Camo grass suit: The hottest thing in 1942 Solomon Islands sniper wear

From the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

“SNIPER GOES TO ROOST— Garbed in captured Japanese sniper’s outfit, a U.S. Marine on Guadalcanal Island proves that the Japs are not the only fighters who can “shinny” up a coconut tree, secret themselves in the lush foliage and hammer away at unsuspecting troops. Here he is giving them a mock dose of their medicine…

A U.S. Marine dons Japanese snipers outfit and mocks ascent into a palm tree. So well taught in the art of camouflage are the Japanese that were it not for the report of their rifles it would be almost impossible to spot them. Photo was taken on Guadalcanal, B.S.I.P.”

“This is one of mine. This is Sergeant Art I believe, or maybe Sergeant Fue. I get them mixed up. He was one of the survivors of the Getge patrol. Here he’s demonstrating the way the Japanese used that clip thing to climb the trees. Japanese rain cape, Japanese helmet, Japanese rifle. And before he went up, he was very careful to make sure everybody knew that he was one of us and not one of them.”

“Coming down” From the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

November 4, 1942: “The U.S. Marine at the right shows a companion how he looks in a Japanese sniper’s jacket made of long-haired animal’s skin. The skin blends in with the underbrush making such snipers extremely difficult to locate.”

OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 6013611

Labeled “Japanese sniper suit for use in trees”

The above capture surely leads to this report:

“Japanese Camouflage Garment” from Tactical and Technical Trends, 14 Dec 1942, via Lone Sentry

The garment shown in the accompanying sketch was captured in the Solomons area. A number of similar garments were found packed in bales, and in at least one instance, one was found on a Japanese sniper shot out of a palm tree by U.S. Marines.

It is made from the shaggy, reddish-brown fiber that grows at the base of the fronds of the coconut palm tree. Sheets of this fiber are sewed together to form the garment.

It can serve as a camouflage garment to be used in areas where there are quantities of coconut palms. It has been used by snipers strapped in among the fronds of palm trees, and it could also be used effectively on the ground under suitable color conditions.

Comment: This type of garment is widely used in Japan as a raincoat. Those made of coconut palm fiber are used by Japanese fishermen, while the Japanese farmer makes his with reeds or rushes.

Beyond that, the suit was published in YANK in 1943, as a reference moving forward for Japanese uniforms (look at the right-hand corner).

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