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US Navy Uniform Regulations 1941 to 1946

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1941 Uniform Regulations, with Wartime Amendments

The U.S. Navy’s uniform regulations of 1917 were revised and published in 1941, however, the 1941 edition was obsolete by the time it went to print. Habitual indecisiveness and reneging with regard to uniforms are apparent in the sheer number of changes and amendments made to these regulations during the war.

In some cases, uniform insignia was introduced one month and abolished the next. Additionally, unauthorized insignia was often designed, produced privately, and worn on uniforms without authorization only to be approved for wear retroactively at a later date by the Navy. Other insignia worn by men of special units were never authorized for wear by the Navy. At the onset of World War II in 1941, the Navy provided a large number of uniform options for both officers and enlisted.

Many of these optional uniforms were considered superfluous to the war effort and abolished. Many pre-war uniform accouterments were made of metal wire, bullion, or other materials that could be put to better use in the manufacture of ships, vehicles, aircraft, and munitions. Two examples of wartime conservation of uniform ornamentation were bullion rating badges and officer’s swords, both of which were no longer required after 1942. Other uniforms were abolished simply to conserve the textile materials used in their production. In addition to abolishing older nonessential uniform items, new uniforms and accessories were introduced during the war.

All of these constant changes to the regulations made them impossible to enforce. Consequently, the wartime regulations are also very difficult to organize and list as a historical reference as well.

The following is the complete 1941 Uniform Regulations as they were published in May of that year. Amendments made to these regulations between 1941 and 1947 are provided as an appendix. Due to the complexity, redundancy, and impossibly confusing nature of the Uniform Regulations before the 1948 revision, no collection of the wartime Navy regulations has ever been compiled into one publication. To the best of the author’s knowledge, the following is the first attempt to organize, catalog, and record all of the regulation amendments put into effect between 1941 and 1947.

Unlike the U.S. Army’s uniform regulations of World War II which are a matter of record and easily obtainable, this provides a complete set of wartime Navy uniform regulations for the first time in over half a century.

Download the US Navy Regulations Here from my Google Drive


Page 1:
The cover of the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations as they were published in May 1941.

Pages 2-195:
The complete and unedited 1941 uniform regulations.

Pages 196-211:
The following regulation amendments are transcribed here from handwritten memos and slips of paper pasted into a revised set of regulations. The date of the letter or authorization documentation is provided in parentheses “( )” when available. Note that the following regulation amendments refer to a specific article of the 1941 regulations. For example, an amendment beginning with the numbers “2-86” refers to articles 2-86 of the 1941 regulations concerning caps. The abbreviations; BP CL or BuPers = Bureau of Naval Personnel Circular Letter and BN CL = Bureau of Navigation Circular Letter.

Pages 212-221:
These documents are the actual typewritten regulation amendments that were distributed in the form of “Circular Letters”. As regulations were changed, news of these changes was delivered to ships and stations in a memo format called Circular Letters. These were to be pasted into existing copies of the 1941 Uniform Regulation book as they were received. Obviously, the huge number of Circular Letters that were distributed during World War II couldn’t all be pasted into one volume so many were lost or misplaced. It is important to note that many Circular Letters addressed several regulation amendments over a period of years. For example, a letter dated January 1946 may in fact be in reference to amendment changes authorized in 1944 and 1945. This was typically the case and it was common for amendments to be consolidated and distributed a year or two after their inception. With this, amendments with post-World War II dates should not be dismissed as post-war revisions. The following regulation changes refer to the wearing of insignia and ribbons.

Pages 222-238:
The following regulation changes refer to the wearing of insignia and ribbons.

Pages 239-287:
The following are general regulation changes concerning the Naval uniform of officers and enlisted men from 1941-1947.