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Home > Curator's Corner > September 2011 > Dress White Uniform
Dress White Uniform
Intrepid Teens Blog
Posted: 9/23/2011 9:11:21 AM

Every month, former crew members, their families and other individuals donate historic artifacts to the Intrepid Museum. We’re grateful for these donations, and we get especially excited when we receive an item that is the first of its type in our collection.  Lewis Leroy Gross’s dress white uniform is one such item. 

Sailors wear dress uniforms during ceremonies and other official functions.  Just before the start of World War II, enlisted sailors had two types of dress uniforms: whites and blues.  The jumper, or top, of both uniforms had a flap collar and bands around the cuffs.  On the dress white uniform, the collar and cuffs were blue with white piping, as you can see here.

In 1940, the Navy abolished the dress white uniform.  Keeping this uniform in pristine condition was a challenge because the blue dye from the collar and the cuffs had a tendency to run and fade.  The Navy determined that the undress white uniform, which lacked the blue details, could serve for both dress and undress purposes during the war.  The Navy permitted sailors to continue to wear the dress white uniform until 1942.

Lewis Gross joined the Navy in the late 1930s when he was 17 years old.  During World War II, he served aboard Intrepid as part of the ship’s gunnery department and was commended for his bravery under fire.  His family recently donated this uniform and a number of other items to the Museum.

Because the dress white uniform was abolished, most World War II-era Intrepid sailors did not own one.  Only those sailors whose Navy careers began before 1940 would have had this uniform.  In our collection, the dress white uniform is a unique item, and we’re grateful to Lewis Gross’s children for entrusting their father’s Navy memorabilia to us.

Jessica Williams
Curator of History