Short style jacket with United States Army Air Force insignia and badges. This jacket was made in Australia for the US Marine Corps 1st Division which was rested in Melbourne in early 1943. They were known as 'Vandegrift jackets' after the commander of the 1st Marine Division, General Alexander Vandegrift.
Khaki wool cloth jacket with two breast pockets and waist belt secured with a buckle. Two brass metal collar badges, one 'U.S' and the other with a winged propeller insignia denoting the United States Army Air Force. The left sleeve upper has a USAAF cloth badge in blue yellow and red and the lower left sleeve has three service stripes denoting 18 months service. Both sleeves have a double chevron corporal's stripes with the letter 'T' denoting the Technical Branch. There are four plastic buttons to fasten the jacket with two more on the waist band with a waist belt and buckle to tighten the waistband of the garment.
Between 1941 and 1945, several hundred thousand US service personnel were based in or transited through Australia. Melbourne became an important base area for US military personnel after General Douglas MacArthur established his headquarters at 401-403 Collins Street in March 1942. Other significant US bases in Melbourne included Camp Pell at Royal Park, Camp Murphy at the MCG, MacRobertson Girls' High School, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital (4th General Hospital). By June 1942 an estimated 30,000 US servicemen were based in Melbourne. Many of these men moved north as the war in the Pacific progressed but in January-June 1943 the US First Marine Division was rested in Melbourne after being withdrawn from Guadalcanal where the Division had landed in August 1942. The Marines were quartered at the MCG and Balcombe army camp near Mornington and many forged strong bonds with Melbourne during this period.
This jacket was made in Australia for the US Marine Corps (most likely in Melbourne) in 1943 based on the short British/Australian battledress jacket. It was known as the 'Vandegrift jacket' and is an example, of reverse lend-lease where Australia supplied equipment and food to US service personnel based in Australia and the Pacific. It represents the large number of US servicemen in Melbourne during the Second World War, an area not currently well-covered in the Museum's collection. The US Army Air Force insignia currently displayed on this jacket are not original and will need to be removed prior to display.
Place & Date Made
Fabric label inside lining of jacket 'N386, 1943, SIZE 34R, MADE IN AUSTRALIA'
Type of item