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Anyone have any examples of WWI era Army working fatigues? Brown denims, etc.


agate hunter
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world war I nerd

Photo No. 16: I believe these soldiers are working inside a ships boiler room. Shoveling coal was sometimes compulsory, and a common punishment meted out by the ship’s captain to Doughboys who for example spat on the ship’s deck or failed to rigidly obey the other ship’s rules and regulations. Again, the coveralls worn by the soldier on the right look to be olive drab in color.

post-5143-0-80460400-1392566902.jpg

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A few years ago, we had a lively discussion about these fatigue uniforms. Let me transcribe some of it here:

 

One chap (I think he visits here - sound off if you're reading, Scott) posted the contents of a memo in his collection:

 

"USDA Memo 1993 re: denim work clothing

I have a copy of a US Dept of the Army memo from the Center for Military History to an officer in the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Monroe dated 1993 on the subject of "Blue Denim Work Clothing".

This memo is a photocopy of a mix of hand drawn sketches and specs related to denim work clothing from 1908 to 1940.

Here's a quick rundown of the main differences and dates of change.


1908 First blue denim jacket and trousers for Coast Artillery only

Style of Jumper/jacket: Pullover, front placket, falling collar with three exterior pockets, upper left breast, lower left and right waist, pockets are square cornered, pocket flaps with single button on all pockets.

Style of overall/trousers: Trousers with belt loops, back belt with buckle, suspender buttons on exterior of waistband, front and back patch-style pockets, watch pocket inside right front pocket. pockets, button fly/

Fabric: Indigo blue denim, white back, fully shrunk, "Class B"

Thread: Not specified

Buttons: Not specified


1910 Same as 1908, but now prescribed for all arms.

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1908

Style of overall/trousers: Same as 1908

Fabric: Same as 1908

Thread: Same as 1908

Buttons: Same as 1908


1917 Now a "coat-style" jacket with "bib-style" overalls

Style of Jumper/jacket: Coat-style jacket with falling collar, four buttons on jacket, three pockets (same locations as 1908, but bottom of pockets terminates in single point, pockets do not have flaps or buttons.

Style of overall/trousers: "bib-style", but no illustration available

Fabric: Not specified, assume it is still blue denim

Thread: Same as 1908

Buttons: Same as 1908


1918 Change in color of denim, style of jacket, trousers instead of biboverals

Style of Jumper/jacket: Pullover with three button pointed bottom placket, falling collar, large rectangular, side-opening pockets (openings face the placket), no buttons at pocket openings. (this pattern is the most common and long-lived of all the denim works jackets).

Style of overall/trousers: Trousers, same as 1908, but no suspender buttons

Fabric: Brown denim

Thread: Same as 1908

Buttons: Same as 1908


1919 Change of color only

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1918

Style of overall/trousers: Same as 1918

Fabric: Blue denim

Thread: Same as 1918

Buttons: Same as 1918


1926 Change in buttons to zinc

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1918

Style of overall/trousers: Same as 1918

Fabric: Same as 1918

Thread: Same as 1918

Buttons: Zinc (buttons are 9/16" four hole, US ARMY embossed......not sure if they were used on earlier denims)



1928 Number of sizes available increased (no details, but in 1923 only a "large", "medium" and "small" are listed), thread color changed

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1918

Style of overall/trousers: Same as 1918

Fabric: Same as 1918

Thread: Color of thread changed from black to gray (assume that thread color for all previous denims was black)

Buttons: Same as 1926


1937 No change in jumper/jacket, slight change to trousers

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1918

Style of overall/trousers: Same as 1918, except slight change in dimension of pockets

Fabric: Same as 1918

Thread: Same as 1928

Buttons: Same as 1926


1939 No change in jumper/jacket, slight change to trousers

Style of Jumper/jacket: Same as 1918

Style of overall/trousers: Trouser back belt deleted, no other changes

Fabric: Same as 1918

Thread: Same as 1928

Buttons: Same as 1926


1940 Changes to jacket and trousers

Style of Jumper/jacket: Designation changed from "jumper" to "coat", coat is now a 5 button "coat-style", with falling collar, no breast pocket, two waist pockets (slight curve to bottom edge) with slightly rounded flap and single flap button,

Style of overall/trousers: Pockets changed from patch to set in, including watch pocket. (does not specify if the rear pocket(s) were also changed to set in......just a gut feeling that they remained patch)

Fabric: Same as 1918

Thread: Same as 1928

Buttons: Zinc or oxidized brass"

(Sorry for the print. The other site has a blue background.)

