I've found a definition on a forum for "The Internet Screenwriters
Network" within their Hollywood Military Advisor File at [
http://www.hollywoodnet.com/Lovett/chat/drawer8.html ]. If you scroll
way down the page to "Ref 539", you'll see a few references to the
origin of the word fatigues. One of them says:
"A fatigue is a work party. The clothes that the soldiers wore,
usually dungarees, were fatigues. Prior to WWII, fatigues (work
clothes) were not worn in battle. As late as 1945, the US Army still
sent troops into battle in jackets and ties. Starting in the 1950's,
the Services started investigating lighter, more serviceable
These facts are at least partially confirmed by looking up the
definition and origin of the word "fatigues" on various dictionary web
On [ http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=fatigues ], we see the
following definition for "fatigue"...
"Manual or menial labor, such as barracks cleaning, assigned to
...followed by this definition of "fatigues"...
"Clothing worn by military personnel for labor or for field duty."
So, there seems to have been a progression of the word "fatigues" from
a type of labor to the clothing worn during this labor in the
military, until it was finally used to mean "military clothing".
Google Search: "military" + "definition" + "fatigues"
[ http://www.onelook.com/?w=fatigues&ls=a ]
Links to various definitions of the word "fatigues"
I hope this helps your search! Please ask for clarification if needed.