Photo No. 49: After the Armistice the American troops from the 83rd Division’s 332nd Infantry Regiment who fought on the Austrian front in Italy formed part of the Allied forces that occupied Austria and later Montenegro. During the three month period between the signing of the Armistice and February 1919, when that regiment sailed for America, the 332nd Infantry regiment carried out the same peacekeeping duties as their counterparts in Germany.
World War I War Service Chevrons
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:10 AM
Photo No. 50: Both the 6th and the 7th Infantry Divisions were briefly attached to the 3rd Army. Because of this their SSIs occasionally show up with a miniature version of the 3rd Army insignia inset to commemorate their short lived service with the Army of Occupation.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:11 AM
Photo No. 51: This photo shows how the 3rd Army insignia as worn by members of the AEF, Army of Occupation and AFG evolved between November 1918 and January of 1923, or at least how I think it did …
- My theory is that the original members of the 3rd Army arrived in Germany wearing their respective division, corps or army insignia or they donned them shortly thereafter. As soon as a 3rd Army SSI was authorized a number of the men opted to add that insignia to the sleeve of their service coat, just below the division insignia, like the 3rd Division soldier on the upper left.
- At some point GHQ likely decided that the wearing two different SSI on one sleeve was unauthorized. The solution would be that one of the two offending SSI would be removed and that henceforth only one would be worn. To circumvent this assumed directive, I speculate that the men began to incorporate a miniature 3rd Army insignia inset into their parent unit’s SSI, which enabled them to remain within the framework of the prevailing regulations; just as the 4th Division Doughboy at upper right has done.
- Then at some point further down the line, possibly after August of 1919 when the majority of AEF troops had left for the U.S. 3rd Army HQ decided that all of the troops occupying Germany were 3rd Army troops and as such, their sleeve insignia should reflect that fact. Therefore, the Americans occupying Germany that still wore divisional insignia were ordered to remove them and wear the 3rd Army’s SSI instead. Perhaps, the remaining AEF men resented being told to remove the division insignia that they had proudly earned in combat. To circumvent the new mandate, maybe they wore the prescribed 3rd Army emblem, but with a miniature of their divisional insignia set between the legs of the letter ‘A’, just like the 3rd Army soldier at bottom left whose SSI also displays a diminutive 3rd Infantry Division badge.
- Fed-up with the shenanigans of the enlisted men not wearing a single SSI that was uniform in appearance, either 3rd Army HQ or AFG HQ possibly decreed that only the 3rd Army insignia, without any other embellishments was prescribed for wear by the troops of that command. Thus the only insignia seen being worn by men of the AFG during the 1920s in Germany may have been the 3rd Army SSI without any further ornamentation.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:12 AM
Photo No. 52: Looking at the haphazard manner in which these 3rd Army emblems have been applied beneath both the ‘Red Arrow’ insignia of the 32nd Infantry Division (left) and the ‘Sandstorm’ or 34th Infantry Division’s SSI (right), it’s easy to understand how senior officers of the 3rd Army may have taken umbrage at the sight of a motley assortment of divisional and 3rd Army insignia jumbled up and down the left sleeves of the men in their command. Note that the red Discharge Chevron at bottom left appears to have been sewn onto the backing cloth of a War Service Chevron, as opposed to being sewn directly onto the sleeve.
By the way, the 34th Division was not a part of the Army of Occupation. This division arrived overseas in October of 1918 and never made it to the front. However, a small portion of its personnel were sent to other AEF organizations to support the final operations of the war. The original owner of this service coat was likely one of the men attached to another AEF unit that then went on to serve in the 3rd Army.
I have no documentation to prove this, but I think that the wearing of two (or more) SSI was eventually abolished by the 3rd Army. If that’s the case, then the men would have been authorized to wear either a 3rd Army insignia or a divisional insignia, but not both of them together. This is probably when the practice of wearing a divisional SSI with a small version of the 3rd Army insignia set into it began. An example of this type of insignia is the 5th Infantry Division SSI at the center of the photo.
