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Raincoat / Overcoat


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I came across this piece recently at my local militaria store for a reasonable price, and quite frankly, I've never seen anything like it. From my observations, the overcoat was originally an issued 1937 Czech coat that remained in cold storage until a certain staff sergeant decided to have it privately tailored for use in occupation duty at the end of WWII. It's in immaculate condition overall - no rips, tears, stains, etc, and it seems to have only been worn very briefly. I would like any additional thoughts on this piece, and if any of you have come across similar examples.

 

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I have never seen a coat like this and I know this is not what you want to hear and I may be off base here but I have one possibility. Large surplus dealers have a habit of modifying thing they can't sell into more saleable things. Given the mass influx of former communist surplus on the market in the last 15 years and the fact that overcoats are hard to move it may have been cut down and the patches added to dress it up to make it more saleable. Sturm did this with thousands of East German overcoats, you see them on e-Bay all the time. The big surplus wholesales have rooms full of people with sewing machines modifying and repairing things. Most of the rare rigger made things you see on e-Bay are made by riggers that work for Atlanta Army Navy. I have seen them sew up M-1928 packs to form a solid bag that thing won't fall out of and add an extra piece of canvas to the flap of 15 round carbine mag pouches so they will close over 30 round mags. They also switch the straps on gas mask bags so they open at the top rather than the front. This was done years ago when that stuff was cheap and no one wanted it, now the communist stuff is cheap and no one wants it. Sturm has cut the legs off of just about every type of pants to make shorts. Like I said I have never seen this modification and it may well be what you said but if any more show up it is a "Surplus Store Special

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When I first saw this item at the store, I was skeptical as the overcoat was definitely not regulation. In terms of appearance though, the coloring and the material of the wool are fairly similar to your average period U.S. overcoat, and I could see it being acceptable in those conditions while being Czech. The store I bought this from (Full Metal Jacket) is a very reputable dealer in my area and I have a long standing consumer relationship with the business. Also, if you consider the amount of U.S. service personnel involved with the occupation of the country as well as the many tailors looking to make a profit, it's possible that a GI might have been taken by the style of the overcoat and decided to have his insignia sewn on for use. Like I said, this piece shocks me a bit because I'm not accustomed to seeing foreign uniforms like this being used by the U.S. Army. I could understand privately tailored uniforms per regulation in foreign countries.

One positive aspect is that the insignia is well applied and does not glow under UV light.

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This doesn't strike me as a surplus company re-work. Wartime dated Czech overcoats are collectable in their own right, the example in question being dated 1937. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that someone would have gone through the trouble of re-working this particular jacket. Stranger things have happened though. I wouldn't immediately disregard this piece as a post war fantasy item though. Looks like who ever tailored this item did one nice job. My immediate gut reaction is that this is a legitimate piece.

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Although I was skeptical at first when I was looking at the item in the store, I'm more inclined to believe its existence now. I doubt that anyone, as you said, would go through the trouble of reworking the coat in the post-war era. The quality of the application of the insignia is excellent as well, which leaves me to believe it was done through a private tailor. I don't believe the insignia is a coincidence either, since the 3rd Army was stationed in Czech. for occupation duty. I just wonder how someone would be able to get away with wearing a foreign army coat like this while on duty without upsetting the regulations. Just a shame I couldn't get the full story from a vet.

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If Patton had still been in command of the Third Army when this guy was wearing that jacket there would be another story about old George abusing the enlistedmen.

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