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Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:25 pm

As I wrote in my presentation topic, I'm planning to re-enact as a pathfinder and later switch to radioman. Here's a list of items I think are necessary to represent quite accurately a 1944 US GI in France. I'll mark the items I have with *. Thanks for the advice you will give me !!


M1 Helmet (+ net if necessary)
Beanie cap
Garrison cap*

Coton scarf

OD T-shirt
Mustard wool shirt
M41 Vest
or M42 paratrooper vest * (if reenacting Airborne)
ID tags

Underpants
Mustard trousers or M41 trousers
Trooper belt

Socks (white, green or OD ??)
Leather boots
Gaiters

Concerning gear and weapons

M1936 Belt* with bandage pouch*, two USM1 Carbine loader pouches*, Mark II grenade*, flask.
M3 Trenchknife (I have a kar98 bayonet (which requires a bit of restoration) I could use as a "trophy").
M36 bag with shoulder strap*
Gasmask bag*

Concerning weapons, I imagine that pathfinders would first have an M1 Garand but some of them might have switched to M1 carbines, much lighter and convenient for their job. The reason I chose the carbine is that radiomen were also apparently equipped with them (I read some of them only had a Colt M1911 pistol - where's the truth ?).

At last my last aim is to be radioman carrying a BC1000 radio. I found the electronics circuits diagrams of these radios so I might/may be able to fix one (with the help of some of my teachers).If I can't I could always include in the case a modern radio circuit to reenact communications . Others problem include finding batteries that could operate it, the weight of the radio (38 pounds in the original version) and the fact that you need a license to use it (but it adds realism to battles!). Thus I'll have to add the special belt to carry it, pouch for the spare equipement (lamps, antenna) and probably one or two smoke grenades (not sure at all !).

Thanks again for your advice.
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  murph on Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:57 pm

In regards to your personal gear Pat I think Ben and Sam are the best to ask about what a Pathfinder would have worn/been issued with. As for the radio the group we travel with have somehow integrated a normal CB radio into their sets.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Guest on Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:57 pm

Hi Pat,

Great to hear that you're looking at getting into the hobby (as Rizla has said, it's a slippery slide, this one Wink ). Equipment rather depends upon what unit you're looking at portraying in particular. For example, Pathfinder in the 101st / 82d?

Cheers,
Ben.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:01 am

Yeah, I know pathfinders are rather related to airborne divisions. My main idea (practically speaking) is to help you guys find their way in France's countryside and to help with translations and communication with French people (I'm bilingual), that is why I'm talking about "pathfinder". I can also help if you have any problems or questions with the French administration (filling forms, etc...). But the general idea concerning re-enactment would still be portraying a normal infantry man. I'll switch to radioman as soon I can find an affordable BC 1000 radioset.
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  murph on Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:59 am

Pat wrote:Yeah, I know pathfinders are rather related to airborne divisions. My main idea (practically speaking) is to help you guys find their way in France's countryside and to help with translations and communication with French people (I'm bilingual), that is why I'm talking about "pathfinder". I can also help if you have any problems or questions with the French administration (filling forms, etc...). But the general idea concerning re-enactment would still be portraying a normal infantry man. I'll switch to radioman as soon I can find an affordable BC 1000 radioset.

Well we were portraying a re-con unit. We need to develop your character, most of us on here have one, fictitious of course but perhaps you could be from some part of the south where they speak French?

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  samharris45 on Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:07 pm

The only thing I see that is a problem Pat is that if you portray a paratrooper then you rather limit yourself to Normandy and it would be painting up kit.

I would suggest that basic paratrooper and/or infantry kit would suit you to the ground. The great thing about Infantry kit is that you only need change a patch and you are portraying a differant unit.

Sam
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Giben on Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:37 am

I do not this there would be an actual placement for the skills You mention, it would be more of an asset.
But I guess a radio man would be suitable. Map translator?, but that's more rear echelon (Hey isn't that what upham was before tom hanks found him??)
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:34 pm

Let's stay on the idea of being a simple infantry man who comes from a town in Louisiana where my parents emigrated (thus explaining why I speak French). As I said I'll switch to radioman as soon as I get one.

Why do you think of my list of equipment ? According to your knowledge, what would GI's be more likely to wear : Mustards ou HBTs ?? (let's say on a quite wide period of time : late 1942 to 1945).

