Tom Hanks in Greyhound
Tom Hanks as CDR Ernest Krause, USN, commanding officer of USS Keeling
North Atlantic Ocean, February 1942
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Director: Aaron Schneider
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Military Costume Consultant: Steve McColgan
…the goods will be delivered by this nation, whose Navy believes in the tradition of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 27, 1941
Greyhound begins just over three months after the United States entered World War II and nearly five months after FDR’s address for Navy and Total Defense Day, in which he reinforced with the above words the protection that the U.S. Navy would offer merchant ships carrying supplies to support the Allied war effort. The eponymous “Greyhound” is the codename for USS Keeling, one of the American destroyers assigned to protect a 37-ship convoy on its way to Liverpool.
We join up with the multi-national convoy HX-25 as it enters its first of two days traveling through the “Black Pit”, the area of the North Atlantic considered most vulnerable as it was beyond the range of air cover. Leading the convoy’s military escort from the bridge of USS Keeling is straight-laced Commander Ernest Krause, played by Tom Hanks.
Adapted by Hanks himself from C.S. Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepherd, the story may be fictionalized but offers a terse and tense chronicle of naval combat and a nuanced meditation on high-stakes leadership as the polite, pious, and principled Krause shepherds his first wartime command through increasingly treacherous waters.
What’d He Wear?
Set in the early months of American participation in the Battle of the Atlantic, Greyhound differs sartorially from the usual World War II naval dramas by outfitting its American crewmen in the winter uniforms more appropriate for crossing the chilly North Atlantic Ocean in February.
“What’s interesting about this is it’s an Atlantic film,” costume designer Julie Weiss explained to Variety. “We are so familiar with Pacific uniforms but it’s a cold winter.”
Additional insights are shared at the U.S. Militaria Forum by a contributor who shared that they served as the film’s military costume consultant, identifying that it was planned early on to dress most of the USS Keeling crew in a variation of the winter working uniform with many, including Commander Krause, dressed in the midnight-blue woolen shirt and trousers. (When referencing this contributor going forward, I’ll use his forum username “PQD” to avoid incorrect speculation regarding his identity.)
While the trousers are consistent with the traditional blue service dress uniform, the near-matching shirt was buried in the U.S. Navy’s 1941 uniform regulations, where section 1-9(f) allows that “Chief petty officers’ blue flannel shirts may be worn when prescribed by the senior officer present,” an option often taken in cold weather environments. Given that this shirt was first authorized in 1939 for chief petty officers, it became colloquialized as the “CPO shirt”.
Made from the “dark navy blue flannel” outlined in 4-31(c), Krause’s shirt has a front placket, barrel cuffs, and a scallop-flapped chest pocket that all fasten with dark blue plastic buttons. According to a J. Cosmo listing, CPO shirts were originally made with this single pocket as worn by Krause on screen before an additional pocket was added on the right side later in the 1940s. PQD explained that Hanks’ screen-worn shirts were pulled from his inventory of Buzz Rickson’s Genuine Wear reproduction first-pattern CPO shirts, cut to the original military specifications.
The Buzz Rickson’s 1st Model CPO Shirt is still available via History Preservation Associates, though you can find more civilian-oriented CPO shirts—typically with the more frequently seen double-pocket configuration—offered from retailers like RVCA and Schott.
When we flashed-back to Krause and Evelyn in San Francisco around Christmas, he’d been wearing the insignia of a Lieutenant Commander (O-4), but the silver oak leafs pinned to the shirt’s point collar inform us that he’s since been promoted to full Commander (O-5).
“Neckties are to be of plain black woven silk, satin, rayon, or wool,” state the 1941 uniform regulations. Krause likely wears the latter, based both on how it appears on screen as well as its contextual and textual appropriateness when worn against a woolen flannel shirt for rough conditions at sea.
