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U.S. Army Brassards & Armbands 1898 to 1918 Part 2


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#1 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:50 AM

U.S. Army Brassards & Armbands

1898 to 1918

Part 2

 

Military Police Brassards

 

Prior to WW I camp security and military law enforcement was just an extra detail. As such, military police duties were carried out by ordinary troops without any special training or supervision, with varying degrees of efficiency. During the Philippine Insurrection, a special Provost Brigade was organized, which successfully handled all military police activities in that region. Soon after, Army leadership began to realize the emerging importance of well trained provost troops. This of course, eventually led to the formation of the Military Police as a branch of service in the Army in July of 1918. To aid the soldiers selected to act as Military Police (MP), a symbol of authority in the form of a brassard bearing the initials ‘MP’ was devised and issued to the troops detailed to perform the duties of the MP.

 

Photo No. 48: The evolution of early U.S. Army Military Police Brassards can be seen in these photographs. Left, a blue denim brassard with the letters ‘MP’ outlined in white was the first pattern MP Brassard. Center, a blue wool brassard bearing the initials ‘MP’ in white felt was the second pattern MP Brassard. It was worn both in the U.S. and in Europe during WW I. Right, overseas, the AEF adopted the British style, black wool brassard with the letters ‘MP’ cut from red felt. This fact made it the third pattern MP Brassard used by the U.S. Army.

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  • 48 US Army MP Brassards.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:51 AM

Blue Denim Military Police Brassard

 

Photo No. 49: The earliest U.S. Army Military Police Brassard was comprised of the outline of the initials ‘MP’ in white on a blue denim brassard. Although I can find no information to confirm exactly when this particular style of MP Brassard was adopted, it was likely sometime between 1907 and 1912. Two denim MP Brassards, along with a color photo of a surviving example are shown in this trio of photos.

 

Attached Images

  • 49 MP White Outline.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:52 AM

White on Blue Military Police Brassard

 

Photo No. 50: Sometime between 1914 and 1916, the Army adopted a slightly different style of MP Brassard. The new brassard was made from blue wool and featured the initials ‘MP’ in solid white. The earliest mention of the white on blue MP Brassard turned up in 1914 edition of the field service regulations that had been corrected to December 20, 1916:

 

Officers and enlisted men, when actually performing the duty of military police, will wear a blue brassard on the left arm, half way between the elbow and shoulder, bearing the letters ‘MP’ in white.

 

Army Field Service Regulations U.S. Army, 1914, corrected to December 20, 1916, page 164

 

The white on blue brassard was the primary style of MP Brassard worn in the U.S. during the Great War. It was also worn alongside the red on black British style MP Brassard in France. Note the drastic difference in the appearance of the two brassards in the period photographs. The brassard on the left is believed to be French made, while the right hand brassard, as well as the one shown in the inset, are both thought to be of the “regulation” style.

Attached Images

  • 50 MP White.jpg


#4 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:52 AM

Photo No. 51: Note the varying height/width of these white on blue brassards, and the different lettering styles employed on these MP Brassards worn from WW I.

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  • 51 White MP Brassards.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:53 AM

Red on Black Military Police Brassard

 

Photo No. 52: In France, the AEF began using British style MP Brassards featuring the letters ‘MP’ in red on either a black or dark blue brassard. This type of brassard was likely adopted because of their availability and because they would have been easily recognized by Allied forces. The red on blue MP Brassard was also the only style of brassard that was prescribed in the provost Marshal’s regulations published in 1918:

 

Members of the MP, when actually performing the duties of military police, will wear a blue brassard on the left arm, halfway between the elbow and shoulder, with the letters ‘MP’ in red.

 

Provost Marshal General’s Department Regulation, American Expeditionary Forces, December 1917

 

Note the disparity in size between the red on black brassards in the two period photographs. The brassard shown in the color inset is indicative of the issued style of red on black MP Brassard.

Attached Images

  • 52  MP Red.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:54 AM

Photo No. 53: The black velvet band sewn around the left cuff of the 6th Infantry Division service coat on the left is said to represent the soldier’s service during the war as a member of the MP. The right hand IX Corps service coat bears a British style red on black MP Brassard as worn in the AEF.

Attached Images

  • 53 MP.jpg


#7 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:55 AM

Photo No. 54: The unusual MP Brassard in this photo is either French made or it was pieced together by the photographer to be used as a prop while snapping picture postcard photos of American Doughboys. The aviator’s garb could also very well be props provided by the photographer.

