top of page

Non-Regulation & Cold Weather Field Uniforms
(1941 - 1945)

In addition to dedicated uniforms for women, nurses, like women serving in other military formations (such as the Women's Army Corps), also wore men's uniforms. Particularly in a war zone, outside the continental United States, where shipments of new uniforms did not always arrive on time, nurses had to make do with what was currently available.


The demand for a short field jacket arose among nurses as soon as they entered the combat zone. However, before a women's field jacket was offered, nurses were forced to wear men's jackets as a replacement until mid-1943. 


The first type of jacket that nurses received was the men's Olive Drab Field Jacket (M-1941). This was a short, hip-length field jacket of the now legendary straight cut issued to army personnel in all climate zones. Jackets with a shorter cut were more practical not only in combat, but also when working in field hospitals in harsher climatic conditions.

Jacket, Field, OD (M-1941).png

Jacket, Field, OD (M-1941)

A short, combat jacket of windproof, water repellent cotton poplin with flannel lining and with button and zipper closure. This jacket was issued to nurses only.

The jacket had a front zipper front closure with a 6-button flap. The jacket also had buttons at the collar for attaching a hood as well as buttoned adjusting tabs on each side of the waist and at the cuffs, and buttoned shoulder loops. There were two front slash pockets and a notched lapel collar.

M-41 Jacket, Men's Wool Shirt, Men's Woo


Men's M-1941 jacket paired with men's wool shirt and men's wool trousers with belt. On the head, instead of a helmet, there is a white headscarf. Nurses dressed in this manner are often seen in photographs taken in Italy.

ANC Blue Hospital Dress, M-41 Jacket, He


M-1941 field jacket worn with blue hospital uniform. Officer's insignia were pinned to the shoulder loops of the jacket, and the unit patch was sewn to the left sleeve. This combination of uniforms was particularly popular in North Africa.

A group of nurses in M41 jackets.jpg
Ruth Sobeck.jpg
Two unidentified nurses in M41 jackets somewhere in Europe.jpg

A slightly different – women's version of the M-41 field jacket was adopted by the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve. This version of the M-1941 jacket differed from the men's by its cut, being slightly more tailored to the female figure, and by its button closure pointing to the left side.

USMCWR M-41 Jacket.png

Jacket, Field, Women’s Reserve

Women's M-1941 jacket issued to women serving in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. It is better fitted to the female figure and has buttons on the left side.

The M-1941 jacket had many flaws pointed out by soldiers that were never effectively addressed in its manufacture. It gave insufficient warmth and poor camouflage capabilities. As a result, a new model – the M-1943 field jacket was introduced in late 1943. However, due to the earlier large-scale production of the M-1941 jacket, it was in use among soldiers and nurses until the end of the war.

Army Nurse feeding a patient.jpg


In winter conditions, a popularly worn item of men's uniforms among women was the Winter Combat Jacket. Originally designed for soldiers of armored units, this jacket, also called a tanker jacket, proved to be a real hit among all kinds of units. It was worn both among simple privates and high-ranking officers, such as Gen. Bradley or Gen. Leclerc.

Winter Combat Jacket.png

Jacket, Combat, Winter
"Tanker Jacket"

Popular tanker jacket with sewn-on officer's insignia. In the picture you can see white embroidered 1st Lt. rank bars. The jacket has wool ribbing on the sleeves and collar and a warm wool lining (reproduction).

Made of OD3-colored cotton, with a wool lining, it zipped up and had two side pockets and wool ribbing at the trim of the sleeves, collar and lower hem. It was perfect for nurses, especially in winter conditions, and kept them extra warm.

HBT, Tanker Jacket, Helmet.png


Probably the most popular uniform combination with a tanker jacket: a two-piece women's HBT uniform, an M-1 helmet, women's field shoes and leggings. This combination was very comfortable, quite warm and suitable for field work. It was favored by nurses serving in France or Belgium.

Tanker Jacket, M-43 Trousers, Helmet.png


Tanker jacket worn with women's M-1943 trousers and men's wool shirt. Such a set was worn by nurses serving in overseas locations, for example at Anzio in Italy. The headgear here is a wool jeep cap and an M-1 helmet. On the shoulders of the jacket and on the collar of the shirt you can see insignia indicating rank and service in the Nurse Corps.

Army nurses leaning on a Jeep GPA Amphibious.jpg

Tanker overalls completed the tanker jacket. These were made of cotton and had a wool lining, just like the jacket. They were zippered at the front and sides. The revised pattern had detachable suspenders.

_Tanker Overalls (1st Pattern).png

Trousers, Combat, Winter 
(first pattern)

The first pattern of tanker overalls with adjustable suspenders sewn into the garment at the front and back. There are short slits at the bottom of each leg to make it easier to put on or take off the trousers with your shoes on.

