502 Getting it right!
I know I have said a lot of things already that seem over top, picky and unnecessary well... in this page, it's probably going to get worse for those who think re-enacting consists of putting a freshly washed and ironed M42 with shoulder holster, parachute silk scarf, sunglasses, cigar and late war googles.... prepare to throw the toys out the pram and go looking for a dressing up group instead.
If that first paragraph hasn't had you running off to find an easier more relaxed group, then great, we are a very relaxed bunch, but we still want to do it right. Most things are not difficult in any way, and mainly consist of just buying the right items the first time round. I touch on the items worn by all paratroopers across the board on the other pages. However, this is for the 2nd Battalion 502 PIR in Normandy in particular. Lots of the examples below have a number out of 10. 10 meaning that everyone did it, so you better follow suit, a 1 meaning that it was done by a few. For those oddities that were done by one guy have not been mentioned. You can find a photos of almost anything if you look hard enough, however just because you found one photo of one guy doing it, is NEVER a reason or a good excuse to do it. No matter how 'cool' it looks. So where on earth do I start... lets start with the helmet and work our way down.
M1 Helmet Markings - Almost all M1 Helmets had the heart painted on the size, in Normandy it was fairly larger than in the later campaigns. However NO HASH marks, these appear after the Normandy campaign. 10 / 10
M1 Helmet Nets - As much as I hate helmet nets, when you look at the photos of the 502 in Normandy and pre-invasion every single one has a helmet net. Usually the smaller net type... I guess that is something that I myself need to address with my own impression at time of writing this! 10 / 10
Scarfs - No I can only apologise for the confusion I have cause over scarfs and as lovely as they ones I have made are, we will pretty much be saving these for A-Class or when the public have gone. The white scarfs (or bandage) round the neck denote a different battalion, not the 2nd. Also, please don't wear those camouflage scarfs, they are so ludicrous that no reenactor can take you seriously if you wear one. The only change you would have to acquire one would be the moment you hit the ground in Normandy... do you think cutting a piece of your parachute off would be your number one priority at that moment. If anyone officer or NCO saw you, you'd most likely get a kick up the arse and be balled out.
Shoulder - On the shoulder of all 2nd Battalion members was a white cloth, usually a bandage. Tied around the arm and through the epaulette. Simple and easy, a lovely piece that shows attention to detail. We always have a roll of bandage to hand. 10/10
M42 Jumpsuit CC2 treatment - yes this will sound crazy! The easiest way to make your M42 look like it has just had its pre-invasion CC2 treatment (Anti-gas/chemical) is to get a bucket of decking oil (I used teak oil, as I always had some), then dunk the jacket and trousers in it and if sodden, take it out, hang it up and then leave it to drip dry. I know that sounds insane. You'll not only get a better looking M42, but it will be water resistant too! 10 / 10
M42 Chest Nametapes - when you look at the pre-invasion photos, a good number of the 502 have name tapes, not all, but a few do. I have a guy in the US who makes these on old tape just like the originals. If you want one, let me know. 2 / 10
Rigger Pouches vs M1 Ammo Pouches - Rigger pouches all the way, there are NO M1 ammo pouches in any photographs and videos that I can see of the 502 pre-invasion. A normal rifleman seems to wear at least 3 of the small sized rigger pouch, check the photo under the video. If you don't believe anything I have said... just check the video below of the 502 heading to the planes 5th June. Also, see if you can spot the hard-shell Luger holster, Empty M43 shovel cover, gas brassard that is falling apart and British P37 holster! 10 / 10
Black Tape - Tape up all those bags that could open during descent, even if you tape them in a way so that they look like you've since opened them. That adds even more realism and attention to detail. If you have multiple riggers with Garand clips in them, tape up some sealed and then have one that has been broken open. GP Ammo bags were also seen to be taped closed too. The GP bags were more commonly seen taped than the smaller rigger pouches 4 / 10
M1 Chemical Eye shields - A fairly unusual item to see popping up in both videos and photos are these odd little eye shields. They came in packs of 4 in with gasmasks. I have seen a few on helmets and a few round necks, due the straps being short I'm sure the latter wouldn't be too comfortable! 1 / 10
Rank - The topic that nobody likes to mention... well, after the group has reviewed this subject many times, we will be keeping it to the almost minimum. 1 Officer, 1 Sgt and then some junior enlisted ranks, the rest being Pvts with a sprinkling of PFC's mixed in. Keeping the ratio sensible and realistic. If you dream of being a Staff Officer, then this is NOT the group for you. If you want to portray an accurate and realistic unit then you may fit right in. One thing was decided that, who ever does have any rank will act accordingly For example, our Sgt performs duties both in the field and group duties as a Sgt would. Rallying the guys, getting people moving and sorted. When odd jobs need doing, him or the officer arranges who is doing what. No we don't bark orders at you like the gestapo, neither do we pussy-foot about.