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Uniforms of the 11th Cavalary

Fatigue and Training Uniforms

By mid-1941 fatigue clothing was authorized in the US Army not only for fatigue duties, but for drill and field training activities as well. Fatigue clothing had been issued in the Army since the late 19th Century, its purpose being to preserve and protect the uniform during performance of certain duties which might damage the uniform. Fatigue clothing in 1941 was available in two materials: the first being the older, blue dungaree clothing (exactly the same material and color as blue jeans); the second, introduced in 1938, was a cotton "herringbone" twill (HBT) in olive green. Regular army units like the 11th Cavalry would issue almost exclusively the new HBT material.

HBT coverallThe HBT fatigue clothing came in two varieties which were often worn simultaneously in the same unit. The first was a one-piece, front opening coverall introduced in 1938. A later pattern of this uniform is being worn here by Coporal Bowen (left) as he grooms his horse. Per regulations, rank insignia are worn on the fatigue clothing but no other insignia are authorized.

The fatigue uniform is worn over the the riding boots, rather than tucked into them. A dismounted soldier, such as an infantryman, would wear calf-high leggings with the trousers tucked in. Only mounted troops were permitted to wear the trousers loose over the outside of the boots.

The Corporal is also wearing the standard pattern fatigue hat, M1941. The troops named this soft, round hat the "Daisy Mae" after the character in the popular Lil' Abner comic strip.

M1941 two piece uniform

The second variety of fatigue clothing was the M1941, a two piece uniform consisting of a jacket-like top and straight-leg trousers. Trooper Bertolucci, watering a horse after a cross country ride (right), is wearing this uniform. The color difference seen here between the two parts of the uniform was normal. Because of different manufacturers, different dye lots and different rates of wear for uniform parts, it would be unusual to see a soldier whose top and trousers matched exactly.

The HBT fatigue uniforms were cut to be very roomy. They could therefore be worn over the standard wool uniform in cooler weather or they could be worn by themselves in warmer climates or seasons.

The M1912 Canvas Watering Bucket is a collapsible design with metal hoops at the top and bottom and a canvas covered rope handle. The example in use here is dated 1918.

Fully outfitted Private First ClassAt left, Private First Class Ruggels stands to horse prior to a field exercise wearing the M1941 two-piece fatigue uniform and the M1911 field service hat (popularly called the "campaign hat"). The distinctive insignia of the 11th Cavalry is worn on the field service hat along with the yellow hat cord designating the cavalry branch. He is prepared for field duty wearing the M1918 Mounted Cartridge Belt, M1918 Pistol Magazine Pouch, M1916 Pistol Holster with M1911 .45 Automatic Pistol, M1910 First Aid Pouch, and M1936 Suspenders.

The mounted version of the cartridge belt has nine pockets each containing one en bloc clip of eight rounds of .30 caliber M2 ball ammunition (meaning a full metal jacket projectile) for the M1 service rifle. The pistol magazine pouch contains two magazines each with seven rounds of .45 caliber ball ammunition for the pistol and the pistol itself holds another magazine with seven rounds. Additional rifle and pistol ammunition is carried in the saddle bags for extended field service.

PFC Ruggels' standard issue "gloves, horsehide, riding, unlined" are tucked into the front of his suspenders— at least until the sergeant conducts inspection!

Beginning in 1931, a full-height riding boot was issued to enlisted personal of the US Cavalry for the first time since the late 19th Century. Prior to 1931, an ankle-high boot was worn with a separate canvas and leather M1917 legging. The Model 1931 boot (left), was still the most widely used cavalry footwear in 1941. It featured a full lace-up front with eyelets to just above the ankle and hooks above that. The hooks facilitated getting the boots on and off in a reasonable amount of time but most troops still found them cumbersome.


The Model 1940 riding boots gradually replaced the M1931 boots. Standardized in 1940, many officers and senior enlisted men acquired this pattern of boot before their official issue since they were much easier to put on and take off than the M1931. An original, new-in-the-box pair of M1940 boots are illustrated to the right with M1911 spurs. These boots continued in use after World War II with the mounted constabulary serving on occupation duty in Europe.



Two styles of field coat were issued in the Army of 1941. The first was the Mackinaw, M1938 (on the right in the photo). This was a hip-length, double-breasted coat, made in canvas duck, lined with blanket wool and fastened with a separate waist belt. It had a blanket wool shawl collar which could be turned up in extreme weather.

A new, light weight jacket appeared in 1941 for use in the field in place of the four-pocket service coat (see below). This waist-length M1941 Field Jacket (left and center of the photo) was constucted of a (supposedly!) weather-proof outer cotton shell and a blanket lining. A half-belt went around the waist in back and the botttom edge of the jacket could be sized by means of buckled pull-tabs. The front closed with both a zipper and buttons. Popular with the troops, this jacket became famous in World War II as the GI "field jacket" seen from North Africa to the end of the war in Europe.

