WWII US 101st Airborne M43 Rigger Modified Paratrooper Pants

M43 Rigger Made Pants Right Side Overview

M43 Rigger Made Pants

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.

WWII 101st Airborne 506th PIR Reinforced M42 Jump Jacket

506 Reinforced Jump Jacket Front

506 Reinforced Jump Jacket Front

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.

Original WW2 Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner for the M2 D-Bale Helmet

Hawley right side

WWII Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner

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.


M1C US Paratrooper Rear Seam Helmet with Westinghouse Airborne Liner

M1C US Airborne Rear Seam Paratrooper Helmet

This M1C paratrooper helmet is a later produced M1C than the one that was previously posted.  This is indicated by the rear seam and the olive drab colored chinstraps.  The liner is a Westinghouse paratrooper liner.

This helmet and liner was found together by a picker about a year ago.  This helmet is not identified, but I was still very happy to add this helmet to my collection. It has become very hard to find these helmets in excellent like this one is.

WWII 502nd PIR 508th PIR 101st Airborne Division Uniform Grouping

This group belonged to a paratrooper who was a member of I Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during WWII.  After the war ended, he was transferred to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division for occupation of Germany duty.  This was a common practice among the US Airborne units during WWII.  Airborne personal were often transferred to different regiments and divisions, starting with the end of the war in Europe, dependent on how long they had been in the service, how many points they had accumulated, and the needs of the various units.

This group includes his Ike jacket which has the insignia common to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the occupation period.  The black and white oval indicates the 508th PIR.  The ribbon bar is German made and I have seen this exact style of ribbon bar on other Ike jackets from the 508th PIR in the occupation period.  The jump wings are sterling and pin back.  On the left sleeve is an 82nd Airborne Division patch and on the right sleeve is a 101st Airborne Division patch and the Belgian Fourragere.  The 101st patch on the right sleeve indicates that this was a former unit that he had served in combat with.

This group had a box full of stuff (pictured) from his service in World War Two.  It contained the white silk scarf and white gloves which were used by the 508th PIR for for formal functions.  There are several paper items including passes, a ration card, a Berchtesgaden tourist brochure, a folder with commerical photos of paratroops in action, and other miscellaneous paperwork.  There are a stack of photos of him and his paratrooper friends in uniform on holiday including a bunch of shots of them skiing at a ski resort.  Also included was a piece of camouflage parachute material that he had cut from a chute and his American flag armband.  The flag armband is my favorite piece because he put a roster the names of his fellow members of Third Platoon, I Company, 502nd PIR on the back along with the phrase “Ready to Jump”.  Please note that we have intentionally blurred the name of this Veteran on the two passes, ration card, and the flag armband, for privacy.

WWII 82nd Airborne Division Reinforced M42 Jump Jacket

This World War Two reinforced M42 jump jacket belonged to a paratrooper of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, Company C. C Company, of the 307th was attached to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division throughout World War Two. This jump jacket was purchased directly from the Veteran a few years ago and you can see the Veteran in photos showing him wearing and holding the jacket at the time it was purchased.

C Company of the 307 Airborne Engineers became legendary for their help in the crossing of the Waal River in Holland on September 20, 1944, during the Market Garden campaign. This crossing is most famously portrayed in the movie A Bridge Too Far, in the scene where Robert Redford leads his troops of the 3rd Battalion of the 504 PIR across the river in small canvas boats. C Company of the 307 Airborne Engineers provided two or three men per boat to paddle across the river in the first wave, and then to return the boats back to the other side of the river for additional loads of troops. The Veteran this jacket belonged to was one of the Airborne Engineers in the boats. At the time this jump jacket was purchased, he talked about how he could not believe that he had survived the crossing because the opposition from the Germans was so strong. When it was purchased, he stated orally and in a signed letter, that this is the jump jacket that he wore during his entire time in Holland.

Although the rest of the US Airborne units had switched over to the new M43 uniform for Market Garden, members of the 504th, and their attached units, still often wore their M42 jump suits in Holland.  The 504th had originally had their M42 jump suits reinforced with canvas on the pockets, elbows, and knees like the rest of the members of the 82nd Airborne Division in anticipation for the D-Day landings in Normandy.  The 504th PIR, and their attached units like C Company, 307th Airborne Engineers, were later withheld from the D-Day landings and instead held in reserve in England.  This was because they had previously been detached and left to fight in Italy long after the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division had been relieved and sent back to England.  They had seen very tough combat and suffered many casualties in Italy, so General Ridgway decided that they needed to be held back from the Normandy D Day jump in order to have more time to rest and refit.