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USN dark blue work shirt dating question

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I've come across a series of images of merchant seamen wearing various uniform items - the caption on this photos stated it was from the 1940s. My question would be - from when in the 1940s. Were dark blue wool work shirts worn prior to or during the Second World War? I suspect the shirt is Navy-issue since the buttons have anchors on them.

What do you think?

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Many thanks! After further inspection, the photo indicates it was taken aboard the SS America - so it would be circa 1940-41. It is weird that the merchant seaman shirt and Navy version were dissimilar.

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In 1928, the USN spec was changed from no pockets to two pockets, then in 1941 it went to a single pocket. So there were probably a lot of two-pocket around in WW2. Plus there were probably a number of civilian versions and variations, and if wash khaki is any example, the USN wasn't too picky about the details of shirts back then.

 

Justin B.


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In 1928, the USN spec was changed from no pockets to two pockets, then in 1941 it went to a single pocket. So there were probably a lot of two-pocket around in WW2. Plus there were probably a number of civilian versions and variations, and if wash khaki is any example, the USN wasn't too picky about the details of shirts back then.

 

Justin B.

 

Could you post the specifications references, please? This is quite interesting - why would the USN change the pockets from none, to two, to one? I always thought the Navy was pretty stringent about the use of its buttons, too. This is why the existence of this shirt threw me for a loop.

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Could you post the specifications references, please? This is quite interesting - why would the USN change the pockets from none, to two, to one? I always thought the Navy was pretty stringent about the use of its buttons, too. This is why the existence of this shirt threw me for a loop.

 

The blue flannel shirt in the WW1 period (1917 Regulations) sounds fairly basic, with only three buttons:

https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b3078263?urlappend=%3Bseq=62

 

It was not specified in the original 1922 Uniform Regs, though they did allow "blue shirts with soft blue turn-down collars" to be worn if authorized by the senior officer, so presumably private-purchase blue flannel was OK. Change No. 1 of 12 November 1924 gave detailed specs, which can be seen here:

https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uiug.30112119813852?urlappend=%3Bseq=39

 

I can't find a date right now for Change No. 5, which specified two pockets with flaps, but it was between Change No. 4 in 1927 and Change No. 6 in 1929. Here are those pages form a later edition:

 

post-3982-0-68368600-1538435577_thumb.jpg

 

In 1941, the specific details for enlisted clothing started to be handled through contract specs on the procurement side, and were left out of the Uniform Regulations. The one-pocket shirt was illustrated, though:

https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015031487302?urlappend=%3Bseq=69

 

About the buttons, yes, the ones with the eagle were definitely for the Navy only, but a plain anchor was also a generic maritime symbol so I don't know if it would be a big deal if the same kind were used by merchant mariners. Or manufacturers might have made similar buttons, but not exactly the same, for sale to civilians.

 

Edit: Forgot to add, why did they change the pockets? My guess is people wanted them for convenience so they added them, but then someone decided they could save a lot of material if they used just one. But that's just a guess.

 

 

Justin B.


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This is very interesting! Ive seen these shirts. Seen them in photos of CPOs wearing them when the rest of the crew is in Undress Blue, ( CPOs wearing them, open collar, no tie, but with coat.

 

Ive seen these shirts pop up, with, or without pocket(s, 1or 2), since about 1863. Always pull over (For Navy). Deep collar placket, (3-4 button).

 

The USN shortly revived them (in Melton wool), in the early 1970s,with full open/ button down fronts, in the 1970s, whim they could not produce enough CPO style uniforms for recruits.

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In the 1947 U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, it calls for a blue flannel shirt "of conventional design" but it does not mention the number of pockets. For the blue chambray shirt, there is mention of one patch pocket. In looking who may wear said flannel shirt, it is reserved for Chief Petty Officers and Officers.

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In the 1947 U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, it calls for a blue flannel shirt "of conventional design" but it does not mention the number of pockets. For the blue chambray shirt, there is mention of one patch pocket. In looking who may wear said flannel shirt, it is reserved for Chief Petty Officers and Officers.

. It was always my understanding that this shirt was the CPO/Officer equivalent of the Undress blue jumper. Additionally, all the originals (WW2 era) were pull overs, with a deep button placket. But I have seen very few, and these are that Obscure item. I had a woolen neck scarf once, while on active duty. Just like the Army issue one, but in dark Navy Blue. Had a regulation tag and all. Never saw one before or since.