Tanker Overalls (2nd Pattern).png

Trousers, Combat, Winter 
(revised pattern)

The revised pattern of trousers had detachable suspenders. At the bottom of the legs, in addition to slits, there were also snap fasteners. A small zippered opening was added in the crotch area, intended to make it easier for men to urinate.

Their legs were equipped with short slits to make it easier to put on and take off the trousers with your shoes on. The coveralls and jacket were worn as an extra layer to protect against the cold over wool or HBT uniforms.

Nurses of the 13th Field Hospital at Omaha Beach, France, 1944.jpg
HBTs, Tanker Jacket, Tanker Overalls, Je


Tanker jacket and the first pattern of tanker overalls worn over a two-piece women's HBT uniform. The shoulders of the jacket bear the insignia denoting military rank. The rank is additionally displayed on the right side of the HBT shirt collar, while on the left is an ANC caduceus. On the left sleeve of the jacket a Red Cross brassard is worn, and on the right sleeve is a special gas brassard used to detect the presence of combat gases. The headgear in this case is a wool jeep cap. This type of uniform can be seen on the nurses of the 13th Field Hospital in Normandy shortly after the invasion.

Two unidentified Nurses of the 203d General Hospital..jpg
Women's HBTs, Tanker Overalls 2nd patter


The second pattern of tanker overalls worn over the HBT uniform. The shirt collar shows the insignia: the rank on the right, the ANC caduceus on the left. The headgear is an M-1 helmet with the white rank of lieutenant painted on the front. Nurses serving in the tents of field and evacuation hospitals liked to use this type of uniform to keep warm on cold and windy days.

Army Nurses of the 45th Field Hospital in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, mid-1945..jpg



During the first overseas missions, the nurses' winter field uniforms often consisted of men's mustard-colored wool shirts. The collar could be fastened at the neck or unbuttoned and placed over a sweater or jacket. 


The shirts were fastened with seven plastic buttons and had two rectangular pockets on the chest with buttoned rectangular flaps with cropped corners. A later version of the men's wool shirt, designated as Special, was also equipped with a gas flap – a special fabric insert at the cuffs and collar – to provide protection against combat gas getting under the garment.


The shirts were available in enlisted and officer versions. The latter additionally had shoulder loops made of identical fabric, fastened with a button. Both of these shirts were worn by nurses serving in Italy, for example.

Shirt, Flannel, O.D., Coat Style, Specia

Shirt, Flannel, O.D., Coat Style, Special

An enlisted version of the men's flannel shirt. At the collar and at the cuffs there is a distinctive piece of material called gas flap, designed to protect the body from combat gases. The shirt's collar is unbuttoned.

Shirt, Flannel, OD, Officer’s.png

Shirt, Flannel, OD, Officer’s

An officer's version of the men's flannel shirt. It is distinguished by buttoned shoulder loops. The shirt has two rectangular pockets on the chest. The collar is buttoned.

U.S. Army Nurse Corps nurses Mary Henehan, from left, Lena Grussing, Ellen Ainsworth and A


With the prior approval of commanding officers, nurses also opted to wear men's wool trousers in field conditions and in cold climates. The M-1937 pattern was the most common. These trousers were first released for use in 1937 for the Air Corps, but were adopted by the rest of the U.S. Army units the following year.

Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade (

Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade

(1937 pattern)

Pattern M-1937 of men's wool trousers in a light OD shade, also called mustard. Used throughout the war in the Mediterranean and European theater of war. Nurses wore them in cold weather or in the absence of women's uniforms.

Men's Wool Trousers (Back).png

Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade

(1937 pattern)

The back of men's wool trousers with distinctive open pockets and no flaps or buttons. Later versions of these pants introduced in 1944 and 1945 were much darker and had buttoned back pockets.


Men's wool trousers were made of serge (a strong woolen fabric) in a light shade of olive drab, often called mustard. They had two front pockets cut vertically and two back pockets without flaps or buttons. In 1942, a special piece of fabric (gas flap) was added to the pants on the inside of the zipper to help protect the body from combat gases. The modified pants were referred to as the M-1943 pattern and had the word Special in their name.

Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade,


Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade, Special (1943 pattern)

The front of pattern M-1943 men's wool trousers. This model has additional fabric behind the fastening to protect the body from combat gases.

Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade,


Trousers, Wool, Serge, OD, Light Shade, Special (1943 pattern)

The back of pattern M-1943 men's wool trousers. Similarly to pattern M-1937, the pockets are open and do not have flaps or buttons.

