Service and Dress Uniform
During the 1920s and 1930s, Army Nurses wore an
olive-drab outdoor uniform similar to that of commissioned Army officers.
It was rarely used by many nurses since there was no regulation which made
its wear obligatory at all times. When in 1940 it was deemed necessary
to increase the strength of the Army Nurse Corps, considerations were made
to improve the completely outmoded outdoor uniform in design and color.
A more feminine cut and a more becoming color were intended. Finally, a
two-tone blue uniform was chosen with a dark blue jacket and a medium blue
Blue Service Uniform
In 1940, the Office of the Quartermaster General
designed the new blue service uniform for Army Nurses. However, a number
of complications during the production process caused a big delay.
Blue Service Uniform
worn with garrison cap,
beige stockings with black oxford
||Therefore, only nurses with overseas
orders received the new uniform at first, while nurses remaining on domestic
duty had to wait until sufficient stocks of the new uniform were procured.
At the beginning of 1942, the nurses still were not fully equipped with
the blue uniform.
Blue Service Uniform
worn with 1st pattern Service cap.
The blue uniform soon proved unsatisfactory.
It was cut on masuline lines not adapted to the female figure. The jacket
did not have enough fullness across the shoulders and the bust, the sleeves
were too short and set in at the angle as it was common in men's clothes.
The skirt was too large at the waist and too small at the hips. The sizing
as well as the basic pattern needed corrections. Slight changes were appoved
in early 1942, but the garments remained inadequate all in all.
In September 1942, it was decided to discontinue
the procurement of the blue uniform. The color of the uniform was changed
into olive drab and a new pattern was adopted. However, nurses could coninue
to wear the blue uniform as a dress uniform until the end of war.
After the effective date of change to olive-drab,
no blue uniforms were issued anymore, but could be purchased at the nurse's
Olive-Drab Service Uniform
|The jacket of the blue service uniform was
made of dark blue covert wool. It was equipped with maroon piped epaulets
and maroon sleeve braids. The jacket was closed with three gilt Army buttons
and had two hip pockets with buttoned flaps.
The jacket was worn with a six gore skirt in
medium blue color.
A white or powder blue shirt with black tie,
a blue service cap or overseas cap, beige hose, black oxford shoes with
cuban heels and gray suede or black kit gloves completed the outfit.
The effective date of change to olive-drab was
delayed several times since large surplus stocks of blue uniforms should
be utilized first. Eventually, the change was made effective on July 1,
1943 for nurses overseas or alerted for overseas. The uniform change for
nurse's in the continental United States was set on December 3, 1943. It
was intended to have all nurses properly equipped in olive-drab no later
than June 1944.
The design was similar to the revised Women's
Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) uniform. The olive-drab uniform was available
in winter and summer weight material. For the winter uniform 14 1/2 ounce
barathea was used and tropical-worsted for the summer uniform .
On the left side:
Dark olive-drab uniform worn with
distinctive ANC service cap and shoulder bag.
On the right side:
Dark olive-drab jacket worn with
lightshade drab ("pink") skirt and male pattern garrison cap.
In the summer of 1943, it was deemed more
and more necessary to provide Army nurses with slacks. More complete protection
and freedom of movement was required at several jobs overseas. Therefore,
many nurses already had started to wear privately purchased slacks in all
kind of colors and with no uniformity of cut or style. This development
should be stopped with the introduction of woolen slacks.
In August 1943, the design of the slacks was
approved and the Quartermaster Corps started to produce the slacks for
resale to nurses in overseas areas. The fabric and color of the slacks
matched the olive-drab service jacket. The slacks were available in summer
weight and winter weight material. The slacks had a zipper closure or button
closure and a pocket on the right side.
ETO Field Uniform
Slacks, Women's, Summer,
Dark od (with zipper closure)
Slacks, Women's, Winter,
Dark od (with button closure)
In 1944, Army Nurses who served in the European
Theater of Operations (ETO) were authorized to wear short-waisted battle
jackets. Similar jackets were already used by British Army personnel (including
their female staff) and adopted for the female U.S. Army personnel in October
1944 because it was noticed that these jackets were more practical to wear
for many jobs. The battle jacket allowed more freedom of movement. Therefore,
it provided more comfort for outdoor jobs than the usual hip length service
jackets. Before the decision about the concrete design was made, the wearing
of the "Jacket, Field, Wool, Women's" was already approved. This caused
different variations of the pattern.