At some point, the powers that be in the 3rd Army probably determined that the wearing of either a division, corps of army SSI was no longer necessary. If so, they may have decided that wearing only the 3rd Army insignia would create a more homogeneous appearance among the troops. It would have been at this point that some troops began to incorporate a divisional insignia onto the 3rd Army badges, much like the one at bottom, center bearing the 1st Division’s insignia.
Eventually either the AAO or AFG ironed out the wording of the regulations so that only the 3rd Army insignia without any other embellishments were worn, like the plain 3rd Army insignia shown at top, center.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:13 AM
Photo No. 53: During the Occupation of Germany, the 3rd Army either adopted or allowed the wearing of colored pieces of cloth behind the enlisted men’s collar discs and behind the enlisted men’s “Garrison’ or Service Cap badges. The circular colored discs, which are generally fabricated from felt, show up in numerous period photographs of 3rd Army troops. The color of the cloth behind the regulation insignia always seems to match that of the wearer’s arm of service, i.e. red for artillery, blue for infantry, yellow for cavalry, and so on. In the case of branch colors composed of two different colors, a disc of each color, one slightly larger than the other is worn behind the respective badge or insignia.
The photo shows an infantryman’s overseas cap with a blue, rather than a light blue backing disc, a Medical Department collar disc backed by that department’s branch colors of maroon and white, and a Coast Artillery Corps collar disc with a red cloth backing for artillery. The period photograph shows an enlisted man with an oversized backing cloth behind his collar disc which appears to be light blue for the infantry branch.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:17 AM
Photo No. 54: The American Expeditionary Force Siberia (AEFS) was made up of approximately 8,000 officers and enlisted men from the 27th and 31st Infantry Regiments moved from the tropics of the Philippine Islands to the bitter cold of Siberia. During the conflict, the 27th Regiment earned the respect of the Bolsheviks who nicknamed the regiment ‘Wolfhounds’ and the 31st Regiment adopted the nom de guerre ‘Polar Bear Regiment’. The remaining troops were volunteers from the 12th, 13th and 62nd Infantry Regiments of the ‘Pathfinder’ or 8th Infantry Regiment. At left is the blue and white silhouette of a standing polar bear with the initial ‘S’ for Siberia. It is the most common SSI for the AEFS. Next to the SSI is a veteran of the Siberian expedition wearing a sealskin cap, as well as the standing polar bear insignia.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:18 AM
Photo No 55: The AEFS mission was to prevent Allied war material left on the docks of Vladivostok from being looted and to guard the Trans-Siberian railway from marauding bands of Bolsheviks or Red revolutionaries that were plundering the Siberian countryside. At left and right are examples of an alternate AEFS SSI. The troops of the AEFS arrived in August of 1918 and remained on Siberia’s frozen tundra for some nineteen months. The last American soldiers left Siberia in April 1920. This fact would qualify most of the men who served with the AEFS to wear between one and three gold War Service Chevrons.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:19 AM
Photo No. 56: The Polar Bear Expedition, was comprised of a contingent of approximately 5,000 U.S. troops, most of whom hailed from the 339th Infantry Regiment, 310th Engineer Regiment and other ancillary units from the ‘Custer’ or 85th Infantry Division. Mustered for service on the Western Front, these men of the Custer Division were diverted from France to Britain where they were trained and reequipped for the harsh winter conditions of Northern Russia. Under British command, the ‘Polar Bears’, as they called themselves, arrived in Arkhangelsk, Russia in September of 1918. Here is an example of the Polar Bear Expedition’s SSI, which aptly bears a polar bear and a member of the Polar Bears wearing one.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:20 AM
Photo No. 57: Although it was officially known as the Polar Bear Expedition, the expedition was also called the ‘Northern Russian Expedition’, “The American North Russian Expeditionary Force’ (ANREF) and ‘The American Expeditionary Force North Russia’ (AEFNR). It formed a part of the Allied coalition that intervened in the Russian Civil War that erupted as soon as Tsar Nickolas II abdicated during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. After nine months of service, the men of the 85th had all returned to America between June and August of 1919. On the left is a variation of the Polar Bear or Northern Russian Expedition SSI. Most Custer Division soldiers, like the one shown at right, were eligible to wear either one gold War Service Chevron, if they arrived in the U.S. prior to August 1919, or two gold War Service Chevrons, if they returned to the U.S. during August 1919.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:21 AM
‘First Over’, ‘Early Enlistment’ and ‘Silver Citation Stars’
Photo No. 58: The so called ‘First Over’ Star is an unofficial insignia that was allegedly adopted by the first 100,000 or so AEF troops to arrive overseas. As far as I know, the insignia is a five pointed gold bullion star that is positioned in the angle formed by the arms of the upper service chevron. Even though the first American troops landed in France in June of 1917, by October 31, 1917, the AEF only numbered 6,064 officers and 80,969 enlisted men. By the end of the year AEF troop strength had barley climbed above 100,000 officers and men.