Thanks for your help !

Enjoy the Calvados
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  murph on Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:59 pm

Pat wrote:Let's stay on the idea of being a simple infantry man who comes from a town in Louisiana where my parents emigrated (thus explaining why I speak French). As I said I'll switch to radioman as soon as I get one.

Why do you think of my list of equipment ? According to your knowledge, what would GI's be more likely to wear : Mustards ou HBTs ?? (let's say on a quite wide period of time : late 1942 to 1945).

Thanks for your help !

Enjoy the Calvados


You can't really go wrong with mustards, it seems like they were worn underneath a lot of alternative clothing from HBTs to Airborne jumpsuits.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:43 am

Hi Patrick,

As Murph has said, your Kit List looks good. I would stick with Wool Trousers, as they can be used for the very wide time frame you've indicated. Don't forget that the US Army introduced a number of patterns of HBT uniforms (the first pattern being a replacement for the denim fatigues), so if you wanted to do an early war impression (either Zone of Interior or MTO), you would need to go down the route of first pattern HBT uniforms. To portray a basic leg infantryman, I'd recommend the following load-out:

Standard Uniforms:
- M1941 Field Jacket
- OD Wool Serge Trousers w/ open-faced EM style belt.
- OD Flannel Shirt (either Coat or "Special" style)
- Roughout Boots
- M1938 Dismounted Leggings
- M1 Steel Helmet (front seam, fixed bale if possible)
- OD Garrison Cap (piped blue for Infantry)

Basic Equipment:
- M1928 Haversack ("Doughboy" pack)
- M1910 / M1943 Entrenching Tool
- M1928 Dismounted Cartridge Belt
- M1942 / M1910 Carlisle Pouch w/ bandage
- M1942 Canteen Carrier w/ Canteen and Cup
- M3-10A1-6 Lightweight Service Gas Mask
- M1926 Life Preserver Belt
- M1 Bayonet (as necessary)

Obviously if you want to go down the route of Airborne troops, you need to decide which of the units you're going to portray. Each one had its idiosyncrasies, and trying to put together a definitive kit list is quite difficult. For example, as you might be aware, the 82d wore armflags on their Jumpsuits, whereas the 101st wore the Gas Detection Brassard. There are a number of differences in the uniforms themselves, so as a beginner, it might be better to put together a leg infantry impression together first, and then move onto Airborne.

Impression > As for your impression, you might be aware of the term "MOS". This is an acronym for Military Occupational Speciality, and was used in the US Army during WW2 to distinguish the talents and skills of each soldier. If, during Basic Training, you exceeded in one of the skills set for you, you would have an MOS assigned, which described your primary role within the unit to which you would eventually become part of. I checked my references for you (TM 12-427 -Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel), and here's what I was able to find for the skills you're interested in portraying (the descriptions are taken from the Manual):

MOS Code 320 - Interpreter:
Interprets foreign language into English or English into a foreign language to assist military personnel and others in conversing with individuals who are unable to speak the same language.
Must be able to speak foreign language and English with equal fluency.

MOS Code 267 - Translator:
Translates written mateiral from a foreign language into English and from English into a foreign language.
Makes complete translation of foreign military documents and other material or letters which may have a bearing on military affairs. Gives an exact statement of the items expressed, or translates English into a foreign language using idiomatic expressions peculiar to the language.
Civilian experience in translation or interpreting foreign languages or equivalent military training required.

As you can see from the above, there's a very slight difference between an Interpreter and a Translator. You might want to select which one best suits your skills. Chances are, an Interpreter would have been closer to the front lines, while a Translator might have driven a desk.

I was then looking at Radio Operators, and came across the following specialty, which I think is what you're probably looking for, and would suit you for all manner of impressions:

MOS Code 538 - Voice Interceptor (Designated Language):
Identifies and intercepts voice radio transmissions in a designated foreign language by operating a radio receiver and other equipment. Copies or records intercepted transmission and translates into English.
Operates equipment such as receivers, sound recorders and transcrivers. Tunes in radio receiver on an assigned frequency or by searching over a band of frequencies. Records intercepted traffic by hand, typewriter or by transcribing data from recordings.
Performs first echelon maintenance by inspecting, dusting and oiling equipment; making simple repairs or adjustments such as changing tubes and adjusting frequencies. Uses simple hand tools.
Must have excellent understanding of designated foreign language in its spoken form and be able to translate accurately into English. Must have thorough knowledge of military terminology used in foreign language and in English.

