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Medic and assault vest

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 18:20
by Cpt.Baptiste
Hi everyone,
i search on the forum but i did'nt find (or missed) answer on a question i asking myself since long time :
During DDay, did some medics wear an assault vest ?? is there some photos or interview to prove it ??

and another minor question, is there anyone on the forum who have the photo when we see a medic wearing a bandoleer of M1 garand with some carlisle bandage in metal box ?

Thanks a lot :D

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 22:37
by John
I havent seen the assault vest or the m1 garand belt used to carry bandages but there was a three pocket belt attachment that carried two carlisle bandages in each is similar in form to the three pocket grenade carrier. Both have leg tie straps.

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 19:32
by Cpt.Baptiste
thanks, do you, or does anyone have a photo of that case used to carry bandage ?? :D

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 20:12
by johan willaert
There is some discussion whether the three cell pouch with one LTD per flap was designed to hold FA packets or grenades. No definite proof has surfaced as yet.

You can read more on the pouch here: ... nade+pouch

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 22:06
by Ben
Hi Baptiste,
Here is the only photograph I have been able to locate showing Medical personnel wearing Assault Vests. Unfortunately since we cannot see the soldier's SSI it is difficult to identify his unit for certain, but it can be surmised that he is either 1st or 29th Infantry Division.
Notice that he wears a single Medical Pouch slung over he shoulder using the Litter Carrying Strap. He also wears a Geneva Convention Brassard on his left arm:


I hope that this photograph will be of some use to you,

P.S. Photograph was taken on Omaha Beach sometime after the initial landings of Operation Neptune had taken place (June 6th).

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 19:53
by taylorde
Ben wrote:Unfortunately since we cannot see the soldier's SSI it is difficult to identify his unit for certain, but it can be surmised that he is either 1st or 29th Infantry Division.

I love that photograph -- it shows how everyone wore their gear differently *as they were landing*.

The larger photograph came from the 1st ID's History website and incorrectly says all the soldiers were from the 1st when there are some positively identifiable 29th ID guys in the background.

I did an analysis of the photo on my website:

Now, if I might add my .02 into the discussion. The question is not so much were medics *issued* assault vests as it is if they had access to and subsequently wore assault vests. It's pretty much a given that they had access to the equipment during the trip and if a medic wanted an assault vest I'm sure they could have found a soldier that was more than willing to trade. Who knows what sort of gear swapping occurred below decks.

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 20:47
by Cpt.Baptiste
Thank you so much for that photo !!! That's exactly what i wanted !!

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 22:41
by Ben

Thanks for your comments. There's certainly proof (as we can see above) that Medical personnel wore the Assualt Vest, and indeed there's even a photograph of one 82d Airborne Division solider wearing one of these during combat in Normandy:


But alas, I digress. There's certainly no doubt that these Vests were obtained and worn by troops other than those involved in the initial assault, but it's certainly true to say that the few examples we see are not the norm.

I am glad that we could help Baptiste. :)


P.S. Having looked at your analysis of the uncropped photograph, I believe that the soldiers you have marked as #7 are wearing HBT trousers. The one standing to the left also seems to wear the Winter Combat Jacket; look at the woolen cuffs. I can't quite make out the jacket on the other guy, but he too seems to wear the Winter Combat (or Tanker) jacket.

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 02:00
by sgtpeter
With the information that Taylor provided, I spent some time Googling for answers.

What I think I discovered is that this one photo is from a bunch by a photographer only known as "Taylor" :shock: . This appears to be the far left of Fox Green beach near the F-1 exit at Colleville and probably nearly underneath WN-60. Some of the photos by Taylor are marked as 3rd BN 16th Infantry. There's another photo from the same set that shows LCI-83 beaching. This happened at about 1130 hrs 6 June near the F-1 draw. LCI-83 hit a teller mine as it beached then discharged Co B 20th Engineers on the beach. According to some reports on the web, elements of the 116th Infantry, 29th Division, mistakenly landed on Fox Green beach. I don't have access to my 29th Division info, but maybe Johan or someone else has information regarding the 116th Infantry on Fox Green.

As for whether the vests were issued or acquired, certainly some vests were acquired. The dislike of the vests by the infantry has been well documented. .... But I also found this from the 16th Infantry Medical Detachment History.

In April, 6 sand bags per vehicle were issued to the Detachment, also special waterproofed units containing medical supplies, with instructions on how they were to be stored and not used. In May, waterproofing material for vehicles was issued. Instructions were received to sand-bag the vehicles and on 16 May 1944, all jeeps and trailers were “combat loaded”. On May 17th, the Detachment made a permanent change of station and moved to Marshalling Area D-10 in the vicinity of Martinstown, Dorset, England. At D-10 assault gas masks were issued in place of the lightweight gas mask; all money over ten shillings was turned into the Camp Finance Officer for conversion to invasion money. All medical kits were waterproofed and complete gas-impregnated clothing was issued, also 50 assault jackets. At 0001 hrs, 25 May 1944, the camp was “sealed in”. No one was allowed to enter or leave. On May 26th all Officers and Enlisted Men were “briefed” and told what was going to happen. Assault landing of Normandy, France, in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer, spearheaded by the 16th Infantry! The Camp Finance Officer returned the money that was turned in for conversion—French Francs.