 

Attached Images

  • 54 MP Studio Prop.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:56 AM

USMC MP Brassards

 

Photo No. 55: It’s not entirely clear what color MP Brassards were worn in the Marine Corps during WW I. At top is a black on red brassard that is attributed to a Marine from the V Marine Brigade. The center brassard, also black on red, is a printed French made MP Brassard. It’s possible that this type of black on red MP Brassard was made specifically for the USMC to wear in France. The bottom brassard was listed on a militaria vendor’s website as being a WW I Marine MP Brassard. I have no evidence proving whether it is of WW I vintage or if it is not. However, brassards similar to this were worn post WW I by the USMC. The photo on the right shows a V Marine Regiment MP wearing the red on black British style MP Brassard. Note that this MP has pinned “13 M” for the 13th Marine Regiment, using French made brass letters and numbers on the front of his campaign hat.

 

Does anybody have any solid information on the color of USMC MP Brassards from WW I?

Attached Images

  • 55 USMC MP.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:58 AM

Photo No. 56: This well made and oversized black on red MP Brassard is identified as being French made by the two prong buckles, which were a common feature on almost all WWI French manufactured brassards. This particular brassard was worn by a USMC MP who served in the V Marine Brigade. Next to it is a USMC winter service coat belonging to a V Brigade Marine. Note that his war service chevrons indicate that he had served six months as a fleet marine and six months in France in the theater of operations.

Attached Images

  • 56 USMC 5th Brigade MP Brassard.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:58 AM

Military Police Collar Tabs

 

The only insignia authorized for MP detachments was the distinctive brassard bearing the initials “MP” until September of 1918, when a General Order prescribed a red collar tab for all members of the Military Police Corps. The particulars regarding the new MP collar tabs were described in the Stars and Stripes newspaper:

American military police – officers and enlisted men – are going to rival British staff officers in their collar decorations. They are going to wear patches of scarlet cloth right under their collar ornaments. The patches will be 2 inches long and 1 ¼ inches wide, rounded at the corners. They will be worn on both sides, lengthwise, 1 inch from each end and midway between the upper and lower edges. According to G.O. 152, officers will wear the bronze letters “U.S.” and enlisted men the regulation button insignia “U.S.” in the center of the scarlet pieces.

 

Stars and Stripes newspaper, September 20, 1918, Vol. 1, No. 33, page 5

 

Other wartime MP insignia included an unofficial “MP” collar disc, which was never authorized, that was made and worn during WWI.  Also in January of 1919, the War Department adopted a Provost Marshal Collar Disc for enlisted men bearing the initials ‘PM’. This collar disc may have been worn by MP organizations that were still serving in the Army of Occupation.

 

Photo No. 57: Both of these photos (obtained from two different sources), look to be of the same soldier. Each one shows the red MP collar tabs on the collar. In the left hand photo, the Doughboy’s service coat displays a 90th Infantry Division SSI, as well as a red on black British style MP Brassard. In the right hand image, a 3rd Army SSI has replaced that of the 90th Division and the initials “MP” have been embroidered on the scarlet collar tab behind the U.S. Collar Disc. In between are detail shots of a 90th Division and 3rd Army SSI and a red MP’s collar tab with an unofficial MP Collar Disc.

Attached Images

  • 57 MP Red Collar Tab.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 06:59 AM

Shore Patrol Brassard

 

Photo No. 58: It makes perfect sense to me that a Shore Patrol Brassard (SP) might have existed during the WW I era. However, I’ve yet to see either a photograph of a SP Brassard being worn or an actual SP Brassard from that time. These photos of what passed for MP in the U.S. Navy all date between 1910 and 1918. Note that not one of the sailors is wearing any insignia that identifies him as an MP. The blue brassard with the yellow initials ‘SP’ in the inset was used later during WW II.

 

Has any forum member ever seen a SP Brassard in a WW I or pre WW I photo or read about one in period Navy regulations?

Attached Images

  • 58 Navy Shore Patrol.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:00 AM

Provost Marshal General Brassard

 

Following America’s entry into the Great War, War Department General Orders No. 8, dated June 13, 1917, created the position of Provost Marshal General of the Army. In France, the highest ranking military policeman in the AEF was the Provost Marshal General. He was the member of the General Staff officer who managed the MP. The Provost Marshal General of the Army’s primary duty was to supervise and enforce the Selective Service Act in the United States. The AEF Provost Marshal General, also a staff officer attached to GHQ, oversaw MP operations, prisoner of war management, and criminal investigations, among other things in the theater of operations.

 

Photo No. 59: The Provost Marshal General of the AEF or any member of his staff was entitled to wear the red, white and blue GHQ brassard bearing the gold bullion initials ‘PMG’.

