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1941 Life Magazine Color Photos of US Military uniforms

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Interesting that with the Navy Enlisted, two uniform items were dropped in 1940 (Station specific Cap Ribbon and left facing Rating Badge on left sleeve)

What does that Tally say Steve?

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I have no idea who this officer is, and you are right, he is highly decorated. In post #45 is a link to the Life Magazine that has the original article that used these photos. I read the article but they don't name any of the Soldiers, Sailors or Marines featured in the story.


Maybe some one out there can ID him.



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Military Police Officer. Notice the leather belt suspender straps.


Coast Artillery Corps officer, actually. This is the same First Lieutenant of the 207th CA as shown in your posts #1, 4, and 7. Some of his insignia and his accoutrements are shown in your posts # 9 and 10.

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Nice pics. Interesting that they chose Marines from the 5th and/or 6th Rgt to be models.




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Just shows the good taste and superior quality of US military uniforms of the time. Sadly, the current uniforms cant hold a candle to these. Note the British tailoring heritage in the Marine officer service uniforms. They are virtually the same as the British OSD but for color. And the Army officer pinks and greens where perhaps the best looking uniform in the world during the 20th century.

Todays uniforms look like modified polyester business suits covered with way too many cheap looking bits and pieces.



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USMC Dress Blues with White Cap. I am pretty sure this is General Holland Smith.

My Dad was an infantryman in the 27th Infantry Division on Saipan. So old Howlin Mad was almost a boogeyman to us. Dad had a reverence for General Ralph Smith, and a dislike of Gen Holland Smith almost matching what he had towards the Japanese.




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I'm gonna up this thread a lil bit! The thing is that I've found ALL these Life magazine photos in much more higher definition (in HD). And the main thing is that there are some more photos than presented here. And the funny thing is that all of these photos exist in 2 variations (edited for magazine and unedited originals). I have both of them. And also I have that Life magazine of May, 19, 1941 in PDF.


If anyone wanna see all colored uniforms photos made for LIFE - just lemme know. If anyone wanna have that magazine in PDF - just lemme know too.


P.S. all of the photos have original info.



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Army Officer's Mess Dress

This is actually the 1937 version of the Special Evening Dress uniform (tailcoat), rather than the Mess Dress uniform.


The mess uniform for an artillery officer had scarlet silk on the lapels, and was worn with sky blue trousers with a 1.5" wide scarlet stripe.


The evening dress uniform was the civilian cut tailcoat, with plain lapels, but with the same cuff braid and shoulder knots as worn on the mess jacket. It was worn with trousers made of the same color material as the coat, and with the gold-red-gold stripe on the trousers (center stripe being the color of the officer's branch of service).


The Special Evening Dress uniform (in various versions) was worn from 1902 - 1975 (with breaks from 1917-1929, and again from 1942-1948).


The 1937 version of the Special Evening Dress uniform shown in the LIFE magazine photo differed from the pre-WWI (1902-1917) Special Evening Dress coat in that the branch color was shown on the sleeve between two bands of gold vellum lace (the earlier version was a solid band of gold lace around the cuff). Like the pre-WWI uniform, only two buttons were worn on each side of the front. This (and the blue mess jacket) became mandatory in 1938 and was discontinued during WWII).


In the 1937 Circular and in AR600-38 (17 Aug 1938), all officers were to wear dark blue trousers with the special evening dress uniform. Officers (below the rank of general) to wear a stipe, 1” wide, consisting of two 5/16 inch outer stripes of two-vellum gold lace with an inner grosgrain silk stripe of the first-named color of the arm or service.


Likewise, the 1937 Circular and 1938 Regulation prescribed the wear of a white pique vest (with small gold buttons) with the Special Evening Dress uniform.


A full-dress shirt with collar, gold studs, and a bow tie (with square ends) was also prescribed.

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Army Coast Artillery Officer Mess Dress with cape. Nice looking uniform.

This officer is also wearing the Special Evening Dress uniform under his cape.


If it was the mess jacket, you would be able to see the scarlet silk on the lapels.


Here is a link to a photo of Major Henri Luebberman, Cavalry, wearing his mess uniform at the National Horse Show ball in 1941 (I cannot get the photo itself to load):



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