Krause presumably wears the same dark navy blue serge wool trousers that would have been authorized for service dress, styled with a flat front, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Though I believe black leather belts were predominantly authorized for commissioned officers, at least Commander Krause and his executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Cole (Stephen Graham), both appear to wear the black woven cotton web belts “fitted with a nontarnishable metal slip buckle and end tip” that was designated for enlisted men.
The Navy authorized “black shoes, high or low oxford,” for officers, with Krause evidently favoring the former for the additional ankle-high coverage provided while commanding his ship in through the wintry weather of the north Atlantic. These plain-toe service shoes have black bullneck leather uppers with Goodyear welting attaching them to the black rubber soles that would provide sturdier traction aboard USS Keeling‘s wet decks. The boots are derby-laced with flat black cross-woven cotton laces through eight sets of eyelets.
You can see images of similar Navy-issued boots from that era at Stewarts Military Antiques and purchase a pair of mil-spec repros from SM Wholesale USA, the outfitter run by Steve McColgan, who served as military costume consultant on Greyhound.
Although Navy regs prescribed black socks with black shoes and white socks with white shoes, Krause wears plain white socks, likely to visually heighten the drama when we see his feet have bled through his socks.
When Krause receives the U-boat report that interrupts his morning coffee and the first of several abandoned meals, he pulls on a dark blue heavy cotton Navy-issue deck jacket with a distinctive hook-front closure.
The Navy had started authorizing blue deck jackets in 1942, albeit with front zippers that were often difficult to operate with gloved hands or if water had frozen over the zippers. A solution was introduced the following year, borrowing the heavy-duty hook fastening mechanism from fireman’s coats and arranging a column of six blackened metal hooks rigged against the right side of the jacket, with a wide “placket” overlapping a wind flap up the front to fully insulate the wearer.
As this hook-style closure was actually introduced as a 1943 revision, it’s technically anachronistic for Greyhound‘s setting in early 1942 but still great to see on screen. According to “PQD”, there had been a limited stock of the setting-correct zip-front jackets, but Hanks favored the hook-front and the increased inventory also deemed it to be suitable. PQD also implies that Hanks’ screen-worn jackets were provided from Buzz Rickson stock; these Rickson deck jackets are still available from History Preservation Associates, which describe the construction as “waterproof, windproof celluloid plastic inner liner sandwiched between warm wool inside lining and hard-wearing corded shell exterior.” You can read more about these hook-front deck jackets from Eastman Leather Clothing Blog and International Military Antiques.
Krause’s deck jacket follows the 1943 specifications, including the midnight-blue knitted standing collar, cuffs, and hem and the large, broadcloth-lined “D-style” hand pockets on the sides. The back is stenciled with “U.S. NAVY” in large gray print, a late 1942 addition meant to signal to allied branches and Army servicemen that the crews arriving in port wearing these potentially unfamiliar uniforms were friendly forces.
As USS Keeling engages the U-boat, Krause prepares for combat by pulling a life vest over his deck jacket and swapping out his peaked cap for an M1 helmet, white-stenciled “CAPT” to denote Krause’s leadership. These steel helmets had been approved for the U.S. Army as the nation prepared for the inevitability of entry into World War II, though my understanding is that Navy crews would have still been primarily wearing the wider-brimmed “doughboy” or “Brodie” M1917 helmets in the early months of 1942. Once M1s were shipped to sea, they were generally left in their olive drab (OD) factory paint, though an Mk II “talker helmet” would be authorized later in ’42 to accommodate sailors whose work required communicating by telephone.
The blue-gray “kapok” life vest has a wide flotation collar around the back of the neck and three straps that tie up the front. The earlier kapoks that would have been in use during Greyhound‘s February 1942 setting secured around the waist with tied webbing tape, but Krause wears a later version authorized after mid-1943 that has an adjustable narrow OD webbed belt around the waist that closes through a metal hook. You can read more about World War II-era kapok life vests from repro supplier The Canvas Shack.
