About The Project

In the build-up to Operation Neptune and other large-scale military operations during WW2, the United States Army introduced a system by which all items that were to accompany a unit on an overseas voyage could be correctly identified to their respective units. These items included large personal equipment to vehicles and tentage of the unit. The system which was devised can be likened to the modern day bar code system. By assigning each unit a 5-digit serial number all items could be easily identified. To expedite the process of identifying the numerous pieces in the system, a colour code was also devised, with specific colours relating to the final two digits of the 5-digit code.

Unfortunately, since the information that was relevant to this particular system was highly confidential (most documents referring to it were rated as "BIGOT" - the highest security type used for the invasion of Europe), very little evidence or documentation exists to document the process and system used. Attempts have previouslt been made by researchers and historians to gather a list of these POM markings (or more accurately, Unit Serial Numbers), but most have failed to produce a definitive list due to the lack of evidence or official history.

A number of militaria collectors have identified pieces in their collection which bear these multi-coloured barcodes with Unit Serial Numbers, and following discussion with some of these collectors, it was decided that another attempt to document the codes and locate the units to which they relate should be made. In early 2009, Ben Major of the WW2 US Medical Research Centre set about starting a database to collect the numerous codes and their respective units. Now in 2010, the project still remains very much a work-in-progress, and although research into the area continues, there are still large gaps in the database.

The project originally comprised of a single web page listing the Unit Serial Numbers which the project had already identified. However, as the project grows and gains popularity, it was decided that a more formal and complete system be developed. This new website (launched in October 2010) will hopefully form the definitive source for the research of the Unit Serial Numbers. It is hoped that by combining items and knowledge from people across the world, a definitive list of POM markings and their respective units can be constructed for research purposes. Each marking is given its Divisional unit and Company to which it has been designated.

If you know of a Unit Serial Number which currently does not appear in our database, please visit the " Add Serial Number" section to insert your data into the database. The team behind this project certainly appreciates the efforts which have already been made by researchers and collectors around the world to document these codes, and hopes that this site will act as a better means for them to continue doing so. Should you have any questions or comments about the research project, please contact Ben Major, the project leader.

About the Markings

These particular markings, referred to as "Preparation for Overseas Movement" (POM) markings were typically applied to US Army materiel that was to be shipped to its destination. They were designed to replace unit idenfication markings, thus making organisation and transportation simple. Each unit was issued with a five digit code which uniquely identified it. Each number of the code corresponded to a colour, which would be painted in the form of three stripes, representing the following > top bar: penultimate digit, middle bar: final digit, bottom bar: penultimate digit. As far as we have been able to ascertain, these markings were assigned at a Company level.

The table below shows the digits used and their corresponding colours:

0   1  
2   3  
4   5  
6   7  
8   9