average men's chest size during WWII was only 33 1/4"

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by green papaya, Oct 28, 2008.

  1. green papaya

    green papaya One Too Many

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    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 young man.



    http://www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/WWII/tailor.htm
     
  2. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    This page claims 5'8" as the average height of US soldiers in WW1 as well. There is no other data, except that the "smaller city boys" from the "National Army divisions" began arriving later in the war, ie: the initial deployment of AEF were even bigger.

    I would bet that there was not much increase in weight in between the wars, either. It was not a great time to raise well-nourished young people.

    Either somebody didn't know their hat sizes, or else head size doesn't correlate to body build, if "7 to 7 1/2" was a typical range of hat sizes. That's like saying "8 to 11 shoe."
     
  3. Mike K.

    Mike K. One Too Many

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    I keep hearing statements about new recruits in WWII being smaller because of malnourishment. In countless photos I have yet to see good evidence of this. Let's remember that the average age was around eighteen. Just what size were you guys when you got out of high school?

    Hmmmmm.....
    Let's see, the year was 1988 and I graduated high school (typical new recruit age) very healthy at 125 pounds, 5' 10" tall, 30" waist, wearing a size 36 jacket. Doesn't seem too far off from WWII sizes!
     
  4. H.Johnson

    H.Johnson One Too Many

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    Exactly. One difference that doesn't show in these figures is that I suspect that as the draftees got older, there would be some growth in height over th next few years but less growth in girth (compared to today) due to greater fitness and exercise.
     
  5. bigshoe

    bigshoe One of the Regulars

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    A little known fact. U.S. army shoes and boots were marked one size larger then made. Average size was actualy 8 d.
    Tom
     
  6. Sunny

    Sunny One Too Many

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    ^^ This is exactly what I thought when I saw the thread title. This is NOT size of the average man during WWII. This is the size of the average inductee.
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Excellent point. This is something I think a lot of us, myself included, often forget. Somehow, it makes what went on during the war even more horrific to me when you remember that most of them on the front line were basically kids. I suppose in that respect, when you hear the ages of soldiers coming back in bodybags from current conflicts in the Middle East, not much has changed.

    When I left School at 18, I was 5'10", 36-38" chest, 28" waist. At 16, which was I believe the bottom age for joining up in both WW1 and WW2, I would have been about the same size, maybe an inch shorter.
     
  8. Mike K.

    Mike K. One Too Many

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    I also recall reading once (I think it was in the autobiography "Yeager") that the average age of active duty airmen was about nineteen. A pilot aged 21 was considered the "old guy" by combat standards. I suppose it was similar in other branches as well.
     
  9. mrfish

    mrfish New in Town

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    Location:
    sw pa
    I have read that the average age of American men serving in WWII was 26y.o.

    A quick internet search revealed this statement to be repeated many times but without sources. FWIW, when my father went in, he weighed 135 pounds was about 5' 10" and was 20 y.o.

    mrfish
     
  10. P5640blouson

    P5640blouson One of the Regulars

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    I was 103lbs going in.

    I was 103lbs going in back in 1991. I'm 124lbs now. I was 18 at the time and was 5" 4'. I'm 5" 5' now. My chest was 31 or 32" then, it is 37" now. My waist was 28" then, its 31" now. I was malnourished going in. I am much more filled out now, relatively speaking. I was considered pretty much a small dude and possibly not make it in because the bottom limit for my height was 105lbs. The nurse said "Uncle Sam can waive you 2 lbs" at the inprocessing center. The recruiter recommended that I pig out as much as possible prior to going in on bananas and potatoes. I was delayed entry, so I had a year to gain weight. So I was smaller than even that prior to going in. Just to give you all an idea what it was like for a small dude in 1991. I am proud to say, never give up on your dreams!
     
  11. My Uncle Bill was a B-17 Tailgunner and the "Old Man" of his crew. They called him "Pops." He was 23.:D
     
  12. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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    Be that as it may, in both wars, the Americans were noticeably larger than their European, and especially Asian, counterparts. I believe the average of 26 is accurate for WW II, as there was much more universal conscription, and the maximum age was 35! My dad had been rejected a couple of times before he was accepted by the Marines at age 27.
     
