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WW2 Combat Engineer Rig


huntssurplus
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huntssurplus

So I’m looking to put together a combat engineer rig for a display I’m doing. And I have a couple questions.

 

What kind of pack did they use? Would they have had the haversack like the infantry or the musette bag like the armored/artillery had. Seems like the latter would have been most often used, but since they were commonly apart of infantry divisions, it does seem like they may have used haversacks instead.

 

And then besides first aid, canteen, and carbine ammo pouches, what these would they have carried on their belt. Just the same sort of things as infantry? Or any more specialized tools? And for tools, would they have carried an axe or pickaxe instead of the standard e-tool/shovel? Or would there have been a mix?

 

Thanks!

Hunt

 

 

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ArchangelDM
1 hour ago, huntssurplus said:

 

So I’m looking to put together a combat engineer rig for a display I’m doing. And I have a couple questions.

 

What kind of pack did they use? Would they have had the haversack like the infantry or the musette bag like the armored/artillery had. Seems like the latter would have been most often used, but since they were commonly apart of infantry divisions, it does seem like they may have used haversacks instead.

 

And then besides first aid, canteen, and carbine ammo pouches, what these would they have carried on their belt. Just the same sort of things as infantry? Or any more specialized tools? And for tools, would they have carried an axe or pickaxe instead of the standard e-tool/shovel? Or would there have been a mix?

 

Thanks!

Hunt

 

 

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Here is what Martin Harry Smith combat engineer wore Hunt in the PTO 

 

 

Everything came from the family and was combat used

 

yours

 

Dean 

 

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huntssurplus

Thanks for the topic Dean. Looks like he used the jungle pack, and was also issued a musette bag. I do wonder if anyone else has seen photos of combat engineers in Europe, or in other places in the MTO/PTO using the musette bag, haversack, or any other type of pack. Or no pack at all.

It seems that in my research at least, all regular infantry were issued haversacks, while all other types of troops were issued the musette bag, including infantry troops assigned to non-infantry divisions, such as armored infantry battalions in armored divisions or paratroopers/glider troops. I cannot find much evidence of any other troops outside of infantry being issued the haversack during WW2.

If I’m off the mark here at all let me know, but this seems to be correct for the most part from what I’ve observed.


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huntssurplus



From this video of Combat Engineer training it looks like they were issued haversacks and the M1 Garand. This lines up mostly with what I’ve found. In the original photos of combat engineers I’ve seen, it seems like they were issued the M1 Garand for non NCO’s, NCO’s were issued M1 Carbines, and officers just had a colt M1911. So it seems likely they used haversacks instead of musette bags, while armored troops and maybe artillery were issued were issued the musette bag.
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Hadn't seen that film before, very interesting.

 

My opinion is that you should pick a unit and time frame and start with that. Equipment and organization changed rapidly during the war. If you are looking for a generic starting point, I would go with the '37 wool uniform and '41 pattern HBTs. In the PTO, guys were wearing '41 HBTs until the end of the war. Generic kit of cartridge belt and haversack will work for every theater. As far weapons, you will need to start with the TO&E. The TO&E was the official answer as to how a unit was organized including authorized equipment. Once a unit got to the front lines, soldiers adapted to their needs and what they could scrounge.

 

This is an example TO&E for a Ranger Company dated Feb 1944. You will notice it says the musette bag was for officers while everyone else was issued M1928 haversacks.

 

There is also an TO&E for a combat engineer company dated Mar 1944.  The publishers of this example rewrote the TO&E and excluded most of the organization and individual equipment, but you can see officers, 1st Sgt and Platoon Sergeants were armed with carbines. Some of the drivers were armed with Thompsons, everyone else had a Garand. Each Company had a variety of specialists including carpenters, demo, rigging, etc. They all would have been cross trained as well. Pick the specialty you like and gather the equipment for it. Most people associate Engineers with making things go boom, so lots of room to educate about the other important aspects.

 

FM 21-105 is the Engineer's Handbook and has a summary of the tools and jobs of the engineer. Great place to get started as to the equipment you need. Ibilio has an assortment of scanned manuals including FM5-5 which talks about the different types of engineer units, training and more.

 

Hope that helps. Good luck with your project!

 

Peter

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huntssurplus

Hey Peter, I appreciate the message!

