Paratrooper Balloon Suit Uniform, Rare Early WW2 Airborne Jump Training Uniform

Pictured is an early US paratrooper uniform item.  It is commonly referred to as a balloon suit, balloon jump suit or balloon cloth jump suit.  This was one of the earliest uniform items specifically designed for US paratroopers.  It was designed to be worn by paratroopers as an outer garment when making their parachute jumps.   It was only experimented with for a brief time.  Most photos show it being used in training in 1941.  By 1942, it had been supplanted by other uniforms like the M42 jump suit.  Although it was only used briefly, photos taken at the time show that many of the paratroopers who would later go on to have prominent positions in the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 11th Airborne Division, 17th Airborne Division, and 13th Airborne Division during World War Two, got their jump training wearing this uniform.

Since it was only used for a short period of time, and also because during this time the size of the US Airborne forces were very small, very few have survived.   They are considered very rare and only a handful still exist in collections today.  I was very pleased to add this rare uniform to my military collection.

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 Company D 505th PIR 82nd Airborne Division Grouping

This group was purchased directly from a paratrooper of Company D of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He was with Co. D, 505th PIR during their jump in Normandy during D-Day and was with them until the end of the war. He was wounded in Holland during operation Market Garden. It consists of his dog tag, jump wing sewn on to a 505th PIR oval, ribbon bars, wrist bracelet with his name, Good Conduct Medal engraved with his name, CIB, cap disc patch, 82nd Airborne patch, collar discs, purple heart, 2 American invasion armband flags, paperwork, other misc. insignia, and a number of photos (only a few of which are shown here), including one showing him standing with his Browning.

The thing that I like best is the piece of the parachute canopy fabric that he had many members of Company D, 505th PIR sign. Also pictured are some of his German souvenirs which he brought back including a German armband and a skull removed from a German visor cap.  American soldiers in WWII were known for their love of acquiring captured souvenirs from their enemies.   Insignia like these were particular favorites because they were easy to carry and mail home.  Please note that in order to maintain the Veteran’s privacy, we have intentionally blurred his name on the paperwork, bracelet, and dog tag in the photos.