Studying vehicles markings could seem odd, especially because officially, there’s one standard procedure to mark the vehicles in the U.S. Army. But in reality, in different units on the ETO, the so-called procedure was not followed by all. And when you can see an incoherence on a picture, or more, that’s because the whole unit implemented its own way of vehicle markings. The 9th Infantry Division had its own way, indeed. Explore it thru this series of photographic evidence.
Reference: Army Regulation 850-5, U.S. Military Equipment Marking, Section III. Vehicles, b. Unit identification symbols
Front and rear markings are identical and consist of four groups in consecutive order, from the left to right when facing the vehicle, separated by a dash 1 inch long. Markings may be on a single line or on two lines, but in no case will groups be broken nor order of groupings be changed. If two lines are used, the first and third groups will be on the top row. Composition of groups is indicated below.
- First Group: Army – Arabic numeral followed by letter A. Army Corps – Roman numeral. Division (Infantry) – Arabic Numeral
- Second Group: Designates separate regiment, separate brigades; groups, separate battalions, or separate companies, and similar units by appropriate number or symbol, followed by arm or service in accordance with abbreviations listed below. When indicating headquarters and headquarters companies or special companies of units identified in first group, the second group will consist only of the letter « X. »
- Third Group: Designates companies and similar organizations by letters in accordance with the following code:
- Fourth Group: Designates the serial number of the vehicle in normal order of march within the organization to which it is assigned. Vehicles assigned to any headquarters will be combined for purposes of numbering with those of the appropriate headquarters company or similar organization, and will be given the smaller serial numbers used therein.
9-X-HQ-10 10th vehicle, Headquarters, 9th Infantry Division
9-X-R-10 10th vehicle, 9th Reconnaissance Troop, 9th Infantry Division
9-60F-A-10 10th vehicle, Able Battery, 60th Field Artillery Battalion, 9th Infantry Division
9-39I-C-1 1st vehicle, Charlie Company, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
9-47I-2HQ-2 2nd vehicle, 2nd Battalion, Headquarters, 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
VII-899TD-R-10 10th vehicle, Reconnaissance Company, 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion, VII Corps
1A-746Δ-D-5 5th vehicle, Dog Company, 746th Tank Battalion, 1st Army
The markings are to be painted in white letters on olive-drap background. Letters and figures are to be of a character style and dimensions as designed for use for traffic signs. Where space does not permit this size, letters and figures will conform to space available.
The display of the groups, on the bumpers, are not clearly stated, but sketches indicate that the two first groups have to be marked on the left side of the bumper (facing the vehicle), and that the two last groups have to be marked on the right side of the bumper (facing the vehicle), these groups being separated by a regular 4-inches U.S. Army 5-branches star (regular vehicles – for armor and tanks, a 10-inches star has to be painted).
- 9th Infantry Division markings (mainland Europe)
Looking at random photographs of the 9th Infantry Division will immediately show a difference between the Army Regulation stated above, and the reality: on each and every picture, the four groups of marking (for the front bumper) are painted on the left side (facing the vehicle).
These pictures show few details that we can compare to the Army Regulation:
- Obviously, the four groups are all painted to the left (facing the vehicle) as already stated above
- That was done by the three organic regiment of the division (39th, 47th, 60th Infantry Regiments)
- Did the other units (Artillery, Cavalry, Support, and Service Support) mark the same way? Attached units did not (746th Tank Battalion and 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion followed the Army Regulation) after a first sight on the known photographs. Artillery actually did follow that ‘divisional procedure’
- 39th Infantry Regiment painted on the right side (facing the vehicle) their famous slogan ‘AAAO’ on each and every vehicle. Were they the only one to do so? Yes and no. Yes because there’s no source of the 60th Infantry painting “DEVELS” on their bumper, no because I know one (but maybe more existed) photo of a 47th Infantry vehicle with their nickname “Raiders” painted
- This above photo shows also the use of white bumpers, which is clearly anecdotic, but more often seen when speaking about the rear bumpers!
- But this was not the norm, since we can see other picture with “regular” rear bumpers…
Conclusion and advices to reenactors
- 9th Infantry Division had its own marking procedure, definitely. The four groups of markings, on the front bumper, should be on the left (facing the vehicle) and that a common thing. Of course, we always can find exception, but the rule was ‘left’ for all. Painting the rear bumper is not a mistake, nor a norm! Let say half and half of both solution.
- 39th Infantry’s vehicles all had the AAAO on the right side of the front bumper (facing the vehicle), but regular marking on the rear bumper (some with white background paint, some with OD background paint).
- 60th Infantry’s vehicles all had a clean right side of the front bumper (facing the vehicle), since there’s no photographic evidence of marking at that place. Same rules apply for the rear bumpers as for the 39th Infantry Regiment.
- 47th Infantry’s vehicles all had a clean right side of the front bumper (facing the vehicle), since there’s no photographic evidence of marking at that place. Same rules apply for the rear bumpers as for the 39th Infantry Regiment. But of course, you always can find exception!
If you are the lucky owner of a jeep, and that you want to set up an 9th Infantry Division impression, stick to the most common impression: Every marking on the left side (facing the vehicle), nothing on the right side except if you are portraying 39th Infantry Regiment. Rear bumper white or OD background, OD paint used for markings (not black, like it was done in the 1st Infantry Division).