Likely candidates for the first over star would be certain members of the General Staff, various hospital and engineer organizations that went overseas early in 1917 to build the needed infrastructure of the AEF. The combat troops that made it ‘Over There’ by the end of 1917, included the 1st, 2nd, 26th, 41st and 42nd Infantry Divisions, as well as the African American Doughboys of the 369th Infantry Regiment from the 93rd Infantry Division.
The Black Yankee shown between the chevrons wears what I assume to be a first over star above his two gold service chevrons The 369th arrived overseas in December of 1917 and sailed for America in February of 1919. Being overseas for approximately 14 months, he along with the rest of the men from this regiment who arrived overseas in December would all be qualified to wear two gold War Service Chevrons. They would also fit into the timeframe making them eligible to wear the first over star.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:23 AM
Photo No. 59: I’ve heard tell of an ‘Early Enlistment’ Star, but I have no specific knowledge about this insignia. Having said that, I would imagine that what we see here are examples of another unofficial insignia adopted by American servicemen during the Great War. At top left is an unattached prong-back gold star that was photographed with the lower group of chevrons. This could indicate that this type of star was sold in pairs like the chevrons were issued, one for the service coat and one for the overcoat. The single middle silver chevron with a gold star above seems like an unlikely candidate to be classified as an early enlistment. The earliest the original owner could have enlisted was December 10, 1917, some eight months after war was declared. Because he earned just one silver chevron, he must have enlisted no earlier than December 10, 1917. If he had enlisted just one day earlier he would have qualified for a second silver chevron as the war ended one day before he reached his second six month anniversary. On the right is a pair of soldiers from the ‘Sunshine’ or 40th Infantry Division. It went overseas in August of 1918, upon arrival, the division learned that it was now the 6th Depot Division and its personnel would provide replacements for the other AEF combat divisions.
My theory regarding the early enlistment stars is that the men who volunteered for service early in the war, but did not make it overseas until late in 1918, or not at all, designed and chose to wear a star device to denote that they were not ‘slackers’ who waited until they were compelled to serve in the Army by the draft. In short, this is what I would call the home service version of the first over star. I further speculate that these stars only appear above a combination of gold and silver, or silver only War Service Chevrons. Anybody with additional information or alternate ideas about the purpose of these stars please let the rest of us know.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:25 AM
Photo No. 60: The bronze star applied to these two sets of War Service Chevrons could very well be another type of the early enlistment star. However, both of the stars are identical to the Citation Star worn on the WW I Victory Medal ribbon. The Citation Star was an award of the U.S. Army established by an Act of Congress on July 9, 1918. It was awarded to any officer or enlisted man for gallantry in action, published in orders from the headquarters of a force commanded by a general officer that did not warrant the issue of the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross or the Distinguished Service Medal.
