Camouflaged Uniforms of Warsaw Pact by J.F. Borsarello

By J.F. Borsarello

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Com 1st US Marine Raiders demonstrate a river crossing by ropes at Camp Allard, New Caledonia, March 1943. The first camouflage uniform issued to the Marines was a one-piece overall, but this was unpopular with soldiers serving in a hot climate, especially if suffering from loose bowels, and they had to cut their own bottom flaps into it. The overall was replaced by a two-piece uniform, as shown in the photograph. The US Marine Raiders were an elite unit specializing in amphibious warfare, trained in landing in fast inflatable boats and operating behind enemy lines.

This tendency continued throughout the war until ‘this pattern was again modified so as to produce an even more blurred effect or blending from one colour to another’. Seen at a distance, the green/brown patterns tended to merge together, so a new motif – reinforcing the effect of disruptive patterning – was developed with strongly contrasting black shapes. Called Leibermuster, it was to be worn by all German troops in 1945, but the collapse of the Third Reich meant it never reached the battlefield.

In 1943, a variant of this pattern appeared in which the edges of the angular shapes were blurred; this became known as the Sumpfmuster or swamp pattern. The Waffen-SS produced its own distinct camouflaged Zeltbahn from 1939 to 1944. com Sleeve of German camouflaged smock, showing detail of Palmenmuster or palm tree pattern. This was one of the more literal tree patterns developed by the Waffen-SS but had nothing to do with palms. Bunches of feather-like leaves can be seen on the sleeve, perhaps inspired by studying ash trees, while radiating darks lines on the shoulders led it to be called ‘tiger shirt’ by troops.

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