The field jacket could be worn with matching
skirt or slacks like shown in the photos below.
Beige Summer Uniform
|The use of a beige, summer service uniform,
purchased by the nurse, had been optional since 1941. It was made in the
same style as the blue service uniform but without belt.
Like the blue uniform it had maroon piped shoulder
straps and a maroon mohair officer's sleeve braid. The uniform was worn
with a white shirt, black tie, white gloves, beige hose and white oxford
style shoes. Later, it was also permitted to wear the uniform with brown
Claudette Colbert wearing the first
pattern beige service uniform in an advertising picture for the movie "So
proudly we hail"
In 1943, a revised beige service uniform was
introduced. The same pattern as for the olive-drab uniform was used. Like
on the previous version, the sleeves were trimmed with maroon braid and
the shoulder loops had a maroon piping. A maroon tie replaced the black
tie worn with the previous version of the summer uniform.
The beige dress was worn with a matching beige
visored cap or an overseas style cap with maroon piping. Later, the nurses
were provided with a beige garrison cap with gold-black officer's piping
like shown in the picture above.
Seersucker Summer Service Uniform
|The wear of the cotton seersucker uniform
with jacket was designated for street wear off-duty. In this combination,
it was an optional summer service uniform for nurses.
The collarless jacket had two patch pockets
and a one-button front closure. The collar of the dress was placed over
the jacket. The jacket became an item of issue and was standarized in December
The olive drab service cap, the beige service
cap, the olive drab garrison cap or the beige garrison cap could be worn
with this service uniform. Additionally, the russet brown service shoes
or low white shoes and white, beige or Army russet brown gloves were authorized.
Jacket, Cotton Seersucker, Nurse's worn
with the Seersucker hospital uniform
Off Duty Dress
In early 1942, a request had been made to adopt
a one-piece dark blue cloth dress for nurses. It was considered essential
for the morale to have such a dress for purchase since Army Nurses were
required to be in uniform at all time since the outbreak of war. The only
outdoor uniform they had so far was the blue service uniform. The design
of the white cotton hospital uniform was used for this dress but modified.
It had two breast pockets with imitation flaps in lieu of the patch pockets
on the hips. The skirt was cut in six gores without snap fasteners, the
sleeves were long gathered into a straight open cuff which was finished
at the top edge with a maroon braid. The shoulder loops were piped in maroon,
too. Gilt Army buttons were used and the self-material belt was closed
with one button only. In April 1942, the one-pice dress was authorized.
It should be worn in lieu of the shirtwaist, jacket and skirt as official
garb. However, it was subsequently utilized as an off-duty dress for wear
at unofficial social occasions. Later in the year, the design was slightly
Blue Off-Duty Dress
made of wool gabardine
Olive-Drab Off-Duty Dress
made of rayon
Beige Off-Duty Dress
made of plain weave rayon
In the summer of 1942, the addition of a light-weight,
beige dress was requested for nurses serving in hot climates. In August,
the beige dress was approved as item of purchase. Plain weave rayon or
tropical worsted was chosen as material which could be used for both, the
blue or beige dress.
With the change from blue to olive-drab, an
olive-drab dress of the same design was authorized in April 1943. Although
at first the blue dress should be discarded, it later was allowed to continue
the wear of the blue dress as well as an off-duty dress in drab blue, wool
gabardine in the continental United States only.
The dark olive-drab winter dress was made
of rayon. In the summer/autumn of 1944, an improved version made of wool
crepe in olive-drab shade 51 was introduced. The width of the shoulders
was increased, the waistline and the pocket size reduced, the braid from
the shoulder loops omitted and the cuffs modified into a double or French
type of cuff. The wear of plain brown pumps with the off-duty dress was
authorized in September 1945. Note: The U.S. letters were worn on
the right side of the collar and the nurse's caduceus on the left side
of the collar.