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I recently acquired these ski poles along with other mountain troop items I will be listing shortly. They are very early poles literally made from shaped sticks of hickory as used by 10th Mtn Division and FSSF (First Special Service Forces) troops. The baskets rims appear to be made from bent ash woven in leather. The wrist thongs are a herringbone woven material. They have inventory numbers painted over the white finish and are in structurally sound condition.
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This WWII Japanese “meatball” flag was acquired directly from the 306th Infantry, 77th Division veteran who liberated it on the Japanese occupied island of Cebu during the last days of conflict in WWII.
Many Japanese soldiers carried flags adorned with poems, words of encouragement, and patriotic phrases from family and peers. Some were even decorated with artwork. This flag has not only meaninful writings, but also a stylized depiction of Mount Fuji and a cartoon of an Imperial Japanese soldier.
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The WWII assault vest is a unique and coveted piece of US field gear, largely due to its use by Rangers during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. According to the book “Spearheading D-Day: American Special Units in Normandy“, 14,000 vests were manufactured and issued to not only the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions, but also small elements of the 1st, 4th, and 29th Divisions. The book also mentions these vests were limited issue items among the 2nd and 5th Battalion Rangers and seen only being worn by senior NCO’s and officers due to their compartments for maps, binoculars, etc.
Veterans claim the vest was worn over all other garments so it could be immediately discarded in the event a soldier wound up in water over his head upon landing. After landing, many soldiers wore their ammo belt over the vest. Shortly after the D-Day invasion, assault vests are seldom seen being worn. However, there are images of medics and even photographers wearing the vest because of the accessible pocket configuration for small, specialized items.
The vest pictured is an unissued, original example made by Harian Stitching Co in 1944. It is in the attractive transitional pattern with khaki body and green (OD 7) trim.
Most would agree that World War II militaria is the most popular military era to collect, and fortunately, “out of the woodwork” WWII items continue to surface from estates. WWII militaria initially emerged as a collecting hobby shortly after soldiers returned from Europe with Third Reich souvenirs, particularly medals, guns, and headgear. As demand for German WWII collectibles increased, the hobby evolved from blue-collar to white-collar. As with any collecting circle, when items start selling for serious money opportunists enter the scene with fakes and begin to infect the hobby. The surge in German fakes, coupled with skyrocketing prices, resulted in many collectors turning to U.S. militaria as a safer, more affordable option, and U.S. items once considered “surplus” have become legitimate collectibles. Popular areas include:
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1. Firearms: Military firearms have always been in high demand with crossover appeal to both militaria and gun collectors. Many collectors not only focus on particular models—like the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, 1911A1 pistol and Springfield 1903—but also the various contractors for each weapon. The Holy Grail is to find a weapon that has all original finish and all original parts from the factory. Most WWII era weapons today have replaced parts, so original examples command a premium. A WWII-dated M1 Garand refurbished with postwar parts brings around $650, whereas an original WWII M1 Garand sells for more than $2000 if you can find one!
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2. Groups: A group (or grouping) is a collection of items attributed to one veteran. Groups may contain uniform items, medals, helmet, dog tags, photos, and paperwork—including discharge, general orders and other ephemera. These items establish provenance, which greatly increases historical and collecting value. Items without provenance are worth no more than the sum of the parts.
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3. Headgear: Military headgear is very popular because it displays well, with many types and variations to acquire. The price range accommodates anyone’s budget, with an infantry piped overseas cap selling for $5 to a named M2 “D-bale” airborne helmet selling for more than $12,000. Most militaria collectors have a soft spot for headgear, which is why it sells well.
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4. Insignia & Medals: WWII patch collecting actually started during WWII. As soldiers returned home, many donated their insignia to be sewn on wonderful handmade patch blankets, or given to children to trade like baseball cards. Collectors focus on insignia variations and without knowing the difference between a “green back” vs. a “white back,” or a “green border,” it’s easy to assume they’re of equal value, but they’re not! Greenbacks are sewn with green bobbin thread, resulting in the reverse side being prominently green. These scarce variants sell for many times more than white back examples of the same patch. Medals are a privilege to collect and own because they are personal and earned by the veteran. Posthumous medals typically have name of the veteran inscribed on the back and are very desirable to collectors, particularly when they are accompanied with an original presentation case and government correspondence to the deceased solder’s family. A cased WWII Good Conduct Medal sells for $10, whereas an inscribed KIA Purple Heart sells in the hundreds or more, depending on the unit served in and the circumstances of death.
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5. Knives: WWII knives were either issued or privately acquired. Notable makers of handmade fighting knives include Gary Randall and Frank J Richtig. To find clean WWII examples from either maker will cost well over $1,500. Most of the knives taken into battle were mass-produced through government contracts, like the wonderfully utilitarian model M3; a popular knife to collect because of the different contractors for both the knife and scabbard. M3’s start at $150 for just the knife and can sell in the hundreds for a clean, early example with the maker and date marked on the blade and a nice leather M6 scabbard. There are also theater-made knives constructed from scrap aluminum, Lucite, steel, brass and other materials. Theater-made knives vary in form, quality and value, and are sought after collectibles.
Prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States involvement in WWII, Elmer L. Clark worked as a sales clerk in the menswear department at J.C. Penney’s in Moultrie, Georgia. Elmer was inducted in the Marine Corps on March 27, 1943 and went through basic training on Paris Island, where he trained to be a mortarman (MOS 607) a rifleman (MOS 745), and a qualified combat swimmer.
On April 22, 1945, Elmer was attached to B Co., 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division. His unit embarked aboard LST 929 at Kawaihae, Hawaii on January 10, 1945 and began their voyage to the pacific theater. After a stop at Saipan, Mariana Islands, they boarded again for their final destination, Iwo Jima.
On February 19, 1945 Elmer charged Iwo Jima beach with his mortar crew and the 5th Mar Div. He fought until being wounded by gunshot at the base of his skull. Elmer was medevaced aboard the USS Highlands. By March 5, 1945, Elmer was recovering at the 148th General Hospital in San Francisco, CA.
On May 22, 1945 Elmer was transferred to the 1st Training Bn, 1st Training Rgt at Camp Lejune, N.C., where he served until the war ended. Elmer was discharged February 7, 1946 and earned the following awards during his military service:
Purple Heart Medal
USMC Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 1 Bronze Star
Presidential Unit Citation
WWII Victory Medal
USMC Sharpshooter Rifle Badge
Elmer passed away on September 9, 2002. His USMC Class A blouse and trousers were rescued from the trash by his great nephew when his wife’s estate was being liquidated.