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Second World War USN V-7 uniform insignia

Started by senhoragua , Nov 15 2010 09:22 AM

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#1 senhoragua

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 09:22 AM

US Navy V-7 program insignia

A while back I read Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny; and a couple of months ago I found out that he as a part of the V-7 midshipman program. So, out of curiosity, I opened up a dusty yearbook I had on the shelf, and found that indeed he was part of the August 1942 class based in New York - his company was at Furnald Hall at Columbia University. Despite being a work of historical fiction, his book really did justice depicting life as a V-7 recruit - or at least his descriptions of the place and the program match Columbia & the photos in the Sideboy (the yearbook). I've two Sideboy books, of two consecutive 1942 classes, and both show the same sort of midshipman organization.

Here are some of my notes; if anyone can corroborate, add or correct, please comment away. A caveat: all I am going on are photos found in yearbooks and some insignia in my collection, that being said...

I noticed that the uniforms in 1942 that V-7 midshipmen wore uniforms were almost exactly like their counterparts at Annapolis. If I am not mistaken, theirs was a four-month program with the classes compressed. They started out wearing the usual plebe garb for the first several weeks - the USN jumper and blue-rimmed dixie-cup hat; since my Sideboys are from the warmer months, I've only pictures of the midshipmen-to-be wearing whites. These whites had sencilled U.S.N. at mid-chest; the midshipmen-to-be were not issued black silk scarfs. Those passing basic indoctrination period (not being bilged) graduated to the midshipman status. They then donned the USN officer uniform, with the classic midshipman gold anchors on their coat collar. On one cuff, they had a program markers: a three-prop propeller for Engineering or anchor patch for Deck. There were no "class" indicators of the vertical gold stripes on the coat sleeve like those at Annapolis; however, battalion officers wore horizontal stripes (with program indicator above, no stars). There were three stripers, two stripers and one stripers: commander, sub-commander and company commander (two per battalion), respectively. Midshipmen petty officers, during this period did not have crows and chevron patches. It does not appear that there were registmental commanders. I see no indication of regimental commanders. If the midshipmen wore working blues or khakis, I do not know - unless they continued wearing whites in the classroom and on practice cruises on the Hudson. Their hats had the same midshipman anchor and chin strap as those at Annapolis.

By comparison, at war's end the V-7 program that was run out of Fort Schuyler yearbook, Gangway published in October 1945 shows an altogether different organization of USNR midshipmen. These Atlantic Coast midshipmen wore working greys and were provided with dress blues. I do not see any indication that there was a plebe period where they wore jumpers and dixie-cup hats. Their program was also for a period of four months. On their garrison hats was the midshipman anchor. They wore sets of horizontal midshipmen class anchors on their shirt collars. The dress blues were once again the classic USN officer uniform - except this time the coat collar had the midshipman anchor like those found on the Annapolis midshipman hat. These anchors were mirror images of each other, and are pin-back, and not with cap-screws. I see no indication of midshipman leadership positions; this program appears to be more of a boot-camp style organization.

An obvious question is why the change in uniform insignia? Was it all in an effort to distinguish between Annapolis & non-Annapolis midshipmen; and when did this change take place?

I have looked around for period uniform regulations, I've even poured through old issues of the Booker's "Crows Nest" but to no avail. I found a scant reference in the USN Uniform Regulations from 1941 - however it stated that midshipmen uniforms and insignia were determined by the Bureau of Navigation (but, I've yet to see the circulars). Post-war there is the circular from 1947, but that's of little help for wartime study and it lacks plates.

Here are some images of period V-7 insignia:

Early V-7 coat anchor, 10K G.F. (Gold-Filled), H-H:
Posted Image

Late war V-7 coat anchor pair, 10K G.F. (Gold-Filled):
Posted Image

Late War V-7 collar anchor pair, 10K - it looks like they've been polished down to brass, as they've not the luster of the other insignia:
Posted Image

Edited by senhoragua, 15 November 2010 - 09:23 AM.


#2 67Rally

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 11:05 AM

Thanks for the information. This is very interesting as I have a budding fascination with naval cadets history.

#3 topdcnut

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 06:15 AM

The little ones are often seen in V5 groups.

#4 sigsaye

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 07:15 AM

An obvious question is why the change in uniform insignia? Was it all in an effort to distinguish between Annapolis & non-Annapolis midshipmen; and when did this change take place?

I do not believe it had anything to do with making the V-7 guys look different from the Naval Academy. It was more a function of logistics. The V-7 guys were there for a much shorter time that Naval Academy Midshipmen. Why waste the funds, materials and logistic resources to provide them with a uniform that they are only going to wear for a short time. Would it not be better to provide uniforms that they will wear after they complete their training and were going to have to get any way? I am also sure that there was no official written regulation covering the change, but rather simply a message from one office to another letting them know that a change was being made. These things were quite often done with a phone call. The regulation officers uniforms were available as the Mids would need them upon graduation, it was a simple matter of having them get them in the beginning and handing out pin on insignia for use while in training. Make complete sense to me.

Steve Hesson

#5 hirsca

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 07:29 AM

Identity confirmed, thanks to all. Another feather in the cap of the USMF. That's what makes this site such a valuable tool for all. Al. Hirschler in Dallas.


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