TSF BP 382P HQ
Jeep of the Military Police, Theater Service Forces with complete unit markings. This photograph is most likely a post-war photograph taken during occupation duty.
I’ve created this post to help out a reader now restoring an authentic WWII 1942 Ford GPW. I needed help myself – Matt Underwood, past Editor of “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association – and I’m proud to say – my friend, came to my rescue.
The only drawback to the Army Manual was that Airborne Divisions had not really developed at the time the text of this book was written, and therefore, the examples of actual vehicle markings on jeeps, etc., of Airborne Divisions are not among the samples/examples in the manual itself. Armies, Corps, and Infantry Divisions, Armored Divisions, and Cavalry Divisions are covered, and all smaller units, but no Airborne Divisions. Everything else about Airborne jeeps are the same as the rest of the Army, with the exception of distinguishing between, say, the 11th Armored Division and 11th Airborne Division. Other than being in two different theaters of war, they are almost the same.
The world of military vehicles, especially American WWII stuff, is a growing field, as old junkers are discovered in barns, landfills, junkyards, and out in the woods, and collectors are buying them and restoring them. When they get their special treasure all completed, they want total accuracy in these unique unit markings to add the final tough of authenticity. So the number of websites featuring vehicle markings has grown rapidly over the past 10 years.
A jeep from the 103rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 28th Infantry Division photographed on a bridge somewhere in Europe. The unit bumper markings are applied according to regulations and designate the 4th vehicle of the Headquarters of 103rd Engineers, 28th Infantry Division. The windshield carries the addition marking “T4 Cole” in white.
Now back to the last part of the problem. The 11th Airborne Division, like other Airborne Divisions from 1942 to 1944, followed the Army’s Table of Organization & Equipment No. 71, dated 17 Feb 1942. The A/B units in Europe and the States updated this TO&E in Dec 44, but not the 11th or 503rd…not till the early summer of ’45. So almost all of the time the 11th was in combat, it had the same set-up for everything that it always had—at least on paper. I do have a substitute source for part of the data, however, and here’s what I believe your reader will need to know.
11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan
I think that for most of the War, MOST of the 11th Airborne’s jeeps and trucks bore vehicle markings like your sepia-colored photo of the jeep from the 188th. Its bumper markings are important in solving this puzzle:
11AB..188-I…………SV8 = 11th Airborne, 188th Infantry, Service Company, 8th Vehicle
No one unit in a WWII airborne division would have such a high number of jeeps unless they were all numbered in a regiment-wide motor pool.
I have some proof that the 511th—being a Parachute Infantry Regiment—had probably all of its vehicles marked for its Service Company, as the motor pool for the whole regiment, which had 3 Parachute Inf. Battalions. It is probable that the 187th and 188th, being Glider Infantry Regiments with only 2 Glider Inf. Battalions each, probably also had all its vehicles marked for its respective Service Cos., which had charge of the motor pool for the whole regiment.
The vehicle allowance for the motor pool of the 511th PIR, seems to TOTAL out as follows: (1) Sedan; (2) Ambulances; (13) 1/4-ton Trucks (which are what Jeeps were usually referred to in official tables); (15) 3/4-ton Trucks; (16) 2-1/2 ton Trucks; and (14) 1-ton Trailers. These totals are for the whole Regiment, but are internally divided between the Service Company’s “HQ Co. Squad”, its “1st Bn. Squad” and 2nd & 3rd Bn. Squads as well, and its own “Transportation Platoon”—-which would be maybe what we would think of as a vehicle “reserve”, or were the vehicles under current repair. It probably allowed a flexibility that couldn’t be had otherwise. What this tells me is that when Col. Haugen needed his staff car, his adjutant called the “motor pool” (the Service Company’s Transportation Platoon) and said “Bring around the Colonel’s staff car.” Then the Colonel’s driver, a NCO from the Transportation Platoon’s “HQ Co. Squad” pulled his staff car up to the Colonel’s CP (command post) and waited. Same with the Colonel’s jeep, etc. When Lt.Col. John Strong, CO of 3rd Bn., needed his jeep, he or his adjutant called up the motor pool and ordered his jeep—-then a driver from the Transp. Platoon’s “3rd Bn. Squad” brought his jeep to Lt.Col. Strong’s CP and waited. When I say “his jeep” it was likely the same one every time, but could be a substitute on any given occasion if the main jeep was getting repaired or cleaned, etc. The pooling of all vehicles into the Service Company may have simply been the best idea to allow flexibility whenever a vehicle was needed on short notice.
From late 1940 to February 1945, markings were to be made in blue-drab. This type of color scheme would prevent enemy intelligence from gathering and identifying military markings as the two colors were hard to distinguish from one another when viewed in black and white photographs. The official color of these markings was changed to flat white in February 1945, but the reserves of blue-drab paint were used until exhausted.
In other words, ALL the jeeps and other vehicles would have Service Co. marks on the bumpers, regardless of who in the Regiment was using them. Therefore, the 511th would have a fleet of jeeps marked SV1 through SV13. I am GUESSING (for now) that the 187th and 188th had similar systems, which would explain your photo of a 188th jeep marked SV8. I am guessing that if the system holds, the 188th was only allotted 9 jeeps total.
Anyway, I will get back to you on that.
As to 11th Division HQ, I’m not sure yet as to its markings. Probably they had their own vehicles, but unsure as yet. If so, Gen. Swing’s jeep would probably have been bumper marked like this:
11ABX………………..HQ1 = 11th Airborne Division, HQ Company, 1st Vehicle
As always, these are 3″ tall letters, and the center of the bumper may or may not have a star painted on—it is the US star for all vehicles, found all over most other big surfaces. The bumpers often had them to start with, and as paint wore off and was repainted, sometimes the bumper stars were skipped, leading to the frequent blank space in the center where a star once was.
Bookbinder/Conservator, Boyce Centennial Library,
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;
Editor Emeritus, Voice of the Angels,
11th Airborne Division Association
The 11th Airborne uniform examples
Click on images to enlarge.
11th A/B Div. repairs a truck in Japan
Farewell Salutes –
Dominic “Mickey” Bria – Smithers, SC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’
George D’Arcy – Liverpool, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, CBI & Africa, 2/South Lancashire Regiment
Homer Godair – Griffithville, AR; US Army, 11th Airborne Division
Scott Humbird – Brentwood, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Malaria Control Unit
Charles Pittman Sr. – Pensacola, FL; USMC, Vietnam, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Lt.General (Ret. 40 y.)
William Sartain – Mineral Wells, TX; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO
Mary Sweeney – Nanticoke, PA; US Army Air Corps WAC; WWII, Medical/Surgical Tech.
William Taylor – Grant, AL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT “Rakkasans’
William Whiteman – Hood River, OR; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt. Commander (Ret. 27 y.)
Source: // Pacific Paratrooper
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