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Here we have a very rare US Army Special Se vicesRawlings ACP Pro Model chest protector. In an of itself a very collectible 1943 era issued sports gear. However it is also inscribed in 3 places to the 429th medical company. THis unit was attached to the 101st airborne during the Battle of theBulge. and its connection is widely documentedThe protector is is very good condition although the word ARMY is not clearly stamped The rest of the nomenclature is quite clear'The Rawlings catalog designation ACP Pro-Model Catchers Body Protector features fine water repellent tan color 9 oz. Army duck. Cross stitched to form parallel ribs which is firmly stuffed with kapok fiber, and leather bound. The protection comes well up over shoulders and fits the body perfectly. Adjustable back and body straps. Will resist the hardest blow. Along with the Rawlings manufacture markings on the backside has the "Special Services U.S. Army" stamping, which ties it to the WWII "Baseball Equipment Fund"
With the onset of the U.S. involvement in WWI in 1917, Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith launched a plan to support our troops by raising money to purchase athletic equipment, mainly baseball gear, to outfit every U.S. military training camp. Baseball was considered essential to morale. The Y.M.C.A. shipped 144,000 bats and 79,680 balls to the troops overseas with the money raised by Griffith.
Since its inception in 1933, All-Star game profits were funneled to a relief fund benefiting retired indigent ballplayers. In 1941, the profits were sent to the USO, to buy athletic equipment for servicemen. Four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, baseball executives established the WWII version of the Bat & Ball Fund, renamed the "Baseball Equipment Fund" Once again Clark Griffith took charge along with National League President Ford Frick.
With $25,000 raised by Major League baseball, contributions by the writers association of America, and all the proceeded generated by the 1942 All-Star game Clark Griffith contacted several Sporting Goods companies. Griffith obtained a discounted price for equipment from Louisville Slugger, Goldsmith, Spalding and the Wilson Sporting Goods Companies.
The first order was for 18,000 baseballs and 4,500 bats. The equipment was to be distributed among military camps at the discretion of the joint Army and Navy Committee on welfare and Recreation. There were two types of Kits put together during WWII. Kit-A included a dozen baseballs and three bats; Kit-B contained the catchers gear, a mitt, mask, chest protector and shin guards. It was reported by the Sporting News that 6,000 kits were shipped over seas, but 35 kits were lost at sea as a result of a submarine attack.This is from the 101st Airborne memories of the Bttle of the bulge
The 429th Medical Collecting Company was attached to the 101st Airborne Division to replace the 326th Airborne Medical Company which had been captured. We evacuated and operated an ambulance relay point between the 429th Medical Collecting Company. During the night the 101st Airborne was completely cut off from all the outside reach and above arrangements ceased to function. Meanwhile, two men, S/Sergeant Morrison House of Ticonderoga, New York and Private Edward Kelleher from Brockton, Massachusetts were attached to a stragglers point, operated by the 818th Military Police’s and one officer Captain Fred Jameson and four men, Sergeant Orville Kramer, Sergeant Eddy Wydra, Pfc Matthew Burty and Private John Dance on detached service to VIII Corps, started out for Bastogne late in the day feeling comfortable in the company of many tanks. This protective assurance disappeared when the tanks left the road and moved into the woods. Darkness came and Military Police’s guided them under black-out toward Bastogne. A sentry halted them and wanted the password. Our officer’s response was black widow did not satisfy him but eventually he let them pass. Officers in Bastogne expressed surprise that they were able to get there. They were surrounded on three and a third sides and had to move.
They ended up in Sibret, roadblocks, German tanks in town – unable to get out of trap set up aid station in chateau. Eating nothing, we burned letter, papers, etc. Tank knocked out but five men all got out. Jeep hit and one man killed, others escaped. All medics stayed in Sibre