• 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.  ITEMS IN BLUE ARE REQUIRED FOR FIELD MEDICS, ITEMS WITH YELLOW BACK GROUND ARE FOR AID STATIONS

Helmet, Steel, M1 (Medic's)

(See also Helmet, 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.

Rangers 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.

Most paint 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.


Neutrality Armband

Made out 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.


M1928 Haversack

As with the combatants, medics also carried the haversack which was likewise used to carry the blanket, rations, toiletries and personnel items. The bayonet & intrenching 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 suspenders/yoke.

Click the photo for more information on the M1928 Haversack.


Belt, Pistol or Revolver, M1936

When 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 field-expedient manner.
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.


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. 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).

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 meat can pouch removed).


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. 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.

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.



The 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.


Medical Pouch/Bag

An 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.


Insert, Type II

This 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.


Cantle, Ring, Strap

Short, 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 bags.


Instruments & Medical Corps Towel

Clamps, 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.


Bandages & Dressings

First 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.


First Aid Dressing, Large

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 musette bag.


Morphine Tartrate

Three1/2 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.


Iodine Swabs

Box 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.


Pills & Tablets

Pain 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.


Insect Repellent

Small 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.

Original bottles of repellent should not be used. For re-enacting purposes emptied bottles (save original contents) can be re-filled with current production repellents.


Foot Powder, 1 Ounce

Eight 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 trench foot.


Portable Sterilization Stove

This 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.


Emergency Medical Tags

A 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.


Parachutists First-Aid Packet

Waterproof 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.


FM 21-11 First Aid For Soldiers

Standard 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.


Case, Medical Department

Wooden 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.


To join the unit or for general information
regarding the 5th Rangers; e-mail Tim Torey, Battalion Commander.

All content of this website is property of  the 5th Ranger Battalion and MHPA. All photographs, research, etc.
are not to be reproduced without the expressed permission from the webmaster and or Battalion Commander.
The 5th Ranger Battalion Re-enacting Society s a 501(c)3 non-profit re-enacting society incorporated through  the state of Indiana.