In this article we will take a close look at what the soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division were using on Saipan. I had a companion one on the Marines but it will have to be recreated as it was lost with the old site. This is pretty esoteric for most so turn back now lest you be consumed by the nerdery.
The general uniforms of the soldiers of the 27th on Saipan were a mix of HBT fatigue patterns. The most common is 2nd/3rd patterns with the large pockets but a number of 1st pattern jackets still turn up in photos. I’m unable to determine between the 2nd and 3rd patterns from the photos being black and white but I am inclined to say it was predominantly the lighter 2nd pattern as they look the same shade as the 1st patterns that pop up in the same photos.
Swipe or click left/right on the recreation photos for more.
Something more distinctive to the 27th division is the home made helmet camouflage using what I assume is vesicant paint. Since finding original paint is rare at best and the person who was making reproductions no longer does I found some pictures online of the paint and tried to find the closest I could. It looked good on the sample but seems awfully bright once applied to the helmet. So I don’t know, I may have to repaint it. Side note apparently American produced vesicant paint was a yellower shade and British a greener shade.
The most distinctive feature of the 27th Division on Saipan though is the special 5 pocket grenade pouch a large portion of the men had. I have not seen it turn up in photos from any other battle. I used to see reproductions on eBay years ago but didn’t know what they were so just assumed it was some kind of goofy Chinese knock off. Now that I need one they’re naturally nowhere to be found so I am missing that from this impression unfortunately. I made use of a GP bag as a stand in for it.
Another little quick detail that seems to have been a popular trend on Saipan as well was wearing the shovel/e-tool on the suspenders. Also the older T-handled shovel was in use and not the newer folding. A small detail is that a lot of the soldiers kept their chinstrap buckled as well.
Unlike on the wetter islands the soldiers of the 27th also kept their leggings on. But they did untuck and roll their pant legs up. This provides the protection of the high leggings while allowing ventilation.
Weapon wise the vast majority of soldiers were armed with the M1 Garand. Few M1 Carbines or M1918A2 BARs are even seen. So it can be assumed that the Division was following the basic TO&E pretty closely (1 BAR per squad and carbines for officers/specialists). I didn’t come across any submachine guns or M1903s in the pictures I found.
The standard web gear set up appears to have been the M1923 cartridge belt with two canteens on the rear most eyelets. Both the earlier aluminum cap and later bakelite cap are seen on the canteens themselves.
The M2 Jungle First Aid Kit is mostly seen on the right hip. Other locations are seen but that is the most common. Also there is no single Carlisle bandage used in conjunction.
The shorter M1 bayonet looks to have completely replaced the longer M1905/42 in Army service by this time.
Lastly the M1936 suspenders being used in lieu if the normal haversack.