don’t tell them pike wrote:Did the Philippines army (at the time of the Japanese invasion) wear mainly the demin fatigues/working dress (colour unknown) or the tropical shirt, trousers uniforms? Would the coconut fibre sun helmet, 1917 helmet or broad brimmrd hat be worn? Ranjit.
My father was one of those Philippine Commonwealth troops wearing blue denim in 1941, originally in the PA 2nd Division but later attached to a field artillery battery. At age 88 he is among the last of the Bataan survivors.
His helmet was made of molded coconut bark, or guinit
[pronounced ghee-NIT] in the Tagalog language, which was laminated with some kind of resin or varnish. It had no liner.
Footwear was plain canvas-and-rubber sneakers for those who had them, made by Elpo. Elpo was a Philippine brand of the time (short for El Porvenir
) which survived into the 1970s, until they lost out to today’s world-wide brand names of sneakers.
David Reasoner wrote:
Here is a link to images taken by Life magazine photographer Carl Mydans in November 1941
which show all of the uniform items you mention in use at that time …
The denim fatigues were typically blue in color and were originally intended solely as a work uniform, but seem to have been commonplace among Filipino troops and would have been worn with the matching denim broad-brimmed hat.
Among the LIFE
magazine photos the following seems a good one for showing Filipino Commonwealth troops in blue denim
with American Enfield rifles and cartridge belts:
Many of the short-statured Filipinos found the recoil of their .30-cal Enfield rifles too strong for them. Some, like my father, improvised cloth cushions to put inside their fatigue coat shoulders for this.
The blue denim fatigues were those of the US Army between the wars, or like them. Originally and officially, fatigues had been brown denim since the 1880s. Before World War I this small market for brown denim was no problem for the American textile industry, where blue denim was the norm. But the Army’s sudden expansion in 1917 forced the use of available heavy gray twills, sometimes dyed olive-drab. In 1919, it changed the fatigues to blue denim to ease this production problem.
Also since 1908 the fatigues had been made as pullover jumpers, with a short buttoned placket from neck to chest. This followed the cut of the service uniform shirt through that same time. But in the 1930s the blue fatigues were issued to Civilian Conservation Corps laborers during the Great Depression. Many of those workers cut the plackets all the way down to make their jumpers into conventional coats. The Army took note and redesigned its last blue fatigues that way in 1940.
Photos do not seem close or numerous enough to confirm if Commonwealth conscripts wore any of the older blue denim jumpers, or if their fatigues were domestic manufacture like the sneakers. The newer coat-style one was short-lived even in first-line US wear, since herringbone-twill fatigues replaced them in turn as standard in summer 1941, although Stateside they remained limited standard early in the war.
Report of Assistant US Secretary of War Benedict Crowell, America’s Munitions 1917-1918 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1919), page 468.
Risch, Erna; and Pitkin, Thomas; for Office of the Quartermaster General, Historical Section. Clothing the Soldier of World War II, Q.M.C. Historical Studies No. 16, (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, September 1946), pages 64-66
David Reasoner wrote:Although the M1917 steel helmet would have been commonplace among the units of the prewar Philippine Scouts, I'm not sure how many of the hastily mobilized conscripts of the Filipino divisions would have been issued them.
Steel helmets among the latter were usually limited to officers and NCOs. My father says that Commonwealth Army troops were moreover looked down upon by many of the prewar Scouts, whose wider issue of steel helmets were as much a sign of favor as their khaki service uniforms and better rations.
The above is echoed and more in a volume of the so-called US Army “Green Book” history series, Alvin P. Stauffer’s Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War against Japan
(Washington DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1956, 2004), pages 15-16:
Whereas the U.S. Army and the Philippine Scouts were well clad and well equipped when they took the field in December the Philippine Army even then lacked many essential items. In general, its troops had no blankets, helmets, mosquito nets, or raincoats, all necessities in a malarial area like Bataan. Their shoes were conventional Filipino sneakers that the troops had worn nearly to pieces even by the time of arrival on the peninsula. As soon as the Commonwealth soldiers reached Bataan, they tried to buy footwear from the civilian population, but could obtain little in this way. The few available U.S. Army service shoes proved useless, for Filipinos, barefoot most of their lives, had feet far too broad for these narrow shoes. Commonwealth troops necessarily reverted to their custom of going barefoot. Even such military commonplaces as shelter halves and tentage were almost totally lacking in the cool nights of mountainous Bataan. Indeed, the scarcity of clothing, footwear, and shelter in the Philippine Army played a prominent role in the large incidence of malaria, hookworm, and respiratory diseases.
Among the poorest of the Battling Bastards from the start.