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USMC P41 Patch Pocket Trousers: Were they the first trouser variant issued to marines in WW2?


SouthShore 8754

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SouthShore 8754

I haven't been able to find much information on the USMC P41 "Third Pattern" trousers that had the patch pockets. There is only one post on the forum that shows a picture of these and the post only mentions they were the "Third Pattern". Does any one  know if the third pattern with the patch pockets was the first style to be issued to marines early in the war or were they issued along with the other variants (1st, 2nd patterns) around the same time? I'd greatly appreciate some input on this, as there is not much information about these trousers online and they don't seem to pop up as often as the other  1st, 2nd and 4th pattern variants.

 

I'll post some photos below that show this third pattern variant being worn throughout the war. Just thought I'd ask because Harlan Glenn's book and Grunt Gear make no mention as to if they were the earliest variant that was issued to the marines. There is also a Marine Corps document from WW2 that a forum member posted in the past that only mentions they were a third pattern variant. 

 

 

 

 

 

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SouthShore 8754

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This photo is from Glenn's book, photo might have been taken early war in the Solomon Islands based on the paint on their dungarees. 

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I posted a similar question about the second pattern USMC P41 trousers.

 

 

 

 

There doesn’t seem to be any information on contract dates on any of the three patterns.  There was some discussion on the double layered waistband on the 1st pattern being either pre or post WWII.  Like yourself I would like to see contract dates.  My GUESS from viewing the pictures you posted and the date stamp on the pair I have is that we can assume the both the 2nd and 3rd patterns were used throughout the war.

 

I would be curious if yours have any manufacture markings on the inside.  Try using night vision camera to find out.  BTW your trousers are an excellent example of the square pocket variant and seem to be very hard to come across.

 

Craig

 

Thank you to all that have served our country and to your families that have sacrificed without your presence at home. Thank you to all that have given their lives for my freedom and to their families that suffer. May God bless you!

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SouthShore 8754

Hi Craig, thanks for replying to the thread. The only thread on here I found on the third pattern trousers was this reference thread; that also was mentioned in your thread you attached: https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5935-usmc-p1941-p1944-hbt-utility-trousers/&tab=comments#comment-36437  

 

According to the author of the thread, the third pattern P41 trousers didn't have size or maker marks. The third pattern pair that I posted above doesn't have any maker marks or size marks on the inside either.  The only mark is an old stamp from the western costume company. I agree that it would be nice to know which companies manufactured the different trouser variants.  I'll post more pictures of the inside of the trousers later.

 

Maybe there are no maker or size marks on the third pattern because all known examples have been issued and worn? It would be interesting if any forum members have mint pairs of these third pattern trousers that they could post to this thread for others to use as a reference and to confirm that they indeed had no size/maker markings.

 

It would be nice to know which variants were the first ones issued out to marines in 1941-1942, rather than just having to go on collector myths. I think its safe to say based on the photos that the third pattern variant was issued at least from mid 1942 through the end of the war.. It seems as if the patterns had nothing to do with the order of manufacture since the second pattern example you posted clearly says 1942 and there has been speculation on if the first pattern variant is a true WW2 example. Hopefully more people who are knowledgeable will comment and shed some light on this obscure topic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like the classic example of collectors naming something totally incorrectly. Like “first pattern” USMC helmet covers not being the first pattern at all. 
 

Seems like if you can find pictures of these in use on the Canal that’s a pretty good argument they were the first, or one of the first and just a different manufacturer than the other variants. 

