WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Question and opinion regarding Living History / Reenacting.
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RobL
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WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by RobL » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:11 pm

Hi

I’ve always wanted to haul my laptop around in vintage WWII style. But the musette bag is just too narrow.

So, when I inherited a 50 year old industrial sewing machine, I decided to try my hand at crafting my own. For the time being, I've set aside my table saw and crate making, and cozied up with the Singer and some canvas.

If good old Sgt. Bill Guarnere had to jump into Normandy with a MacBook Pro, this is what the unit rigger would have made for him.

I’ve made about 15 bags in the last couple months.

I use original WWII materials – ‘upcycled’ USMC shelter halves, ponchos, GI shelter halves, tool rolls, Navy cold weather overalls, silk parachutes, duffle bags, kit bags, sea bags, life vests, canvas cot covers, stretcher canvas, and signal corps radio covers. Bandoliers, pouches, WWI grenade vests (particularly on the USMC-themed bags) and M2 ammo vests. Original snaps, hooks, clips, buckles, 50 cal and 30 cal ammo belts, bed roll straps, parachute webbing and hardware. All legit.

My favorite part is the fabric .50 cal. belt used as a pencil holder inside each bag.

I sold a bunch of these at SOS in February, and have been making more on request as time permits. Some folks wanted custom UNIS marks or unit stenciling. A couple have sent me ‘granddads old seabag’ and asked me to make something they can carry every day to work as a 'hip' reminder. The laptop pocket fits the big Macbook Pro and is padded on the back and bottom for protection. But some are custom sized to the requestors' specs.

Most are made as if a GI, or unit rigger, or local tailor – working to a GI’s specs – hand crafted the bag in theater. I try to concoct a 'realistic' backstory for each of those bags. Keeping 'early war' parts together - and 'late war' parts together - to create a time capsule.

After these photos were taken, I marked the "Medical Department" bag to the 603rd Quartermaster Graves Registration Co. And the PW bag pretends to be a bag made by a crafty German POW from spare damaged canvas, used-up HBT coveralls, mattress ticking and a leather rucksack strap while doing time at Aliceville, Ala. PWC.

I made some other bags purely to appeal to the ‘fashionistas’ out there. “Chicks in New York paying top dollar for this garbage” – Stripes.

Soon, I'll be working on some Vietnam era bags - as if SOG needed to schlep MacBooks out into the bad, bad bush. And some Luftwaffe style bags - as if Werner Von Braun carried a laptop out to the V2 launch sites at Peenemunde. Got some nice German, WWII vintage, knobby linen fabric for those.

The bag in the last photos is made from a salvaged WWII Navy parachute kit bag. Uses Navy parachute webbing, a period zipper and some old ivory dice as a zipper pull. Might stencil on some Naval Aviator's wings on the front flap.

These are sturdy, but they aren't perfect. I'm not exactly a Kate Spade or Gucci qualified male-sewist. Got some 'learning curve' glitches here and there. But I figure that makes them more 'rigger'. Nowadays, that's called 'artisanal'.

The options are endless.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks for your patience.

Rob L.

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GUNNUT in Iowa
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by GUNNUT in Iowa » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:11 am

Those are very cool!

It is going to be Hell in about 30 years, when somebody tries to figure out what they used those for. :lol:
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by 199th MP » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:33 am

that's a pretty cool idea. i will try to notice when you start doing the ones for the nam era. the MP's are definitely going to need that. my issue map case has no padding at all.

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Quartermaster » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:31 am

Your message sounds like it came from the J Peterman catalog à la Seinfeld.

Did you hire Elaine Benes to write your copy!

Ha Ha - but seriously - surely those bags are great!!


"And I didn't call you Shirley!" - - Airplane!
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Ben Dover » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:43 am

Do you still have the bag with the P-40 and AAF Insignia? Am interested.
2011 MVPA PIONEER AWARD - MVPA #1064
HONOR GRAD-WHEELED VEHICLE MECHANIC SCHOOL 1960 - US ARMY ORDNANCE SCHOOL(MACHINIST) ABERDEEN PG 1962 - O-1 BIRD DOG CREWCHIEF - 300,000+TROUBLE FREE M-38A1 MILES
LIFE MEMBER AM LEGION-40/8-DAV
7 MIL SPEC MAINTAINED MV'S
COL. BRUNO BROOKS (ARMY MOTORS) IS MY HERO


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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by RobL » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:42 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

The bag stenciled with the P-40/cameraman bears the insignia of the First Motion Picture Unit formed in Hollywood. (Disney designed the logo). They made training films in Culver City- but also sent Combat Camera units overseas.

The 4th CCU is the team that rolled across Europe in 44/45 and shot most of the color 16mm film we see in documentaries these days for a project back then called SFP-186. Special Film Project 186. They’re the ancient ancestors of the unit that I was assigned to while making movies in the USAF a couple decades ago.

I am happy to stencil up another similar bag for you Ben Dover. But the one in the photo is the bag I made for myself and use everyday.

This is my bag.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My bag is my best friend. It is my life.
I must master my bag as I must master my life.
My bag, without me, is useless.
Without my bag, I am useless.

You get the point.

I also made one marked to a Movietone cinematographer. Stitched on the Victory patch of the Provisional Task Force that put on the Army War Shows in 1942.

