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How skinny were sailors during WW2?


Flashlarue

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I have seen a lot of small WW2 sailor uniforms but this Petty Officer's uniform has to be near the record. I measured the waist band on the pants at 26 inches and a 32 in inseam which go with this top. I was skinny as a rail when I graduated high school but I had a 29 inch waist. The only marking on the top and pants is the stapled on tag shown and one just like it on the pants.

 

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old wool uniforms shrink over time. my grandfather is my size and i have his uniform. it fits a small child haha

Please explain how old wool shrinks over time.

 

Granted if it was laundered and dried with heat it will shrink.

 

People back then wear a different size and so was clothing as far as cut and style. Typically a size 42 today will not always fit a size 42 from World War II. I had tried to get a uniform for a little bit and he told me he wanted a size 42 as that's what he wore in a suit coat. I found him a size 44 in a knight jacket and it did not fit he would need something equivalent to a size 48. This said a lot of the sailors were fairly small back then. And you don't see very large uniforms but I have never seen something shrink just from being stored away in a Footlocker or a closet for several years other than too many cheeseburgers will cause shrinkage

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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The smallest I have in the collection is around a size 32/34 jumper, it barely fits on my small mannequin. The style was to wear these things as tightly as possible, by the end of the war. I always remember that a lot of these guys were only 17 or 18 when they went into the Navy, and after growing up during the Depression. A nutrient poor diet can severely impact physical growth, and times were tough in the 1930s.

In memory of Dr. Leo P. Krall, USPHS
USS Uniontown (PF-65)

Interested in uniforms / groupings from Massachusetts and New England veterans

(particularly 26th "Yankee" Division), and original propaganda leaflets from WWI and WWII.

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I cannot explain why but I do know that these old Navy jumpers do shrink. Can someone elaborate?

 

 

Cheese burgers,pizza and Budwieser... its the fate of all clothing

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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They wore them form fitting, especially later on. As someone in the link points out, the early jumpers were supposed to be worn bloused over the top of the trousers (hence the draw-string) but that was dropped in 1944, and aside from fleet style which it seems the better fit was considered to be 'sharp', guys weren't huge to begin with. You have to remember that a lot of guys in WWII weren't old enough to vote, so they were still growing.

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/248208-why-are-navy-jumpers-so-much-smaller-than-army-jackets/

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Cheese burgers,pizza and Budwieser... its the fate of all clothing

 

So true Ron.

Not many people can fit into clothes they wore when they were teenagers.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Great info rusty

 

As I recall there was a size(weight/height) limitation for those who served on submarines too.

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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Some things to keep in mind. Most of those uniforms went to "Depression" Kids. They grew up on beans and cornbread for the most part. Very little protine. My father said the first time he had beef was when he joined the Navy. He was 5'11 and at 145 pounds, considered himself a "Fat A$$! He had a set of blues made in 1965, and was shocked when the tailor measured his waist as a 32. He was pretty standard for his time. My uncles were pretty much all the same.

 

Another thing is that about 20 years ago, the garment industry started "Vanity Sizing". Basically, they started lowering the numbers to make us feel better about ourselves. I wear size 38 trousers. My waist actually measures out to 40. But, size 40 falls off. I reproduce Naval uniforms, so I'm pretty good with a tape measure.

 

And finally, as has been mentioned, the WW2 era Sailors generally, wore their blues and whites skin tight. Almost every jumper I've had my hands on from that time has been altered a bit. Either professionally tailor, or simply pinched in on the side seams and run through a sewing machine. This includes trousers.

 

As an aside, while surveying an original American Civil War Sailors uniform for a collector, we measured it out. The Sailor was 6 feet tall. He had a 38 chest, (based on the standard of 3 inches of ease in the jumper), a 28 waist with a 32 inseam. Most ACW Navy uniforms we measured were in that same neighborhood with varying inseam and sleeve length.

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I'm guessing this swabbie didn't get the memo on 'depression era eating habits'.

 

 

Depends on the definition of "depression eating"...

In memory of Dr. Leo P. Krall, USPHS
USS Uniontown (PF-65)

Interested in uniforms / groupings from Massachusetts and New England veterans

(particularly 26th "Yankee" Division), and original propaganda leaflets from WWI and WWII.

donation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

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have come across many uniforms that were barely big enough for a kid.....

 

he had a thyroid issue

 

times, diet, and activity has changed , generally speaking...give a kid a .22 rifle and an ax in 1935, he knew what to do with it, generally speaking...try giving a kid them today and you would go to jail...

