Restoring WWII with accuracy

TSF BP 382P HQ
Jeep of the Military Police, Theater Service Forces with complete unit markings. This photograph is most likely a post-war photograph taken during occupation duty.

I’ve created this post to help out a reader now restoring an authentic WWII 1942 Ford GPW.  I needed help myself – Matt Underwood, past Editor of  “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association – and I’m proud to say –  my friend, came to my rescue. 

 

The only drawback to the Army Manual was that Airborne Divisions had not really developed at the time the text of this book was written, and therefore, the examples of actual vehicle markings on jeeps, etc., of Airborne Divisions are not among the samples/examples in the manual itself.  Armies, Corps, and Infantry Divisions, Armored Divisions, and Cavalry Divisions are covered, and all smaller units, but no Airborne Divisions.  Everything else about Airborne jeeps are the same as the rest of the Army, with the exception of distinguishing between, say, the 11th Armored Division and 11th Airborne Division.  Other than being in two different theaters of war, they are almost the same.

The world of military vehicles, especially American WWII stuff, is a growing field, as old junkers are discovered in barns, landfills, junkyards, and out in the woods, and collectors are buying them and restoring them.  When they get their special treasure all completed, they want total accuracy in these unique unit markings to add the final tough of authenticity.  So the number of websites featuring vehicle markings has grown rapidly over the past 10 years.

28-103E HQ-4
A jeep from the 103rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 28th Infantry Division photographed on a bridge somewhere in Europe. The unit bumper markings are applied according to regulations and designate the 4th vehicle of the Headquarters of 103rd Engineers, 28th Infantry Division. The windshield carries the addition marking “T4 Cole” in white.

http://www.classicjeeps.co.uk/american-vehicle-markings/

 

https://blog.kaiserwillys.com/military-jeep-markings

 

http://www.lonesentry.com/panzer/jeep-markings.html

 

http://jeepdraw.com/

 

https://g503.com/

 

http://www.kingtigerebooks.co.uk/p/world-war-ii.html

 

Now back to the last part of the problem.  The 11th Airborne Division, like other Airborne Divisions from 1942 to 1944, followed the Army’s Table of Organization & Equipment No. 71, dated 17 Feb 1942.  The A/B units in Europe and the States updated this TO&E in Dec 44, but not the 11th or 503rd…not till the early summer of ’45.  So almost all of the time the 11th was in combat, it had the same set-up for everything that it always had—at least on paper.    I do have a substitute source for part of the data, however, and here’s what I believe your reader will need to know.

11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan

I think that for most of the War, MOST of the 11th Airborne’s jeeps and trucks bore vehicle markings like your sepia-colored photo of the jeep from the 188th.  Its bumper markings are important in solving this puzzle:

 

11AB..188-I…………SV8 = 11th Airborne, 188th Infantry, Service Company, 8th Vehicle

No one unit in a WWII airborne division would have such a high number of jeeps unless they were all numbered in a regiment-wide motor pool.

I have some proof that the 511th—being a Parachute Infantry Regiment—had probably all of its vehicles marked for its Service Company, as the motor pool for the whole regiment, which had 3 Parachute Inf. Battalions.  It is probable that the 187th and 188th, being Glider Infantry Regiments with only 2 Glider Inf. Battalions each, probably also had all its vehicles marked for its respective Service Cos., which had charge of the motor pool for the whole regiment.

The vehicle allowance for the motor pool of the 511th PIR, seems to TOTAL out as follows:  (1) Sedan; (2) Ambulances; (13) 1/4-ton Trucks (which are what Jeeps were usually referred to in official tables); (15) 3/4-ton Trucks; (16) 2-1/2 ton Trucks; and (14) 1-ton Trailers.  These totals are for the whole Regiment, but are internally divided between the Service Company’s “HQ Co. Squad”, its “1st Bn. Squad” and 2nd & 3rd Bn. Squads as well, and its own “Transportation Platoon”—-which would be maybe what we would think of as a vehicle “reserve”, or were the vehicles under current repair.  It probably allowed a flexibility that couldn’t be had otherwise.  What this tells me is that when Col. Haugen needed his staff car, his adjutant called the “motor pool” (the Service Company’s Transportation Platoon) and said “Bring around the Colonel’s staff car.”  Then the Colonel’s driver, a NCO from the Transportation Platoon’s “HQ Co. Squad” pulled his staff car up to the Colonel’s CP (command post) and waited.  Same with the Colonel’s jeep, etc.  When Lt.Col. John Strong, CO of 3rd Bn., needed his jeep, he or his adjutant called up the motor pool and ordered his jeep—-then a driver from the Transp. Platoon’s “3rd Bn. Squad” brought his jeep to Lt.Col. Strong’s CP and waited.  When I say “his jeep” it was likely the same one every time, but could be a substitute on any given occasion if the main jeep was getting repaired or cleaned, etc.  The pooling of all vehicles into the Service Company may have simply been the best idea to allow flexibility whenever a vehicle was needed on short notice.

