These jump boots and field gear are more items from the huge F Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division grouping that has been subject of previous posts. The jump boots have the brass eyelets seen on early boots. The aviators kit bags were popular with airborne troops to carry and store their items. There are a number of manuals in this group, but I chose to just photo one which is my favorite. It illustrates unarmed combat techniques.
This officers dress uniform and wool shirt is more of the F Company, 506 PIR, 101st Airborne Division grouping that has been the subject of previous posts. When I got the dress uniform, it only had the 101st patch and bullion overseas bars on it. There were clear outlines remaining of where the rank insignia, jump wing, and collar insignia had been on the uniform. The Veteran had removed these before selling the uniform.
I normally do not restore or replace insignia on uniforms. If a uniform is missing some insignia, I leave it as it was found. But in this case, since I could clearly see exactly what insignia had been on it, I did decide to restore the uniform with correct period collar insignia and jump wing. Additionally, there was a set of loose first lieutenants rank insignia, that belonged to this Veteran in this group, so I was able to use those for the restoration.
The wool shirt has a nice jump wing sewn on to it and is named to the Veteran inside.
This WWII Ike jacket and purple heart medal grouping belonged to a member of the 101st Airborne Division. He was severely wounded in January 1945 losing fingers from his hand and toes from one of his feet. He spent nearly 300 days in hospitals recovering from his wounds. Luckily, he did finally recover from his wounds. Although purple hearts were most often engraved with the name of the Veteran for personal killed in action during WWII, they were also sometimes engraved for those who were seriously wounded or the veteran himself could have the medal privately engraved. I think this purple heart was privately engraved.
I have some records from him that indicate that he was a member of the 401st Glider Infantry in 1945. By 1945, many members of the glider infantry had also been parachute qualified, which would explain his jump wings instead of glider wings. Also, he may have transferred into the 401st from a parachute unit.
Please note that we have blurred out his last name in the photos for privacy.
This WWII grouping belonged to a paratrooper of Company G, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. It consists of his Ike jacket with 506th PIR oval, overseas cap, 506th PIR pocket patch, 506th DI, and some photos/paperwork (which are not picture). I have posted the pocket patch and 506th oval in other posts on this blog, but I have never posted the entire group together.
This paratrooper saw action from D-Day to the end of the war with Company G. His ribbon bar on his Ike jacket reflects his earning the bronze star and purple heart.
These original World War Two airborne M42 paratrooper pants belonged to the same F Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division paratrooper that also owned the Reinforced Jump Jacket that I posted on November 11, 2013 and the rigger modified M43 pants that I posted on November 18, 2013. They have his laundry number stamped inside of them, but we have blurred that out for privacy.
Although they are not reinforced, they are in very nice condition showing only a little use and some light age from storage. They look really nice on display with his reinforced jump jacket. The tag is no longer present.
These World War Two Airborne Rigger Modified M43 pants are a hard to find Airborne item. After the Normandy campaign, the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions (except for the 504 PIR and their attached units) phased out the M42 jump suit uniform in favor of the new M43 uniform. Although period pictures show the M42 jump suit was still occasionally worn until the end of the war, by the time of the Holland campaign, the M43 uniform was the standard Airborne uniform.
The M43 uniform was originally designed to be used by all Army troops, not just the Airborne. It consisted of a olive drab green field jacket and a matching pair of olive drab green pants. The Airborne decided the pants did not meet their needs as issued, because they lacked cargo pockets. So, parachute riggers were directed to add one large cargo pocket to each side, along with a tie down strap to each leg.
This particular pair of rigger modified pants belonged to the same paratrooper that the reinforced jump jacket belonged to, that I posted last week. He was a member of F Company, 506th Parachute Infantry regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
This original reinforced jump jacket is part of a massive grouping I own that belonged to a member of F Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, during World War Two. This identified group includes a number of uniforms, all of his combat field equipment, personal items, manuals, and some loose insignia that all belonged to this paratrooper.