  13. ron521

    ron521 One of the Regulars

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    When I graduated from high school in 1975, I was 5' 10", perhaps a fraction more, and weighed 155 lbs. I wore a size 38 jacket, had a 32 inch waist and 32 inch inseam. My pants size have not changed, but my jacket is now a 40, and I weigh more like 175.
    I was near the average size for my graduating class, there were some fellows who were much larger and more muscular than I, and a number who were smaller and wirier.

    In my junior year, I tried on my father's old Navy uniform which he had worn during the 50's, and found it so tight I had trouble fastening the buttons.
     
  14. CliffG

    CliffG One of the Regulars

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    Kansas USA
    I know when I graduated I was a small fella, I was 120 pounds and 5 ft 8, my waste was 28 and inseam was 30, but being a cowboy I wore 34 inseam over my tall boots. There was not an ounce of fat on me, I was raw hide over spring steel, I ate ok at that time in my life, but worked very hard and had for years, digging post holes shoveling dirt and sand, throwing hay bales that weighed about 70% of my weight. It took several years of being on my own to work my way up to 150 pounds, I increased my waste size to 30, my coat size is 40, and inseam is 30 still, I do remember getting my senior pictures taken and the photographer put a folded up napkin in the back of my shirt collar to make the tie and collar fit like it should, dad made the comment about it takes a while for the neck to fill out like it should. As for my melon, I bought a 5x beaver Stetson size 6 7/8 about a year and a half before that, now I wear a size 7 and if I still had as much hair as I did then I bet it would be a smidgen tight.
    I am from an older family, my Dad is WW2 age but his brother served and they would not take both brothers then. When I go back where he grew up the old timers make me feel normal sized, I feel small now a lot but I always love going back to the big counties in the center of Nebraska because I see people that make me feel normal sized, and the garage sales and thrift stores! I can just pick the vintage off the rack for shirts and jackets and have a hay day for sure.

    I would really like to know the average size of the enlisted now, I would not be to surprised to find out that things are not all that different, even though I see a lot of big tall people, the hungry ones are the ones to sign up for a rifle to tote before a well fed kid, but I could be wrong...
     
  15. Weston

    Weston A-List Customer

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    303
    The first post describes me perfectly, except I have broad shoulders making me a 40 in coat, but more like a 36-38 elsewhere. I'm 31, so it makes me feel good that at least SOME time in history everyone was my size!
     
  16. P5640blouson

    P5640blouson One of the Regulars

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    I got out not too long ago. Simply put there are all kinds

    I got out not too long ago. Simply put there are all kinds in there these days. It's more co-ed than ever, too. The average weight is most likely going up IMO as the current generations do more on the computer than ever before. I've had to tape quite a few folks in my unit recently because they came in overweight. Some are overweight because they're bodybuilders, others because they eat too much and don't like to workout. There's all kinds, that's for sure. What use to suck is that in the chow lines the server (often young) would look at me and give me less of a serving because they thought I didn't need it. The fat guy got more. When an older more experienced soldier did the serving, they'd give me more and leave the fat trooper starving :D
     
  17. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Not so sure about that. Firstly, I think a lot of inductees are thetype that lift weights or work hard. So they may well be bigger in teh chest. ALso, it would be a very poor person indeed who was skinny from it. With the abundance of cheap carbs, and the cheapness of crap food, and the lower economic classes probably more disposed towards junk food, I suspect that the average person going in because they are poor is bound to be more overweight than under.
     
  18. I'm not sure about my father's measurments when he went in the Army in July of '42, but when he got out in Nov. of '45 he was (at age 27) 5'8" and 145lbs. I have the suit that he bought just after returning home, and before it was altered to fit me, it was about a 36R, with a 29" waist and a 30" length. My mother has always said, though, that he weighed more when he went in, which is easy to believe considering that he spent 2 /12 years in the Pacific.
     
  19. When I went in, Mike, I was 140lbs., my trousers were 29/32, my shirts 15-33, shoe size 9, cap size 7 1/8, and I wore a 38R jacket. Not far off WWII standards either (although I was 6').
     
  20. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
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    When I was 19 I was 6ft 2, 140 pounds, 28 inch waist, 36 jacket. Now at 43 I am still thin but a more normal build: 185 pounds, 34 inch waist, 42 jacket.

    I guess such shifts in size are normal - my friend who was the same size as I at 19 is now 280 pounds - his clothes are bought from the "big guys" store.
     

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