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In regards to the patch front pocket USMC trousers:  I've attached a photo of an unissued pair.  They do not have a  contractor's label, just an ink stamp showing the size 34x33. I will say also that the buttons are the magnetic type with a copper wash.  I mention this because, apparently, there was a progression of different kinds of buttons used on these uniforms that may help date them.  I've yet to see this type of trouser with a contractor's label. However, the pin tickets that the USMC used often included the last two digits of the year of manufacture and in this case it is 1942.  Unfortunately, it seems, the vast majority of the WW2 USMC utility trouser go undated.  The earliest dated pair I've seen were the internally hung pocket type and had the contract information  Nom 36581, 30 June 1942, and were made by Keystone Coat & Apron Mfg Co.  I have 2 books on USMC clothing and one calls these a variant while the other suggest they are a first pattern.  I have the feeling they are a variant because of frequency  that they appear in period photos (as has been posted above) and I've seen additional photos as well.   You would think, though, they'd be seen a little more often today than they are based how much they appear in the period photos. Also, the fact that this same patch front pocket appears on the first version of the camouflage trousers, which didn't appear until 1942.  Maybe since a manufacturer was tooled up to make camo trousers with this kind of pocket, they made these in between orders to fill the excess need for regular trousers.  The camouflage uniforms don't  seem to have ever had a contractor's label in them either.  And then there were the variations created as a result of the trials faced in getting the needed uniform orders filled during the WW2 period as documented in the QMC study No. 16, Clothing The Soldier of World War II.  One example cited the side and center pleat pockets on Army HBT uniforms stemming from an incentive to get manufacturers that could not make the side pleat to accept contracts.  Another was altering of the specification for khaki cotton trousers so that single stitch side seam trousers could be made due to a lack of double stitch sewing machines.   The Marine Corps would have faced similar challenges in getting uniforms made. This is evident in this very same utility uniform where you can observe coats that have pockets attached with single lines of stitching and others with a double row.  Sometimes we see a variation of something and for some reason want to say this must have come before or after another type.  I hope this example contributes in some way and encourages others who may have the definitive answer to post. 

 

P.S. - I have a couple of examples of the separate waistband/watch pocket trousers showing contracts between 1949-52.  I will add them to this thread if anyone is interested. 

 

CR

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SouthShore 8754

@ Reuscher: Thanks for adding to the discussion and posting the image of an un-issued pair. I tend to agree, but cannot be for certain that they probably are a variant of the trousers that were made around mid 1942. I posted a photo below of a set of p42's next to the patch pocket trousers. They are very similar. Your logic makes sense, some of the company's that were producing the p42 trousers very well could have picked up additional contract(s) to meet the increased demand and made the patch pocket variant in a similar manner. Considering that both the P42's and patch pocket trouser variant do not have any manufacturer's labels on them (This is pure speculation though).  I'll have to dig out the book grunt gear to see when the p42's were put into production; can't remember off the top of my head. That could help put a date on them. I haven't put much thought into the progression of the buttons used on the uniforms, I know they used brass and the coating you talked about, but don't know any specific dates of implementation. I'll post an up-close image of the front and back of the buttons, not sure what type they are. 

 

Feel free to post the other photos of the waistband/watch pocket trousers from the late 40's to early 50's.

 

 

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SouthShore 8754

Just wanted to add a few thoughts to the post from yesterday. After looking over the book Grunt Gear, the theory that the patch pockets could have been made by the company that manufactured the P42's falls apart. According to the author of Grunt Gear:

 

" The firm that is believed to be the manufacturer of the Marine Corps Camouflage Utilities in WW2 was Mario G. Mirabelli incorporated of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Mirabelli Company had manufacturing facilities in both Elizabeth and Neptune New Jersey. This company manufactured uniforms almost exclusively for the U.S Navy of which most of the contracts were for the Marine Corps. From Febuary of 1941 until January of 1945 the Mirabelli Company won 29 uniform contracts.. (Tulkoff, 57)."

 

 The author then states that " Mirabelli submitted for several P1941 contracts, however, they were never awarded any. This means they had the equipment and the ability to manufacture the P1942 unfiorms. (Tulkoff, 58)." 

 

The timeline of your theory adds up, according to the book Grunt gear: " A December 22, 1942 memo from the commandant to The Quartermaster notes that 15,000 camouflage suits were en route to the San Fransico Depot and were to be delivered to the Third Division." Even though the patch pocket trousers and P42's were being produced around the same time, they were more than likely not manufactured by the same company (Mario G. Mirabelli) that made the P42's. I say the timeline adds up, because the Guadalcanal photo I referenced in my initial post was taken in October of 1942. I also found another photo of the patch pockets being worn on Guadalcanal in November of 1942 that I will post below. 