From late 1940 to February 1945, markings were to be made in blue-drab. This type of color scheme would prevent enemy intelligence from gathering and identifying military markings as the two colors were hard to distinguish from one another when viewed in black and white photographs. The official color of these markings was changed to flat white in February 1945, but the reserves of blue-drab paint were used until exhausted.

In other words, ALL the jeeps and other vehicles would have Service Co. marks on the bumpers, regardless of who in the Regiment was using them.  Therefore, the 511th would have a fleet of jeeps marked SV1 through SV13.  I am GUESSING (for now) that the 187th and 188th had similar systems, which would explain your photo of a 188th jeep marked SV8.  I am guessing that if the system holds, the 188th was only allotted 9 jeeps total.

Anyway, I will get back to you on that.

As to 11th Division HQ, I’m not sure yet as to its markings.  Probably they had their own vehicles, but unsure as yet.  If so, Gen. Swing’s jeep would probably have been bumper marked like this:

11ABX………………..HQ1 = 11th Airborne Division, HQ Company, 1st Vehicle

As always, these are 3″ tall letters, and the center of the bumper may or may not have a star painted on—it is the US star for all vehicles, found all over most other big surfaces.  The bumpers often had them to start with, and as paint wore off and was repainted, sometimes the bumper stars were skipped, leading to the frequent blank space in the center where a star once was.

MATTHEW UNDERWOOD

Bookbinder/Conservator, Boyce Centennial Library,

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;

Editor Emeritus, Voice of the Angels,

11th Airborne Division Association

**********          **********

The 11th Airborne  uniform examples

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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Click on images to enlarge.

 

Military Humor –

Uuh… guys…?

 

 

11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dominic “Mickey” Bria – Smithers, SC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

William Conklin – Stony Point, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

George D’Arcy – Liverpool, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, CBI & Africa, 2/South Lancashire Regiment

Homer Godair – Griffithville, AR; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Scott Humbird – Brentwood, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Malaria Control Unit

Charles Pittman Sr. – Pensacola, FL; USMC, Vietnam, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Lt.General (Ret. 40 y.)

William Sartain – Mineral Wells, TX; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO

Mary Sweeney – Nanticoke, PA; US Army Air Corps WAC; WWII, Medical/Surgical Tech.

William Taylor – Grant, AL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT “Rakkasans’

William Whiteman – Hood River, OR; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt. Commander (Ret. 27 y.)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 24, 2020, in First-hand Accounts, Home Front, Post WWII, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. A remarkable and commendable post gp, I think every soldier must have been qualified as a visual linguist in the war days, to decipher all markings would have been an incredible feat.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What caught my attention was the photo of “11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan.” It had to have been posed. All seven of those men couldn’t have fit in that small truck?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Now that’s a lot of technical information, G. Had my brain reeling. Our son-in-law’s dad restores antique vehicles to their original state and I can attest to the incredible amount of detail that is involved. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  4. After the War the Jeep became a very common on farms as a workhorse. My uncle had one. It was better for them to be used that for great trenches to be dug and for them to be buried.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I admire the commitment to historical accuracy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The jeepney – the Filipino adaptation of the WW2 jeep as one of your followers mentioned above – is still operating here! Different engines and bodies now of course but still based on the chassis and look of the originals plus the garish designs.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is enormous interest nowadays in the uniforms and equipment of WW2. We went to what used to be RAF East KIrkby a few years back and saw a day long recreation of a day in 1944. Everybody seemed to like it, with the ladies’ strange hair-does and the men in all kinds of RAF and Eighth Air Force uniforms. Personally though, I can’t imagine why anybody would want to come along as a German, which a few people had done.
    I never thought at the time, but perhaps they were Germans?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Absolutely fascinating read, and just goes to show that details are important

    Liked by 2 people

  9. In the Philippines, they remodeled this military car to what we call “owner type jeep” and I used to have one myself and it’s manual but my father and brother drive it as I can only drive automatic, unfortunately. PH has a lot of memorabilia from WWI & WWII.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What an interesting, yet difficult, project this would be. I can see them driving by in a parade now.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m not much into restoration, so didn’t read this carefully. Are going to try to make Mary’s retirement?  I just can’t – need to be in Eau Claire.  Patty and I heading to the Destin FL area next week – looking forward to getting out of the cold weather for awhile! Tom

    Tom McCarthy

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I once worked on a boat owned by a guy who restored vintage cars, and believe me — his attention to detail was nearly overwhelming. I think it takes a certain personality to take on a project like this; a lot of patience is needed, as well as knowledge.

