Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

June 2021

Artifact of the Month

Marine Camouflager Uniform

Abstract patterns painted onto ships during World War I was known as “Dazzle” camouflage in Great Britain or “Razzle Dazzle” camouflage in the United States. The paint scheme was a series of geometric patterns in various colors and shades. The patterns were a result of several popular art styles in practice at the time, mostly “cubism”. The idea was to confuse German U-boat commanders as to the size, direction and speed of ships. Since the human eye detects different colors and shapes at different distances, the colors were contrasting and the shapes were deliberately set at various angles when meeting together.

Originally the starboard and port sides of each vessel were to have a different patterns and each individual vessel was to have a different pattern itself. When this proved impractical, both sides of a vessel would have the same pattern and different classes of ship would have specific camouflage patterns assigned to them.

Since it is impossible to actually hide vessels on the ocean, the next best thing is to keep the enemy guessing. “Razzle Dazzle” camouflage proved effective to a degree and was later used by Allied ships in World War II.

This uniform was worn by Eric G Michelson who worked as a Marine Camouflager for the US Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet, in Seattle, Washington. The coat has a civilian rather than a military cut but the color and breeches also give it a military appearance. The insignia above the left pocket is of a camouflaged ship. A US Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet pin is attached to the pocket.