Field Equipment of a WWII Corpsman

This page last updated 7-17-02

Many of the Navy Corpsmen who medically supported the Marines in the Pacific during WWII, carried similar equipment as the Army combat medics.  That being the two collapsible medic pouches suspended from the medic suspenders or yoke. Some corpsman carried the canvas Unit 3 pouch. Most corpsmen carried a sidearm because of the Japanese reluctance to not follow the Geneva Convention's exemption of not shooting at non-combatants.

Hospital Corps Pouches (USN)

(submitted by Alain Batens)

From 1943 onward, and apparently strongly inspired by the US Army, a set of almost identical pouches made its appearance (I’d rather say; of almost identical principle) – they very much look alike except for the closure and extension system . The flap closes with 2 Lift-the-dot buttons, while each corner has an additional Durable press stud for better fastening; the opening has a throat which will be rolled up before closing, any inserts will be fastened by means of 2 Durable press studs; and the extendable straps are equally provided with 3 Durable press studs in lieu of the Army-type laces . The rings on either flank have no extra hooks . According to some sources, the US Army was so inspired by above improvements, it considered adopting this solution, and so it did around end 1943, early 1944 … both pouches were carried with help of the Suspender (just like the Army) .

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This photograph illustrates the USMC issued medic pouches to Navy Corpsman. These differ from the army issued bags by having snaps instead of laces to "shorten" the bottom of the bags. This photograph was supplied by Jaime Palacios.  The bags and suspenders are from the Jaime Palacious Collection. Please visit Jaime's website dedicated to the Navy Corpsman at

Navy Corpsman During Wartime

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(from the Collection of Dave Steinert)

Hospital Corps Pouch (USN)

(submitted by Alain Batens)

Since the US Marine Corps did not have a proper medical organization, it relied on the US Navy for medical support ! (this has been and still is a tradition) As such, the Navy provided the required services by detaching the necessary Officers from the Medical and Dental Corps, and Enlisted Men from the Hospital Corps . The basic medical equipment (Medical & Dental) was carried in the "Hospital Corps Pouch" (I don’t know whther this is the correct nomenclature, since I’m not a US Navy expert), and this pouch looked as follows : rectangular khaki colored cotton case (13 ½ " x 11" x 3 8/10 ") consisting of a single compartment, with flap closure held by 2 straps w/buckle . At either top side there was a long narrow pouch closing with a press stud . The shoulder carrying strap was further stitched on the back, and the cotton part was stitched in such a way to form 2 large loops which helped fix the pouch onto a pistol belt . The flap held a stenciled Red Cross (center) while the main body had black stenciled block letters U.S.N. It should be noted that these pouches were issued by the US Navy (and NOT by the Marines) up to 1943.

The following list of contents for the Hospital Corps Pouch was submitted by Roger "Doc" Dean. A few years ago "Doc" found an example of a Hospital Corps Pouch in an antique store. The list of contents was factory printed on the flap of the pouch.

Hospital Corps Pouch (Small)

6 Bandages,Guaze
1 Diagnosis Tag w/ Pencil (I probably means 1 book)
4 Tubes Tincture of Iodine
1 Btl Ammonia
2 Rubber Tourniquets
1 Case,Pins,Scissors,Forceps
8 Pkgs. Sublimated Guaze
1 Jack Knife
1 Spool Adhesive Plaster
1 Roll Wire for Spints

NOTE:I did find a connection to ‘unit 3 pouch’ – I was told by a collector-friend that the above pouches sometimes carry markings such as as 3-R and 3-L; these would mean n°3 = type of contents (what about n°1, or n°2 ?) while L = left pouch, and R = right pouch (i.e. different contents, as for the Army pouches) – does anyone know more about this ? (the 1st pattern above, and a set of identical pouches, once belonged to my personal collection, but I sold all my USMC goodies to a French collector, some 3 years ago)

Snake Bite Kits

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(from the Collection of Dave Steinert)

This is the Saunders Snake bite Kit that is documented on page 32 of FM 21-11-"First Aid For Soldiers", April 7, 1943.

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(from the Collection of Dave Steinert)

Poisonous snakes were native to many of the Pacific Islands occupied by the Marines during WWII. A snake bite kit might be carried by a corpsman.

Medic Helmet Markings (USN)

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Photographic evidence shows that early in WWII, some corpsman wore a medic helmet with a small red cross inside a small white circle. This practice disappeared as the war progressed and as the casualties to corpsman by Japanese snipers increased.







