30th Infantry Division

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How to Identify WWII Pup Tents

Here are a few tips on what to look for, and what to avoid, when shopping for a WWII pup tent.

Each soldier would carry half of a tent, helaf the pegs, and one set of poles. When it came time to bivouac for the night he would find a buddy to bunk with and they would join their halves together to make one complete tent.

Pre war and WWII tents just had flaps at one end only, leaving the other end open to the elements. Later they made tents with flaps at both ends so it could be buttoned up at night. The tents would only be used in rear ereas--on the front lines soldiers would be in a fox hole for protection against shrapnel. Even then though the shelter halves were often used over a fox hole as protection from rain.

WWII shelter halves had black buttons and post war ones green buttons. The black button tents are somewhat difficult to find, so we modify green ones with black paint. Slit a piece of cardboard, slide it under the button, and you can quickly paint it black without any muss.

Later shelter halves dispensed with the buttons and used snaps instead. You definitely don't want those in your display as they're a dead giveaway.

Tent poles: proper WWII poles came in three sections that folded together. A metal sleeve snapped them into place. Pre war sleeves were made of brass and war ones galvanized steel. Post war poles are green and break apart into three separate pieces--both are shown in the photos below. The pre war and war ones are very difficult to find, so most people just use the green poles.

Tent pegs: wooden tent pegs are proper for WWII and are readily available. The metal pegs are modern and are usually painted orange so they don't get lost while pulling up camp. It's useful to have a couple of the metal stakes in your kit so you can make holes in hard ground for the wooden ones. You'll need a total of ten stakes for one complete tent.

Early war tent

Late war tent

Black buttons

Tent poles

Tent poles disassembled


Peg with rope

Member of the World War II Historical Re-enactment Society