Nurses and doctors at work in surgery room of the 94th Evacuation Hospital, Le Pezzia area

Men's wool trousers, despite numerous alterations and minor changes in cut, were worn until the very end of World War II. The later M-1944 and M-1945 designs, which were characterized by a darker shade and buttoned back pockets, were no longer as popular with women, as they already had access to women's versions of wool trousers by the end of the war in Europe (such as the M-1943 wool liners or British-Made trousers).

Men's Wool Shirt, Men's Wool Trousers, S


Men's wool trousers worn in combination with a men's wool shirt and an officer's belt. The shirt always had to be tucked into the trousers. The collar shows the insignia typical of an army nurse: a rank on the right and a caduceus with the letter "N" on the left. A cap and surgical mask can also be seen on the mannequin. Footwear may have consisted of high jump boots, for example. Surgical nurses serving in Italy dressed this way.

Men's Wool Trousers, Women's Wool Shirt,


Another example of the men's wool trousers as worn by nurses in Europe. Here in combination with a women's wool shirt (first pattern), an M-1 helmet and an officer's belt. Here, the footwear may have already consisted of  women's M-43 combat boots. For additional warmth, a tanker jacket or an M-41 jacket could be worn over the shirt.

Jane Sunderbruch, Mavis Skeets, Vesta L. Hale in Baccarat, France, 1944. 103rd Evacuation

In field conditions, nurses sometimes reached for a men's wool sweater with a high, extended collar and five-button closure. Worn over a wool shirt and under a field jacket, it provided excellent protection from the cold. The high collar, when fastened, pleasantly warmed the neck and face, and when unbuttoned it could be unfolded for a more relaxed look. It was made of 100% worsted wool of different weave thicknesses and in different shades of olive drab.

Nurses of the US Army 51st Field Hospital of the 1st Army, Honnef Germany, 1945.jpg
High-Neck Sweater, Wool Shirt.png


Men's high-neck wool sweater worn over a women's wool shirt. The neck buttons are undone so that the shirt collar can be pulled out. That way the insignia pinned to it are visible.



Protection from the cold was solved during the war by dressing in a layered system. The first layer was underwear – a long-sleeved undershirt or a tank top, over this came a shirt, then a sweater or vest, liner and jacket. The photo shows an example of such layerd clothing: a wool shirt, sweater, liner and M-1943 jacket.

Nurse in high-neck sweater.jpg


An alternative to a sweater in colder weather was an olive drab wool vest with a pointed neckline. The vests were often hand knit by volunteers and distributed by the American Red Cross.

Wool Vest, Wool Shirt, Liner.png

Sweater, Sleeveless, “V” Neck, Man’s

A men's wool vest paired with a buttoned-up wool shirt displaying the insignia, women's wool pants and an M-1 helmet liner.




The outer garment used in cold climates, whether paired with a service or field uniform, was a women's trenchcoat fastened with two rows of buttons and tied with a fabric belt with a rectangular plastic buckle. The trenchcoat was sewn from windproof and waterproof poplin, had two side pockets with a single button closure, an adjustment at the cuffs, and a roll-up hood, having a cord around the brim to allow it to fit better around the face. The hood was roomy enough to be worn over a cap or even an M-1 helmet.

Overcoat, Field, Women’s, Officer’s.png
Removable Wool Liner.png

Overcoat, Field, Women’s, Officer’s

A double breasted trench coat of wind resistant, water repellent, cotton poplin. It has a buttoned-on parka hood for use in stormy weather, convertible collar and slit pockets. The officer’s overcoat has shoulder loops.

The buttoned-in wool liner is designed for use also as a dressing gown and is both warm and practical. The liner has a rayon shoulder lining and binding around all edges.

US Army Nurses and Doctors conferring during the  liberation and evacuation of the Penig c

The officer's version of the coat was equipped with buttoned shoulder loops to which nurses could attach their officer rank pins. The coat could be worn with a wool scarf and wool or brown leather women's gloves.

Overcoat, Field, Women's, Officer's, M1


A women's officer trenchcoat worn as part of the field uniform in combination with a women's wool shirt, women's M-1943 wool trouser liners and an M-1 helmet. The left sleeve of the coat shows a Red Cross armband. This uniform combination is often seen on nurses in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany in 1944/1945. Footwear may have consisted of field shoes with leggings or M-43 combat boots.

Bath Robe.png


The wool coat liner had many uses. In the photo it can be seen used as a bathrobe. Nurses wore it over their pyjamas, for example, on their way to the shower. The original photos show that women also wore the liner over their uniform, instead of a sweater, or as an outer garment over evening gowns on their way to a dance.

The overcoat came with a detachable wool liner, fastened separately with three buttons, whose lining and collar flaps, as well as all edges, were elegantly trimmed with rayon. When worn separately, it served as a warm and practical robe or housedress with two pockets on the front and a slit in the back.

Anzio April 1944 George Silk LIFE 4.jpg
bottom of page