Bergmann Boots – The Carlson’s Raiders Boots

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Evans F Carlson, 2nd Raiders – on Tarawa as an observer

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The iconic boots of the 2nd Raider battalion during WWII was the logger type boots made by the Theodore Bergmann of the Theodore Bergmann Shoe Manufacturing Company. These boots used the slogan “The most powerful shoe in America.”. These boots were thick soled, heavy leather logging boots that did very well at stomping through underbrush. These boots became the status symbol, along with their Gung Ho bowie blades, of their elite and fearsome way of life. 

 

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Raider boots used in historical interpretations with my living history unit “Item Company”

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B Company, 2nd Raiders on Makin Atoll, 1942 interpretation

 

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These boots lasted throughout 1942, and into 1943 where the unit was disbanded right after bougainville. Many shots on Bougainville still show some Raider boots in use.

Ben Carson of 2nd Raiders, Company D (later E) said:

“As our feet toughened to the daily pounding of the marches, there was discussion throughout the battalion that the G.I. boondocker shoes did not fill the bill for many Raiders’ feet. Soon, we were marching in boots made in Oregon for use by loggers. These were comfortable, but much heavier than boondockers, and much harder to dry out after fording a creek.” 

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Leaving Guadalcanal 

Look for all the Bergmann boots!

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Note the V-44 Gung Ho knife in the sheath 

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Bougainville, and beyond

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Bergmann boots to the left, drying out

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Bergmann boots to the right rear, drying out.

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Great shot of field attire, with Bergmann boots.

 

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One of the few named pairs, formerly at the USMC Raider Museum at Quantico

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Really nice job featuring rare photos of Bergman boots in use! Some observations and questions follow:

    1) Are you wearing original Bergman “Raider” boots?

    2) Why didn’t you feature more photos of the details of the boots, in addition to some shots from various angles, not the least being of the soles and heels?

    3) One of the photos of Raiders resting mostly on their backs on the “Canal” clearly shows the sole and heel on a Bergman Raider boot that has a two-tone sole and heel – did some of these boots get delivered from the factory so outfitted?

    4) It’s noteworthy in the 2nd photo under the heading “Leaving Guadalcanal – Look for all the Bergmann boots!” that the marine on the far left with his back to the camera has managed to obtain a USN aviator’s inflatable life vest (neck opening is passed over his rifle), commonly known to the collector community as a Mk I.

    Thank you!

    Like

  2. Charles,

    1. I am wearing vintage boots, though they are extremely close, they are not Bergmann. They do have the corded sole however.

    2. Unfortunately I do not have a legitimate pair of Bergmann’s in my collection, so I am reliant on the photographs that are already out there. I need to stop by the Raider museum and photograph the shoes they have on display (or used to). With mine not being bonafide, I didn’t want to use them as ‘the’ model. However I will get some more shots of mine in due time.

    3. I am not entirely sure. The history is still shrouded on much of the actual information. It could have been multiple styles of boot, and sole were procured from Bergmann for expediency due to the large numbers needed. Unfortunately I have no information (yet) that pertains to it. I will have to look around NARA and see what I can come up with, perhaps more information is to be had.

    4. Good eye, I just added another photo showing the V-44 ‘Gung Ho’ knife being carried as well.

    Like

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