Attached Images

  • 59 Provost Marshal General.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:01 AM

Provost Marshal Brassard

&

Assistant Provost Marshal Brassard

 

According to the 1918 Provost Marshals’ Manual, Provost and Assistant Provost Marshals, of which there were more than one in the AEF, were defined as follows:

 

16. Designations “Provost Marshal” and “Assistant Provost Marshal.” The officer of the Provost Marshal General’s Department detailed in charge of Military Police and other provost matters at army, corps, division, section, district or other headquarters is designated “Provost Marshal,” and an officer of the Provost Marshal General’s Department detailed in charge of Military Police and other provost matters of a city or town, is designated “Assistant Provost Marshal.

 

Provost Marshal Manual, 1918, page 10

 

AEF Provost and Assistant Provost Marshals were appointed by the Provost Marshal General. They were assigned as follows:

  • To the HQ of each Army: one lieutenant colonel as Provost Marshal and one major as  Assistant Provost Marshal
  • To the HQ of each Corps: one major as Provost Marshal and one captain as Assistant Provost Marshal
  • To the HO of each Division: the commander of the MP section will serve as Provost Marshal
  • To cities and towns, and to Service of Supply (SOS) sections and district HQ: the Provost Marshals and Assistant Provost Marshals will be officers of such rank as the Provost Marshal General may deem suitable for the size and importance of the command

Both the Provost Marshal and Assistant Provost Marshal’s Brassard would bear the appropriate color for the HQ to which he was posted (see photo number 62). The initials ‘PM’ for Provost marshal and the initials ‘APM’ for Assistant Provost Marshal would be either embroidered in gold bullion or sewn from black or red cloth onto the respective color of brassard. Gold letters would be used on Army (red over white) and Corps (white over blue) brassards; black letters would be used on Division (red) brassards; and black or red letters would be used on Regiment, Brigade and other command (blue) brassards.

 

 Photo No. 60: Left, the 1st lieutenant is wearing a black on red Assistant Provost Marshal Brassard for a division on his left arm. On the right arm he is wearing the red over white brassard, which indicates that he is operating under the orders of the General Staff of an Army. He also appears to be wearing Field Artillery collar insignia and an 8th Corps SSI. To the right, this officer, whose branch of service is either cavalry (crossed sabers) or infantry (crossed rifles) wears an Assistant Provost Marshal Brassard that is fabricated from two of the following three colors: black, blue or red. Underneath the period photos is a French made red on blue Assistant Provost Marshal Brassard.

Attached Images

  • 60 Assistant Provost Marshal Brassard.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:02 AM

Provost Guard Brassard

 

During the course of WWI the AEF had accumulated nearly 50,000 prisoners of war (POW). According to AEF, General Orders No. 37, the Provost Marshal General was responsible for their “charge and custody”. The POWs were under the control of the line soldiers that captured them until such time that they could be turned over to division MP. The division MP were tasked with looking after the POWs until they were passed over to the control of an Escort Guard Company.  It was the Escort Guard Company’s duty to transport them from the division barbed wire cages behind the lines to the central POW enclosure located at St. Pierre de Corps. The enlisted personnel for the Escort Guard Companies were provided by the various division commanders. The men selected were usually made up of soldiers who were unfit for combat duty. The officers however, were detailed from the Depot Divisions which were under the control of the Service of Supply (SOS), for temporary duty in the Escort Guard Companies and the POW compounds. Because the word “provost’ is defined as: a person appointed to superintend or preside, and because the guard companies were under the direct supervision of the Provost Marshal General, the men of the escort companies were provided with a red or maroon brassard bearing the initials ‘PG’ in white for Provost Guard. The Provost Guard Brassard remained in the possession of the men in the Escort Company for as long as they were detailed to that particular duty.

 

Photo No. 61: Two different Provost Guard Brassards are shown beneath the photograph of German POWs. Due to the poor quality of the image on the left, it’s difficult to determine if the brassard was made from red or maroon cloth. The AEF organized its POWs into labor companies consisting of 400 men with a 50 man section (also POWs) composed of clerks, cooks, medics, tailors, cobblers, supply sergeants and interpreters. When the war started, the War Department had initially planned to manufacture striped “prison suits” for the POWs. However, that idea was scrapped when it was discovered that the AEF Salvage Service could recycle Army olive drab service coats and breeches that were no longer suitable for the Doughboys into POW suits. This was accomplished by dyeing them a bright emerald green.