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I have one of the blue one pocket shirts

They are great.

My wife likes it.

So it must be good.


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For officers and chiefs, the blue flannel was originally an accessory to make a warmer version of service dress blue (or undress blue for CPOs when that was the terminology) when that was still everyday wear at sea. Of course the coat would not always be worn for work, which was authorized in the regulations of 1913 and 1917. In 1922, officers had changed to blues with shirt and tie, so they were also authorized to wear the flannel, but the regs became more vague about wearing the shirt without the coat. In the 1941 regs it was listed for officers as the "blue flannel (chief petty officer) shirt." In the '47 and '51 regs, the optional flannel shirt was listed as a variation of SDB. In '59 collar rank was added and the blue shirt without coat became its own thing, "working blue," but still optional. In the major 1975 changes it became required, with tie and ribbons as "winter blue," and without tie or ribbons as "working blue."

I had a woolen neck scarf once, while on active duty. Just like the Army issue one, but in dark Navy Blue. Had a regulation tag and all. Never saw one before or since.


A blue wool muffler appeared in the regs in 1947 for enlisted men and optional for officers/chiefs at sea. "Muffler" changed to "scarf" in 1951.


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Up until, 1975 or such, wasnt this shirt Optional ? I would think by the early 1949s, it may have fallen by the way side, in favor of the khakis as Work Wear. I know that the WW2 Era shirt was actually a pull over with a deep placket, while the 1975 version was a full shirt. I never got one of those, although now I wish I had kicked over the Bucks and got them instead of the Bancroft/Flying Cross versions. Id still be wearing them!

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To be honest, these shirts without collar devices/tie/ ribbons and badges, was on Shore Patrol. ( post 1975)

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Surprisingly, the winter working blue (CPO shirt) was one of the first uniform items that went with the 1976 change over in Coast Guard uniforms.. It was made of either double knit or garbadine material. The original CG service dress blue uniform, from '76 to about '86 was either garbadine or optional doubleknit. The winter blue was an undress blue uniform, worn only with collar insignia and a necktie. Sometime in the mid 1980s the CG added ribbons and it became a winter dress uniform..

 

I managed to pick up a USN CPO heavy flannel shirt at the Pier 90 small store in Seattle around 1975. Wanted it strictly for a good heavy outdoor shirt for fishing season. It was excellent..

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Earlier I mentioned that officer rank on the collar wasn't authorized till 1959, but as is often the case the regulations were just catching up to what was actually being worn! Here is a commander or lt. commander with rank pins on the blue flannel collar in 1943, USS Salt Lake City:

 

post-3982-0-97577200-1543361451_thumb.jpg

 

https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/80-G-50000/80-G-50209.html

 


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Full photo, with officers in cold weather gear and wardroom stewards in whites:

 

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I thought this was interesting for USN cold-weather shirts, a USN captain (Leslie Gehres, COMPATWING FOUR) wearing an army enlisted OD wool shirt in the Aleutians, 1942.

 

usn_od_wool_1942.jpg

 

https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/alphabetical---donations0/g/ua-480-04-radm-leslie-e--gehres-collection.html. Squids! Back in the day, we didnt worry about regulations. If it worked, if we could get our hands on it, use it! Had snnXO, who off Korea in the winter, wore an orange and Teal snowmobile duit with a red and black Tobogan cap.

 

 

 

 

 

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Another shot of blue flannel shirts with officer collar devices in WW2, but this time in the Pacific in 1945. One officer is wearing the blue shirt with khaki pants and garrison cap. Admiral Halsey may be wearing a USMC Vandegrift jacket? Must have been a cool day!

 

post-3982-0-65690500-1565462981_thumb.jpg

 

https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nara-series/80-g/80-G-330000/80-G-335794.html

 


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The Western Pacific is not always a tropical paradise as most land lubbers assume it is.

 

It's gets mighty cold and windy out on the sea, especially in the North Pacific around Japan and Korea

 

Oh I know, but the vast majority of photos you see are wash khakis and dungrees. It's good to see some of the variety.


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Noticed that the original printing of the 1930 USCG Uniform regulation described the flannel shirt as earlier noted in the UNS regs with 2 patch pockets on the chest. A change to CG regs in Nov 1938 changed the style back to the one chest pocket on the left side..

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