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WWII USMC Women's Reserve (USMCWR) uniforms

Started by Bob Hudson , Jul 20 2009 08:08 PM

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#1 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 08:08 PM

Today picked up a grouping that belonged to a member of the US Marine Corps Women's Reserve and it has variety of items that provide a good starting point for a discussion of WWII female Marine uniforms.

This is what I found. According to the daughter-in-law of this woman Marine, the stuff had been stored in a barrel in a shed and the condition of the clothing ranges from mint to "oh my gosh look what the moths did."

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#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 08:15 PM

This woman had several pairs of HBT trousers: some seem to be USMC men's style, one pair has a US Navy contract number and one pair was very clearly made for the women's reserve Marines.

This pair with the USMCWR label is HBT, herringbone twill. Elsewhere on the forum, someone said the utility uniforms made for women Marines were not HBT: but it seems they did make HBT trousers, at least. These have the equivalent of two button flys: one on each hip. They also have ankle closure tabs with two buttons.

At the top of the label you can just make out where it says SLACKS UTILITY

hbtalabel.jpg

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Unbuttoning the sides results in this look:

hbtadrop.jpg

hbtaback.jpg

Wast and ankle adjustment tabs: the ankle tabs have another button not shown in the photograph:

hbtatabs.jpg

#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 08:52 PM

Before I show the other kinds of utility trousers that would have been issued to WWII women Marines I wanted to show a couple of utility shirts: one an apparent man's HBT shirt and the other non-HBT USMCWR utility shirts.

Here's her men's HBT shirt with her name marked inside (notice at the top of the label the three marks: III - she does on some other clothing items too, perhaps to mark this as, say, shirt number three?????):

hbtshirtlabel.jpg

hbtshirt.jpg

hbtshirtback.jpg

#4 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 08:54 PM

And here is a utility shirt made just for women: unlike the USMCWR trousers above, it is not herringbone twill. There were two of these in the grouping and luckily one still had the label. This is labeled SHIRT, UTILITY and would seem to be the companion to the HBT USMCWR trousers shown above:

utshirtalabel.jpg

utshirta.jpg

utshirtaback.jpg

#5 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:00 PM

Here are three styles of WR caps: the bell crown type, a couple of khaki garrison caps and one of spruce green caps worn with the summer seersucker uniform. I assume the garrison caps were worn with the utilities.

hats1.jpg

This one threw me for a loop: it looks like a purse, but is not very strongly made. Inside it was a strap, but the bag had no place to attach a strap. I found the answer tonight on the National Park Service webpage about USMCWR uniforms: http://www.nps.gov/a...129-00/sec8.htm -

WWII women Marines, it says, "had only one handbag, a brown, rough textured leather purse with a shoulder strap and spring closure. They learned to wear it over their left shoulder, leaving their right hand free to salute. The same brown bag became a bright summer accessory with the addition of a removable, spruce green, cotton purse cover and matching shoulder strap."

So this is an official USMC purse cover:

purse.jpg

#6 Greg Robinson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:11 AM

Here are three styles of WR caps: the bell crown type, a couple of khaki garrison caps and one of spruce green caps worn with the summer seersucker uniform. I assume the garrison caps were worn with the utilities.


I own a green HBT garrison cap with ega that was worn by the USMCWR. I've always assumed it was worn with the utility uniform.

#7 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:19 AM

I own a green HBT garrison cap with ega that was worn by the USMCWR. I've always assumed it was worn with the utility uniform.


It may have been and in fact I wonder if they didn't wear a few different styles of caps with utilities. In the uniform article I mentioned above (part of the longer article "FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT: Women Marines in World War II
by Colonel Mary V Stremlow, USMCR (Ret)" at http://www.nps.gov/archive/ ) it is clear that the Marines took great pains to ensure the WR's had uniforms that were pretty much in line with the men's uniforms, yet were tailored for women (they learned from the Army's big mistakes in that area).

However, there were some problems with distribution of women's uniform items and at the beginning of the WR program there were plain old shortages:

wrshortage.jpg

And the WR utilities don't seem as clear cut as the service uniforms. As I mentioned above I have something like four different styles of utilities pants issued to the same WR, plus two styles of utility shirts and a pair of culottes (skirt-like shorts) apparently for utility use. I have no doubt your HBT garrison cap was worn with utilities as were the khaki caps and, as seen in the photos below, some floppy caps.

