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January 5 2003 at 9:43 AM
Ron Volstad  (no login)
from IP address

Response to One more question...

Hi Robert,

When I was tasked to design the Poteau figure set, I looked at every photo and frame of film that I could find related to that action. None of them were clear enough to conclusively see just what that machine gunner was wearing.

Based on my 30 plus years experience researching such things, I could find little in the German inventory that came close to matching what he appeared to be wearing. That conclusion was supported by the fact that a few of his comrades were wearing or carrying items obviously pilfered from the abandoned convoy.
Given that it was definitely a cold, soggy day, it made sense that some extra clothing might be scrounged.

The physical appearance of that particular machine gunner was the next clue. His right suspender is unhooked from his MG parts pouch and the lid of that pouch was mis-fastened (with part of it tucked inside). None of this was conclusive but it did indicate that perhaps this gear had been recently adjusted. (Personal experience with German harness of WWII suggests that a fellow would not go long without noticing the unhooked strap).

Next began the search for what the possible clothing could be. The sheen given off the upper garment suggested something tightly woven or even rubberized
and GI ponchos came to mind. Obviously, the item worn wasn't as long as a poncho, but seeing the combat knife clipped into the gunners neck band suggested that he had some easy means of cutting down that poncho. I acquired several "beaters" from a surplus store and hacked away at them and put all the gear together on a friend to see if I was on the right track. It certainly looked good to me.

The trousers remain a mystery though. They appear to have knee patches. That's very uncommon to see on German trousers (but not unknown). German winter camoflage trousers had such knee patches, however since no others in his group are wearing ANY winter gear, it is probable that that wasn't the answer.
This gunner does appear in some distance shots in the film shot that day and the trousers appear to be more
likely a cotton product and they appear to have been gathered at the ankles (or perhaps simply too short for the fellow). It is simply my supposition that he grabbed a pair of GI M43 overtrousers (perhaps with knee patches added) from a jeep and pulled them on.

In the end, unless the fellow survived the war to recall that day, I doubt that we will ever know just what his gear was. I've given it MY best guess. Maybe I was close.

Ron V

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  1. Poteau Museum - Rob Plas on Jan 6, 2003, 9:38 PM

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