Service Dress Uniform

Our sergeant (below right) is on the town on a Saturday night wearing the standard service dress. The wool service coat was intended for both dress and field service, but by 1941 was largely used only for dress and ceremony, its field role having been taken over my the M41 Field Jacket. The service coat is worn here with the russet leather garrison belt. Per regulations, the sergeant has chosen a white cotton shirt for off-duty wear, rather than the issued olive drab wool shirt. He has also chosen to wear straight leg trousers. As a member of a mounted unit, he is entitled to wear boots and breeches off-duty if he soService Dress Uniform desires. In this case, however, he has decided that dancing with spurs on is not the way to impress his date!

The sergeant's sleeve carries his rank chevrons and service stripes, one for each three year enlistment completed. Over the breast pocket are his markmanship award and a ribbon for the National Defense medal awarded for one year's service during the "national emergency" beginning September 1, 1939. The lower lapels carry the distinctive insignia of the 11th Cavalry and the upper lapels display brass disks with "US" on one and the crossed sabers of the cavalry branch on the other. The uniform is topped off with the enlisted man's service cap.

The most important part of the soldier's uniform is his best girl on his arm (who doubles as his web programming consultant). She's wearing a vintage wool bolero jacket along with widely flared slacks of the type popularized by Katherine Hepburn and other actresses from the late 30's on. (Photo taken at the Verdi Club, San Francisco by Joe Fazio)

Regulation Class A uniform



The regulation "Class A" uniform (left) for the on-duty cavalry enlisted man consists of the wool service coat, service cap, wool flannel shirt with black worsted tie, wool breeches and riding boots. The boots shown here are the M1940 "three-buckle" boots. The boots are worn with the M1911 spurs and spur straps. Sergeant Klink is assigned as sergeant of the guard and therefore wears the M1912 Pistol Belt with holster and magazine pouch for the .45 cal. M1911 pistol. His pistol is secured with a lanyard looped from left shoulder to right hip as required when armed with the pistol while on horseback. The whistle is as much a symbol of his non-commisioned officer rank as it is a functional piece of equipment.


Class B uniform



Sergeant Klink awaits morning formation in front of the barracks (right). His "Class B" uniform was commonly worn on-post throughout the US Army of 1941. This is essentially the Class A uniform without the service coat and with the tie tucked into the wool flannel shirt. A tropical version of this uniform consisted of a shirt, tie and breeches all of matching cotton khaki. The khaki uniform was worn throughout the year in warm climates such as the Southern US and the Philippines and was the summer uniform in many other parts of the world.

As with fatigue clothing, only rank insignia were authorized for wear on the wool shirt in 1941. Depending upon the soldier's assigned duties, the Class B uniform may be worn with the service cap or, as shown here, with the field service hat.

Weapons of the Cavalry:

Pictured above are the weapons and weapon accessories carried by a cavalry trooper in 1941. At the top of the photograph is the M1 rifle lying on its saddle scabbard. The M1 rifle and the means of carrying it on the horse are fully described in the tack section of this site.

Beneath the rifle is the M1918 Mounted Rifle Belt. The items on the belt from left to right are:

  • M1918 Pistol Magazine Pouch carrying two seven-round magazines for the M1911 .45 caliber pistol. One loaded magazine is laying on the pouch.
  • An open rifle cartridge pocket with an 8-round en bloc clip of .30 caliber rifle ammunition for the M1 rifle.
  • M1917 Bolo knife carried by some cavalrymen, particulary in machine gun platoons, in lieu of an entrenching tool. The Bolo could be employed as both a machette and a shovel and, if needed, was a very effective fighting knife.
  • Closed and snapped rifle cartridge pocket. The mounted man's belt had nine such pockets. Each could hold one 8-round en bloc clip for the M1 or two five-round stripper clips for the M1903 rifle.
  • An open rifle cartridge pocket with a metal bottle of rifle cleaning solvent. Both cleaning solvent and oil were supplied in bottles of this type designed to fit in the rifle belt pockets, uniform pockets or saddle bags.
  • M1910 First Aid Pouch with an orange metal bandage pouch. Each trooper carried one such bandage for immediate first aid use prior to the arrival of medical personnel.
  • M1916 Pistol Holster and, to its right, the M1911 .45 Caliber Automatic Pistol. Actually a semi-automatic, magazine-fed pistol, the famous "45" was carried by all cavalry troopers for use as a mounted offensive weapon. The saber had been phased out of cavalry service in 1935 and thereafter the pistol was the weapon exclusively employed in the mounted charge. The pistol was always worn with a lanyard, shown coiled above the pistol. The lanyard was worn from left shoulder to right hip and snapped to the butt of the pistol. It prevented loss of the pistol if dropped while on horseback.

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