In this photo it appears that some of the women are wearing garrison caps:

wrplane.jpg

wrfloppy.jpg


I did get a chance to glance through WWII photos from this WR Marine and I'm hoping to get another chance to go through them and make some copies: it would be nice to find some candid photos that give perhaps a more realistic view of uniform usage than we get in most photos which were official releases.

#8 Greg Robinson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:21 AM

I remember my mother saying that there was an emphasis on Women Marines looking sharp and looking like Marines. Her only beef was they made enlisted women wear kahki shirts with their greens but allowed officers to wear white shirts which she felt was more attractive. I have a framed portrait of her in greens but wearing a non regulation white shirt. So just like the guys, the girls also bent the rules at times. :D

I believe that Colonel who wrote the book was the woman Marine who posed for the recruiting poster......she has a close resemblance to my mother.

#9 fortworthgal

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:27 AM

Very nice find!!! I'm curious if there were any of the green/white seersucker "peppermint" pieces, or the white summer uniform pieces in the barrel?

Yes, the HBT pisscutters were worn with either the overalls or the HBT uniforms (and the WRs did wear both women's and men's.) They also had a "daisy mae" style fatigue hat, in both HBT and the spruce green color. The khaki culotte type items were exercise/PT wear known as the "peanut suit." Yes, the WR utilities *were* made of HBT. However, they also have an overall (usually worn over a white t-shirt) that was plain green cotton and not HBT fabric. The khaki men's pisscutters (WRs did not have a female version) were sometimes worn for work with the utilities - you sometimes see pictures of the ladies wearing the khaki blouse with men's HBT pants and the khaki cap.

I have done extensive research into US women's military uniforms of WWII, so if you have any pieces you cannot identify or have questions about, please feel free to ask me!

Edited by fortworthgal, 21 July 2009 - 08:33 AM.


#10 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:32 AM

Very nice find!!!

Yes, the HBT pisscutters were worn with either the coveralls or the HBT uniforms (and the WRs did wear both women's and men's.) They also had a "daisy mae" style fatigue hat, in both HBT and the spruce green color. The khaki culotte type items were exercise/PT wear.

If you have any pieces you cannot identify or have questions about, please feel free to ask me!


I found a site with some nice pics of the WR uniforms: http://www.blitzkrie...r/usmcwr3ba.htm - click the links at the bottom of that page for more stuff: he confirms seeing WWII pics of women wearing the men's khaki pisscutters. The ones in the photo above had women's names inside them includng what looks like a dedication: I am going down to my studio this morning to take some better photos of everything including the caps.

#11 fortworthgal

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:18 PM

That is Katy's site - probably the best WWII female uniform resource on the web. She is a German collector/reenactor.

If you can get your hands on a copy of Jill Halcomb Smith's "Dressed for Duty" (I can't remember if USMCWR is in volume 1 or 2 - I'll have to check when I get home), she also has photos of the WRs wearing the men's khaki garrison caps with work uniforms.

Edited by fortworthgal, 21 July 2009 - 12:20 PM.


#12 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:24 PM

Here's how the two shirts above look when paired with the WR HBT trousers and the khaki garrison cap:

combo1.jpg combo2.jpg

combo2back.jpg

#13 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:50 PM

The khaki garrison cap shown above is named to the woman Marine:

khcapa.jpg

khcapname.jpg

She had a second khaki cap and it - in true WWII Marine Corps tradition - is stamped with the name of at least two previous owners. One of those names is the regular type name stamp and the other is a rather elaborate affair and written above that is an inscription that appears to begin with "To Gilmore with..." (Lorraine M Gilmore was the WR who wore the uniforms I show here). The same stamp is on the other side of the inside of the cap and also has a handwritten inscription that is even harder to read but it appears to start with "Dedicated to..." The WR who had the elaborate stamp is most likely Marion Virginia Stortz, who died in 1996.

khcapb.jpg

khcapbname1.jpg

#14 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:06 PM

The WR who had the elaborate stamp is most likely Marion Virginia Stortz, who died in 1996.


