rig with a one-piece metal buckle for the shoulder strap. A lift the dot snap secures the sidearm in place; while a belt loop at bottom keeps it fastened to the trouser belt.


 

Pouch, First-Aid Packet, M1942 & First-Aid Packet, Carlisle Model

This small web pouch carried the Carlisle bandage and had a single lift-the-dot snap. It is very similar to the M1924, being only slightly larger. The M1910 First Aid packet pouch was made up until 1942 and was a WWI carry-over; with 2 button closures on the flap. A British version of the pouch was also made; using British webbing and a horribly stiff snap-button.
Bandages were in a sardine can-like brass box or post 1941 a tin box was used. They were painted gloss orange/red if they contained the sulfanilamide powder but were not labeled as such; or OD green if the label was present. There was also a plastic variant made to save on tin use. Each box contained a single field dressing and a packet of sulfanilamide powder which was used to prevent infection. An additional Carlisle bandage was sometimes carried in a shirt or coat pocket; but other than that men were dependent on the combat medics for treatment should they be wounded. The dressing got its name from the place of its development: Medical Dept. Equipment Laboratory at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Hence; the Carlisle bandage.
An original unused bandage may be carried; but for re-enacting it is recommended that you carry modern personal medical supplies in it instead. Items like band-aids, Tylenol, burn ointment, Neosporin, gauze, tweezers, and medical tape can be carried in an open, empty Carlisle tin; or in lieu of that an Altoids tin can be painted OD green and used. Some events may use a special hit system with “hit cards”, medics and bandages. In that case you may want to bring your own field dressing should you be “hit” and carry it in your pouch. A 3 inch wide by 3 foot long strip of white muslin cloth will suffice.

 

Cover, Canteen, Dismounted, M1910 & Canteen, M1942 and Cup, M1942 Stainless Steel

The canteen set consists of the carrier, the canteen, and the cup. Carriers can be OD#3 (khaki) or OD#7 (green) in color; the earlier models up to late 1944 being OD#3 (khaki). The bottle screw caps can be plastic (late war) or aluminum (early-pre war). The cups are either rolled edge (early) or flared edge (late) and are stainless steel. Canteens are carried on the cartridge or pistol belt using the M1910 wire hanger and corresponding eyelets, usually on the rear most set to the left or right of center. The M1941 carrier with reinforced web is recommended as wear and tear on the carrier is considerable. Flared rim cups do not transfer heat to the lips as does the rolled rim type.
Many canteens and cups still exist and are serviceable after a good cleaning. The cork seal in the cap is usually dried, cracked, or missing; and can be easily replaced with a new one.
As a historical note; Rangers in North Africa and Italy often carried multiple canteens; with one or even 2 on the belt and an additional one on the hanger for the intrenching tool on the Haversack (with the meatcan pouch removed). Medics were also required to carry two canteens.

 

Can, Meat, M1942 with Fork, Knife, & Spoon, M1926

This is the standard mess kit for the WWII infantryman. The meatcan consists of two sections, the top section fitting on top of the long handled pan for when food is being served. The knife, fork and spoon could also be hung from the handle for sterilization of the whole set in hot boiling water. The meatcan is carried in the outer pouch on the haversack, with 3 small internal slots for the knife fork and spoon; the knife being issued with a leather sheath to keep it from poking a hole in the canvas haversack. The mess kit was either carried by the GI or kept at the field kitchen depending on the unit. Rangers usually did not carry the meatcan on patrols, on watch, while on perimeter or so on; as it was bulky, noisy if not secured and carried properly, and it reflected light. The worst thing to do is to carry your utensils loose inside it.
Re-enactor wise, the meatcan is a handy item since we usually do not have field kitchens and depend on ourselves for food. You can cook out of it, prepare your rations in it, or wash out of it. Items like French bread, summer sausage, and cheese can be wrapped in wax paper, butcher paper or cheese cloth and kept inside it. Keep in mind; you don’t want to carry anything in that will rattle if you shake it.

 

Case, Canvas, Dispatch, M1938 & Binoculars, M3, 6x30 with Carrying Case M17

Typically carried by officers and occasionally NCOs, the map case and binoculars are limited issue items.
The M1938 Dispatch case (or simply Map case) was the standard map and document holder throughout the war. It had two large internal compartments, one for holding the clear plastic insert with red grid lines for maps, and several smaller pockets for a ruler, pencils and so on. The strap featured a sliding web shoulder pad and attached via its snaps to the 2 D-rings on the rear of the pouch.

The M3 binoculars were the standard binoculars for ground troops and typically carried only by officers. The case was all-leather and marked Case, Carrying, M17 with a strap and wide belt loop on the rear. The binoculars themselves were dated on the right hand side; next to the eyepiece under the manufacturer’s name. These replaced the Type E Signal Corps binoculars issued from WWI up to 1941-42.

 

Flashlight, TL-122B

The TL-122B and later TL-122C angle-head flashlight was of plastic construction and had a sliding switch with a push-button above it for use communicating by Morse code. It could be clipped to the trouser belt, web gear or such by means of the metal hook on its back. Spare bulb and color filters were kept in the base.
To limit the amount of light put out by the TL-122, GI's and Rangers alike would sometimes cut-out the round, red Lucky Strike cigarette logo that was on a pack of cigarettes and poke a tiny hole in it with a pencil. The logo was the same diameter as the flashlight lens. This would be placed behind the glass lens of the light; allowing only a small dot to shine thru. Doing so decreased the risk of exposing your position at night should you need the light to check a watch, read a map or compass, check a weapon or so on. The TL-122A was the same overall design; but had a brass or tin body painted OD green with black highlights.

 

Helmet, Steel, M1

The M1 steel helmet replaced the M1917A1 helmet in June of 1941. The shell is an OD#7 green color with a rough textured finish. Shade variations exist on original helmets from a light pea-green to almost black. WWII early war production shells can be identified by the location of the seam on the rim. Front seam helmets were made earlier in the war; with the seam being moved to the rear on shells made after 1944 and post-war models. The method of chin strap attachment is via a tack stitch to the loops of the shell. The loops are properly termed "bales". A fixed loop; or bale, spot welded to the shell signifies earlier manufacture, while a swivel bale denotes later manufacture after October 1943. The steel shell was worn over the liner. There were multiple types and makes of liners, with many variations; too many to list here. The most common type was the compressed canvas resin impregnated liner with an HBT suspension. Earlier types were paper-fiber with rayon suspensions.

Rangers in WWII, specifically those in the 2nd and 5th Battalions; painted orange diamonds with a "2" or "5" in the center on the back of the steel pots for the D-Day invasion so that their unit could be quickly recognized by others behind them. Many of the Rangers did this; but not all of them. A horizontal white bar denoting an NCO or a vertical white bar denoting an officer may have also been used on the rear of the helmet. Several variations of placement and size existed. Any M1 steel helmet with appropriate liner that is original WWII manufacture or refinished helmet is acceptable for use in the hobby. Front seam, swivel bale helmets with correct HBT suspensions are preferred. Orange diamonds with the black "5" in the middle are also preferred, especially for D-Day events. New members that do not want to apply the diamond themselves may have it done for free by other members at their first event.


 

(L to R) Goggles, M1944; Goggles, Polaroid, All Purpose, Type 1021 & Eye shield, M1 (Air Spray)