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Of course, there were bigger Ssilors. Lots of original photos show these guys. But, most were not the norm. The OPwas commenting on why so many original uniforms were so small.

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Salvage Sailor

Some things to keep in mind. Most of those uniforms went to "Depression" Kids. They grew up on beans and cornbread for the most part. Very little protine. My father said the first time he had beef was when he joined the Navy. He was 5'11 and at 145 pounds, considered himself a "Fat sweetheart! He had a set of blues made in 1965, and was shocked when the tailor measured his waist as a 32. He was pretty standard for his time. My uncles were pretty much all the same.

 

Aye Steve,

 

In bootcamp I was 6'1" and only 132 lbs with a 30" waist.....

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attachicon.gifyanksailor.JPG

 

I'm guessing this swabbie didn't get the memo on 'depression era eating habits'.

 

 

;)

 

This was before the depression, but there are always exceptions to the rule. I never could find out what happened to the Chief, or when he retired, except that he was well loved by those who knew him. If his uniform were found in a thrift store now, many would likely assume it must be a reproduction. http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/159179-cpo-tony-augustus/?hl=1942

 

PS - Great image on the cover of that 'YANK' issue - his talker headphones still have the oft-missing chinstrap danging down one side.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Aye Steve,

 

In bootcamp I was 6'1" and only 132 lbs with a 30" waist.....

. I was 17 years old, 6 foot, 4 inches, 190 when I enlisted. My original blues were a 36 waist, 34 inseam with a 46 long jumper. Wish I could fit into those blues today. When I retired, I wore 40 trousers and a 48 coat (CPO). I still fit those, but I do dearly love me a set of Jumper Dress Blues!

 

Something else I just remembered. My dad talked about his blues (Dress and Undress) having draw strings in the waist bands. He said most guys had those removed and the jumpers tailored in. He did not, preferring to pull the draw string tight, blousing the jumper. He used it as a pocket. He would take cigarettes ashore and sell them on the black market. His first ship was in Shang-hai, just at the end of WW2.

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Please explain how old wool shrinks over time.

 

Granted if it was laundered and dried with heat it will shrink.

 

People back then wear a different size and so was clothing as far as cut and style. Typically a size 42 today will not always fit a size 42 from World War II. I had tried to get a uniform for a little bit and he told me he wanted a size 42 as that's what he wore in a suit coat. I found him a size 44 in a knight jacket and it did not fit he would need something equivalent to a size 48. This said a lot of the sailors were fairly small back then. And you don't see very large uniforms but I have never seen something shrink just from being stored away in a Footlocker or a closet for several years other than too many cheeseburgers will cause shrinkage

 

The process is called felting. If you go check out the Tartan Authority website, there is a detailed, multi-part post from the early 1940s on the topic. Basically, moisture, agitation and heat will combined with the spun fiber and encourage it to return to it's natural state. It's why a Scottish yard was cut 38 inches at mills with regard to wool.

 

There are curing techniques that will ameliorate the shrinking, but it's the natural tendency of wool to shrink.

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And, yes, there were Sailors who were NOT 28 inch waistbandv32 inch chests. I remember reading, that during WW2, the average recruit GAINED 10 pounds!

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Following this, in my era, (VN) most of the guys in my age group were pretty much the same size. I didn't start to put on inches until I was in my 30s. I was a PO1 by then. Most WW2 uniforms ( that we are talking about) belonged to 18-24 year olds who went in for the war, then got out.

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And, yes, there were Sailors who were NOT 28 inch waistbandv32 inch chests. I remember reading, that during WW2, the average recruit GAINED 10 pounds!

 

 

I believe it! Between the drilling regimen and having a good meal each day (which many may not have had the luxury of during the depression), I can see that being very true.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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doinworkinvans

That yank cover is just great!

 

It also looks just like Abraham from the Walking Dead

Actively collecting:

13th USAAF uniforms and groups/medal groups!

307th BG, 5th BG, 11th BG, 42nd BG

Also looking for:

WWII Far East Air Force uniforms/groups!

Any Pacific Army Air Force Groups to 5th, 7th, 10th, 14th, 20th AAF

Collecting CBI and ATC Pacific Army Air Force groups

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USMF's custom photo resize tool:http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/229816-custom-resize-tool-exclusively-for-the-usmf/




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Also a nice late-war use of the early embroidered chevrons on the TM1c jumper at the start of the thread.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gif
donation2016.gifdonation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif

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