I found her obituary. They call her "Mrs Stortz" but I don't think she was married: I believe that WR's could not be married and thus Stortz would have been her maiden name. Also, the obituary does not mention a husband preceeding her in death. Anyway, Ms. Stortz, we give you a little space on this forum to preserve your legacy as a WWII US Marine:

Rocky Mountain News (CO) - November 4, 1996

MARION VIRGINIA STORTZ, 73, of Denver died Oct. 27 in Brush. Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 2626 E. Seventh Ave. Mrs. Stortz was born in Denver on Sept. 6, 1923. She served in the Marine Corps during World War II. She worked as one of Denver's first female police officers from 1953 to 1978. She was a life member of the Colorado Mountain Club. She is survived by her brother Stanley.


#15 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:48 PM

The khaki culotte type items were exercise/PT wear known as the "peanut suit."


Were there a couple of styles of culottes type PT wear? The National Park Service USMCWR article (and other photos I've seen" decribe a "bloomers" type of outfit but the one I picked up seems not be be bloomers (and you can just make out the USMCWR writing on the label, so these are official.

"For recreation, field nights, and physical conditioning, women Marines wore the "peanut suit," so named because of its color and crinkled appearance. It was a tan, seersucker, one-piece, bloomer outfit with ties at the bottom of the shorts."

culottes.jpg

For you guys who don't know: culottes are a cross between a shorts and a skirt:

culottes2.jpg

The faded writing on the label could not be photographed but is visible in person:

culotteslabel.jpg

#16 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:52 PM

I found a photo of the "peanut suit" and it appears to be a one piece affair whereas the culotte just cover the lower body:

bloomers.jpg

#17 fortworthgal

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:12 AM

The peanut suit also had a detachable skirt - but it was called "peanut suit" due to the color - which obviously isn't what you have! Very interesting. I'll take a look in Dressed for Duty this evening and see if I can identify that garment.

My suspicion is that it would go with the non-HBT green utility blouse as a summer work uniform.

#18 Bob Hudson

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:14 AM

The peanut suit also had a detachable skirt - but it was called "peanut suit" due to the color - which obviously isn't what you have! Very interesting. I'll take a look in Dressed for Duty this evening and see if I can identify that garment.

My suspicion is that it would go with the non-HBT green utility blouse as a summer work uniform.


It's too bad the label faded to the point we can no longer read what they called it - but it does match the utility blouse in color.

#19 Bob Hudson

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:38 AM

I found her obituary. They call her "Mrs Stortz" but I don't think she was married: I believe that WR's could not be married and thus Stortz would have been her maiden name. Also, the obituary does not mention a husband preceeding her in death. Anyway, Ms. Stortz, we give you a little space on this forum to preserve your legacy as a WWII US Marine:

Rocky Mountain News (CO) - November 4, 1996

MARION VIRGINIA STORTZ, 73, of Denver died Oct. 27 in Brush. Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 2626 E. Seventh Ave. Mrs. Stortz was born in Denver on Sept. 6, 1923. She served in the Marine Corps during World War II. She worked as one of Denver's first female police officers from 1953 to 1978. She was a life member of the Colorado Mountain Club. She is survived by her brother Stanley.



Not directly relevant to the discussion of USMCWR uniforms - but without the stories and service of the people who wore them, these are just old rags: Marion Stortz 'brother Stanley was also a Marine (and like her, a Denver cop). He joined the Corps in 1937, served in China and reached Master Sgt. and was wounded in action in WWII (the WIA report calles him "1st Sgt"). I had wondered if the "dedication" written inside the one garrison cap was to a male Marine: now I wonder if Marion wrote dedicated it to her brother?

#20 Bob Hudson

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 06:41 PM

The peanut suit also had a detachable skirt - but it was called "peanut suit" due to the color - which obviously isn't what you have! Very interesting. I'll take a look in Dressed for Duty this evening and see if I can identify that garment.

My suspicion is that it would go with the non-HBT green utility blouse as a summer work uniform.


I went back and studied the culottes labels today and it does in fact faintly say, "Culotte, Utility MCWR" (unlike the blouse and HBT trousers which say USMCWR on the label). It also appears to have a 1945 date. I pushed the photo image as hard as I could but it still does not read as well as the label does in person.

culotteslabel.jpg

combo3.jpg


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