Jump to content


Photo

Help With An Unknown WW I Shoulder Patch?


  • Please log in to reply
36 replies to this topic

#1 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 October 2018 - 03:42 AM

The caption on this photograph proclaims that the men depicted in it served with Company D of the 1st Engineer Regiment. In turn, the 1st Engineer Regiment was a part of the 1st Infantry Division.

 

According to the caption, the image was taken on November 14, 1918, some three days after the Armistice, ending the hostilities commenced, and nine days before the 1st Division's "Big Red One" insignia was authorized on November 23, 1918, by GHQ, AEF.

 

When viewing the photograph, one can't help but notice the diamond shaped insignia worn on the left hand sleeve of two of the men.

 

What is this insignia?

Attached Images

  • 1st-Engineer-Regiment,-1st-Division-1.jpg


#2 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 October 2018 - 03:58 AM

In this closer view of the unusual insignia you can see that the patches appear to have been purposely sewn lower on the sleeve as opposed to the location that was prescribed by GHQ, AEF for the majority of AEF division insignia, which was high up on the left sleeve, adjacent to the shoulder seam. The placement of these insignia is not unlike that of the location of where the British Army wore many of the "formation badges" that were devised late in 1915 and worn through to the end of the war.

 

It should also be said that there is documentation that the 2nd Division experimented with geometric shaped British style formation badges during the St. Mihiel and Mont Blanc offensives and "possibly after". Could the 1st Division, or other organizations within the AEF, done likewise?

 

 

 

Attached Images

  • 1st-Engineer-Regiment,-1st-Division-2.jpg


#3 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 October 2018 - 04:12 AM

A grayscale version of the above image.

 

Several possibilities have been put forth as to what these unusual patches might be;

 

1. That the caption on the photograph could be an error (if so, that's a really big error)

 

2. That men of the 5th Division are bumming a meal from the 1st Division rolling kitchen (this is doubtful, because the 5th Division's red diamond insignia was noticeably taller than it was wide. The insignia in the photo appear to be square in shape and equal in both height and width, not diamond shaped like the 5th Division insignia) 

 

3. That the patches are actually the symbol with which the 1st Engineer regiment marked its property and baggage after it arrived in France in 1917. There is anecdotal evidence that the 28th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division used a red and blue "Tah Gook" symbol to mark their baggage and that baggage marking may have been worn as an early shoulder patch.

 

4. That this is in fact a British style formation badge that was used by the 1st Engineer Regiment or one of a series of formation badges that were employed by the entire 1st Division during the autumn of 1918.

Attached Images

  • 1st-Engineer-Regiment,-1st-Division-3.jpg

Edited by world war I nerd, 06 October 2018 - 04:18 AM.


#4 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 October 2018 - 04:15 AM

I'm open to any thoughts, theories,guesses, and of course, actual information regarding this mysterious shoulder patch.

 

Thanks to all for looking, and please tell us what you think … World War I Nerd

Attached Images

  • 1st-Engineer-Regiment,-1st-Division-4.jpg

Edited by world war I nerd, 06 October 2018 - 04:21 AM.


#5 MAW

MAW
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,778
  • 1,594 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 06 October 2018 - 04:33 AM

I highly suspect that this is one of the early battle-flash patches used by the 1st and 2nd divisions early in the war. I've always wanted to write an article on them at some point....although I don't remember this diamond/lozenge patch associated with the 1st Engineers...but I could be wrong.

Do you own this photo?

#6 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 October 2018 - 05:28 AM

MAW, how much actual information do you have in respect to the use of formation badges/battle flashes, as used by the AEF? I too have a keen interest in trying to figure out to what extent, if any they were used by AEF divisions, other than the 2nd Division, which I have a small amount of information on.

 

To your other question, yes, I do own this photograph. It was a recent purchase from eBay.

 

I personally am only aware of one other period photo showing what I think is a British style formation badge. I used that image in my 2nd Division shoulder insignia post. That particular image is owned by forum member Jagjetta. He's also in possession of two photos showing AEF personnel wearing patches that are similar to, but not identical to those worn in the above image. Neither he, nor I have been able to get to the bottom of what any of these mystery patches actually are, or were. It's a riddle, I'd greatly like to solve though. Maybe we can do it here on the forum?



#7 MAW

MAW
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,778
  • 1,594 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 06 October 2018 - 10:24 AM

I have a couple of photos that relate to this topic...

I'll dig out a few things of interest.

#8 littlewilly

littlewilly
  • Members
    • Member ID: 154,024
  • 161 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Illinois

Posted 06 October 2018 - 02:20 PM

I agree with MAW...........a trial piece ultimately discarded when the red 1 on the shield was adopted for the division.           MHJ



#9 AustinO

AustinO
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,941
  • 2,205 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mpls, MN

Posted 06 October 2018 - 06:17 PM

Agreed, formation flash.  Nerd, I just bought all of the other shots in this series that the seller had, as well as the shot she had of a Co D man with their dog mascot.   I missed a large group of studio shots - a couple of which had names on them (still sore that I lost out on that snipe). 

