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Ranger-1972

What collar insignia was worn by Army Artillery officers in WWII

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I acquired a M1942 officer's uniform (with the vented pleats at the back) worn by a field artillery officer who served with First Army in WWII. He obviously continued to wear the same uniform long after the war, because his overseas bars are on the right sleeve (which did not happen until 1953). The uniform has a First Army insignia on the right sleeve, and a Fourth Army insignia on the left sleeve. The right sleeve also has four overseas bars and a Meritorious Service Unit Insignia (wreath) - probably the one awarded to Fourth Army, since it did not serve in combat during WWII.

 

First Army Artillery was led by BG Charles E. Hart, who wrote an article in Military Review in September 1945. The First Army Artillery consisted of the First Army Artillery Section (Hart plus 3 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels, 5 majors, 4 captains, 2 lieutenants, 17 warrant officers, 40 enlisted men), the 32nd Field Artillery Brigade with two subordinate Field Artillery Groups (3rd FA Group and 11th FA Group), each with two FA battalions of 240mm howitzers (551st FA Bn, 552nd FA Bn, 742nd FA Bn & ??), and two additional separate FA battalions of 8" guns (153rd FA Bn and 268th FA Bn). These provided reinforcing fires to the Field Artillery Groups that were habitually associated with the corps of the First Army. The Corps-level Field Artillery Groups were equipped with 155mm howitzer battalions, 155mm gun battalions, 8" howitzer battalions, 4.5" gun battalions, and provided general support to the division artilleries.

 

Presumably, officers who had served in Field Artillery Groups at the corps level would wear the corps' patch on their right sleeve, rather than the First Army patch.

 

Unfortunately, the uniform only has the officer's initials -- not his full name -- so I cannot determine in which unit he served. In any case, I've found it very difficult to find the names of officers who served in the First Army Artillery Section (at HQ), the 32nd FA Brigade, the 3rd or 11th FA Groups, or the individual heavy artillery battalions.

 

I'm trying to build the uniform to what it would have looked like in 1953. The surface-to-air missile was not adopted for wear by Field Artillery officers until 1958, so in 1953 this officer would still be wearing just the crossed cannon insignia on the lapels of his jacket.

 

Officers who had served at the division artillery level frequently wore the regimental number above their crossed cannon.

 

Does anyone know if that practice was also followed by officers who had served at the Army artillery level (e.g., crossed cannon with the numbers 32 above, for 32nd FA Bde -- or was that reserved for officers who had served in the 32nd FA Bn in North Africa & Europe)? Or a number 3 or 11 above, with the letters GP beneath, for the 3rd FA Group or 11th FA Group?

 

Or would they have just worn the plain crossed cannon collar insignia?

 

Thanks.

 

 

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In my original post, I indicated it was a M1942 jacket, which is not technically correct.

 

 

The male officer's winter service uniform in 1941 consisted of a 4 button, 4 pocket coat of finer wool fabric in olive drab shade No. 51 ("dark-shade" i.e. a very dark forest green with brownish hue), nicknamed "greens". The coat was worn with a russet brown leather Sam Brown belt until 1942 when the leather belt was replaced by a cloth belt of matching fabric to the coat. Officers could wear trousers matching the color and fabric of the coat, or optionally they were allowed taupe colored, trousers, officially called "drab shade 54", of the same material as the coat, nicknamed "pinks", leading to the nickname "pinks and greens" for the iconic combination.

 

Since 1939, the coats for officers and enlisted men had included a pair of pleats by each shoulder that gave extended freedom of movement to the wearer. It was suggested by the Office of the Quartermaster General (OQMG) that the bi-swing back could be eliminated to improve the appearance of the garment and to decrease the cost of manufacture and to save on wool. In June 1942 the "Revised Service Coat" was adopted. It no longer had the bi-swing back and the lower pockets became a simplified interior type with an exterior flap.

 

This coat has the bi-swing pleats at the shoulders, the cloth belt, and the lower interior pockets with an exterior flap. The uniform set came with a matching pair of dark trousers (not the 'pinks'). So it seems to date from 1942.

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To make it easier on yourself go with the Crossed Cannons without any numbers, simply because it's impossible to say what battalion he was in in 1953,, However Rank will be a problem though, Captain or a Major, or............ Ditto on Ribbons. As far as the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque, while it could be for the unit he ws with in WWII, and wears it as a permanent award which he's entitled to, also bear in mind that in the 50s 4th Army controlled Field Artillery Battalion, quite a few of them, this would be at Fort Sill Oklahoma, so in theory the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque, could be for one of the battalions this guy was in while in the 4th Army, whose units also are entitled to wear the badge, in this case as a permanent unit award, the battalion in question having fought in the war, and now in the 50s is back home now under 4th Army.

 

4th Army continued to control Artillery Battalions till around 1964-1965 or so, when replaced with this command and control by III Corps, the famous III Corps Artillery Fort Sill.

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Thanks - that makes sense.

WRT ribbons, I figured the Occupation ribbon (First Army HQ was initially slated to go from Europe to the Pacific to participate in Operation Downfall in 1946, but after 11 straight months in combat, many individuals transferred to Third Army or Ninth Army, rather than opt to fight another foe), the WWII Victory Medal ribbon, the American Theater ribbon, and the European Theater ribbon (with four stars - Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe). He might have earned a Bronze Star in Europe, especially if he was in one of the FA Groups under First Army Artillery. Likewise, he could have served in Korea -- but it seems unlikely he would wear a First Army patch on the right sleeve if he had been in combat in Korea.

 

 

This officer could be Regular Army or AUS -- it wasn't until 1957 that Eisenhower RIFed all the AUS officers on active duty, realizing that in 1958 they would reach 18 years of Federal service (since Roosevelt's call up of the National Guard in 1940) and be locked in for retirement.

 

If he had been a captain in WWII, chances are he was at least a major by 1953. If he had been a major in WWII, chances are he was a lieutenant colonel by 1953.

 

If a company-grade officer, he probably was awarded an Army Commendation Medal at some time between when it was approved (Dec 1945) and 1953. The Meritorious Service Medal was not approved until 1968. If a field-grade officer, he may have been awarded a Legion of Merit (that was the only award above the ARCOM until 1968).

 

Thanks again.

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Thanks - that makes sense.

WRT ribbons, I figured the Occupation ribbon (First Army HQ was initially slated to go from Europe to the Pacific to participate in Operation Downfall in 1946, but after 11 straight months in combat, many individuals transferred to Third Army or Ninth Army, rather than opt to fight another foe), the WWII Victory Medal ribbon, the American Theater ribbon, and the European Theater ribbon (with four stars - Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe). He might have earned a Bronze Star in Europe, especially if he was in one of the FA Groups under First Army Artillery. Likewise, he could have served in Korea -- but it seems unlikely he would wear a First Army patch on the right sleeve if he had been in combat in Korea.

 

 

This officer could be Regular Army or AUS -- it wasn't until 1957 that Eisenhower RIFed all the AUS officers on active duty, realizing that in 1958 they would reach 18 years of Federal service (since Roosevelt's call up of the National Guard in 1940) and be locked in for retirement.

 

If he had been a captain in WWII, chances are he was at least a major by 1953. If he had been a major in WWII, chances are he was a lieutenant colonel by 1953.

 

If a company-grade officer, he probably was awarded an Army Commendation Medal at some time between when it was approved (Dec 1945) and 1953. The Meritorious Service Medal was not approved until 1968. If a field-grade officer, he may have been awarded a Legion of Merit (that was the only award above the ARCOM until 1968).

 

Thanks again.

Good analysis.

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