 

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Hey! I figured out how to fix the text! (15 years of higher education - well paid for!):
"I find this subject to be complicated and confusing (and fascinating)! The 1902 Regs called for brown fatigues, similar to those of 1884. (Steffen draws these as a coat-style top and bib bottoms.) (These regs also call for an end to the issue of the old white stable frock for mounted troops, to be replaced by the brown fatigues.) As Scott noted, blue denim for Coast Artillery was approved in 1908. I've seen correspondence from the early 1900's talking about the "brown fatigue uniform" and when and by whom it is to be worn. David Cole's "Survey of US Army Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements" shows drawings of the brown fatigue jacket from the 1908 regs and states the following: "The brown cotton canvas fatigue uniform was similar to what was previously worn, but it now sported two lower patch pockets and a single breast pocket on the left side. In 1908 the brown canvas fatigue uniform began to be replaced with blue denim fatigue uniforms. However it would not be until 1919 that the changeover would be completed." So, brown or blue for reenacting? I've looked at a lot of photos from the mid 1900's that seem to show the fatigue clothing as being brown or drab. I wonder if the 1910 fatigues listed by Scott also came in brown. Were there just a ton of these brown fatigues "in the system", and that is why we see them for so long? I suspect that that is the answer. I also suspect that the shirts that keep showing up on eBay, including the one above, are late or post-war."

 

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Here's a few more pics:

 

Here's a little hunt club, probably on The Border. Brown bibs on the far right, trousers to his right, and a three pocket pullover on the guy with the ducks:

fatigues3.jpg

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Air Service ground crew - here's quite a mix of outerwear - there's pullovers and coat-style fatigues, as well as leather jerkins, mackinaws and sweaters. I also note a bunch of 1907 winter hats and rubber waders.

fatigues5.jpg

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One last one (I hope that I haven't overdone it!) Note that one chap is wearing the coat-style top (1917?), and the other has the three pocket pullover (1910?):

browndenims.jpg

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world war I nerd

Cavdoc83, thanks for the info and pictures. Also there's no way to "over do" something in respect to useful information and photographs. The more the better!

 

Come to think of it I do seem to recall reading something about pre WW I blue denim fatigues being issued. I'll have to go back and try to figure out where I read what I think I read.

 

Anyway here's a photo of some artillerymen from the 85th Division in France. It's always annoyed me that I couldn't identify what the second man from the left was wearing. I always thought that it was some sort of British made fatigue coat because of what looked like shiny brass buttons and the rounded corners at the bottom.

 

I suppose it could be a late war variation of a U.S. made fatigue coat, but it just doesn't look right to me. Does anybody have an idea?

post-5143-0-12066300-1392616327.jpg

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Great but painful subject. I had a brown fatigue shirt that came with several pieces of National Guard equipment. IIRC, it was the three button pullover style and it came with the brown Daisy May hat. I sold the shirt at the Hillside, Illinois Military show sometime in the early 1990s for $60.00. I did however keep the hat. One of the biggest selling regrets that I have!

 

I look forward to seeing more discussion on these shirts!

 

post-203-0-17866800-1392640450.jpg

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Here's a close up of the guy's coat. Any thoughts ....

I suppose that it could be one of those 1917 fatigue jackets. Note that in some of the other pics, the zinc buttons show up shiny. Of course, the jacket in this pic has too many buttons to be spec, and the rounded corners on the lower edge seem unusual. Maybe it is some sort of foreign or civilian jacket.

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world war I nerd

I’ve done a bit of research and found a few things that will either add to what little information on U.S. Army fatigue or work clothing or it will further confuse us.