I think this last one suits you down to the ground! Welcome aboard, Voice Interceptor! Wink

Hope the above is helpful to you - in case you need anything more, just let me know.

Kind regards,
Ben.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Gina_Costina on Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:17 am

Great work Ben!!

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:36 am

Thanks a lot BenM for your very interesting answer !! I'll probably be type of Voice Interceptor ! I found a PDF version of the TM 12-427 - Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel : I'll be reading it on the train going back home then I'll probably be able to precise my impression.

Now I just have to find the gear I don't have : I'll probably look for it in the UK (why don't you guys use the euro it would much easier !! Surprised Laughing ) since it's wayyyy too expensive in France (both for originals and replicas) so if you have any addresses or good deals where I could find affordable gear, let me know (specially for a "affordable" BC 1000 radio (even in bad condition)).

I just have a question : why would infantry men have M1926 Life Preserver Belts ? I thought they were used only for shore landings...
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:47 am

Pat wrote:I just have a question : why would infantry men have M1926 Life Preserver Belts ? I thought they were used only for shore landings...

Sorry about that one. I copied the list from a Warning Order I'd done for our Group's beach landing event and forgot to take out the M1926 Belt. Ignore that one!

As for suppliers, you could try Blunderbuss Antiques, or eBay is always good. Of course there's the War & Peace Show coming up in July, you're sure to find something there. With the BC-1000, there was an ex-pat British guy selling radios in France, either working or in very good condition. I'm sure he traded under Milradio, so you might want to ask around for him. I can't really remember his name, but I'm sure I have his card somewhere. Let me find it and get back to you.

Cheers,
Ben.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Gina_Costina on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:14 pm

Pat wrote:Thanks a lot BenM for your very interesting answer !! I'll probably be type of Voice Interceptor ! I found a PDF version of the TM 12-427 - Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel : I'll be reading it on the train going back home then I'll probably be able to precise my impression.

Now I just have to find the gear I don't have : I'll probably look for it in the UK (why don't you guys use the euro it would much easier !! Surprised Laughing ) since it's wayyyy too expensive in France (both for originals and replicas) so if you have any addresses or good deals where I could find affordable gear, let me know (specially for a "affordable" BC 1000 radio (even in bad condition)).

I just have a question : why would infantry men have M1926 Life Preserver Belts ? I thought they were used only for shore landings...

Pat- if you want to come over to Beltring in July and want to get some Bargains, we are all going over various dates during the 5 days- you are welcome to link in with us- you could do a lot worse, plus we can help you avoid wasting money!

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:22 pm

I see you are going to events where I could find some affordable gear but the cost of transportation to the UK (either by plane, train or boat) doesn't make me get a great deal (postage is cheaper). But if one of you wants to get gear for me I could send you a check (cost + postage + fees for exchange) or send money using western union.

Will you go at the Call of Duty event on the 15-17th of october ? If it's during my holidays I'll probably try to meet you guys over there.

Found a BC 1000 radio on BenM's link (MilRadio) : the problem is that it's a yougoslavian model so the case and buttons are a bit different; I can rebuild buttons but i can rebuild the case. I don't know either if the belt system is the same as for the American ones. The price is OK (85) but postage will probably be high (weight is 12.5 kg roughly 30 pounds Wink )
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:49 pm

Pat, I don't think we're going to the Call of Duty event in October. However, we have an event at the end of September, which is a Beach Landing. Maybe you're on holiday still, so you might be able to join us?

As for the radio, about all I was able to find at the moment were these made under license. From the photographs, it looks like they're identical except for the French markings on the case:
http://www.armyradio.com/arsc/customer/product.php?productid=1551&cat=71&page=1

Cheers,
Ben.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:59 pm

Thanks a lot but I've already mailed the guy and he answered he didn't have some in stock. The problem is that I cannot buy on ebay in other countries (too bad I found a BC 1000 for $100) because of some %$^^# regulations.
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:02 pm

Hi everybody !