Medic Helmet Markings (USN)

(submitted by Alain Batens)

With the aim to reduce high visibility of large white circles + red cross, Navy Corpsmen turned to smaller less conspicuous markings to indicate their trade - they stenciled small white discs, and painted same on helmets (front & rear) and uniforms (top of shoulders, tops of sleeves and bottoms of trousers) this practice was apparently not followed for equipment …

 USN Corpsman.jpg (85678 bytes)

(USN Corpsmen at work somewhere in the Pacific Theater of Operations - via Alain Batens)

Wartime picture showing Corpsmen attending casualties, please note the white circular markings on helmets (nos. 1-3-4-5-6) and fatigue trousers (no.3), moreover no.5 has a peculiar marking in this white circle (it looks like MED in red ?) - furthermore no. 6 (at right) wears the special Kit, First-Aid, Paratrooper developed course of 1942-43 for the Marine Corps

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(Navy Corpsmen unloading supplies, Tarawa 1943 - via Alain Batens)

Wartime picture illustrating white circular markings on left shoulder of utility coat (see man, front) and on helmets of Corpsmen (at rear)

Individual Jungle Medical Kit M-2

(submitted by Alain Batens)

001109-003.jpg (42939 bytes)    This Kit advantageously replaced the previous M-1 type, being more accessible (attached to the Corpsman's pistol belt, by the hook system) and less fragile ! It was issued to each soldier in jungle areas and is made from olive drab canvas, while the flap closes with 2 press studs - it further consists of several compartments holding small first-aid dressing, bottle of insect repellent, glass vial containing Frazer's solution,  hard rubber vial with atabrine tablets, another one containing sodium chloride tablets (salt), glass bottles with halazone tablets (water purification), sulfadiazine tablets (wounds), and some adhesive stickbands (tucked in loop inside the flap) . This Medical Kit was equally distributed to Army personnel, from 1944 onward . Note: it can further be stated, and that goes for any medical kind of kit, that personnel often added or adapted contents depending on their personal experience, their foresight, or just in case

                                                                           (from the Collection of Dave Steinert)


USMC Medical Corpsman Knife

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The USMC Medical Corpsman Knife was issued to many Corpsman during WWII. It use was for cutting brush and limbs from trees for makeshift litters to carry the wounded.

(from the Collection of Dave Steinert)




USMC Medical Corpsman Knife

(submitted by Alain Batens)

This ‘weapon’ was issued to the Marine Corps duringWW2 – It consisted of a steel blade of approximately 11 1/8 " long – when including the wooden handle it would measure 16 5/8 " . The blade was either parkerized or bright, and various manufacturers supplied them to the Corps, e.g. Fayette R. Plumb (Philadelphia-Pa/St. Louis-Mo), John Chatillon (New York-NY), The Clyde Cutlery Co (Clyde-Ohio), Charles D. Briddell (Crisfield-Md), and Village Blacksmith (Watertown-Wis) – while all blades received the trademark and/or name of the manufacturer, only some were stamped U.S.M.C. The wooden handles could either be fastened with 3 brass rivets, 4 steel rivets or just 3 iron rivets . The scabbard was made from heavy brown leather with a brass throat at the top and the only supplier was Boyt who delivered them from 1943 right up to 1945 … some samples were also stamped U.S. Boyt 1942, or 1943 – this could indicate Army use .


In Addition.......

Paramarines were equipped with a Kit, First Aid, Paratrooper in 1942/43, a very elaborate medical pouch, worn on chest, front, containing lots of small, medium & large pouches, cases, compartments filled with medical supplies (no further details available)


Equipment and Uniform of a WWII Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class (Petty Officer)

(submitted by Roger "Doc" Dean)


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This WWII Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class (Petty Officer) wears the first pattern "sage green" HBT three pocket tunic. Note the "USMC" Globe and Anchor on the pocket and Petty Officer 2nd Class stenciled on left sleeve (the is an original tunic and stencils). This pharmacist mate is also wearing the standard USMC camouflage trousers. Footwear is the "LPC" (Leather Personel Carrier) or Boondocker roughout boots. Note the leggings have been discarded as was common practice in amphibious units. Helmet cover is the '"second pattern" without foliage slits. The pharmacist mate carries a 1st pattern "Unit 1" bag or "Hospital Corps Pouch, small" and wears the standard issue pistol belt with two canteens. The location is in front of a burned out Japanese pillbox complex on an island in the Southwest Pacific. The exact location is classified.



Please email me with any comments David Steinert © Copyright 2000