 

I think the fact that there were no maker marks on the trousers might provide a hint as to whom the manufacturer was. According to the book Grunt Gear:

 

 " The Marine Corps Depot at Philadelphia was also manufacturing the P1941 utility suit and its believed that only size markings were placed in the suits. The Philadelphia Depot was manufacturing these uniforms at a rate of 300-400 per week, according to a Division of Plans and Policies memo dated December 5, 1941 (Tulkoff, 10)." 

 

Those statements confirm that the depot was producing P1941 utilities in December of 1941, considering that they were producing uniforms that had only size markings and the patch pocket trousers had no makers marks; only size marks, the Philadelphia Depot could possibly be the entity that produced them and they possibly could be one of the first variants made (Besides the trousers made under contract Nom 32325). According to the book Grunt Gear, Contract Nom 32325 was the first documented contract that the Marine Corps QM department awarded to the company S Rosenbloom in November of 1941, the book displays a document showing that contract Nom 32325 was stared in December of 1941 and completed by March of 1942. So in light of these facts, the Patch pocket trousers may not have been the first variant issued out to Marines. 

 

Finally, (This is just speculation) a potential reason as to why not many pairs of the patch pocket variant do not exist today could be that they were manufactured by the QM Depot. If the QM depot were only cranking out 300-400 uniforms a week at the end of 1941;  thats not a whole lot compared to other companys like S. Rosenbloom that were were producing uniforms in quantities of 100,000 at a time during that time frame. Perhaps the patch pocket trousers could have had a limited manufacturing time span in 1941-1942, which could possibly explain the scarcity of them today.

@ Reuscher, I agree, hopefully someone who has a more extensive knowledge of this topic will comment and add to the discussion. At the very least, hopefully this post will help a collector who comes across this variant in the future. 

 

 

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SouthShore 8754

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Photo above shows Lt. Col. Stickney slicing a Thanksgiving day cake with a Japanese Samurai sword on Guadalcanal in November of 1942. The marine to the right of him is wearing the patch pocket P1941 trousers.

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I wanted to add to this discussion by posting a couple of examples of the watch pocket trousers that strongly suggest they are  a post-war iteration since the question of what number pattern these were was brought up.  None of these photos are mine.  They are from various eBay auctions that I saved for my own reference and education.

 

#1 A 1951 pair ink stamped on the inside watch pocket:

 

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Note this pair of trousers was made they Blue Anchor Overall Co., the manufacturer as the 1950s dated camouflage helmet covers:

 

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Some collectors refer to a P-47 utility set.  I always assumed that this is what they were referring to, but I'm not sure because the date is a little outside of what I focus on.  I'm not sure either whether any changes were made to the coat during the post-war years, or if you would be able to tell the difference between a WW2 and post-war coat other than possibly by the composition of the buttons.  One last example from a Sept. 2020 eBay Auction and  a complete set.  The trousers are dated 1949 on the pin ticket:

 

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SouthShore 8754 - thanks for your additional thoughts and photos on the patch pocket trousers.

 

I think another question that needs to be asked in regards to the patch pocket trousers and camouflage uniforms as well is - Why would S. Rosenbloom, Keystone C & A, Crown Overall, United Pants, Sure-Fit, et al. be required to label utility uniforms from 1941-45 and whoever made the patch pocket trousers and all of the camo uniforms not be required to also?  And Mario Mirabelli, for that matter,  did  label  other clothing items they manufactured for the Marine Corps.   Could it be possible that the patch pocket trousers and camo uniforms were all manufactured at the Marine Corps Depot in Philadelphia?  After all, that is how the Army's and Navy's clothing manufacturing plants operated during WW2.  If a garment was made at the Army's Philadelphia QM Depot, all it had was an inspector's label, no  name and contract number.  Same when made at the Naval Clothing Factory there was no name, date, or contract number; if made by a contractor there was at least a contract number printed on the back side of the size label or stamped elsewhere.   Just  a thought, but we'll all keep searching and the answer will eventually reveal itself.

