Original U.S. Early WWII USMC Patch Set: Paramarine 1st Parachute Battalion & 1st Marine Division

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Set Available. Here we have a lovely set of early WWII U.S. Marine Corps Insignia, as would have been worn by a member of the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion, which saw service in WWII as part of the 1st Marine Division. The set consists of an original embroidered 1st Paramarine Battalion patch, which measures 3 1/2" X 3", and is embroidered on a blue wool felt 5 sided background. The design shows with a blue border and the five stars of the "Southern Cross" constellation surrounding a red diamond with a white parachute.

This is the same constellation featured in the background of the included 1st Marine Division patch, and is the constellation under which the battle of Guadalcanal took place. This diamond shaped patch is slightly smaller, measuring 3 3/8" x 2 3/4", and is made of lightweight blue fabric, with an embroidered blue border. It has a red 1 in the middle with GUADALCANAL in white.

Both patches are in very good condition, with the colors still clear. The Paramarine patch does not look to have been sewn to a uniform, but was glued to probably a display board for a while. The 1st Marine Division patch has some light blue stitches at the edge, so it does look to have been issued in the field.

A lovely set, ready to display!

Established in 1940, the Paramarines were United States Marines who were trained as paratroopers. An all-volunteer force within the USMC, the Paramarines found themselves hamstrung by the Corps' lack of sufficient air assets for large scale aerial assaults, and like their counterparts with the Army Airborne and the German Fallschirmjaegers were used as an elite light infantry force. While never jumping en-masse, the Paramarines were active participants in the "island hopping" campaign in the Pacific, distinguishing themselves on Guadalcanal and other battlefields, with two Paramarines participating in the famous flag raising at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Much like their amphibious counterparts the Marine Raiders, the Paramarines were disbanded before war's end, limiting the production window for paratrooper-specific equipment.

The first cohort of Marines paratroopers trained at NAS Lakehurst in New Jersey in October 1940, eventually becoming the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion. They were followed by a second group in December 1940, forming the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion. A third class trained at Camp Kearny in San Diego, California in early 1941, eventually forming the 3rd Marine Parachute Battalion. After the United States entered World War II, the training program was stepped up, and a special training camp and parachute training school was opened temporarily at Camp Elliott in San Diego in May 1942, next to Camp Kearny, moving to purpose-built accommodation nearby at Camp Gillespie in September 1942. A second training camp and parachute training school opened at Hadnot Point on the New River in North Carolina in June 1942, but closed in July 1943.

The 1st Parachute Battalion was attached to the 1st Marine Division for the invasion of Guadalcanal. On 7 August 1942 the unit conducted an amphibious assault on the small island of Gavutu and later seized the neighbouring island of Tanambogo with other Marine units. The battalion later moved to Guadalcanal fighting alongside the 1st Marine Raiders in the Tasimboko raid and the Battle of Edson's Ridge. The high casualties suffered by the Marine paratroopers led the battalion to be moved to Camp Kiser in Tontouta, New Caledonia in September. The 2nd Parachute Battalion performed a diversionary raid on Choiseul Island in October 1943 and later joined the 1st and 3rd Parachute Battalion on Bougainville.

The three parachute battalions with approximately 3,000 members, had become the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment, of the I Marine Amphibious Corps. Four parachute operations were planned but never executed.

However, the need for and cost of a parachute corps in the Marines was questioned, as were other specialized elite units, such as the Marine Raiders. The Marine Corps also lacked the transport aircraft required for a massed parachute drop. On 30 December 1943, Marine Commandant Thomas Holcomb ordered the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment to be disbanded, and along with the Marine Raider units, it officially ceased to exist on 29 February 1944.

Apart from a small group including Peter Julien Ortiz who parachuted into France as part of an Office of Strategic Services team to support the French Resistance, the Paramarines never dropped by parachute into combat, but were utilized during beach raids in the Pacific campaign, including at Guadalcanal. Paramarines at San Diego were transferred to the 5th Marine Division which landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Former Paramarines, Cpl. Harlon H. Block and Pfc. Ira H. Hayes, assisted in the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on 23 February 1945, depicted in Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph. A third former Paramarine, Sgt. Henry O. "Hank" Hansen, had participated in the first American flag-raising earlier that day. 4 of the 82 Marine Medal of Honor recipients in World War II, were former Paramarines who were awarded the medal for their heroic actions on Iwo Jima

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