The award consisted of a 3/16 inch diameter silver star device pinned onto the ribbon of the World War I Victory Medal or a 3/16 inch diameter bronze star pinned onto the World War I Victory Medal ribbon bar. Additional Citation Stars were awarded for each additional time that a soldier was mentioned for bravery in orders.
The 1921, Army Regulation 600-40, specified that the Citation Star was to be worn above the campaign clasps on the ribbon of the World war I Victory Medal or above the clasp on any of the other authorized campaign medals in which the citation had been given. When displayed on the award ribbon, the Citation Star was to be worn first, in front of the smaller bronze campaign or service stars. At the time Congress instituted the award, the decoration was made retroactive as an attachment to all Army service medals back to the Civil War. The following service medals were authorized to include a Citation Star:
World War I Victory Medal, Mexican Service Medal, China Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Indian Campaign Medal and the Civil War Campaign Medal
On July 19, 1932 the Secretary of War approved the Silver Star Medal to replace the Citation Star. Note that a Citation Star appears in the center of the Silver Star Medal, surrounded by a wreath. For those who had received more than one Citation Star, an oak leaf cluster for each additional award was to be worn on the ribbon of the medal and on the ribbon bar.
This is pure conjecture, but it’s possible that some veterans, who were awarded the Citation Star may have unofficially placed similar stars above their service chevrons to symbolize their heroism overseas. If anybody has any additional information or another theory as to what this type of star may represent please let us know.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:27 AM
‘Special Duty’ Stripes
In November of 1917, General Pershing adopted the British practice of wearing “armlets” to identify line or combat troops who were temporarily operating away from their parent unit on “special duty”. The orders generated by this decision partially read as follows:
General Orders A.E.F. No.59 France, November 11, 1917
I. The following distinguishing marks for specialists and individuals detailed for special duties, which on occasion, on special duties, separate them from their organizations, are hereby prescribed:
Scouts and guides, a green armband.
Orderlies and messengers (runners), a red armband.
Agents and signalmen, a blue armband.
Carrying parties (munitions, material, rations), a yellow armband.
Trench cleaners, a white armband.
Salvage parties, a khaki armband with "salvage" in red letters
The bands will be one and one-half inches wide and, with the exception of orderlies to different headquarters, will be worn around the left fore-arm. Headquarters orderlies will wear the red band around the left upper arm.
Men equipped with wire cutters will wear a piece of white tape tied to the right shoulder strap.
AEF General Order No. 59 dated November 11, 1917
This order resulted in the creation of six 1.5 inch wide colored armbands that were made from a heavy canvas like material in France. Each featured a white metal, two pronged buckle similar to those found on French made brassards. The special duty armbands were likely a part of the HQ Company stores. They were issued as needed and probably returned upon the completion of the task. The special duty armbands allowed the troops wearing them to be distinguished from the regular line troops. They also afforded the men the full cooperation of all AEF troops in the area and permitted them to carry out their duties unimpeded by officers, NCOs and MPs. All of the armbands were to be worn on the left forearm, except for the red armband which was worn on the upper left arm like the MP or Red Cross brassards. This was likely done so that they didn't cover up the NCO rank chevrons and to reduce their visibility in combat.
