OF THE 5th RANGER BATTALION:
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. ITEMS IN BLUE ARE REQUIRED FOR FIELD MEDICS, ITEMS WITH YELLOW BACK GROUND ARE FOR AID STATIONS
Steel, M1 (Medic's)
Steel, M1) At right is an example of a typical M1 steel
helmet with neutrality markings designated by the Geneva convention:
four red crosses on white disks. No official order were issued
governing neutrality markings on helmets during WWII, therefore
there was a great variety. From one up to
four red crosses with our without a white background (these
are known as "panels"). The white background itself
may be round, oblong, or square. Armbands
were also encountered worn on the helmet, under the net. All-white
painted helmets with one or more red crosses are very rare.
Unit variations abound.
medics of 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 just like many
other Rangers. Because of this, the 3-panel cross scheme was
used. A horizontal white bar denoting an NCO or a vertical
white bar denoting an officer was also used among the medical
personnel. Several variations of placement and size existed.
jobs were done by the individual or an individual that painted
up multiple helmets for fellow medics. Oil based flat paint
is best, and a net is recommended so that leaves or mud may
be added to decrease visibility of the crosses when giving
away the position of a squad is not wanted.
of cotton with either a safety pin or field modified elastic
closure, this was worn on the left arm to identify the wearer
as a non-combatant. An ID card accompanied the Armband, as
an affidavit that the bearer was neutral and protected by
the Geneva Convention. It was worn by Army medical personnel
at the front, medics, litter-bearers, and chaplains.
with the combatants, medics also carried the haversack
which was likewise used to carry the blanket, rations,
toiletries and personnel items. The bayonet
tool however were not carried, as they had no rifle
to fix a bayonet onto and their foxholes were usually
dug by the other members of the squad. (Doing this was
a simple way to show appreciation of the life-saving capabilities
of the medic and how grateful the men were for having
them around.) The OD#3 "khaki" M1928 haversack
is the type seen in use by many Ranger medics, from the
landings in North Africa to the fighting into Germany.
It could also carry additional medical supplies and could
be worn in a backpack fashion by clipping the front shoulder
straps to the rear lower D rings, rather than the belt
eyelets. The pack could then be quickly discarded if need
be. It would be worn overtop of the medical
the photo for more information on the M1928 Haversack.
Pistol or Revolver, M1936
used by medics, this web belt was used to affix additional
gear such as canteens and medical supplies and to attach
the shoulder straps and rear straps of the haversack.
It may also be used to carry the medical pouches/bags
directly if clipped, wired or buckled to the belt in any
As with the combatants, the belt was at times worn in
reverse; with the “US” appearing upside down
in photos; this was done because the eyelets would rip
out after considerable use; so flipping the belt over
allowed the wearer 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.
Canteen, Dismounted, M1910 & Canteen, M1942 and Cup,
M1942 Stainless Steel
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.
It was required that medics carry 2 (two) of these canteens
on the pistol belt, usually on the rear. One was for the
medic himself, the other for the wounded or injured person(s).
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
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 meat can pouch removed).
First-Aid Packet, M1942 & First-Aid Packet, Carlisle
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.
Medics carried any number of these, either as issued or
picked up off the dead to replenish diminished supplies.
Typically they were kept in the medical pouches/bags but
are sometimes seen carried on the belt between the 2 (two)
canteens on the rear. Each box contained a single field
dressing and a packet of sulfanilamide powder which was
used to prevent infection. The dressing got its name from
the place of its development: Medical Dept. Equipment
Laboratory at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Hence;
the Carlisle bandage.
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
medic's "yoke" or suspender was worn over the
shoulders to distribute the weight of the bags and litter
when being carried or pulled. Like most other medical
gear, it has no markings. The yoke could also be seen
in use by some BAR gunners to hold the M1937 or M1942
BAR ammunition belt, as the wider more substantial shoulder
portion was more comfortable to wear than the narrow M1936
suspenders which tended to dig into the shoulders.
olive drab pouch hung from the suspenders, one per each
side, to carry most miscellaneous medical supplies such
as bandages, scissors, dressings, pills, etc. Contents
of the pouch depended on the individuals assignment and
varied also based on what was available at the time. The
strip of canvas on the front with the eyelets and lace
could be lashed to the corresponding strip on the rear
to cut the size (and thusly the internal capacity) in
half. This made it easer for medical personnel to reach
contents and get at needed items faster.
canvas insert lashed to the upper top portion of the pouch
and hung inside. It could carry various plastic tubes
(as shown) filled with pills and tablets. This was issued
to officers and NCO's typically at aid stations. The pouch
shown here is OD #7 (typical olive drab green) and the
insert is in OD #3 "khaki". As with other gear,
the inserts and bags/pouches were made in both shades
of canvas material.