Source: 16th Infantry Medical Detachment History

I was trying to figure out what time the BN and Regt Aid Stations moved inland, but I gave up for tonight.

I would agree that the wooden box appears to contain dressings or something of a medical nature. Whether that was its intended use or an opportunity is unclear. I would also comment that the M1 carbine at number 6 appears to actually be an M1A1 folding stock - you can barely make out the wire stock under the medic's arm. I also noticed what looks like the numbers '49' to the right of the medic's face. Haven't spent any time really looking into that yet, but Company I 16th Infantry was apparantly landed further east than Fox Green and that might be one of their transports.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the two guys in HBTs. 4th Division mainly wore HBTs over woolen, but definitely not the right spot on the beach. The guy in HBTs that is looking down appears to have a dark square painted on the side of the helmet. Can't tell if that is a flaw in the photo though. The HBT guy facing the cliff maybe fumbling with a Hagerson pack. My guess would be the two HBT guys are probably combat engineers - either from the ESB or an attached battalion.

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 02:30
by Ben

Thanks for your comments. Indeed the reference to 50 Assault Vests having been issued certainly is a great documented proof that the medical troops were also issued with the Assault Jacket / Vest.

With regard to your other comments, I have to agree that the weapon Taylor has identified as the M1 Carbine is in fact an M1A1, and there is also another interesting photograph, perhaps from the same camera which shows another soldier holding only the folding stock for an M1A1. Here is the shot:


The guy standing on the left of the shot appears to be the same as the one that is shown in the picture Taylor D has analysed, and in this particular illustration you can clearly see the helmet marking. Unfortunately, the lack of a SSI makes it difficult to identify this man's unit, and I haven't been able to ascertain what the helmet marking signifies...


Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 08:30
by taylorde
Heh, heh. Little did you know, I was there... in a past life...

Okay, so you got me on the M1 Carbine technicality :shock: I guess I didn't expect a folding stock model to show up on the beach. It's a paratrooper thing..... right.... I mean, that's what they keep telling me at the reenactments :-P

HBTs, I'll go with that. And my original thought was a Tanker Jacket... er, winter combat jacket, for the guy on the right, but then the guy on the left (with the same pants) threw me for a loop due to what I think are pocket flaps. HBT jacket over wool shirt solves that mystery

Still doesn't fully explain who they are, or what they're doing there (other than being wet, cold, scared, miserable, and likely misplaced).

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:32
by johan willaert
I think they might be USN personnel...

If you've seen the color footage on the George Stevens D-Day to Berlin DVD, you see similar markings on USN personnel attending to wounded troops on Landing Craft...

And about M1 Carbines... There's another one leaning against the rocky wall behind the wounded 29th GI with the bandage over his right eye...
You can clearly see the upper handguard...


Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 22:03
by sgtpeter
Ben - where did you get the second pic? Can you post the full pic, send me a link or email me the photo?

I would agree that it is shot from the same camera, "Taylor's". So far I have found about 6 of his photographs from Fox Green beach. The attached photo is also credited to Taylor. This was taken at the same spot in the beach as the medic with the vest. If you look at the full version of photo 1, you'll see a smoke grenade canister on the cliff above the medic on the right side of the photo. You'll also see the 29er with the bandaged eye. Look at the photo I just posted and you'll see the smoke grenade on the cliff to the right of the medic's head and the 29er to the left of the medic's head as well as the guy with the carbine from photo 2. Clearly the medic on the right side of photo 1 is the subject from photo 3.

From photo 2, I noticed the guy with the M1A1 carbine is cleaning his weapon. If you look the barrel and receiver are missing from the stock. I also noticed that both HBT guys are dressed the same - as in pistol belt with suspenders, knife and bino in the same spot.

If anyone has Gawne's Spearheading D-Day handy, you might be able to see what helmet markings 5th ESB used. 5th ESB was to support that part of the beach. In addition, elements of 741st Tank Bn, 20th and 37th Engineer Bns, 1st Prov AAA Battery, 81st Chem Wpns Bn, 197th AAA Bn as well as the myriad of Special Engineering Task Force elements were all scheduled to land at Fox Green beach. It would be interesting to find out if any of these guys have the red square as a helmet marking.

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 00:18
by Ben
Unfortunately the photograph I have posted is the only version that I have. I came across it online a couple of years ago. I did notice that the man was holding only the M1A1 Stock, but as far as I can see from the photograph the remainder of the weapon does not seem to be anywhere in sight...
I am confident that the two men shown in the second picture I have posted are indeed the same ones pictured in the first illustration being discussed. I meanwhile checked in Jon's book and as far as I can tell there are no units whose helmet markings match those shown in the pictures.

P.S. As a matter of interest, you'll also notice that the second solider (facing the cliff face) has an M1910 Pick Mattock suspended from his belt. For complete, the image is shown below:


Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 00:50
by taylorde
Ben wrote:but as far as I can see from the photograph the remainder of the weapon does not seem to be anywhere in sight...

I'm pretty sure the barrel on that carbine is there, it just matches the tonality of the leggings in the background as well as being partially hidden by the strap. Although, that may be just because I haven't held a carbine recently.

Either way it's still interesting.

Of course, after staring at a zoomed in portion of the image, It's starting to all look a little weird.