Army Quartermaster Museum -
Fort Lee, Virginia
Looking at today’s trim, well-fitted GIs, a soldier of World War I
must wonder, when he remembers the day he was bundled into his serviceable but
none-too-snappy uniform, with its peasant brogans and its wind-up puttees, how
it is possible to turn out the well-dressed soldier of today, especially in view
of the many more millions now being clothed and equipped. In his day there were
said to be only two sizes of Army clothing-too large and too small. What makes
The answer lies in the meticulous care and great lengths to which the
Office of The Quartermaster General has gone in this war to make our troops the
best-dressed Army in the world, not only sartorially but from the standpoint of
comfort and protection.
The new soldier wears new clothes in a new way. What's more, they fit.
Today, when the incoming soldier appears at the clothing counter of a
reception center, his measurements are carefully taken, his proper clothing is
drawn to those measurements (sixty-six items in all), and a professional tailor
then sets to work to give an almost custom-made trimness to an issue uniform.
But thanks to the careful compilation of measurements and other research, there
are usually sizes on hand to fit most inductees with little, if any, additional
tailoring. Today approximately 6,000 different sizes of various items of
clothing and footwear are stocked and issued by the Quartermaster Corps in
ratios arrived at by experience.
The task confronting the OQMG in clothing and equipping the prospective
Army on October 16, 1940, when the first registrations under Selective Service
began, was one for which there were no precedents or adequate schedules. The
only information available was in an Army Regulation published in 1937, but that
had been compiled from the size requirements of our small peace-time Army and
was in no way applicable to the needs of the rapidly growing Army which was
being inducted from civilian life. Records from World War I were useless because
of the differences in the basic garments.
The first registration embraced men between the ages of twenty-one and
thirty-five. As the rigid requirements of the Army had to be lowered
considerably for Selective Service, the Office of The Quartermaster General had
to look to civilian sources for information as to the sizes which would be
required for men in the twenty-one to thirty-five age brackets. Such information
was obtained from the nation’s chain store organizations and mail order
houses, whose volume of country-wide distribution would, it was thought, provide
a fair representation of the sizes of clothing being sold throughout the United
States. From this information size tariffs were prepared, and they proved
exceedingly helpful as a starter.
The draft picture in 1941 upset the apple-cart. It meant that new and
more explicit information was needed to provide effective tariffs. This was
obtained by a procedure requiring that a copy of the initial clothing size form
for each inductee be sent to the Office of The Quartermaster General.
January, 1942, brought still another change in the draft ages, but one
which was not to be effective from a clothing size standpoint until early in
1943. Legislation was enacted requiring the induction of youths from eighteen
years up, and simultaneously rescinding the order for taking men over
thirty-eight. The effect of this upon the existing size tariffs was immediately
anticipated, and the OQMG sent letters to approximately seventy-five leading
educational institutions having ROTC units for information on the sizes of
clothing required by college youths within the age group of eighteen to twenty
years. This information resulted in further revised tariffs, which showed an
increase in the smaller sizes and a comparable scaling down of the larger sizes.
By September 1943 the sizes of more than 6,000,000 individuals had been
tabulated, studied, and again made into new tariff lists. At this time the
procedure requiring that a copy of the individual measurements be sent to the
OQMG was discontinued because maintenance requirements had then grown larger
than initial issue requirements.
However, even now, the tariffs thus tabulated do not remain static.
Semi-monthly reports from points where clothing is issued are constantly checked
against the tariff lists. In this way tariffs are kept up-to-date and in
conformance with any changes which might appear in size trends.
One of the problems which presented some difficulty at first was that,
in many instances, men had to be held at reception centers because their unusual
stature required special-measurement clothing not provided for in the regular
tariffs. To meet this situation a
group of sizes, known to the commercial trade as "extra size"
garments, were provided, but were designated as "supplemental" sizes.
