I just caught an WW2 Gray Officer USN Uniform from my Friend Rich:
I am studying the Gray uniform history. Please, any contribution and images will be very wellcome!!
Vice Admiral Allan R. McCann, USN(Retired), (1896-1978)
NAVY GRAY UNIFORMS - gray uniforms in the same style as khaki were first introduced on 16 April 1943 as an officers uniform. On 3 June 1943 the uniform was extended to include Chief Petty Officers. On 31 March 1944 cooks and stewards were permitted to wear the gray uniform. The Navy abolished use of "grays" on 15 October 1949.
Chief Gunner's Mate Eugene Metzel, USN, who has served 24 years on board Wyoming, looks at the bronze plaque commemorating her First World War service with the Grand Fleet. Photographed in 1945. Chief Metzel is wearing the World War II era service dress grey uniform.
During World War II, Fleet Admiral of the US Navy Ernest J. King began to wear gray shoulder marks for a new gray uniform suggested by his wife.
Use of this uniform was short-lived as it was not popular. His shoulder marks were of the standard pattern of flat gray tapered boards with a rounded buttonless collar end and black thread embroidered fouled anchor and five black five-pointed stars in a circle. There have been reports of "experimental" variations of this consisting of an angular squared mark similar to the shape of currently used marks, but with gray cloth and the black embroidered devices. This is an invention and was not considered or done as it would have deviated from the standard design then used. Very few pairs of gray five-star marks were made, and are probably among the rarest of all US Navy insignia marks, are rarely seen, but do exist in a few private collections and museums.
It is recorded in several sources that ADM King never favored the working khaki, which he considered a land-forces uniform. The khaki was still pretty new to most of the fleet, having been authorized in early 1941, and king considered it to be only a "stopgap." He began working on a replacement soon after he got the CNO post in the spring of 1942. After a trip to Britain in July 1942, he expressed admiration for the RAF's blue-gray uniform, and soon had a tailor work up a naval uniform in a gray version of the Marines' herringbone twill fabric.
August 1944. Present are (L-R) Captain William Callaghan, LT Morris R. Eddy (OOD), Yeo1/c Arthur Colton (talker). The OOD is wearing Admiral King's authorized wartime grey uniform.
Despite protests from the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, King obtained Secretary Knox's approval for the gray working uniform in April 1943. After that date, working khaki officially entered a phase-out period. There was so much khaki material in the supply system, however, it outlasted King's tenure. His successor, FADM Nimitz, wasted no time reestablishing khaki as the standard working uniform and it was the grays' turn to enter a phase-out period. Working gray could not be worn after October 1948.
Five-star gray shoulder boards are understandably rare. King, of course, wore them, as did FADM Leahy, as grays were common in Washington where King held sway. After 11 August 1943, the standard gold shoulder boards were authorized to be worn with working gray along with gilt buttons. Leahy wore this uniform at the QUADRANT conference in Quebec in August 1943, he is standing on the right:
King, curiously, is wearing blues, while Admiral of the Fleet Pound is in whites.
FADM Nimitz was known to abhor the gray uniform, and it was unlikely that he ever obtained a set. FADM Halsey is questionable, though I would say it is also unlikely. Gray remained unofficially banned in the Pacific, though it did occasionally make an appearance:
Admiral King was known for tinkering with uniforms. When he was CO of USS Lexington he prescribed a uniform of white blouse with blue trousers and black shoes. Though his officers didn't like it, he brought it back when he was Commander Aircraft Battle Force, and when he was CNO made it official navy-wide as "Service Dress E." He also instuted wearing the light gray shirt with collar insignia with the service blues, and had his own non-regualtion dress whites, cut like khakis with a shirt and tie.
Here is a picture Admiral King in his grays, with a good look at the gray 5-star shoulder boards:
The commander is ace submarine skipper Robert "Dusty" Dornin, note the four "lazy loops" of an aide to a four-star or higher officer. Note also that both officers have dispensed with the scrambled egg on the visors, a wartime measure which was authorized for all officers in service and working uniforms.
Another "war economy" initiative of King's was a black braid chinstrap for use in place of the gold. At a strategy conference in San Francisco, Admirals King and Nimitz emerged from a hotel, with raincoats over their blue uniforms. At the time, navy raincoats did not show any rank insignia, and King was wearing his cap with black chinstrap and plain visor. As the press moved in, a photographer shouldered the COMINCH-CNO aside, saying "Out of the way, chief, I want to get a shot of the admiral!" This may account for King wearing the gold chinstrap later in the war! (The anecdote is recounted in the biography of Chester Nimitz by E.B. Potter)