 

Will let you know if the formation patch is noticeable in the other shots once I have them in hand. 



#10 everforward

everforward
  • Members
    • Member ID: 8,237
  • 1,776 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:3/116 country, Shenandoah Valley, Va.

Posted 07 October 2018 - 03:02 AM

You guys see this...? Its on eBay right now (not mine), seller is located in France....

E16E92E2-9011-4168-9565-4AD96F476EBB.jpeg

#11 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 07 October 2018 - 04:01 AM

MAW, little willy & AustinO, I think that we are all on the same page in regard to the mystery patch being a 1st Division formation badge. That was my first thought (and still is) ever since I saw that image on eBay. I do however, remain open to other possibilities should other information come to light.

 

MAW, I am really looking forward to seeing whatever information or photos that you have about the use of British style formation badges by the AEF.

 

AustinO, glad the rest of the 1st Engineer pics went to a good home. If you need a high-res scan of this image, pm me with an email address and I'll send it to you. And, yes, please do post any images showing similar patches should one show up in any of your pics. Every little scrap of information helps.

 

Everforward, that pennant is very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to add it to this thread. Do you recall what the seller had it listed as? Without any context it could represent "1st Infantry" regiment, brigade or division, etc. I'll see if I can track it down on eBay. If I locate it, I'll add a link to the listing.

 

Thanks again to everybody for looking and posting. There's still a lot of questions to be answered, so if you know anything or care to put forth a theory, please do so.


Edited by world war I nerd, 07 October 2018 - 04:04 AM.


#12 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 07 October 2018 - 06:01 AM

Here is the eBay link to the "1st Division" Pennant posted above:

 

https://www.ebay.com...iQAAOSwdklbjr8o

 

Apparently, the pennant was found in a French attic, and the seller is located in Paris, France.

 

My first impression of the pennant was that it didn't look old enough to be WW I vintage, but I really don't know much about Great War pennants. Given that it is from France, could it be from the Second World War?



#13 everforward

everforward
  • Members
    • Member ID: 8,237
  • 1,776 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:3/116 country, Shenandoah Valley, Va.

Posted 07 October 2018 - 06:06 AM

Other than it looks as though it is American-Made (in Chicago from the looks of the label) I have never seen one like it before...

#14 MAW

MAW
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,778
  • 1,594 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 09 October 2018 - 05:43 AM

One of the best written mentions of these patches is found in the book "Let's Go! - The Story of A.S. no. 2448602" by Louis Ranlett.

 

The author began service with the 77th Division, got commissioned, and then was assigned to the 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division.

 

It's an excellent read.  He had a historian's eye for detail.

 

An excerpt....from pgs. 233-234

 

     "The G.A.R. men who used to speak to children in grammar school before Memorial Day every year interested me most when they described their wartime experiences in detail.  I wanted to know just what they wore and carried and ate, as well as why they fought.  That is my warrant for detailing what I took with me into battle.

 

     It's nice to think that if you're killed people will know who you were.  I had a privately made silver identification tag on my left wrist along with my wrist watch; about my neck on the very piece of tape on which they hung when I left Camp Upton, were my two issue identification tags of aluminum.  By carving alterations with my pocket knife I had kept them up to date.  One side read '2448602 -- 2nd Lt.'; the other 'Louis F. Ranlett -- [the following all crossed out  ---->] Pvt - Co B - Corp - Sgt. 308 Inf'.

 

     I wore a money-belt that contained my letter of credit, heavy woolen underwear, hand-knitted woolen socks, an issue woolen shirt, the heavy woolen sleeveless sweater that my mother had knitted, my old enlisted man's issue woolen uniform, wrap leggins, field boots.  Except for my gold shoulder bars there was no distinguishing my uniform from that of a private.  On my left shoulder was sewed the blue diamond-shaped piece of cloth that distinguished every member of the third battalion of the 23rd.  The men of the first battalion word blue squares; the men of the second, blue triangles.  The battalions of the other regiments used the same system with cloths of different color.  Division insignia, that later became such a colorful part of the uniforms of the A.E.F., had not yet been thought of.

 

     Half the soldiers of the Civil War were saved from death by Bibles that turned bullets from their hearts.  Every one knows that.  Of course I carried my khaki covered Testament, but not in my left breast pocket.  My steel mirror was there.  In other pockets were my small silk flag, my notebook with a list of names of the men in the platoon, a box of matches, my money, a knife, an indelible pencil.  My whistle dangled from my breast-pocket; the satchel of my gas mask was strapped at the alert beneath my chin.  My pistol belt carried my canteen, the automatic pistol, four extra loaded magazines, and my first-aid packet.  My raincoat hung awkwardly from it at one side.  My pack held nothing but my mess-kit, two cans of beans, and two cans of meat.  My steel helmet topped off."

 

 

From page 244....

 

"Then I looked at his face.  It was green.  Through his forehead was a bullet hole!  There he knealt, dead, with his eyes open and his hand on his rifle that lay on the low parapet in front of him.

 

It was not a maneuver after all!

