WORLD WAR II GYRENE FIELD EQUIPMENT

 

THE M1941 PACK SYSTEM

The World War II Marine was issued with the M1941 pack system. It was composed of 3 parts– the haversack, knapsack, and belt suspenders. This was the world's first modern pack system, and it was the forerunner of all succeeding U. S. load carrying systems.

The M1941 pack system was designed by the legendary MGySgt Lou Diamond, MgySgt Roy Fowel, and GySgt John O'Niel at MCB, Quantico in 1940. It was subjected to grueling tests that compared it to the Corps' then standard M1910 pack. The new pack proved superior in every area to its predecessor and was subsequently adopted as the standard.

The M1941 pack was a modular system that could be converted in five different configurations.

LIGHT MARCHING PACK

This was the smallest and lightest configuration of the M1941 pack and consisted only of the haversack. It could be worn for short operations as needed. The above photo depicts the light marching pack as worn by a Marine in the 2nd MarDiv on Tarawa–20 November 1943 USMC Photo


MARCHING PACK

This configuration consisted of the haversack with belt suspenders attached to the cartridge belt. It was used as a combat pack and for marches and field exercises not involving bivouac.

The photo at left depicts US Marine Corps Historical Co. Marines wearing marching packs prior to a public demonstration of World War II tactics. Solomon Island, Maryland–(2003)

Rigged in this manner, the pack and cartridge belt could be ditched as a single unit if a Marine fell into the water while climbing a shipboard cargo net.

USMC–HC Photo


FIELD MARCHING PACK

This configuration consisted of the haversack and belt suspenders attached to the cartridge belt with a short blanket roll added. It was used for marches and field exercises involving bivouacs.

The photo at left shows a rear view of the field marching pack with entrenching tool and bayonet attached.

The blanket roll was made by rolling the blanket, along with tent pole, pins and rope inside the shelter half. The roll was then strapped to the haversack.

USMC Photo

 


TRANSPORT PACK

This configuration consisted of the of the haversack, knapsack and belt suspenders
attached to the cartridge belt. It was worn when traveling by rail or ship when blankets were not needed.

The picture at left shows the transport pack from the rear as depicted in a Marine Corps training manual.

USMC Photo


FIELD TRANSPORT PACK

This configuration was the largest version of the M1941 pack. It consisted of the haversack, knapsack and belt suspenders attached to the cartridge belt. The long blanket roll was strapped to the pack in a horseshoe-shape. It was used for traveling and for marches when speed was not a critical factor.

The photo above shows Marines of 3/26, 5th MarDiv boarding the USS Darke (APA–159) at Hilo, Hawaii on 2 January 1945 prior to shoving off for Iwo Jima. They are wearing fully loaded field transport packs weighing over 65 pounds.
USMC Photo

The photograph below shows the field equipment (commonly called 782 gear) of a Marine rifleman in 1943-44. This is called a field transport layout, which was used for inspections to make sure Marines had all their required gear prior to shipping out for operations, etc. Inspections were not popular, because they were considered a waste of time by Gyrenes.

CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT IN THE PHOTO ABOVE
(Note: 782 gear is displayed on a camouflaged poncho)

UPPER LEFT
blanket
sewing kit
shoe & legging laces
1 pair of socks
shaving mirror
shaving kit w/soap
towel

 

UPPER CENTER
steel helmet
haversack
M1905 bayonet w/scabbard
belt suspenders
cartridge belt
battle dressing pouch
battle dressing
canteen w/cup & cover

UPPER RIGHT
shelter half
tent rope & pole
5 tent pegs
entrenching tool w/cover
jungle first aid pouch


LOWER LEFT
weapon cleaning kit
rifle bore cleaner
M1 combination tool
cleaning patches
haversack

 

LOWER CENTER
Ka-Bar knife w/sheath
M1 rifle
dungaree shirt
dungaree trousers
2 sets skivvies
2 pairs socks

LOWER RIGHT
2 k-ration meals
2 d-ration bars
2 tropical chocolate bars
waterproof food bag
1 pair boondockers

In addition to their issued equipment, all Marines carried personal items with them. These might include a bible, letter writing gear, treasured letters from home, paperback books, and good luck tokens.

(left) Pfc Lee Dortsch, C 1/26, moving out on Iwo Jima–1945. He wears the field marching pack with entrenching tool. An automatic rifleman, he is armed with the M1918 BAR. On his cartridge belt hangs a canteen on the right hip and a jungle first aid pouch on the left. Pfc Dortsch also wears the bag for a light weight gas mask.

Pfc Dortsch served for 20 years in the armed forces. He took part in the Gaudalcanal campaign in 1/7 and was wounded there. He returned stateside for treatment and was later assigned to the 5th MarDiv. On Iwo Jima he received the Silver Star for gallantry in action. He was also wounded there.

After the war, Pfc Dortsch was an FBI Agent for three years. He then was commissioned in the US Air Force and flew B-47 bombers and F-86 fighters. He retired in 1962 as a major.

USMC Photo

Source: The Spearhead News Summer 2005 edition


(above) Marines preparing to embark on their landing craft for the run-in to the beach on Iwo Jima — 19 February 1945. The Marine at left (facing away from the camera) wears a fully loaded field transport pack. Strapped to his haversack is an M1910 entrenching tool. still image from USMC combat camera film.

 

 

SEMPER FI, MAC!

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