What can I say about this jacket, quite possibly the most iconic, and certainly one of the most sought after items of clothing from WW2. Designed in 1941 by the then Captain William P. Yarborough, Test Officer for the newly formed parachute divisions. The new jacket featured four pockets, each slanted to allow easy access when wearing all of the required parachute gear, and each pocket with both bellows and a second set of studs to allow for plenty of carrying space. The 8oz cotton twill would be very light, so light infact that following experience of use in North Africa and Italy, prior to the jump on D-Day, regiment riggers reinforced many with grey canvas around areas of wear. These jackets were only produced for a year or so between 1942-43, and would quickly be replaced by the m1943 field jacket, so examples are rare, and with the popularity of airborne/special forces collecting, one of the hardest pieces to find!
This particular jacket features a Crown main zipper, and both knife pocket zippers are Serval. The press studs are the early brass version, and it features khaki painted brass grommets in the armpits. The tag is in the pocket, but is well washed out.
More importantly however is the history. On the button placket is a laundry number, C-3163. This number denotes the first letter of a surname and the last four letters of a service number. I've run this through multiple databases and rosters of paratroopers, and have located one hit. Russel J Carson, a native of Phoenixville Pennsylvania enlisted 6th November 1942. After training he would join the Regimental HQ of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, a unit in which he would serve until at least April of 1945. Based on the four Service Stars he was awarded (Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe) and the Arrowhead, along with his time with the unit, it's virtually certain he jumped on D-Day and Arnhem. It looks like he was honourably discharged December 19th 1945. Postwar he would serve at the US Navy's Parachute Facility at Lakehurst NJ.
There are also the patches, the oval is likely postwar from the 1945-50 period, and this uniform may have either been returned to stores and used by Airborne Centre for training or Carson would continue to wear it as a serving paratrooper training Navy jumpers. Very faintly on the shoulder you can see the outline of what I believe to be an Airborne Command patch that may have been worn as part of the 508th prior to them joining the 82nd in 1944, and finally a stronger shadow of what looks like corporal's chevrons.
This is in beautiful condition. All zippers and poppers work perfectly, and the only damage is the stitch marks from the removed name tape. The pockets have had the bellows carefully sewn shut, which I can unpick if requested. I've checked and all of the bellows are present and undamaged.
- No tag, but likely would have been a 38 (these fit small)
- Pit to pit 20"
- Waist 17"
- Shoulder to shoulder 17.5"
- Shoulder to cuff 23.5"
- Collar to hem 29"