Photo No. 61: Here signalmen from the 1st Field Signals Battalion, 2nd Division stand for an inspection in the spring of 1918. Note that each enlisted man is wearing what is presumed to be a blue “agents and signalmen” armband on the left forearm. Beneath the photo is an example of a similar red on khaki armband. This type of armband was authorized to be worn by AEF personnel who were temporarily assigned to a salvage party.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:28 AM
Photo No. 62: This 78th Infantry Division soldier is wearing what I call a “Special Duty Stripe”. The stripe signified that the veteran served as either a scout or orderly or guide, etc. The color of the Special Duty Stripe, which in most cases was worn just below the lowest service chevron, matched that of the respective armband that the soldier wore while serving with the AEF.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:29 AM
Photo No. 63: On the left is another 78th Division service coat that features a scout or guide’s stripe fabricated from green velvet. Inset is an example of the ‘Lightning’ or 78th Infantry Division’s SSI. Beneath that is a close up of the Special Duty Stripe from photo number 61. At the bottom is a closer view of the green felt scout or guide’s stripe from the 90th Infantry Division service coat to the right. AEF service coats bearing Special Duty Stripes turn up occasionally. I’ve encountered examples of green (scouts and guides), red (orderlies and messengers), and blue (agents and signalmen), as well as black, which is said to represent the military police.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:30 AM
Photo No. 64: At left is an example of what was called a “runner’s stripe” (probably a euphemism) made from gold tape similar to that used to fabricate War Service Chevrons. In this instance, the stripe was worn on both sleeves of the service coat. The upper, left stripe was sewn on the lower right hand sleeve, and the stripe and service chevron at lower left were worn on the lower left hand sleeve of the same service coat. Between the right and left hand runner’s stripes is a 1st Army, engineer’s SSI, similar to that worn by the soldier in the photo to the right. This soldier has also added a Special Duty Stripe. The light color suggests that it’s possibly yellow (carrying parties), white (trench cleaners) or khaki (salvage party).
In respect to the size of the stripes; I would imagine that they were made on an individual basis by the soldiers. Therefore, a variety of heights, widths and materials, as well as whether or not they were placed on one or both sleeves will be encountered. It's doubtful that these Special Duty Stripes were officially sanctioned. It’s my belief that most were added to the service coat after the soldier was discharged from military service to commemorate his service as a “special duty” soldier.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:32 AM
Photo No. 65: The quantity and color of each soldier’s War Service Chevrons, Wound Chevrons and decorations were recorded on an official record card that are still used today to verify a soldier’s service (upper, left). Evidently some or possibly all organizations within the AEF may have issued cards that specified how many service chevrons each individual soldier was authorized to wear. The example shown at lower left looks to have been issued overseas, to a man from the 303rd Engineer Regiment of the 78th Infantry Division.
On the right is a member of the Army of Occupation whose service coat displays an impressive five gold War Service Chevrons sewn over three enlistment stripes, a sergeants rank chevron and a 3rd Army SSI with a miniature 3rd Division insignia placed between the legs of the letter ‘A’. His service coat is also adorned with a Victory Medal ribbon bar with battle stars, a silver sharpshooter and marksman badge, as well as a collar disc backed by a circular piece of colored felt.
In October 1921, Army Regulation No. 600-35 replaced the old Special Regulation 42 regarding wartime service chevrons. The new regulation no longer mentioned the silver War Service Chevron. However, both the light blue and gold war Service Chevrons was cited. The light blue and gold service chevrons remained in subsequent Army regulations until 1966 when Army Regulation 670-5 failed to mention either color of the WWI War Service Chevron.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:32 AM
Photo No. 66: WWI War Service Chevrons soldiered on long after the conclusion of hostilities in the form of commercially made pin-back lapel pins, cap insignia and finger rings. Presumably each style was fabricated with a choice of at least one to four gold chevrons. I’ve yet to encounter any post war service pins that show either a light blue or silver service chevrons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist.
Congratulations, you made it to the end of the post…Thanks for looking
Posted 02 March 2014 - 06:02 AM
This has got to be one of the most impressive posts that I have read since the forum started.
Thank you for sharing your in-depth knowledge with us. I have no doubt the post will be pinned in no time!
Posted 02 March 2014 - 07:25 AM
This is a remarkably well-researched and documented coverage of the subject. I've been studying and collecting AEF material for over 10 years and your single post has increased my understanding significantly. Thanks very much for taking the time to do this.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 07:36 AM
What a fantastic job you have done!!! The amount of research and work is amazing. You must have spent months on this project. Thank you very much for the information.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 08:15 AM
Outstanding, Outstanding, Outstanding.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 08:33 AM
This is the best study of this material that I've seen. Thanks very much for taking the time to compile and post this. It will be bookmarked for sure.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 08:53 AM
Great work WWI Nerd! This is an excellent reference and I have pinned this thread.
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