Attached Images

  • 61 Provost Guard.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:04 AM

AEF General Staff Brassards

 

To ensure the free circulation of the members of the AEF General Staff, General Pershing adopted a series of special insignia, in the form of brassards that were based on the system that was then in place in the French Army. In fact, with the exception of the insignia that was embroidered onto the AEF brassards, they were identical to those used worn by French General Staff officers. The AEF General Staff Brassards were fabricated in France from grosgrain silk with hand embroidered General Staff insignia made from silver and gold bullion thread. The 3 inch wide brassards were sewn from various colors of silk and were fastened to the arm by a brass or bronze, double tongue buckle. The color or colors of the brassard represented the particular headquarters to which the officer wearing it was attached. AEF, General Orders detailed the purpose and design of the various General Staff Brassards:

 

Special insignia to be worn by General Staff Officers, other members of General Staff sections, and Aides de Camp when moving about on duty in congested areas at the front, where such a distinguishing mark is necessary to insure their free circulation, is authorized as follows:

 

To be worn on the left arm of the service coat, midway between the elbow and shoulder, an arm band of grosgrain silk, 3 inches wide, conforming to pattern on file with the Chief Quartermaster, and bearing the device of the General Staff embroidered in gold:

For the General Staff at G. H. Q. – red, white and blue.
For an army – red and white.
For a corps – white and blue.
For a division – red.

To be worn on the breast, slipped over the outer thickness of the overcoat or the raincoat, just above the second button, a spring clip about 4 inches long and about one inch wide, conforming to pattern on file with the Chief Quartermaster, and bearing the insignia of the General Staff in miniature embroidered in gold, colors corresponding to those for arm bands.

 

The staffs of the Chief of Artillery of an army or corps are authorized to wear similar insignia, but bearing crossed cannons embroidered in gold in place of the General Staff insignia.

 

The members of the staff of a Division Artillery Commander are authorized to wear similar insignia, the color of the band and clip being blue. The Chief Engineer of an army or corps, a Division Engineer Officer, a Chief Signal Officer of an army or corps, a Division Signal Officer and officers on the staff of an Infantry Brigade Commander are authorized to wear corresponding insignia, but without device in gold.

The staffs of the Commander of the Tank Corps and of a commander of a Tank Center are authorized respectively to wear insignia similar to that of the General Staff of G.H.Q. and of an army, but without device in gold.

 

AEF General Orders, 1918, date and number unknown

 

Photo No. 62: From left to right the colors of the AEF General Staff Brassards were as follows:

  • Gold edged brassards were often worn by general officers and their staff

 

  • Red, white and blue silk brassards were worn by the staff of AEF Headquarters (GHQ), and by the staff of a commander of a tank corps or tank center

 

  • Red over white silk brassards were worn by the headquarters staff of all numbered armies

 

  • White over blue silk brassards were worn by the headquarters staff of all numbered corps

 

  • Red silk brassards were worn by the headquarters staff of all divisions

 

  • Blue silk brassards were worn by the staff of a division artillery commander; the staff of a chief engineer or signal officer of an army; corps or division, and the staff of an infantry brigade commander.

Attached Images

  • 62 AEF Staff Brassard Colors.jpg


#16 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:04 AM

AEF General Staff Brassard

 

Photo No. 63: This well worn red, white and blue AEF General Staff Brassard bearing a hand embroidered insignia of the General Staff Corps would have been worn by any member of GHQ as he carried out his duties in the field. Above is an example of the red, white, and blue GHQ SSI that was adopted later in the war, along with two officers wearing that emblem on their left shoulder.

Attached Images

  • 63 GHQ General Staff Brassard.jpg


#17 world war I nerd

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:05 AM

Photo No. 64: The design of the GHQ SSI was said to have been personally designed by General Pershing. It was inspired by the red, white and blue silk brassard that was worn by AEF General Staff personnel. Like other WW I SSI, the GHQ shoulder patch shows up in a wide variety of styles. From left to right: is a machine woven Liberty Loan patch, a printed silk version within an olive drab wool circle and a fully embroidered example.

Attached Images

  • 64 GHQ SSI.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:06 AM

Army General Staff Brassard

 

Photo No. 65: Not every General Staff Brassard was embroidered with a General Staff device. Both varieties of the Army General Staff Brassard can be seen in this photograph.

Attached Images

  • 65 With & Without Insignia.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:07 AM

Photo No. 66: Here the full spectrum of red over white Army General Staff Brassards is shown. The upper brassard is a brassard edged in gold, as worn by general officers and their aides. At center is an Army General Staff Brassard with an embroidered General Staff Corps emblem. At bottom is the Army General Staff Brassard in its simplest form.