Mario who goes by “pointed cuffs” here on the forum was kind enough to email me a large number of specification numbers along with the date it was adopted for Army clothing between 1901 and 1919. Unfortunately the list was incomplete and no details regarding how the various garments were changed was not included. Since there are likely items missing they cannot tell the whole story. But they do provide a starting point for when the garments were modified. The list was apparently passed on to him by a third party, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy, but I have no reason to believe that they are incorrect. I’ve also added the descriptions of fatigue clothing posted above by Cavdoc83, which match up quite nicely with the specification numbers provided by Pointedcuffs. Anyway, here’s what we have so far:

 

Working Hats

 

Specification No. 1009 January 21, 1909

No available information

 

Specification No. 1102 December 23, 1910

No available information

 

Canvas Fatigue Coats

Specification No. 612, April 22, 1903

No available information

 

Specification No. 676 June 10, 1904

No available information

 

Specification No. 876 June 18, 1907

No available information

Canvas Fatigue Trousers

 

Specification No. 613 April 22, 1903

No available information

 

Specification No. 677 June 10, 1901

No available information

 

Blue and Brown Denim Jumpers & Jackets

Specification No. 995 August 24, 1908

 

1908, first blue denim and trousers for Coast Artillery only:

Style of Jumper/jacket: Pullover, front placket, falling collar with three exterior pockets, upper left breast, lower left, and right waist, pockets are square cornered, pocket flaps with single button on all pockets.

 

Style of overall/trousers: Trousers with belt loops, back belt with buckle, suspender buttons on exterior of waistband, front and back patch-style pockets, watch pocket inside right front pocket, pockets, button fly/

Fabric indigo blue denim, white back, fully shrunk, “Class B”.

Thread and buttons not specified

 

Specification No. 1065 September 30, 1910

 

Same as specification number 995 (August 24, 1908), but now prescribed for all arms.

 

Specification No. 1273 October 20, 1917

 

1917, now a “coat-style” jacket with bib-style overalls

Style of Jumper/jacket: Coat-style jacket with falling collar, four buttons on jacket, three pockets (same location as 1908, but bottom of pockets terminates in single point; pockets do not have flaps or buttons.

 

Style of overall/trousers: “bib-style”, but no illustration available

Fabric: not specified, assumed it is still blue denim

Thread and buttons same as 1908

 

Specification No. 1347 July 14, 1918

 

1918, change in color of denim, style of jacket, trousers instead of bib overalls.

Style of Jumper/jacket: Pullover with three button pointed bottom placket, falling collar, large rectangular side opening pockets (openings face the placket), and no buttons at pocket openings. (This pattern is the most common and long-lived of all denim work jackets.)

 

Style of overall/trousers: Trousers same as 1908, but no suspender buttons

Fabric: Brown denim

Thread and buttons same as 1908

 

Specification No. 415-3-1347 May 1, 1919

 

1919, same as specification number 1347 (July 14, 1918), except the fabric was changed to blue denim

 

Specification No. 415-3-18 August 1, 1919

 

No available information

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world war I nerd

I also had a look at the Quartermaster General Annual reports and could find nothing substantial about what or why the fatigue coats and trousers went through so many specification changes. But I did notice the in the annual inventory of clothing and equipage include in each volume from 1911 onwards. Note that the inventory listed the quantity of garments that were made and that were issued during the fiscal year, and it listed the quantity of garments that were on hand in the depots at the end of the fiscal year. The figures shown below indicate the number of garments on hand in the depots.

 

1911 Annual Report listed the following:

 

Coats, Canvas, Fatigue … 8,000

Coats, Blue Denim … 57,000

Hats, Blue Denim … 27,000

Overalls … 29,000 (no mention was made as to what the overalls were made of)

Trousers, 16 ounce, Canvas Fatigue … 5,000

Blue Denim … 45,000

 

Based on the above it appears that the Army was phasing the out olive drab or brown canvas fatigue clothing and replacing it with blue denim fatigue clothing.

 

The 1912 Annual Report listed the following:

 

Coats, Canvas Fatigue or Blue Denim … 46,000

Hats, Blue Denim … 16,000

Overalls … 16,000 (no mention was made as to what the overalls were made of)

Trousers, Canvas Fatigue or Blue Denim … 69,000

 

In this volume, the quantity of leftover olive drab or brown canvas fatigue coats and trousers were probably not enough to warrant listing them separately so they combined the totals of the two types on the 1912 inventory list.

