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WWII cold weather footwear.


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Seems that the USGI has the choice of shoepac's or overshoes.

 

I understand that overshoe's are the early answer... but I have found only 1 vendor that has them and they are maybe 75% accurate.

 

Anyone have any idea what was more prevalent (of the books I have read it seems split 50/50 if they were available at all).

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Nothing scientific about this, just my opinion, but over the years I have always had the feeling of seeing more overshoes in ETO pics. However, while looking through the LIFE Magazine photos recently posted on Google, I saw an unusual large quantity of Shoepacs. A much higher percentage than encountered in the past.

 

About 25 years ago there were some overshoes available on the surplus market and you could find a pair if you really wanted them but at the same time Shoepacs were available in large quantities on the surplus market and easy to find. Both styles were usually in new condition.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the question is not what was more prevalent. Yes, overshoes were used even before WWII (all rubber first, then with cloth top), but shoepacs appeared very early in WWII and they were issued in large numbers (10", 12" and 16" models). Shoepacs were popular with front line troops, because they were more comfortable and suitable for longer marching. The overshoes did not fit so well, especially on slippery terrain, in mud or snow. But in winter 1944/1945 in Ardennes or on Italian front the US soldiers wore everything what they were able to get. Lucky one who got a pair of "unpopular" overshoes. 50/50? Who cares? ;)

You can find shoepacs or overshoes on ebay, but beware of repros. Some overshoes reproductions are very well made. Try to look at boots in "vintage clothing" section on ebay. From time to time you can find there a pair of overshoes for a reasonable price.

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One thing that I find odd is would a sojer toss out his boots for a shoepac? At least with overshoes you still had boots. With shoepacs you have a 'winter boot' but that also entailed trying to find regular boots when needed.

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One thing that I find odd is would a sojer toss out his boots for a shoepac? At least with overshoes you still had boots. With shoepacs you have a 'winter boot' but that also entailed trying to find regular boots when needed.

 

I seriously doubt a Soldier would "toss out" his regular boots in lieu of a pair of shoepacs. Shoepacs were intended to augment the issued boots, not replace them. As related above, there were a lot of Soldiers in the Ardenne Forest in December of 1944 who would have been happy to have had either, especially among those in the 101st Airborne, hurried into the fighting in Bastogne not so fully equipped as they maybe could and should have been.

 

Even today's army issues separate cold weather boots to Soldiers stationed at posts that have cold winters. When I was at Ft Carson in Colorado, and again in Germany, I would be issued a pair of Boots, Cold Weather. These were black leather boots, lined with Goretex or Thinsulate. Also issued, were GRO's... Green Rubber Overboots. These were usually issued two full sizes larger than the combat boot and were meant to be worn over the combat boot, not the cold weather boots. They are issued, much like the Shoepacs and overboots in WW II... to augment, not so much as replace.

 

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They also issued Blucher Boots which were almost knee high, made of highly greased leather. These had insoles, and supposed to have came with one pair of cushion sole socks, and one pair of wool ski socks. The shoe pac made in low, med. and high (16 inch) heights, also had insoles, but your feet really sweat in them. You really needed to take them off at night, and change socks if possible. Be aware I used to find several pairs of Korean War shoe pacs to every one WWII pair. They were very few dfferences between the Korean and WWII shoe pacs. My shoe pacs are a 1944 Model and a 1952 dated pair. I had trouble finding the insoles.

 

Rubber overshoes were adopted in 1918, and adopted well before the war as the Artic overshoe 4 buckles. By 1940 they began to produce the canvas or cloth and rubber overshoe, because of the scarcity of rubber owing to the Japanese expansions, also had 4 buckles. An all rubber overshoe was produced in 1945 with five buckles. I am sure that WWI overshoes were issued, because the Army always issued items until they ran out of them. There were also the Artic double buckle, in white, and I'm not sure of the issue date.

 

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One thing that I find odd is would a sojer toss out his boots for a shoepac? At least with overshoes you still had boots. With shoepacs you have a 'winter boot' but that also entailed trying to find regular boots when needed.