Experience has proved that only small quantities of these sizes need be
placed at the reception centers to eliminate delays. Reports from the
Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot show that the provision of these "extra
sizes" has reduced the necessity for providing special made-to-measure
clothing by more than seventy-five per cent.
But even with these provisions exceptions will crop up and special
clothing must be made. A cook in the 102nd Cavalry required trousers with a
48" waist and a 31" length. A boy at Fort Knox had to have a 5-EE shoe
for one foot and a size 8-E for the other, and there was a trainee at Fort
Jackson, South Carolina, whose bull neck required a shirt with a 19"
neckband. The periodical check on the tariffs as new inductees came into the
Army revealed that they were not working uniformly in all sections of the
country. An immediate analysis was made and it was found that a difference in
average stature prevailed in different geographical sections. Men along the northeastern Atlantic seaboard run to stocky
builds and short height, while those inducted in the southern area are taller
and more slender. The middle west inductees are men of medium stature, generally
requiring more of the medium-to-large sizes, while on the west coast are found a
combination of all sizes on an equal basis.
In view of these findings a procedure was established in May 1944
whereby camps, posts, and stations were authorized to establish stock levels of
sizes and maintain inventories based on their individual experiences. This
procedure has worked very well. A recent poll, taken among thousands of service
men, revealed that nearly eighty per cent of all the clothing, and eighty-six
per cent of the shoes, fitted perfectly, even by rigid Army standards. The
accuracy of the size ratios is proved by the fact that no surplus of either the
standard or the unusual sizes is piling up.
In order to achieve this balance and have adequate stocks to equip all
inductees without delays, an infinite variety of sizes must be kept on hand.
Ninety different shoe sizes are stocked in proportions indicated by the tariff
ratios. Thirty different sizes of trousers are carried in regular stock, and
twenty-two different sizes of shirts.
Data compiled for millions of inductees shows the following to be the
actual measurements of the "average" newcomer to the Army as he
appears at the clothing counter of a reception center: 5' 8" tall; 144
pounds in weight; 33 ¼" chest measurement; 31" waist measurement.
From the tariff tables showing the frequency of size issues it is found
that the sizes most frequently issued are a 7 to 7½ hat, number 9 gloves, a 15
shirt with a 33" sleeve, a 36 regular jacket, a pair of trousers with a
32" waist and a 32" leg length, size 11 socks, and size 9-D shoes.
These figures may be taken to indicate the size of the "average American
Up until recently there had been no Army regulations developed
specifically for the fitting of clothes for women. However, data has been compiled for women through the same
procedure followed in the case of male inductees-the tabulation of the initial
measurements at the time of enlistment. This information, however, could not be
used as conclusive because it was found that most women gained weight after
enlistment and training. In order
to obtain workable tariffs on women's sizes, data is now being compiled from a
canvass of approximately 12,000 Army nurses on duty throughout the United
States. Similar action was recently taken with 30,000 Wacs.
As in the case of men, the information on women's sizes obtained from
the clothing trade did not apply to Army uniforms. Commercial size tables were
geared to one-piece dresses, for the most part, and were not applicable.
The tariffs set up from the recent surveys revealed that size variations
among women were much greater than in the male group. The smallest woman soldier
is 4' 7 ½’ tall and weighs 77 pounds. Her contrasting colleague is 6 feet
tall, weighing 224 pounds. Though the minimum height and weight for Wacs is 5
feet and 100 pounds, an exception has been made for women of Oriental descent,
whose normal height is usually below the minimum.
The predominant size of the typical woman soldier, as shown by the tariffs, is 5' 4" in height and 128 pounds in weight. She has a waist circumference of 26 1/2 inches, wears a 22 hat size, and a 6-B shoe. Instead of being the traditional "perfect thirty-six" she takes a size 14 jacket. The collar of her O.D. shirt is 13 inches, and her ankles are neatly encased in size 9 1/2 rayon stockings.
since 27 May 2001