Here is the postcard showing a much clearer image of the above photo from the 1st Engineer Regiment history. This card was labeled as being a "Field Post Office, CheppyCrossroads". Note the somewhat larger insignia sewn onto the upper left-hand sleeve of the Doughboy facing the camera.
Help With An Unknown WW I Shoulder Patch?
Posted 13 October 2018 - 04:59 AM
Posted 13 October 2018 - 05:22 AM
In my haste, I forgot that I downloaded four images from the 1st Engineer History.
Here is one more image from page 44 of in the Meuse Argonne chapter from the 1st Engineer Regiment history. The image captioned: "Post Office in the Field", shows another insignia on the left sleeve of the left-hand postal clerk.
Posted 13 October 2018 - 11:09 PM
I did look at the few other photos I have and none have the diamond pictured. One photo is dated August and has 4 or so fellows in their jackets and each has bare sleeves. So that perhaps puts St Mihiel as a starting point on usuage.
I'm going to dig into divisional orders here online quick and see if I can turn up some mention there...
Edit, this would seem to corroborate the St Mihiel theory:
Edited by AustinO, 13 October 2018 - 11:17 PM.
Posted 14 October 2018 - 04:02 AM
Would just like to add I did some significant digging trying to find G-1 Memo 258, the digitized G-1 memos start around September 15th, so this one may be lost to time at the moment. Perhaps something to ask the Cantigny Museum researcher to look into, though I'm thinking the memo may have been secret so even they may not have a copy.
The details in that "field clerk" postcard above are phenomenal, from the field desk, to the mess of mail being sorted out on the ground, piles of mail bags...the "camouflage" on the tent, stack of buckets at the foreground... There is just so much content there!
Posted 14 October 2018 - 06:21 AM
AustinO, great detective work in regard to locating 1st Division documents that confirm that formation badges were indeed worn during the AEF's reduction of the St. Mihiel salient!
It would be great if someone could locate a description of the distinguishing marks that each 1st Division organization was authorized to wear and how long they were actually worn.
Perhaps some mention of the use of formation badges is made in one of the 1st Division histories?
Posted 14 October 2018 - 06:32 AM
Not meaning to distract from this topic, I think it's important to add the information that is known regarding the use of British style formation badges by the 2nd Division during the St. Mihiel operation. I think its inclusion will support the case we are making here for use of same by the 1st Division.
British Style Formation Badges
as used by the
2nd Division during the St. Mihiel Offensive
During the period leading up to the St Mihiel offensive, the 2nd Division and perhaps other AEF organizations experimented with British style ‘Battle Blazes’ as a way to identify Doughboy units amidst the disorder of combat.
According to 2nd Division documents, on 4 September 1918, while the division was planning its role in the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient, it was decided that all three battalions of the 9th Infantry Regiment would wear British style battle blazes. According to 2nd Division documents, the approved formation badges were to be sewn three inches below the shoulder on both sleeves of the olive drab service coat. The following shapes and colors were identified in a memo generated by 3rd Brigade HQ:
Third Battalion (first over): Three inch red square
Second Battalion (second over): Three inch blue square
First Battalion (third over): Three inch white square
Headquarters Company: Red triangle
Regular Headquarters and staff: Three inch red and white square (cut diagonally, lower left to upper right, red over white)
Machine Gun Company: Red Circle
Memo from HQ, 3rd Brigade to CO 23rd Infantry Regiment, September 6, 1918
Edited by world war I nerd, 14 October 2018 - 06:41 AM.
Posted 14 October 2018 - 06:36 AM
Orders stated that an officer from the 9th Infantry Regiment was immediately dispatched to Toul to secure cloth. Unfortunately, no blue cloth was available. Therefore, it was decided that the 2nd Battalion would not wear any insignia. As soon as fabric was secured, regimental tailors began stitching the colored bits of fabric onto Doughboy service coats.
Unsure of the brightly colored swatches of cloth; officers of the 1st Battalion were convinced that their new white insignia would draw fire. Without permission, they reduced the badge’s size fromathree inch square, down to a one inch square. Contrary to orders, they also positioned the shoulder flash onto the back of only the left sleeve. It was also reported that skeptical Doughboy’s from the 1st and 3rd Battalions smeared their red and white distinguishing marks with mud or cut the center portion away before ‘going over’ in order to reduce visibility. In an article written for the March 18, 1921 edition of “The Trail” (the 2nd Division’s post WW I newspaper), about the genesis of the 2nd Division shoulder insignia, the author 1st Lieutenant Gordon Steele, QTMC, unequivocally claimed that the pre-Armistice battle blazes were worn during the St. Mihiel and Blanc Mont operations and “perhaps later.”
