At first glance the non-combat equipment carried by US soldiers during the Second World War looks to be a rather unpromising topic, but it actually turns out to provide an interesting insight into the daily life of the American soldier. As one would expect this equipment includes ammo pouches and other combat related items, but much of it actually touches more on the day-to-day life of the soldier - drinking canteens, cups, cutlery, backpacks and even camping gear.
Some of the kit was surprising poor, most particularly the backpacks. The standard M1928 haversack, the main backpack for most troops, was too small and too complex, and unlike modern backpacks came as a series of flat panels that had to be laid out on flat, dry ground to be packed, before being essentially wrapped around the kit. It didn’t come with waist straps, and had to be used with one of the standard military belts. Only in 1944-45 did an improved field pack come into limited use, and even that was still too small.
Much of the camping equipment was fairly standard, but the ponchos and shelter-half tents were an interesting idea, both of which could be combined with another soldier's piece of kit to produce a two man tent. The jungle hammock was an unusual addition, combining a hammock, a small roof and mosquito netting in one item. In theory a good idea, it's big flaw was that it took too long to get out of it in an emergency!
This is a surprisingly interesting book, helping to paint a picture of the daily life of the combat soldier through the equipment they lived with.
Author: Gordon L. Rottman