Riggers from the 101st Airborne Division added canvas reinforcements to the elbows, pockets, and knees of the standard M42 paratrooper jump suits prior to the D-Day invasion. Since these reinforced jump jackets and pants are associated with the D-Day invasion, they are highly prized by collectors today. This jacket still has these added canvas elbow and pocket reinforcements.
This reinforced jump jacket is one of my favorite pieces from this grouping. Real reinforced jump jackets are always hard to find, but they are especially hard to find in large, identified and documented groupings.
This type of airborne helmet was made specifically by the Riddell company for training paratroopers. The Riddell company had originally invented a similar style of helmet for football. At the time, it was revolutionary since this was still the era when football players wore leather helmets. They took this new technology and incorporated into this type of helmet to be used during the jump school training for paratroopers. Period pictures show this style of helmet being worn by the earliest members of the US airborne forces.
The leather flap on the chinstrap was designed to be unfurled and tucked into the neck of the uniform, in order to protect the chin of the paratrooper from branches during his jump. The leather around the back edge of the helmet was to protect the neck area from the rough edge.
This particular helmet came from the same paratrooper who also owned the M41 jump suit and Hawley paratrooper helmet liner from previous posts on this blog.
This style of WWII airborne Hawley paratrooper helmet liner was the first liner produced to go into the M2 d-bale paratrooper helmet. They were manufactured using a pressed fiber material that feels very similar to cardboard. Thus, they were not very sturdy and had a tendency to fall apart during use. They were manufactured using this material because at the time it was the only material that could be easily molded into the shape of the helmet shell.
Soon after the development of the Hawley liner, a couple of new processes for helmet liners were developed using low and high pressure composite materials. These new processes were used by companies like St. Clair and Inland for their liners. It was not very long before production of helmet liners for the M2 paratrooper helmet was switched to these companies.
Since these Hawley paratrooper liners were manufactured for only a brief period of time and are very fragile, they are extremely rare and hard to find today. Originals of this style of Hawley paratrooper liner are found in only a few private airborne and M1 helmet collections today.
This particular WWII Hawley paratrooper liner originally belonged to the same paratrooper who owned the M41 paratrooper jump suit I posted a few weeks ago. He was an early member of the US Airborne forces and retained several of these early airborne items after World War Two ended.
The M41 airborne jump suit was the predecessor of the more widely used (during WW2) M42 jump suit. The M41 jump jackets and jump pants were made for a brief time in 1941, before it was decided that changes needed to be made to the paratrooper jump suit. These changes were them incorporated into the M42 jump suit.
The biggest difference between the M41 and M42 jump suits were the pockets. The M41 pockets were sewn flat on to the jacket and pants. This did not allow much to be put in them. It was decided that they should be expandable, much like the pockets seen on modern cargo pants/shorts, and that change was implemented on the M42 suit. Also, the pockets on the M41 jump jacket each only had one snap to close them. It was decided that was not enough and when the M42 suit went into production, there were two snaps on each jacket pocket.
There were some other minor changes. For example, the side zippers at the bottom of each pants leg were deemed not necessary and were dropped from the M42 jump pants. Also, the M41 jacket belt was sewn directly on to the jacket on the back and had a button snap on the end, while the M42 belt was only sewn on to the jacket by a small piece of fabric and replaced the button snap with a fabric loop.
Although all collectors, myself included, have a tendency to over use the term rare, the M41 jump suit is extremely hard to find and I think would appropriately be classified as rare. There are only a handful of complete M41 jump suits in private collections today. Since it was only issued for brief amount of time and at this time the US airborne forces were small, there were not many of them made. Additionally, paratroopers that were issued them did sometimes continue to wear them throughout WWII, which resulted in many of them being used up. Although the jump suit was replaced by the M43 suit in 1944, paratroopers were occasionally photographed wearing both the M41 and M42 jump jackets and/or jump pants throughout the War.
This particular suit belonged to an early member of the US Airborne forces that later became a member of the 517th PIR during World War Two. In addition to this suit, he brought back many other nice early airborne items including an early paratrooper training helmet and early paratrooper hawley liner. I also own those items and they will be the subjects of later posts.