 

Daly leaned over and took the entrenching shovel from the man's pack.  He had none of his own.  The act was a wise one.  I looked off to the left and saw five other immovable figures.  On their shoulders were insignia of the 9th Infantry."

 

This book is worth having on the shelf...it's one of my favorite Doughboy memoirs....but if it is also been digitized now...and is available at the link below.

 

https://archive.org/...n00loui/page/n0

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Mike W.



#15 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 09 October 2018 - 01:35 PM

MAW, thanks for that. I've read that book and whole-heartedly agree that it's a fantastic read. I have that very same passage typed up in my notes on 2nd Division insignia and on formation badges used in the AEF.

 

Do you have any other tidbits of information regarding formation badges as used by the AEF?



#16 MAW

MAW
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,778
  • 1,594 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 10 October 2018 - 04:35 AM

I have a couple of RPPCs that will definitely be of interest to you and this topic....I will dig them out and post them....

 

Also, it sticks in my mind that there was an article about these patches in The Company of Military Historians magazine years ago....but if so, I do not have a copy nor the title of the article.  Do you have any recollection of that by any chance?



#17 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 October 2018 - 01:33 PM

MAW, I look forward to seeing your photos, thanks for looking for them! … No, I am not familiar with the article you mentioned. Maybe someone else here on the forum is?



#18 CW4AFB

CW4AFB
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,235
  • 908 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:East Coast USA

Posted 11 October 2018 - 03:52 PM

And here's an example of two 1st Engineer Regiment, 1st Division officers with diamond shape patches on their right sleeves

Attached Images

  • 1st Engineers w shoulder patches.JPG


#19 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 October 2018 - 02:18 AM

Al,

 

What a great photo! The diamond shaped patches must be formation badges … what else could they be? Also they are on the right sleeve, not the left, as in the photo I posted … very interesting indeed. 

 

Was there any date or context regarding this photo?



#20 AustinO

AustinO
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,941
  • 2,205 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mpls, MN

Posted 12 October 2018 - 05:10 AM

Al,

 

What a great photo! The diamond shaped patches must be formation badges … what else could they be? Also they are on the right sleeve, not the left, as in the photo I posted … very interesting indeed. 

 

Was there any date or context regarding this photo?

 

I think they were probably worn on both sleeves, like British formation patches. 



#21 MAW

MAW
  • Members
    • Member ID: 2,778
  • 1,594 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 12 October 2018 - 06:08 AM


Was there any date or context regarding this photo?

 

...as an aside...I believe the Ranlett reference dates to the St. Mihiel Offensive...FWIW



#22 littlewilly

littlewilly
  • Members
    • Member ID: 154,024
  • 161 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Illinois

Posted 12 October 2018 - 06:28 PM

I agree with AustinO - most likely worn on both sleeves.  I have a US pilot uniform from a man who was one of the 45 or so pilots assigned to British squadrons for training/front line experience prior to assignment to a US squadron as they were organized in France.  His coat has a wine-red horizontal bar with rounded ends on each shoulder, with a US Aero roundel underneath on the left sleeve.  British sources informed me that the bar was not a known British squadron insignia, so I have always presumed the bar was adopted by some of the men to show they had served with the Brits, and was worn in the dual format as were typical British unit insignia (I have never seen unit patches on British pilot tunics).    MHJ    



#23 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 October 2018 - 04:37 AM

I tracked down an online history of the 1st Engineer Regiment, titled "A History of the First Engineer Regiment, 1st Division that was published in 1919. Here's the link:

 

http://cgsc.cdmhost....5/id/1193/rec/7

 

I scanned the whole thing and in the text there was no mention of the use of any insignia, "Big Red One" or otherwise, by the regiment. However, a few of the photos within the poorly scanned history showed oherwise.

 

This first image was found on page 32 in the chapter devoted to the St. Mihiel offensive. It was captioned "Officers of the First Battalion". In it the three right hand officers appear to be wearing some sort of an insignia that is not the authorized "Big Red One", 1st Division shoulder patch on their left sleeve.

Attached Images

  • First-Battalion-Officers.jpg

Edited by world war I nerd, 13 October 2018 - 04:40 AM.


#24 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 October 2018 - 04:45 AM

This next photo from page, shows 1st Sergeant Thomas M. Kelly from Company D, 1st Engineer Regiment, 1st Division. This photo was also from the chapter about St. Mihiel. Sgt Kelly is clearly wearing a diamond shaped insignia similar to those shown in the above posts.

Attached Images

  • Sergeant-Kelly.jpg


#25 world war I nerd

world war I nerd
  • Members
    • Member ID: 5,143
  • 5,720 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 October 2018 - 04:51 AM

This photo on page 42, titled "Headquarters at Cheppy Crossroads", was borrowed from the Meuse Argonne chapter. Although it doesn't show up in this scan of the photo, the soldier directly behind the man bending over has a cloth insignia sewn onto his left sleeve. I know this to be true because I have a real picture postcard of this exact image.

Attached Images

  • HQ-Cheppy-Crossroads.jpg



0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users