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WW1 39th Division Ammo Train grouping


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#1 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 05:46 PM

Last week a coworker of mine brought in a group of items related to her grandfather's World War One service. These items have remained in the family, and there is more to the group than I've seen yet, including a helmet and all of his letters he wrote home during his service. I'm hoping to see these additional items at some point. 

 

Carroll Eskert Griffin was born on February 27, 1896, in the town of Oberlin, Ohio. He was the oldest child of Allen Griffin, a brick manufacturer in Oberlin, and Helen, a homemaker. 

 

From the book Ohio Soldiers in WW1, 1917-1918, it appears that Carroll was drafted and reported to Camp Zachery Taylor in Louisville, KY, on May 25, 1918. He was assigned to the 25th Company, 159th Depot Brigade for basic training. However, at the same time the 39th Infantry Division at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, was being stripped of some of its men and component units to replace casualties in France. The Army made the decision to send a large group of draftees from Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana to the 39th Division, and Carroll Griffin was one of these men. He left Camp Taylor, KY on June 1, 1918 and reported to the 39th Division a few days later. He was assigned to Company C, 114th Ammunition Train (originally an Arkansas National Guard unit) that was severely short of its authorized strength. 

 

Carroll was promoted to the rank of Corporal on August 11, 1918, just as the 114th Ammo Train left the United States for France as part of the 39th Division's movement overseas. Carroll and the 114th Ammo Train arrived in France and officially joined the AEF on August 29, 1918. 

 

The 39th Division was used as a depot unit in France, training other newly arrived units and sending individuals and component elements of the 39th to frontline divisions as replacements. It appears that Carroll Griffin left France on December 31, 1918, and was discharged from military service on February 28, 1919. 

 

After the war Carroll trained as a chemist and worked in this field for the remainder of his life. He relocated to Niagra Falls, NY around 1925. In 1934 he took his family across the border into Canada and became a chemist for a Canadian manufacturer. His residence was in Welland, Ontario. He remained in Canada for the rest of his life, dying there in August, 1969. 

 

Pictured below: Carroll Griffin's overseas cap, tunic, trousers, and some items from his WW1 service.

Attached Images

  • uniform pic.jpg
  • other group items.jpg


#2 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 05:57 PM

The ribbons on the tunic are the "Inter-Allied Victory Ribbon" (left), awarded by the State of Ohio on his return home. The right side ribbon is the VFW service ribbon - denoting that Carroll Griffin was a member of the VFW at some point in his life. 

 

The uniform has several unusual features. His overseas cap and uniform collar has officer's "US" insignia rather than EM discs. The 39th Division shoulder patch is also a variant I have never seen before, and not the design normally associated with the 39th Division in WW1. 

 

My educated guess is that this uniform was modified by Carroll after he relocated to Canada. The "Red Poppy" fastened to the right pocket was a common emblem of the Great War in the commonwealth countries of the British Empire, more so than in the US. I'm hazarding a guess that Carroll wore this uniform in Great War commemorations in Canada, and he adopted the Red Poppy emblem there, and added the officer's "US" insignia to distinguish himself as a United States veteran of the war rather than a Canadian veteran.

 

Unless other knowledgeable WW1 collectors have information on the unusual 39th Division shoulder patch, I'd hazard a guess that this 39th shoulder insignia also dates from after his relocation to Canada. 

 

 

Attached Images

  • shoulder patch view.jpg
  • shoulder patch close up.jpg


#3 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 05:58 PM

Other side of his uniform, showing the officer's "US" insignia on both the overseas cap and his uniform collar. Note also his corporal rank on the right sleeve.

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  • right side of tunic and cap.jpg


#4 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:00 PM

The Red Cross bag with this grouping is filled with all kinds of miscellaneous items!

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  • Red Cross bag items.jpg


#5 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:04 PM

His sewing kit is filled with needles, pins, thread, and buttons.

 

The crucifix in this group is unusual. I do not know if he was Catholic, but the design of this crucifix seems to me to be European rather than something made in the US. The skull and crossbones design at the bottom of the cross particularly suggests a European origin to me. 

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  • housewife.jpg
  • housewife unrolled.jpg
  • crucifix.jpg


#6 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:09 PM

A small leather case was part of the effects found inside the Red Cross bag. I expected it to be a military compass when I opened it, and was surprised to see instead a folding aluminum cup, complete with a screw-on lid!

 

There were five EM collar discs inside the bag. The disc on the lower right denoted the 159th Depot Brigade at Fort Zachery Taylor, KY, his first reporting station. This is the first time I've seen a Depot Brigade disc. 

Attached Images

  • collapsible cup case.jpg
  • collapsible cup opened.jpg
  • collar insignia.jpg


#7 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:17 PM

Other items found in the Red Cross bag include a spoon and knife. The knife handle appears to have been bent to hang on something.  There were two large brass insignia of some kind, a formal English font letter "B", and a simple and cruder letter "S". The S has holes punched through the ends so it can be tied in place. The better made letter "B" has prongs soldered to the rear so it can be pinned.

 

Also to small brass locks, a metal bar of some sorts, function unknown, and a small wrench and knob of some kind. 

 

 

Attached Images

  • spoon & knife.jpg
  • brass insignia.jpg
  • locks and misc.jpg


#8 Geoff

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:24 PM

Several of the metal pieces - canteen, mess kit, issued eating utensil set - all have the notation "114 AM. TN." and "C" stamped on them, identifying Carroll Griffin's company and unit.

 

I hope to see at some point Carroll's helmet and WW1 correspondence. If and when I have the opportunity to see these, I will add their photos and any additional information that comes with them. 

 

Thanks for looking! Rest in peace Corporal Carroll Eskert Griffin, 1896-1969.

Attached Images

  • canteen top with unit ID.jpg


#9 Major Z

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:09 PM

Proof there are fantastic groupings out in the wild. Thanks for sharing this one.



#10 gomorgan

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:47 PM

The 39th patch is a known variation and was worn during the period by this unit, while not rare it is not often found.

#11 world war I nerd

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 05:58 PM

In addition to the variant posted above, here are some other permutations of the 39th Division shoulder patch ... This division must hold the record for having the most alternative designs.

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  • 39th Division Variations.jpg


#12 Geoff

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 07:50 PM

Thanks to both of you for the information on the 39th Division patch! I appreciate the help in dating this and will pass it on to the family.



#13 katieony

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 04:38 AM

A really interesting group...thanks for sharing!



#14 mvmhm

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 06:44 PM

Another great group Geoff!


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