    Speaking of finding and restoring, I think you might enjoy this article I found today in the Smithsonian about the discovery of some WWII planes in the Pacific.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. … heh heh … So are you doing “Gear Head Tuesday” for my blog on Monday now?
    Inquiring minds want to know!
    😂😊

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Another excellent and informative posts, GP. Those old jeeps are epic.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. They are doing a great work, even with much more greater efforts. Thank you for the very interesting information, GP! Hope you will have a beautiful week. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I wish I was restoring one of these old vehicles. nice job, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Brings back a lot of memories, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Always a joy to stop by – I learn something new with everyone of your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I’ve been researching a WWII Med Corps Doctor lately, and have come across a lot of amazing websites that feature TONS of great photos of various aspects of each theater. I’ve also discovered that there are a few (not many) old news reel clips on You Tube where you can find certain things you might be looking for. It’s often difficult when you have a black and white photo to research what the colors of the marking might have been, though. I hope your reader/friend finds all he needs to restore that amazing GPW.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Ah, the old Jeep. I went out to NTC (Ft. Irwin CA) with 1st ID, and 501st MPs was still using the old Jeep then. Lot of fun playing Rat Patrol in it. Shortly afterwards we traded them in for the Hummer.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. One of the reasons I own a Jeep, a tough vehicle with a history. Great photos on your blog, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Wishing the best to your reader restoring that vehicle! I also enjoyed the slide show.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. The technicalities are beyond my scope, but I think one would be marvellous to own and I enjoyed the uniform gallery.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Years ago I knew someone who had an Army surplus Willys Jeep. Not very adept at shifting gears would say above the whine, “if ya can’t find ‘em, grind ‘em.” They could take amazing amounts of abuse and still run.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen too many photos of jeeps in all of the WWII books I read. I saw tanks all the time. I know they were around since there were plenty of them after the war that Filipinos turned into garish-looking jeepneys.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Drove a Jeep for the Batallion XO while stationed in Germany with the 2/22 Inf (Mech) from 79 to 81. They sure didn’t change much. I seem to remember being told that the carburetor was made by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. Don’t really know if that was true or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know about Singer and the carburetors, that might have been like the old line, “Did you get your driving license out of the Sears catalog?” but, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did – they were great at making WWII weapons!!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. To find a well-preserved WW2 vintage jeep must be like finding a treasure. I once owned 1954 Pontiac in near mint condition, which was given to me as a farewell gift by my principal in 1966. It would be worth a fortune if it was found today in the same condition. Interesting post, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Great pictures today, and a wealth of information for the restoration project!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. This is the sort of invaluable information beloved of WW2 re-enactors.
    It is also a popular pastime in the UK.
    https://www.ww2lha.co.uk/
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Wonderful, GP! BTW, I finally posted about Norman Rockwell this morning, with a link to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. GP, I love this article and the cartoons. It reminds me of being an MWR specialist in Hungary during Operation Joint Guard. It was important to be friends with the motor pool Sargeant. Because we were responsible for the television sets and other off duty entertainment, he made sure there was always a nontactical vehicle available for us to drive.

    I saw my first WWII reenactment at the Ft Myer Library in Arlington, VA when a group of Renactors asked to do a set up a camp on the grass in front of the library. The enactors in German Army uniforms were part of the group. An elderly French lady was using the pool since this was Memorial Day weekend and the pool had just opened. She had a flashback to WWII and almost jumped out of her skin when she was German soldiers with rifles walking around the outside the library. To make a long story short, equipment like a jeep or the ability to set up a field post office really pops a reenactment set up.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Superb!
    I have also found a photo in a Japanese book about jeeps in the pacific :
    11ABX RCN3 seen during a parade with jeeps in Japan.
    Think this was the Provisional Recon Platoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you very much, Ian.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Featured Blogger: Restoring WWII with accuracy // Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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