Stripes Or No Stripes?

I remember reading Bill Mauldin’s book “Up Front” (he served in Italy) where he complained about how he had to wear his sergeant’s stripes or get fined, even though wearing them would make him a target for snipers. I can imagine soldiers serving on the front lines would definitely take off insignia, but what about rear areas? Was it (relatively) safe to wear insignia there? I’m thinking of Northwestern Europe in late 1944.

I think this a bit over the top. A sniper will take a shot on anyone that presents themselves as a clear target. Biding their time waiting for a more senior target to appear would defeat their real purpose. Getting a clear view of a shoulder/ sleeve patch over distance would also not be as easy as it sounds.


Good point. Guess it just boils down to battlefield legend and/or paranoia?


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A lot is Hollywood influence.

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Not sure it’s just snipers. In an attack, the defending troops would aim for officers (map cases!) and NCO’s first, as this would tend to disorganise and break up the attack. I’ve read first hand accounts of Normandy where British officers stuffed the maps in their battledress and carried rifles so they weren’t differentiated from the men. Contemporary British NCO ranking is likewise quite distinctive, even at a distance. Snipers also concentrated on tank commanders. One dodge was to poke a beret on a stick out of the hatch, hoping a sniper would target that rather than the TCs head!