Attached Images

  • 66 General Staff Army.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:08 AM

Photo No. 67: During WWI, the AEF officially formed three field armies, each of which developed its own insignia.

  • The 1st American Army became operational on August 10, 1918. It was formed in France as soon as General Pershing had enough fully trained combat troops at his disposal. Its insignia was the capital letter ‘A’ in black. It is often seen with either a branch of service or unattached regimental insignia between the legs of the letter. In this instance it happens to be that of the 1st Gas and Flame Regiment. The soldier to the right wears the 1st Army SSI in conjunction with an unknown unit insignia underneath the letter ‘A’.

 

  • The 2nd American Army was formed on October 15, 1918. The insignia for the 2nd Army is the numeral ‘2’ in red and white.

 

  • The 3rd American Army was created on November 7, 1918 when General Pershing directed that a third army be created for occupation duty in Germany. Because of this the 3rd Army was also known as the Army of Occupation. Its insignia was comprised of the letter ‘A’ n white within a blue and a red circle.

 

Attached Images

  • 67 AEF Army SSI.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:09 AM

Corps General Staff Brassard

 

Photo No. 68: The white and blue Corps General Staff Brassard bearing a hand embroidered insignia of the General Staff Corps would have been worn by the personnel of the General Staff attached to any one of the 9 numbered Army Corps established in the AEF.

 

On February 14, 1903, an act of Congress created the Army General Staff Corps. The insignia adopted by that corps was that of a generals’ star with the U.S. coat of arms superimposed over it. At left is the silver and gilt version that was to be worn with the dress blue uniform. The bronze General Staff collar device in the center was meant to be worn with the olive drab service dress. In 1916 the National Guard (NG) was mobilized to support the U.S. or Regular Army on the Mexican Border. Because each chief of staff of a NG Division, as well as their deputies were not members of the Regular Army, they were not authorized to wear the Army General Staff Corps collar insignia. The NG General Staff members wore a hollow six-pointed star insignia instead (left) between 1916 and 1917.

Attached Images

  • 68 General Staff Corps.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:10 AM

Photo No. 69: In addition to the three Armies, the AEF organized nine separate Army Corps. In the AEF, a Corps was made up of two or more infantry divisions. Like all the other AEF Armies and Divisions each Corps adopted an identifying symbol for its SSI.

 

Top: I Corps was activated in January 1918. Its insignia was comprised of a white circle on a dark blue field.

 

Center: II Corps was formed in February of 1918, and was permanently attached to the British 3rd Army. Its insignia was aptly made up of the American eagle and a British lion flanking the Roman numeral II.

 

Bottom: III Corps was created in May of 1918. Its insignia was a blue caltrop with an inverted white triangle in the center.

Attached Images

  • 69 AEF Corps SSI 1.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:11 AM

Photo No. 70: The color of all of the AEF Corps SSI were intended to be comprised of only blue and white to reflect the two colors that made up the Corps General Staff Brassard. All of the Corps managed to adhere to this mandate except for the V and IX Corps. The reason for this deviation is not known.

 

Top: The IV Corps was established in June of 1918. Its insignia was a circle divided into four quadrants alternating blue to white.

 

Center: The V Corps came into being in July of 1918. Its insignia was a pentagon connected by five internal spokes. V Corps insignia turns up in a wide variety of colors, each of which likely represent either a specific branch of service such as the cavalry or of a specific unit that served in the V Corps.

 

Bottom: The VI Corps first went into action in August of 1918. Its insignia was comprised of the numeral ‘6’ in white on a blue background. Typically, the numeral was surrounded by a white circle, which is absent from the this example.

 

Attached Images

  • 70 AEF Corps SSI 2.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:12 AM

Photo No. 71: Top: VII Corps was activated in August of 1918. Its insignia was the numeral ‘7’ in white on a blue shield.

 

Center: The VIII Corps was formed in November of 1918. Its insignia was comprised of the numeral ‘8’ in white on a blue octagon.

 

Bottom: The IX Corps was created after the end of the war. Its insignia was composed from the Roman numeral ‘IX’ in red, within a red circle on a blue circular background.

Attached Images

  • 71 AEF SSI 3.jpg


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Posted 01 June 2014 - 07:13 AM

Division General Staff Brassard

 

Photo No. 72: Each AEF Infantry Division had its own General Staff who were identified in the field by a red Division General Staff Brassard. The color inset shows one such brassard bearing the General Staff Corps insignia. The officer in the period photograph is a staff officer of a division HQ.

Attached Images

  • 72 Division General Staff Brassard.jpg



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