 

The 1913 Annual Report listed the following:

 

Coats, Working … 86,000

Hats, Blue Denim … 15,000

Overalls …0

Trousers, Working … 13,000

 

It appears that the stocks of older olive drab or blue denim fatigue coats and trouser had been exhausted, as there is no mention of “coats, canvas” or “trousers, canvas”. Note that the coats and trousers are no longer called fatigue coats or trousers. They are now being called working coats and trousers. Oddly, overalls weren’t even listed in the 1913 clothing inventory. Since they continued to show up in period photographs, it could be that the regulation fatigue trousers now incorporated a bib, thus making the overalls superfluous.

 

The 1915 Annual report listed the following:

 

Coats, Denim … 112,000

Hats, Denim … 16,000

Overalls …0

Trousers, Denim … 115,000

 

Note that the term “working” has been substituted by the word “denim”. However the garments are not described as being blue denim. The QTMD was usually very precise in the language that it used when describing the clothing and equipment that it issued. Because of this, my guess is that the fatigue/working coats, hats and trousers were being made from both brown or khaki denim and blue denim. Again, overalls weren’t mentioned in the 1915 clothing inventory.

 

The 1916 Annual report did not include the usual clothing inventory list.

 

The 1917 Annual Report listed the following:

 

Coats, Denim … 5,000

Hats, Denim … 5,000

Overalls … 0

Trousers, Blue Denim … 29,000

 

The only item of real interest here is that the trousers are again being called blue denim.

 

I also believe that the Fatigue Hats were only issued to the troops of the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC), as both the Uniform Regulations of 1912 and 1917 prescribed either the brown canvas or blue denim fatigue Hats for that branch of the Army. All other troops were prescribed to wear the Campaign Hat when on fatigue duty. Photographic evidence also seems to back this up. Up until WWI, I cannot recall seeing any troops other than those of the CAC wearing Fatigue Hats. In addition, if you look at the figures listed above, the quantities of Fatigue Hats on hand at the end of each year were disproportionately lower than the quantity of coats and trousers on hand. To me, this indicates that they were issued to or needed by far fewer troops.

 

Does anybody have any thoughts or comments?

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world war I nerd

If anyone is still interested in fatigue clothing, I posted a new topic in the WW I Forum, at:

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/202093-us-army-fatigue-clothing-1904-to-1919/?p=1578154

 

on the evolution of U.S. Army fatigue clothing between 1904 and 1919. It is based on the discussion and information posted in this thread.

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post-5143-0-12066300-1392616327.jpg

 

 

What type of coat are the two men on the right wearing? I have never seen one of those before. It looks like the short officer's overcoats from WWII (which I thought were designed in the late 1920's, 1926 perhaps?).

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world war I nerd

The two artillery men on the left are wearing a short overcoat called a Mackinaw. I haven't found anything official about this type of garment, but I'm pretty sure they began to be issued in 1917 or 1918, as I've never seen one in a photograph prior to WW I.

 

Mackinaws were issued to troops whose duties made wearing the longer and bulkier 1917 and 1918 pattern overcoats unpractical. They frequently show up being worn by engineers, truck and wagon drivers and dispatch riders.

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The two artillery men on the left are wearing a short overcoat called a Mackinaw. I haven't found anything official about this type of garment, but I'm pretty sure they began to be issued in 1917 or 1918, as I've never seen one in a photograph prior to WW I.

 

Mackinaws were issued to troops whose duties made wearing the longer and bulkier 1917 and 1918 pattern overcoats unpractical. They frequently show up being worn by engineers, truck and wagon drivers and dispatch riders.

 

Do you know how common or not they are? I'm definitely going to put it on my list of things to keep an eye out for.

 

Don't forget Douglas MacArthur was fond of the mackinaw too. Several WWI photos document his wearing of them.

 

RC

 

I can see why! They are good looking coats! I actually know the pictures you are talking about and have never made the connection, unfortunately, he is sitting in the only high res one I can find...

 

 

TakKrPE.jpg

 

 

But I grabbed a few more anyway.

 

 

beDf1PS.jpg

 

 

ESHK1Bd.jpg

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