I have a relative who was apart of the 50th Combat Engineer Regiment during the Battle of Attu. He was a mechanic, and ran an auto shop on the island where he repaired the various vehicles in use my military forces. He took part in the actual battle itself, and was there at Engineer Hill. Basically I’m trying to recreate the kit he would have hat. The photo I have of him shows him just wearing a pistol belt with carbine ammo pouches, and no pack. Looks like after the battle at some point, as the photo was taken on Attu. I’m trying to figure out what sort of kit he would have worn.

So basically, kit for a Staff Sergeant mechanic during the Battle of Attu so circa May of 1943.

Looks like they wore a lot of the reversible ski parkas as well without he fur lining on the hood.

Thanks!
Hunt


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Sounds like you are off to a guard start Hunt - you got the where and when. And portraying your relative is a great way of keeping your family history alive.

 

Yes, as the Company Motor Sergeant, a carbine with pistol belt would have been appropriate. It does not surprise me that you have photos without a haversack. I have seen plenty of photos with cartridge/pistol belt, ammo bandoleers and bed rolls rather than packs. They are cumbersome especially when moving around vehicles.

 

Given the rush to get troops to AK in '43 you probably won't go wrong with anything you choose except the 1943 uniform. My opinion is that you could use wool overcoat, mackinaw, the arctic jacket, or ski parka. I would think shoe pac would be the preferred footwear, the service shoe would be insufficient to prevent frostbite during long exposure. LL Bean had one of the contracts for shoe pacs and still makes them although the lower sole is tan instead of black rubber. I have been meaning to get a pair and attempt to dye the rubber but it has been low on my project list.

 

Peter

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huntssurplus

Peter,

Once again thanks for the suggestions and the encouragement! I think I’m going to go with either the M41 field jacket, or the Arctic M1 field field jacket and maybe a reversible ski parka as he definitely was wearing one of the two M41s in the pictures I have of him. It looks like he also is wearing some sort of leather jacket, I think it may be the b3 bomber jacket, which would make sense as there were all sorts of army Air Force troops stationed on the islands he probably some how got ahold of one. Most likely after the hostilities ended though.

From the photos I have of his company though, it looks like there is a mix of regular M41s and Arctic M41s. Looks at the date, it’s May of 1944, so one year after the battle took place. They’re on Attu, so I’m guessing they’re wearing most of the same gear they would have during the invasion. They definitely aren’t wearing the M1944 shoe pac, but they may be wearing an earlier version. Or possibly jump boots. What’s the designation for the earlier version of the shoe pac? The shoe they’re wearing is a high ankle lace up boot, and they’re wearing it without leggings and wool pants.

Anyways, I think I have a pretty decent idea of what they would have worn now! I have an extra haversack so I may stick it on just because it’s likely they would have been fighting with it on, and then may have just taken it off once they were in garrison and the photo was taken. Especially considering it had been a year since they had come to the island.

I do have a unit history for the unit now that I think about it. I’ll give that a look through and see what’s in there as well.


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Hunt, I doubt they were jump boots, they were closely guarded by the paratroops. There has been plenty of discussion whether some troops were issued them for D-Day, but I don't think it likely non-paratroops had them before hand. And they would be much better for the feet in cold weather than service shoes, nor are the soles very good on ice. The 1943 Quartermaster Catalog lists the shoe pac in 10, 12, and 16 inch high variations. The M1944 shoe pac was 12 inch tall and had improvements over the earlier versions. The '43 catalog also lists a Blucher Boot 12 inch tall which looks similar to a loggers boot. I remember seeing a variation of the Blucher on the forum attributed to US Army Siberia troops.

 

Here is a link to a thread about cold weather boots -

 

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huntssurplus

Hello,

I got some time to put together a display. Still have a few more things to add, but I figured using a torso mannequin would be best for now at least as I had enough stuff to complete it for the most part. I’m guessing that he most likely would not have carried to much on his pistol belt considering his main job as a mechanic would mean his tools would be located in whatever shop he was working in. I don’t think there were really any automotive tools carried by engineers on their web gear.

From the pictures I have of him, it looks like he mostly wore a regular M41 field jacket and not an arctic M41 field jacket. The M41 I have is on another display though, so I figured I’d use the Arctic one for now as there are pictures of other men in his company wearing them until a get another M41 to replace it. Overall happy with how it has turned out though so far. And looking forward to “completing” it more.

Enjoy!

aa69ca386b635074023ba613f5481737.jpg

I’ll see if I can get an original photo posted, I know I have them saved somewhere on my computer, however I’m not able to get to it right now!

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