Krause somewhat conspicuously forgets to remove his helmet and life preserver after the other men have, until he’s prompted by one of his command.
“Messenger… come to my cabin and bring my sheepskin coat,” Krause requests, prompting the delivery of his heavy leather jacket that had first drawn my sartorial eye to Greyhound in the first place. From what I could tell, Krause’s jacket has no actual military provenance, though its details may overlap with some of the unauthorized precursors to the officially designated B-3, B-6, and D-1 sheepskin flight jackets issued during World War II.
For some insight into the screen-worn jacket, I again turn with gratitude to the background shared by “PQD” at the U.S. Militaria Forum:
Outfitting Tom Hanks continued to be a challenge: a hero jacket authentic to the ambiguous timeframe and his character left few options. The character development was left on the editor’s desk, unfortunately, but the skipper was an an academy grad, very religious, and very much a by-the-book type, and this led me to protest any proposed ideas that he could be wearing a sheepskin flying jacket in the scenes of extreme cold. I offered the M-69D as a compromise, as it was a flying coat of sorts and was indeed worn by officers of surface vessels, so they tried this on Hanks, but he said “I look like Superfly,” so that ended that option. The next consideration was one of the mackinaw-styles of sheepskin coats used by the USN, but these were deemed too pedestrian and given to other officers in the crew. Next came some hideous beast of a roadkill coat made from what I can only describe as Yeti fur. This was made for Hanks and it was intended to solve the problem of a hero coat and move well in wind.
Ultimately, this “roadkill coat” didn’t make it to the screen as Hanks ended up wearing a handsome sheepskin coat made by Steve McColgan. As the garment doesn’t specifically match any authorized U.S. military dress of the era, the coat may be intended to be Krause’s personal coat, though—as “PQD” outlined—the straight-laced Commander hardly seems the type to buck regulations. Either way, Hanks totally sells his immediate relief once he pulls on the warm coat.
The jacket’s outer shell is a dark brown, echoing the shades of contemporary B-3 and B-6 bomber jackets, albeit with darker leather accents on the pockets and cuffs. The collar presents the same golden-hued woolly fleece used to line the body of the jacket, including through the sleeves and extending around the ends of each cuff. The five-button single-breasted front and full, thigh-length cut defy classification as a bomber jacket, more aligned with a car coat, though the arrangement of slit-entry chest pockets and straight hip pockets echo those of naval pea jackets.
Krause later also informs his messenger that he needs the gloves from his cabin, specifying “the fur, not the knit,” though I’m not see we actually ever see the commander with covered hands.
A piece of his uniform that we do see prominently is Krause’s peaked combination cap, which gets prominently screen time at the beginning of the action on Wednesday and after all has resolved following Keeling traversing the pit. According to PQD, the on-screen caps were all made by Ray Meldrum.
Krause wears the navy blue wool serge cover above the black ribbed mohair band with its gold chin strap. Having attained the rank of Commander, Krause’s visor is decorated with gold-embroidered oak leaves and acorns—colloquially referred to as “scrambled eggs”—against a navy serge backing and bound with black patent leather edges echoing the standard officer’s cap brim. USWW2Uniforms.com describes the embroidered wire officer’s cap device as “a spread-winged eagle in silver, perched on a silver shield, superimposed on a pair of gold, crossed anchors,” secured to the backing via two screw posts and nuts. The eagle had been redirected to face to the right in mid-1941, aligning with the sword arm to be consistent with “the heraldic position of honor.”
Also seen as Krause is getting dressed and undressed are the two Monel metal round disc-style dog tags that he wears on a beaded chain over his white cotton short-sleeved undershirt, which matches his white cotton boxer shorts. This oval shape differentiated USN and USMC dog tags from the more elongated Army dog tags. The Navy had introduced these identification tags in 1917, reviving them prior to World War II though the “P1940” variant can be differentiated from the earlier versions by its second additional hole perforated on the bottom. You can read more about the history and usage of naval dog tags at Naval History and Heritage Command.