 

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SouthShore 8754

reuscher,

 

I think that is a great question. It is odd that the utilities had maker tags/ labels but the camouflage uniforms and patch pocket trousers didn't. The P44's had only size labels similar to what is stamped on the inside of the patch pocket trousers. The ink/dye the P44's were stamped with seems to be the ink/dye that was used to darken the brass buttons. I'll post some pictures for reference below.   With regard to the Philadelphia QM Depot, they definitely had the ability to produce the camouflage uniforms according to this section in grunt gear:

 

" On March 17th [1942], the Commandant requested that 100 duplicate camouflage uniforms be manufactured for testing and 50 be sent to the first and 2nd Marine Corps Divisions. It was not until May 5th that the sample uniforms were manufactured and shipped by the Depot Quartermaster of Philadelphia (Tulkoff, 39)." 

 

That sentence confirms that the depot did have the ability to manufacture the camouflage uniforms, and did in fact manufacture around 150 P42's for experimental use during the camouflage testing trials in 1942. The number of camouflage uniforms the depot manufactured will always remain a question since most of the records were either lost or destroyed when the depot moved to Georgia after the war. It would be interesting to one day find out if the depot did actually manufacture the camouflage utilities in larger numbers, they certainly had the ability according to the above quote. According to grunt gear there were approximately 120,000 pairs of the P42 camouflage utilities made. If the depot was documented at the beginning of the war to only crank out 300-400 uniforms a week, it wouldn't have been possible for them to make all 120,000. 

 

It is strange though how the P42's didn't have markings of any kind (size or maker). I'm guessing why the P44's were size marked may have been from the frustration that probably occurred when soldiers did not know the size of the trousers they were trying on when it was time for them to get a set of P42's. 

 

Like you wrote, we will have to keep searching until further documentation is found. I just thought it could be a possibility that the patch pocket trousers were made at the Philadelphia QM depot because it would not make sense for the contractors like you listed above to be manufacturing their trousers with labels and then make another variant without a manufacturing label, it doesn't seem logical. From the quotes on my previous post, if the depot was known to only place size marks on their clothes, than the possibility of the patch pocket trousers being manufactured at the depot makes more sense to me. 

 

Also, I had no idea that the company Maribelli marked some of their items. Could you post a few examples to this thread if you have any?

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SouthShore 8754

Above photos show that the P44's came only with size markings, while the P42's came without markings. Tried to show that the dye/ink to blacken the brass was also used for the size stamp.

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if I recall correctly the post war shirts have only one slot on the sleeves for adjustment and the WW2 produced shirts have  two button slots for adjustment. Also the chest  pocket bottom was more round on the post WW2 shirts

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SouthShore 8754

@doylerYeah your correct about the button slots. Thanks for adding to the discussion.  Whenever I see a P41 with the steel buttons or the black buttons I avoid it like the plague, there seems to be a lot of reproductions out there with the steel and black painted button configurations. Also, didn't the earlier P41's made at the beginning of the war have rounder pockets compared to the ones manufactured later in the war (1943-onward)?

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SouthShore 8754

I forgot to post this earlier. Here is a photo of the buttons on the patch pocket trousers. I can't tell whether they are copper plated or chemically treated. According to the book grunt gear " Buttons were originally copper plated, but after August 15th 1942,the buttons were chemically treated to simulate a copper finish (Tulfkoff,9)."

 

I'll post a photo of a chemically treated button from a P41 utilitly with a contract date of 1944 for comparison. 

 

If anyone knows the difference between what the copper plated and chemically treated buttons look like your thoughts would be appreciated. It could put a time period on when the trousers were manufactured. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reuscher's '41 Trousers with the '42-dated cutter tag, I think, tells the tale on which pattern these are. Also, photos of Marines in the field early in the War show these pants in abundance.

I've included here a '42 Utility Coat which is size-stamped, Depot style, near the collar.

Suit, Utility, 'Flage, '42, Minto II #7B USMFB.JPG

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The Trousers which came with this Coat are also sized, in the style of the '44 Utilities.

These are the only size-stamped '42s in the house...

Suit, Utility, 'Flage, '42, Minto II #13A USMFB.JPG

Support our troops...abandoning the War on Terror is not an affordable luxury.

I'm so old, I still call W.W.II U.S. militaria "war surplus".

 

God's blessings in the Name of our Lord Jesus- Jim Robertson

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