adjustable strap used to connect the medical pouches/bags
across the waist both front
and back. It could also be detached from the yoke
and used as a handle or small shoulder strap for the individual
pouches/bags. GP Straps were also used to carry the individual
& Medical Corps Towel
scissors, snips, spreaders and so on laid on a medical
corps towel. The instruments could be worn suspended within
the pouch, however scissors were often seen slung on the
outside in the laces normally used to lash the bag up
to make it smaller. Similar to a GI huck towel, this towel
was of the same material only white overall with a blue
band/insignia on its center axis.
aid dressing, plain gauze, sublimated gauze, iodine swabs,
tapes, compressed bandages, ammonia inhalants, plain gauze
bandages and roller gauze were just some of the numerous
items carried in the medical kit. The contents varied
based on assigned task, rank, position in the field evacuation
structure and what was simply available at the time. Typically,
medics would carry as much as possible in regards to dressings
and bandages. These are usually marked with maker and
date of manufacture.
Aid Dressing, Large
Carlisle model bandage in either waxed (bottom) or cellophane
(top) containers. The waxed package had a pull-string
to quickly open the box by splitting it. These were used
to bandage large chest wounds for example. Typically,
only a few of these may be carried in the pouches as they
took up lots of space. More may be carried in a pack or
gram syrettes of morphine tartrate with a sterilized needle
and individual paper boxes. This would be administered
for immediate relief of extreme pain. Doing so would also
lower the heart rate of the injured individual. Morphine
is an addictive substance, and some cases of "improper
use" did spring up among a handful of persons.
of 6 Iodine Swabs for disinfecting superficial wounds.
There were several varieties of boxes, with an inner tray
and outer sleeve The individual swab had printed directions
in red letters (break tip to use) and a cloth sleeve that
the iodine would soak into to rub on the wounded area.
killers & water purification tablets were carried
in various containers both in and out of the Type
II insert. Wound tablets of sulfadiazine were carried
in the sealed Carlisle bandage pouch, with 8 tablets to
a pack and directions printed on the reverse. Medics often
carried the same in their pouches/bags.
glass bottle containing a few ounces of insect repellent.
Applied to the exposed skin, this topical oil-like liquid
would repel mosquitoes and most other pests. This item
was more common in the Pacific but did see issuance in
the ETO also. It could be found in the jungle first aid
kit or as a personal item carried by the marine or GI.
There is no applicator, the cap is a metal screw on with
a paper gasket. It was splashed on, similar to aftershave.
bottles of repellent should not be used. For re-enacting
purposes emptied bottles (save original contents) can
be re-filled with current production repellents.
Powder, 1 Ounce
packs of powder in a paper outer box. These were also
carried/given to the individual soldiers to take care
of their own feet. An Army marches on its feet; literally,
so special care was given to avoid trench-foot. Trench-foot
set in with prolonged exposure to moisture and poor conditions.
Many thousands of men were taken out of action in both
world wars by this condition. Keeping the feet dry by
changing socks and using powder was the best way to combat
small stainless steel folding "stove" was used
to sterilize (by boiling) the blades of various scalpels
and other instruments. The burner ran on alcohol, kerosene
or gasoline and was placed under the upper tray to heat
it to boiling. When not in use, the cap screwed onto the
burner and it folded into a compact package about 3"
x 2" x 1". While an interesting item; this was
not a common bit of equipment apparently.
booklet of strong paper tags filled out by the medical
personnel with information on the wounded or sick soldier.
The tags were fitted with string or thin wire to be tied
to the uniform of the injured man. They were also carbon
paper backed, to make an instant duplicate of the tag.
The oil (or grease) pencils show could be used to mark
the tags, but were also used to mark the wounded man himself.
For example, a red "M" on the fore head meant
that a dose of morphine had been administered.
pouch containing a first aid packet in a cardboard container,
a tourniquet and a morphine syrette. This was typically
seen on paratroops and issued to first-wave troops on
D-Day. The four ties were for attaching the pouch to the
helmet, uniform, or equipment and were made out of HBT
(herring-bone-twill) fabric tape. There are no snaps,
buckles or so on. It was marked with either "FIRST-AID"
or a small red medical cross on one side. These gave the
soldier a more substantial means to treat himself should
he be wounded and a medic not readily available.
21-11 First Aid For Soldiers
first-aid manual issued to recruits for training in various
fist-aid techniques. Covers multiple dressings, splints,
and bandages used by the medical department and general
care information for the wounded. Mostly for training
purposes, many field and technical manuals were seldom
encountered in combat among the average GI. Language pamphlets
were a common exception.
box for storing and organizing various medical supplies,
usually at an aid station or within a vehicle. Markings
may display unit and item/lot number for example. This
not necessarily an "issue" item these were made
literally on a "case by case" basis; no pun
intended. The example pictured at right was based on an
original from photographic evidence.