The U. S. Army’s elite paratroopers of WWII were particularly creative when it came to enhancing their appearance while wearing working or dress uniforms; anything that looked cool and made them appear more distinctive and stand out as paratroopers was their objective in altering their uniforms. Among various uniform enhancements adopted by the paratroopers was the wearing of camouflage neck scarves fabricated from damaged parachute canopies – the scarves were never an issue item of clothing.
The paratroopers made their parachute jumps using the T-5 parachute, which featured a reserve chest pack that housed a white parachute canopy and a main back pack that contained (after 1942) a camouflaged parachute canopy. Since the main chute was the primary chute to be deployed when performing a combat jump, logic dictated that the canopy should be made of camouflaged nylon parachute fabric to better conceal the deployed parachute canopy and the trooper dangling under it. These camouflaged scarves were typically made rather hastily and simply cut with a knife from canopies that were no longer serviceable or found in combat areas after a drop, hence the edges were not bound or sewn and were left unfinished, unlike a proper issue scarf. The practice of making and wearing the camouflaged neck scarves by the paratroopers was fairly wide spread and can be seen in photos while they were wearing their combat uniforms, class B uniforms or with the coveted USAAF A-2 jackets. Some USAAF C-47 aircrew of Troop Carrier Command responsible for delivering the paratroopers to their final destinations also wore the camouflaged scarves with their flying jackets, distinguishing them as combat aircrew making dangerous drops behind enemy lines under fire, rather than transport aircrew making rear echelon deliveries of supplies. And immediately following the Normandy parachute drops in June 6, 1944, many non-parachute soldiers on the ground, such as U. S. Army Rangers, found ample camouflage canopies all over the countryside and adopted the wearing of scarves or camouflaged helmet covers fabricated from the discarded canopies.
Buzz Rickson has adroitly copied the original camouflage pattern and coloring of the parachute canopies in creating these scarves, but they’ve chosen to make the scarves in a more luxurious fabric than nylon, thus these are silk scarves, and the edges are perfectly sewn at the factory making a double-thickness scarf rather than having a single-ply scarf with crudely cut edges. The original-style parachute canopy ink stamping is included on these Buzz Rickson scarves as a nod to the origin of this iconic accessory.
This is a fabulous and practical accessory piece to finish off just about any look, and the luxurious silk is light enough to be worn in warmer weather but tightly woven to keep out the wind and hold in body heat on chilly days.
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GI's in Europe during WWII took to wearing camouflage scarves made from the canopies of parachutes. American paratroopers had been wearing this type of scarf or kerchief made from their own parachute canopies prior to the D-Day invasion, where troopers simply hacked away sections of their damaged canopies and turned them into combat fashion attire. As Normandy fighting spread, U. S. paratroopers were soon observed sporting their cool-looking camouflage scarves by a growing number of GI's and it was catching: American soldiers of all types were taken by the fashion statement, including select USAAF aviation units.
The Normandy battlefield was littered with parachute canopies after the D-Day drop of paratroopers and cargo, with cargo drops continuing for some time thereafter. Additionally, the Americans found themselves fighting several German paratroop (Fallschirmjäger) units in Normandy that also had ample stocks of their own unique camouflage parachute canopies at their bases, and German units were also supplied, at times, by air-dropped cargo hanging beneath camouflage parachute canopies.
GI's of every stripe were soon found wearing camouflage scarves. As the fighting spread throughout France in the summer and fall of 1944, GI's had turned the wearing of camouflage scarves made from parachute canopies into a fad, most especially, German Fallschirmjäger camouflage canopies. The fad came to the attention of American command at least by late July 1944 and it was not welcomed: an order was issued to discontinue the practice, but as photo evidence and documents show, GI's paid this order little mind - GI's disliked chickenshit orders. Ultimately, by the time of the occupation of Germany in 1945, Fallschirmjäger camouflage scarves were actually being fabricated for sale to GI's!
We were fortunate enough to obtain a GENUINE WWII-issue German Fallschirmjäger camouflage parachute canopy; this canopy seems to be of early manufacture, as it clearly is made from silk and not synthetic fibers. We're selling camouflage scarves cut from this canopy in the original fashion, as illustrated in our vintage photo of U. S. 3rd Army nurses in France, which is hand cut using scissors, leaving a raw, unstitched edge exposed on all sides. Scarves will measure approximately 48" long x 12" wide, perfect for forming a scarf or kerchief to add that extra level of battlefield chic to your wardrobe. Our stock is available until the canopy is exhausted - this is GENUINE WWII - so get them while you can!!!
Special thanks to our good friend and researcher, Mr. Thomas H. Kelly, for finding and providing the photo of U. S. 3rd Army nurses in France cutting up a German Fallschirmjäger camouflage parachute canopy and the U. S. Army HQ order to discontinue the practice of wearing parachute canopies turned into scarves.
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