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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELLTHE
US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. NORTH-WEST EUROPE

ENGLAND, 1944

1: Colonel, Corps of Engineers, US 3rd Army

This 'bird' colonel wears his rank on the epaulettes of the regulation officers' service coat in the darker OD shade 51, with trousers of the optional light drab colour popularly known as 'pinks' - in this case with a cavalry-style inseam. Either cap could be worn with this uniform; he has the service cap, in this case an example with a noticeably lighter shade ribbed band - colours varied in officers' privately purchased uniforms. It has the standard russet leather visor and strap and gilt officers' badge. The coat has the drab-on-drab lace band above each cuff indicating officer rank, and - a peculiarity which survives to this day - special Corps of Engineers buttons. Officers' collar badges came in cut-out pairs, here two 'US' cyphers over two Engineer castle emblems. His left chest displays ribbons for service dating back to World War I; among his 'fruit salad' are the DSC and Silver Star, 1918 Victory medal with two campaign/battle stars, the French Croix de Guerre, and both the Pacific and European theatre ribbons. His cuff stripes show one year's overseas service in World War I and two years (four bars) in World War II. Re-enlistment stripes are not worn - officers don't enlist. The 3rd Army patch of an 'A' inside an 'O' represents its service after World War I as the AEF Army of Occupation in Germany.

2: Captain, 70th Tank Battalion

He chooses to wear a khaki shirt and prewar black tie with his service uniform. The Sam Browne officers' belt, with sword hanger, had been required before the war, but purchase became optional during hostilities. Note the Armored branch emblems on his lower collar, shaped like a British World War I tank. Unit crests for officers, when available, were worn on the epaulettes. This officer wears American Service and ETO ribbons. Independent tank units - i.e. those unassigned to a division - used the Armored Force shoulder patch with no number in the yellow segment; battalion numbers were sometimes custom-woven onto the patches later in the war. The 70th Tank Bn was the first of these independent battalions to be raised, from a picked group of men; it fought in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, France, the Bulge and Germany. Over his arm this officer carries a trenchcoat; these were to be seen in colours ranging from khaki-beige to medium green. Originating with the Duke of Wellington's prejudice against officers with umbrellas, it is to this day against regulations for an American officer to carry one (unless with a lady).

3: Platoon sergeant, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division

This technical or platoon sergeant wears the enlisted man's M1939 four-pocket coat in OD shade 54; either this overseas cap or the limited-issue visored service dress cap ('saucer hat') could be worn with this uniform. The overseas cap could be piped in his mixed green/white arm-of-service colour; it is worn here unpiped but displaying the divisional sign in enamelled metal. On his upper collar are bronze discs bearing the national cypher (right) and his arm-of-service emblem (left). Most GIs did not have pairs of unit crests in enamelled metal for wear on the lower collar, but this NCO proudly wears those of the 66th Armored Regiment. This was the oldest tank unit in the US Army, tracing its roots back to the 351st Tank Battalion in World War I. He wears the divisional patch on his left shoulder, and rank chevrons - in prewar silver-on-black - on both upper sleeves. The two bars on his left forearm are two six-month overseas service stripes (nicknamed 'Hersey bars', after the director of the US Draft, Gen Lewis B.Hersey); the diagonal bar is a re-enlistment stripe, showing this NCO to be a prewar volunteer regular rather than a draftee. On his left chest are the ribbons of the American Service and European-African-Middle Eastern medals, the latter with a bronze campaign star; this NCO fought in Sicily.

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