Original U.S. WWII Named US Marine Corps Ship’s Detachment Modified Vandegrift Jacket With Trousers - William W. Westmoreland, Wounded In Action
Original Item: Only One Available. Now this is a beautiful uniform set attributed to a member of the world’s finest fighting force, the US Marines. The uniform belonged to Sergeant William W. Westmoreland, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. Westmoreland was serving with 2/23 in 1943/44 and it is our belief that this is the unit he was serving with when he was wounded, more than likely during the Battle of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. His wounds were not life threatening and was not sent home, instead he was absorbed into the Ships Detachment of Marines, a common practice seen during WWII. While with the Ships Detachment, he is seen serving aboard the transport ship General JR Brooke (AP-132) and the oil replenishment tanker Sepulga (AO-20).
Following the Guadalcanal Campaign, the 1st Marine Division under Major General Alexander Vandegrift were posted to the cooler climate of Melbourne Australia. As the Marines only had dungarees and tan summer uniforms, they were issued Australian army battle dress with the Marines calling the short jacket the Vandegrift Jacket. An American made forest green version was issued to officers in December 1944 and to enlisted Marines in August 1945.
Here’s where this Vandegrift gets interesting. As stated, the American made ones were issued to Officers in 1944 and the Enlisted in 1945, however, this jacket has a Quartermaster Depot stamping with the date of 1940-41 and is not Australian made. It is our belief that this Vandegrift started life out as a Service Alphas uniform but was custom tailored to be this beautiful Vandegrift jacket. Modifying “current” uniforms was not an uncommon practice. Uniform allowances didn’t always cover the cost of the uniform, and let's be real, if we used it for beer, then our “forefathers” did as well, especially when it wasn’t enough to pay for a pair of boots. In order to save money, Marines often took existing uniforms to a tailor to have them modified for uniformity.
The jacket is heavily named and stamped inside each shoulder lining multiple times with W.W. WESTMORELAND. We have only been able to locate a few muster rolls on him, due to being overshadowed by the “giant” General William Westmoreland of the United States Army. The condition of the uniform in its entirety is close to excellent with only a few extremely small areas of light mothing.
The left shoulder of the jacket features an absolutely beautiful “Seahorse Anchor” patch for the Marine Detachments. Marine Detachments Afloat or ship detachments were assigned to aircraft carriers, battleships, and cruisers. Their missions included providing units for amphibious landings, manning the ship’s guns and ensuring internal security aboard the vessels. These Marines were required to learn the “Blue Jacket’s Manual” (Blue Jacket is a nickname for sailors), identify friendly and enemy aircraft and ships, and navigate using a compass and relative bearings. Their shoulder patches consisted of a scarlet diamond with gold seahorse and a blue Navy anchor. Also features on each shoulder sleeve are lovely chevrons denoting the rank of Private First Class. Westmoreland is seen still serving into 1946, so he must have been promoted to Sergeant during this time. All buttons and EGA collar devices are still present and retain most of their blackened finish.
This is a fine example of the Vandegrift jacket, something that should still be worn today! Comes more than ready for further research and display.
Collar to shoulder: 9.5"
Shoulder to sleeve: 24”
Shoulder to shoulder: 16.5”
Chest width: 18.5”
Waist width: 16.5"
Hip width: 16.5”
Front length: 23"
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