What's a "sojer?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

The shoepac may have been "better for marching" than the overshoes, but it was not good enough. It seemed the testing before finalization of the design had not considered the added weight of a combat dogface's load in the field and sustained footmarches with loads caused various foot problems. IIRC that is why there are differences in the shape of the sole and heel and the tread pattern, and maybe internal differences between the various vintages/patterns. Someone told me that the eralier types were flushed out into the surplus market because the Army no longer wanted the "inferior" style issued.

 

Further, a WWII supply sgt told me that shoepacs were supposed to be issued one full size larger than the recipient's usual boot size, to allow for thicker/more sox, as additional pading helped mitigate the foot problems inherent to heavy field use.

 

A 17th Abn vet (para FA) of The Bulge told me that his outfit was faced with big piles of overshoes dumped by the side of the road, for their use, but that they were all "giant" sizes, so the GIs were passing them up. Unitl he, a depression kid from coal-mining country in Appalachia, showed how to take "clown boots" and stuff them with wadded up newspapers and burlap to make them wearable and add more insulation. The result was that he could tell, in the snow, where his company had been -- from the huge footprints from size 14 and up overshoes. He wondered if Germans passing by had noticed and thought the Amerikaners were all giants...

 

He also said his comrades stripped shoepacs from dead GIs and jackboots from dead krauts, and took any sox they could find. They were very afraid of trenchfoot and frosbite, not without reason.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I'm not trying to get off the subject of bluchers, just thought I'd throw in a some pics of my shoepacs, hightop and almost virginal, can't find a date on them, size 13, I got big feet, size 10 1/2 to 11, so I can wear about 3-4 pair wool socks in them.

 

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That is a nice pair of boots. I'm not sure of a date but that is the early (1ST) pattern sole. The later soles had a raised ridge to give better traction. It is the same pattern sole carried over to the Mickey Mouse boots as the first pattern sole. The soles of your boots wore smooth and got lousy traction on snow, ice and mud.

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Thanks for the info Craig! thumbsup.gif You're a pretty handy guy to have around, seems like you know everything from AAC qualification bars to posting M1912 pistol belts in the wrong section, keep up the good work. ;)

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  • 4 years later...

Seems that the USGI has the choice of shoepac's or overshoes.

 

I understand that overshoe's are the early answer... but I have found only 1 vendor that has them and they are maybe 75% accurate.

 

Anyone have any idea what was more prevalent (of the books I have read it seems split 50/50 if they were available at all).

By choice you of course mean whatever was thrown off the back of a truck at them and managed to fit. I think the shoe-pack vs. overshoes was whatever was issued to the unit as a whole. I have heard the story several times that during the bulge these boots arrived at the front heaped in trucks. They were taken forward and dumped....where the GI's scrambled to get a pair that fit them. I think at the time of the bulge the overshoes were more common just based on pictures....wraping old blankets around your normal boots was also a method seen during that time. I had one bulge vet tell me the boots finally made it to them in Feb 1945...and by that tim weren't really needed. The Shoepac's continued to be used in to Korea.

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Thanks for your answer Baron

But I did not understand if these boots can be considered original wartime or not.

 

In some pics on italian campaign (gothic line 1944-45), some GI were wearing a pair of boots like them.

 

Simone

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Simone-

Your boots would be correct for a WWII display. I can't date them without seeing the writing on the inside of the boot. They made these boots during Korea in the early 1950's as well. All that would be different is the date...to us collectors it means a lot, but if you put them out at a display for the public they would still be correct.

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Simone-

Your boots would be correct for a WWII display. I can't date them without seeing the writing on the inside of the boot. They made these boots during Korea in the early 1950's as well. All that would be different is the date...to us collectors it means a lot, but if you put them out at a display for the public they would still be correct.

 

Thank you very much

Inside the boot i don't see any date.

Only a "12", in yellow paint...i think, the size.

 

Simone

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  • 7 years later...

Hello guys. Can anyone give me the details to look for, for an original pair of canvas and rubber overshoes? I bought a pair on eBay and they have not arrived yet, but would like to know if I got ripped off or not. From what I can tell with limited research available on the subject, I think they are original, but I'd like to be sure. Does anyone have first hand knowledge on these, or maybe a link that would give me the info so I can compare? Below are pics of the ones I purchased. I would greatly appreciate any help on the subject!Thanks gentlemen!    

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