American Medics and Soldiers in France (barely)

This is the first in an ongoing series of photographic analysis posts. WWII is generic cialis cheap the first war where lots of candid photography was created for both public information (propoganda) purposes as well as historical record. Regardless, it all has value to reenactors and historians.

The photo I selected here is one of my favorites. It’s from the 1st Infantry Division’s history website and shows predominately 1st ID soldiers during Operation Overlord. I’ve provided the full-size “untainted” photograph below, as well as one that I’ve marked up with numbers of interesting things that I’ve found. These numbers, of course, correspond to the key.

Finally, feel free to add your own observations in the comments.

A large group of American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, having gained the comparative safety offered by the chalk cliff at their backs, takes a breather before moving onto the continent at Colville-Sur-Mer, Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France. Medics who landed with the men treat them for minor injuries.

A large group of American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, having gained the comparative safety offered by the chalk cliff at their backs, takes a breather before moving onto the continent at Colville-Sur-Mer, Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France. Medics who landed with the men treat them for minor injuries.

American Troops on Omaha Beach, number key in the post

American Troops on Omaha Beach, number key in the post

  1. This appears to be a red-cross brassard implying that this soldier is a medic
  2. Instead of a medic yoke, he is wearing a fully-loaded invasion vest
  3. To carry his medical bags with the invasion vest, he put a strap on the bag an slung it across his chest/shoulder
  4. His canteen is the earlier style with an aluminum cap instead of a bakelite cap.
  5. Helmet net and scrim on a medic
  6. M1 Carbine M1A1 Carbine (notice the folding stock)
  7. These two soldiers appear to be with a completely different unit. They appear to have different jackets, their pants have cargo pockets, and they aren’t wearing helmet nets and scrim like most everyone else.
  8. If I was going to venture I guess, I’d say this soldier is an officer. He’s carrying a combat knife and a pair of binoculars.
  9. This guy’s shoulder patch says he’s with the 29th Infantry Division
  10. This corporal is wearing the chinstrap for his helmet. He obviously didn’t get the memo
  11. I could be wrong — it could be the lighting — but it appears as if his cartridge belt is OD7 instead of OD3
  12. US Navy life belts, inflated
  13. The medical equipment bags on this guy and his pose would suggest he’s a medic working on someone that the photographer decided to crop out of the photo. His equipment bags are clipped right to his pistol belt, which is buckled over top of his jacket
  14. His canteen is attached to his pistol belt at the very back, which is causing his entrenching shovel to tangle with it. I’m not sure I would appreciate this set-up in combat — my guess is he will change that configuration pretty quick.
  15. This doesn’t look like it’s carrying a mess kit — if anything at all.
  16. Wooden box, possibly with padding of some sort inside… No idea exactly this is, but it’s highly likely that it is delicate medical supplies. Ideas?

I’m sure you can find something I missed, so let’s hear it. Also, if you have any ideas about number 7 and number 16, I’d be really interested to hear about what you know

8 Comments

  • ww2md says:

    #12—During D-Day, many items were wrap with the inflated life belt to ease in transport and to prevent loss of supplies during the landing. Perhaps these belts were used for #16?

  • ww2md says:

    #7 guy on the right could be Navy personnel (Beach masters or Demolition.) just a guess.

  • Taylor Dewey says:

    Some folks are thinking the guys at #7are wearing HBTs and (at least the guy on the right) a winter combat “tanker” jacket. This is coming from a post over on the med-dept forum

  • John Dockall says:

    The box at number 16 might be for bottles of plasma, etc. Good to see the mix of nets and scrim on helmets…dispels that myth that only airborne troops used scrim. Also good to see a medic with an invasion vest.

  • Mike says:

    I love the medic on the far right, with his medic bags clipped to his pistol belt. I’ve based my impression off how he wears his gear because much of the time at any reenactment there’s always the guys who do everything by the book, which isn’t bad, but I like to show others how the soldiers would rig their gear while in the field.

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  • Woody says:

    Just my thoughts, not neccesarily correct, but:

    1/. Are you sure it’s not a gas brassard?

    2/. He is wearing an assault vest because he’s an infantryman.

    3/. That is a GP Ammo bag, because he’s an infantryman. The medic in #15 also wears scrim, because he goes in with the infantrymen.

    4/. Early stock of WW1 kit. Happened a lot.

    5/. Helmet net and scrim, because he’s an infantryman.

    6/. M1 Carbine held by the soldier in front (his leg is by #6), not the one in the foreground.

    7/. I think some of these men were IDd as glider riders (hence the leggings and Carbines everywhere). HBTs were supposed to be worn by everyone, over the top of regular uniform to protect the wools.

    8/. The knife/binocular combo was also carried by artillery and mortar squad observers. The suspenders also suggest he’s an NCO. Seeing that he’s got what looks like a pistol ammo pouch, I’d guess at mortar or .30cal MG crew.

    9/. The 29th were right next to the 1st at Omaha. Many units got washed aside and into eachother, often linking up for the assault.

    10/. People ultimately did what they liked with their kit. Wearing a chinstrap isn’t exactly an issue.

    11/. Kit varied colour between OD3 and 7 as early as 1942. I have several items from ’42 that are even 2-tone.

    12/. Well yes, they’ve just come out of the water…

    13/. See remark about Chinstraps.

    14/. His body is twisting to the right. When he stands, everything will line up. You didn’t notice the first aid pouch though, which regulation places on the back-right of the belt. Most soldiers moved it to front-right during combat, yet this guy has his on the right hip.

    15/. It has something in, but again – Chinstraps. Many men ditched teh mess kit and ate out of their canteen cup, allowing the mess pouch to hold other things, like K-Rats.

    16/. Highly UN-likely, as medics should be carrying essential supplies. If it’s still boxed, it’s not essential and would not be carried in a crate like this during the actual beach assault (which this is in the middle of).