Each set of tags were stamped on one side with the wearer’s full name (last, first, middle initial), service number, the month and year they were vaccinated against tetanus, branch of service (e.g., USN, USMC), blood type, and religion; the reverse side was etched with their right index fingerprint.
On the ring finger of his right hand, Krause wears a substantial gold class ring with a recessed black setting. He seems like the type of officer who would have graduated from a military academy, so the ring is almost likely representative of this education.
Krause wears a steel watch with a round white dial on a well-worn olive vinyl strap that closes with a single-prong buckle through silver-toned grommets.
After three crewmen are fatally wounded, Krause dresses up for their burial at sea in his “reefer” pea coat over a white cotton shirt with a point collar and squared button cuffs, worn with his usual black tie.
I can’t tell if Krause is meant to be wearing his double-breasted service uniform jacket under the reefer coat, but—if not—he wears no insignia identifying his rank. The heavy navy blue wool pea coat dates to pre-war, with the ten stock buttons replaced with gilt buttons, per occasional practices of senior officers. The coat follows clean, simple lines with the only pockets being two chest pockets with vertical slit entries.
Sensing some discomfort in his feet, made clearer by the blood coming through his white socks, Krause later requests that someone bring his sleepers from his cabin. The messenger returns with his monogrammed golden leather slippers, which Krause had received as a Christmas gift from his girlfriend Evelyn (Elisabeth Shue) at the start of the movie, prior to taking command of USS Keeling.
Custom-made for the movie, each slipper is embroidered in navy blue thread with the initials “E.K.” tightly enclosed in an octagon over the instep.
Costume designer Julie Weiss explained to Deadline that the color depicted in the San Francisco hotel scenes around Christmastime was intentional, “to show that level where you saw the last time of happiness, where as a costume designer you could have the people dressed in their glory.”
Krause waits in the lobby, resplendent in the Navy’s famous blue service dress uniform that dates back to 1919, complete with double-breasted jacket and trousers in matching dark navy wool serge, plus white shirt, black tie, and well-shined black oxfords. Krause’s sleeve insignia of two half-inch gold braids flanking a quarter-inch gold braid in the center informs us that he’s still a Lieutenant Commander at this point in the story, and he would be promoted to full Commander over the next two months.
How to Get the Look
Without stealing valor or cribbing naval uniforms by pinning on collar devices denoting a rank you haven’t attained, you can follow Commander Krause’s template for keeping stylishly warm whether you’re in the north Atlantic or the north woods, anchored by a reliable sheepskin jacket so insulated that you can go relatively light on the layers beneath it.
- Dark brown sheepskin leather car coat with fleece-lined collar and lining, five-button front, slit-entry chest pockets, and straight hip pockets
- Dark blue woolen flannel long-sleeved U.S. Navy “CPO shirt” with point collar, chest pocket with scalloped button-down flap, front placket, and button cuffs
- Black rayon tie
- Dark blue wool flat front service uniform trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather plain-toe derby-laced ankle boots
- White socks
- White cotton crew-neck short-sleeve undershirt
- White cotton boxer shorts
- Navy serge-covered peaked officer’s cap
- Gold ring with concave black setting
- Steel wristwatch with round white dial on olive vinyl strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
- Uniform Regulations, U.S. Navy (1941)
- U.S. Militaria Forum: “Greyhound (2019)”
- Deadline: “‘Greyhound’ Production Designer & Costume Designer On Challenges Of Tom Hanks’ WWII Drama – Contenders Film” by Dominic Patten
- Variety: “‘Greyhound’ Costume Designer Julie Weiss Talks Authenticity of War Uniforms” by Jazz Tangcay
Repetition will bring hell down from on high.
Tom Hanks apparently won the last three wars and the one before! Hooray for Hollywood, eh?