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You can see the strap holding the snap hook for keys is made from a piece of shelter half dated Tweedie 1942.

This guy was a photographer who shot the show for Fox Movietone News when it came to the Los Angeles Coliseum – for the news reels. And he had the bag made up as a souvenir of that adventure. Perfect for carrying his camera slate and cue sheets. Made primarily from a discarded GI bag for catching 50 cal metal links. (Can't waste fresh GI materials on civilians you know!). Today it is just as handy at securing a laptop. How coincidentally convenient for us.

The bandolier pockets on the inside flap are useful for smokes, en-bloc clips, meal passes - or for us modern commuters - safeguarding your Metro debit card as you pass through the turnstiles on the way to the train. Just pass your bag near the card reader, and you're speeding on your way.

And Dwayne, you cracked me up with the J Peterman reference. You hit the nail on the head. :wink:

I’m working on a bag now that I intend to call the “Willie and Joe”. Made from some tattered, unkempt, and mismatched bits of war-weary canvas. An ode to Bill Mauldin. Big enough for a sketch pad, pen and ink brushes, and a couple bottles of Coca-Cola. And a laptop.

Rob L.

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Mark in Tucson » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:29 pm

Great job Rob!
A great way to recycle that stuff.

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by AZ Jeff » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:48 pm

You will NOT be disappointed. Definate eye-catching bag that will make you the envy of everyone that knows what its made of (and who cares about those that don't?). The hardest part is actually using it... I treated my USMC-themed bag more reverently than the WW2 junk I put in it at the antique fair last weekend.

PS -- the inner pocket fits my Daytimer perfectly. What's a "lap top"?

/s/ Blissfully Old School in SE AZ

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by RobL » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:24 pm

Jeff was an 'early adopter' of one of my creations.

Glad it fits into your retro lifestyle Jeff!

And thanks again for that early vote of confidence.

I remember your first comment when you checked out the bags - "its like a tour of WWII web gear". If you don't mind, I think i'll use that in my marketing campaign. :wink:

Rob

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by airborne-53 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:42 am

RobL wrote: Image Image

hello
you destroy this original seabag in good condition with original marking to make your bag ..... :roll: in memories of Castagna marines !!!

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olivier

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by AZ Jeff » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:58 am

At a minimum, it looks like good advertising for Castagnas out there? Sure beats folded up and stacked with twenty others in a plastic tub above the den room closet (that's where my attributed/painted seabags live these days). When they finally build the National Seabag Museum we can rue the day a hand full were chopped up to create these laptop bags.

Just my 2 Centavos

Jeff Q.
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Quartermaster » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:36 am

Here’s my take on that. If you want to collect, save, preserve, restore, display, immortalize whatever interests you then you take on the responsibility. Buy it and then you can do whatever you want with it. Trying to put down or guilt the owner is absolutely wrong.

I know a lot of people that bought homes and prize their wonderful views – vistas of the mountains, forests, pastureland – plenty to behold. The catch is they only own a small property and those wonderful views are courtesy of their neighbors – other farmers or landowners that pay taxes and upkeep and, in the farmer’s case, try to make a living off of their land. Now the landowners might reach a point that they derive no value from that property and sell it – maybe to a developer and lots of houses pop up or maybe a business that puts up a warehouse. Now comes the moaning and whining – the beautiful views are blocked or changed and the seller is berated for messing up “their” view. BUT they never get the fact that if they wanted the view --- buy the property. If you can’t afford it --- too bad – you ought to thank the landowner for all those years that you had the view.

This happens in all arenas of collecting. How to your think fanciers of old Fords felt then those nuts chopped up Model A’s and such and made Hot Rods out of them? Coleman lantern collectors HATE when some goof electrifies a gas powered lantern.

In grade school, my book bag was a pretty nice WW2 musette bag, I thought it was cool and I wore it out. When I went off to college, I wore a very nice M43 Field Jacket, carried my school supplies in a 3 snap Lightweight Gas Mask Bag and other stuff in a M45 Pack lower Cargo Bag. I still have all that stuff but it isn’t collectable anymore (except to me) but I owned them and used them and they served a purpose.

The bottom line is if we saved and collected and didn’t utilize old stuff then it would all still be around and nothing would be collectable because there would be so much of it so if you like something and value it then save your money and buy it.
Dwayne
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Lee Bishop » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:00 am

WOW. I love the movietone news marked one and the AAF camera unit one for obvious reasons.
One of these without prior markings except for the above new stuff with camo-parachute lining would be really cool to carry to a show!
I have a big train collectible show to attend this weekend, might contact you on one of these after that.
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RobL
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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by RobL » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:51 am

Thanks Lee! I figured you'd enjoy the 'correspondenty'' stuff.

So after your return from the train show - and assuming you haven't invested all your disposable income on On30 scale versions of portable Smith Coronas and Speed Graphics, we'll talk. (bits you'll need for that scale version of you documenting your own layout for Stars and Stripes)

I'm in the process of putting together a few more variations of those unmarked 'Pathfinder' bags.

RL

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Re: WWII Laptop Messenger Bags

Post by Mike McCrea » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:58 pm

Wow..looks great Rob. As usual..all your stuff is top shelf.

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