I've been working on my impression :

I'm Patrick Robert ALEXANDRE and I was born on Nov 15th, 1921 in Port Vincent, Louisiana. My grand parents emigrated to the USA in 1848 because of the starvation due to the poor harvest in France. Before the war, I worked for a local jazz radio in Baton-Rouge as radio technician. As my older sister and I were kids, our parents spoke to us both in French and English thus thinking that we might go back to France one day. I was enlisted by the Army in 1942 and since I used to work with radios, I became a Signal Corps radioman. Since I'm biligual, I got the MOS 320 (Interpreter).

What's your opinion about this start ?

Concerning my gear, I'm about to get a BC 1000 radio set with antenna, headset and webbing, for a rather good price (roughly 140) It's a French version identical to a WWII Us one and it's in good condition. I'll just have to redo the lettering and maybe repaint it.

I have a question concerning the Garrison cap : a radioman would probably have a cap with orange and white pipping since he's part of the Signal Co., wouldn't he.
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Gina_Costina on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:10 pm

Great stuff Pat!!

There are a couple of places in the US, maybe even ebay where you can get a full decal in English for the BC-1000. I'm rubbish on garrison cap piping, Ben will be the one to know!

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:20 pm

Thanks Paul

Yes, I saw decals were available on ebay for US BC 1000s ! But I'll first have to repaint and weather the radio first. Do you have any advice for restoring webbings (so they last another 50 years !!)

The Garrison cap is indeed a tricky question Wink
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Guest on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:32 pm

Hi Pat,

Well done on your introduction text - very accurate indeed. As for the French BC-1000s, I believe that the strengthening pressings on the front panels are also different to the US versions, but I couldn't tell you off the top of my head.

As for the piping, you would have thought that being a radio operator, you would have been a member of the Signal Corps. However, this is not true. Although issued with a piece of Signal Corps equipment, you represent part of the Division's T/O structure, and do not pertain to one its organic units, such as its Signals Company. As such, your Garrison Cap should be the regular blue piping as worn by infantry units. In addition, the Branch of Service (BOS) collar disc insignia should be the crossed muskets, not the semaphore flags of the Signal Corps.

Hope this helps,
Ben.

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Pat on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:11 pm

Thanks a lot for your accurate answers BenM !!

the strengthening pressings on the French BC 1000 are the same than for a WWII US version : a vertical cross (a + ) for the battery box (bottom box) and a cross (X) for the upper box. The antenna and head phones are the same (apparently). I have the 1944 book for radioman that were assigned to a BC 1000 so I have precise references for rebuilding and reparing my radio.

What would be my rank ? PFC, PSC, Technician corporal, Techician sergeant ? what's the difference between a T/3 or T/4 sergeant (what does the /3 /4 mean ?)

Can someone give me the measurements oh M1 Carbine loaders so I can make wooden copies to fill my pouches ?

Thanks a lot !

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  murph on Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:39 pm

Pat wrote:Thanks a lot for your accurate answers BenM !!

the strengthening pressings on the French BC 1000 are the same than for a WWII US version : a vertical cross (a + ) for the battery box (bottom box) and a cross (X) for the upper box. The antenna and head phones are the same (apparently). I have the 1944 book for radioman that were assigned to a BC 1000 so I have precise references for rebuilding and reparing my radio.

What would be my rank ? PFC, PSC, Technician corporal, Techician sergeant ? what's the difference between a T/3 or T/4 sergeant (what does the /3 /4 mean ?)

Can someone give me the measurements oh M1 Carbine loaders so I can make wooden copies to fill my pouches ?

Thanks a lot !


Congratulations on your new identity. It's good to see someone applying themselves to getting it right so early on! We will have to see about you getting over to the UK when time and finances allow so we can introduce you to warm beer and over cooked beef!

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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  Les Brock on Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:06 pm

Must eventually get round to getting some correct decals for that Radio I bought .......and I've not even seen yet !!!! lol!
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Re: Advice for beginner !

Post  murph on Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:05 am

Les Brock wrote:Must eventually get round to getting some correct decals for that Radio I bought .......and I've not even seen yet !!!! lol!

Paul has got it for you, I've got your mountain cooking set (somewhere in my store room).

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