After two days at the front, the Doughboys of the 9th Infantry Regiment found that their battle blazes did not draw enemy fire. During the initial days of the operation the benefits of the new insignia became immediately apparent. A memo directed to GHQ boasted that 2nd Division battle blazes made it easier:
For runners to find their destination; indicated how losses were going; showed officers and men their own lines; made reorganization easier; assisted when battalions leaf-frogged ahead; and helped rations get up to the front faster.
Memo from captain Mattfeldt, 9th Infantry Regiment to Major A.M. Jones, General Staff, September 6, 1918
On the same day that Captain Mattfeldt informed GHQ of the positive benefits of the so called distinguishing marks, a meeting of field officers from the 23rd Infantry Regiment took place. At the meeting a decision was reached regarding the color and shape that their battalions would wear for the looming assault. No report of that meeting has been found. However, an after action letter dated 22 September to the CO of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, extolling the tactical value of that regiment’s battle blazes was located. In the memorandum 1st Lieutenant Oscar Youngsdahl requested that the following scheme be permanently adopted for the 23rd Infantry. The lieutenant also wished:
To emphasize the practical value of the green, red, white and blue triangular patches worn by the men and officers of this regiment in the offensive of September 12, as distinguishing marks for the respective battalions. These marks were of great service in enabling the men, in spite of the usual battlefield excitement and consequent confusion to recognize at once their own battalions, and adhere to them. Also these marks enabled our officers to identify to a certain extent, their own men and thus facilitated re-grouping and reorganization of the men at various stages of the action.
Green triangle: Headquarters and Supply Company and First Battalion
White Triangle: Second Battalion
Blue Triangle: Third Battalion
Letter from First Lieutenant Oskar Y. Youngsdahl, 23rd Infantry, to CO, 23rd Infantry, September 22, 1918.
Posted 14 October 2018 - 06:39 AM
No approval of the lieutenant’s post-St. Mihiel recommendation is on file. However, based on the fact that the proposed colors for the 9th Infantry Regiment were approved, it is likely that the color scheme for the 23rd Infantry Regiment was also approved.
Five years after the fact, a young 2nd Lieutenant, who also served in the 23rd Infantry Regiment, recalled things differently in respect to the shapes and colors of the insignia worn by the men of his regiment during the St. Mihiel battle. He wrote that the 1st Battalion wore a blue square (not a green triangle), the 2nd Battalion wore a blue triangle (not a white triangle) and that the 3rd Battalion wore a blue diamond (not a blue triangle). In a post-war account of his experiences the junior lieutenant left a detailed account of everything he wore and carried during the St. Mihiel drive. Among the items he mentioned:
On my left shoulder was sewed the blue diamond shaped piece of cloth that distinguished every member of the 23rd. The men of the 1st Battalion wore blue squares, the men of the second, blue triangles. The men of the other regiments used the same system with cloths of different colors. Division insignia that later became such a colorful part of the uniforms of the A.E.F., had not yet been thought of.
2nd Lieutenant Felix F. Ranlett, Company K, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, AEF
Despite the discrepancy in colors and shapes worn, experimental battle blazes were in fact worn by the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments of the 2nd Division through to at least October 1918, and “perhaps later.” Lieutenant Steele surmised in his newspaper article that the 2nd Division’s different colors and shaped backgrounds:
May have been copied from the British who used this method to distinguish their brigades, battalions, etc.
The Trail, March 18, 1921 edition
Edited by world war I nerd, 14 October 2018 - 06:39 AM.
Posted 15 October 2018 - 04:28 PM
Al sent me some better scans of the 1st Engineer Regiment formation badges as used at St. Mihiel and during the Argonne Offensive. The images were taken by Major George Knight, 1st Engineer Regiment, 1st Division. … Thanks Al!
Anyway, here is a closer view of the 1st Engineer Regiment officers that was taken during the Argonne Offensive. Note how small the formation badges are compared to the one in the next image.
Posted 15 October 2018 - 04:31 PM
This image, titled, "Direct Hit", also taken by Major George Knight was snapped during the St. Mihiel Offensive Note that the insignia is literally twice the size of those worn in the above photo.
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