A.E.F. Identification, Part one
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:18 PM
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“Had formal inspections this a.m. of pistols and identification tags.”
Photo no. 25: This reconstruction of a Corporal serving with the 127th Infantry, 32nd Division, in August 1918 is passing through a mobile delousing and shower facility erected by the Quartermaster Corps for the men coming out of the lines and is waiting on “snake parade” the A.E.F. nickname for one of the army’s never ending lines, where at the end a replacement uniform awaits. Suspended from his neck are the ubiquitous dog tags that would be needed to identify him in the event that he was killed or wounded in action. To supplement the dog tags he has strapped a field made identity bracelet around his left wrist. It is made from a piece of scrap aluminum and has been stamped with the same dies that were used to mark the dog tags.
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:21 PM
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:23 PM
Unauthorized Embellishments and Non Regulation ID Tags
Despite the written regulations and frequent inspections of the dog tags worn by the troops, many Doughboys couldn’t help themselves and added an endless variety of unauthorized personal information to their ID Tags. Most of the extra data was stamped onto them using the dog tag marking kit but it was sometimes carved or scratched onto the aluminum disc using a pocket knife or other sharp instrument. Most of these embellishments were overlooked by commanding officers during the frequent inspections, provided that no crucial information was revealed and as long as any of the additions did not interfere or otherwise deface the required information. When WW I ID Tags are examined today, it seems as if very few are marked properly, according to the regulations. The personal information added by the men ranged from their rank or military occupation, such as “cook”, “mechanic” and “wagonneer”, to their home towns, religious instructions and diary type information and even crudely drawn divisional insignia. Several examples of embellished ID Tags are shown below.
Photo no. 27: Although rank insignia was prescribed for all officer’s dog tags, this information was not allowed on enlisted men’s tags after mid 1918; however, many of the Doughboy’s disregarded Army regulations and stamped their ID Tags accordingly. The two discs shown below are marked to a corporal and a private who both felt that if they included their rank it would somehow aid with their identification. (Courtesy of forum member teufelhund)
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:24 PM
Can we get this pinned?
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:24 PM
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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:00 PM
“All civilians attached thereto…”
Non Regulation Identity Tags
A.E.F. regulations stipulated that all members of that command, even non military personnel were to wear an ID Tag and this included all YMCA, Red Cross and other volunteer workers. In General Order No. 91 dated June 10, 1918 some clarification was made regarding whom and how the ID Tags were to be worn, which read as follows’
“The aluminum identification tags, each the size of a silver half dollar and of suitable thickness, will be worn by each officer and soldier of the American Expeditionary Force and by all civilians attached thereto. These tags will be worn suspended from the neck underneath the clothing by a cord or thong passed through a small hole in the tag, the second tag to be suspended from the first by a short piece of string or tape.”
Uncle Sam did not provide the non-military volunteers who helped to care for the Doughboys as they came out of the lines, recuperated in the hospitals and convalescent areas or visited the leave and official A.E.F. recreation areas that were established behind the lines. The official and unofficial civilian workers and volunteers serving in Europe, for the most part, had to procure their own personnel ID Tags. Some received ID Tags from their respective organization and many more were purchased commercially from various military outfitters and a number of different types and styles were worn.
Photo no. 34: These tags were worn by two volunteer nurses who served overseas with the A.E.F. They show two types of privately purchase dog tags that were worn by non military personnel. (Courtesy of forum member’s kfields & mars & thunder)
Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:00 PM
Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:02 PM
“The best system of identification known…”
U.S. Navy Identity Tags
Photo no. 36: It is quite possible that the early Navy ID Tag were fabricated with just one hole on the narrow side for the neck cord to pass through and later in 1917 or 1918 the tags were altered to have two holes, one on each side. The tag shown below named to John Stickel could be an early Navy tag, circa 1916. Note that both tags have been chemically etched with the required data but in different configurations. (Courtesy of forum member bobgee)
Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:03 PM
The Navy ID Tags were also unique in that each tag contained the fingerprint of its owner on the reverse side to further aid with the identification of the man wearing it. A copy of each fingerprint was kept on file in the Identification Section at the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, where, J.H. Taylor a well known expert in fingerprint identification and the designer of the Navy ID Tag was invaluable in successfully identifying any dead naval personnel whose identity was in doubt. At the time of their adoption Navy regulations required that each ID Tag contain the following information:
a. Enlisted men: The front side of the tag bore the initials “U.S.N.”, the sailor’s initials of his first and middle name and his full surname, the date of his first enlistment, his date of birth and on the back of the tag was the fingerprint taken from his right index finger.
b. Officers: The initials “U.S.N.”, the officer’s initials of his first and middle name and his full surname, the date of his appointment, his rank and the fingerprint from his right index finger.
An article published in the August 1917 edition of “Our Navy” described and extolled the virtues of the Navy’s new ID Tag,
“Every officer and enlisted man in the United States Navy will wear a metal identification tag which will bear the wearer's name, the date of his birth and enlistment, and, in the case of an officer, his rank and date of appointment. On the other side will be etched the fingerprint of his right index finger. This is part of what naval officers regard as the best system of identification known, superior to that in use in European armies and navies.”
Photo no. 37: This publicity photo of the recently adopted Navy ID Tag appeared in the March 1918 edition of the magazine “Popular Science” and shows how the tags were to be etched. The date of the sailor’s first enlistment was his primary identifying number and it appeared next to his name on all role and muster sheets as well as other official Navy documents. (Courtesy of forum member hhbooker)
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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:07 PM
“They will always be worn…”
U.S. Marine Corps Identity Tags
Navy ID Tags worn by the Marine Corps
Presumably some members of the Marine Corps, a branch of the Navy, were issued with the same Navy style ID Tag before a round aluminum Army style ID Tag was adopted by the U.S.M.C. in May of 1916. The Navy’s oval dog tag would have been etched with the initials “U.S.M.C.”, the Marine’s full name, the date of his first enlistment and in the case of officer’s, it would have his present rank and the date that he was appointed to that rank. It is not certain if the Marine’s date of birth was included at that time or if his fingerprint was placed on the reverse of the acid etched tags used by Marines.
Photo no. 40: Two of these Marines digging practice trenches early in 1917 seem to be wearing navy blue or dark olive drab wool sweaters along with 1912 Marine Corps Summer Field Trousers made of khaki cotton. Note that the Marine on the left hand side of the photograph has been issued an oval Navy style ID Tag.
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The 1916 USMC Identity Tag
In General Order No. 32, dated October 6, 1916 the Marine Corps adopted an ID Tag of its own. It was a copy of the round, aluminum dog tag used by the Army and all new Marine recruits were issued two discs, a primary disc thirty one millimeters in diameter with two holes and a secondary disc thirty five millimeters in diameter with only one hole. The oval Navy style tags if issued, continued to be worn by “salty” long time campaigners until they needed to be updated or replaced. The order that came down from U.S.M.C. command decreed that henceforth, all Marines would wear two army style ID tags instead of one. In the directive the Marine’s were ordered to wear one dog tag (the smaller primary tag) suspended from the issued khaki linen neck tape with the second disc (the larger secondary tag) hung one inch below. In part the Marine order stated,
“Hereafter Identity Tags will be issued to all officers and enlisted men of the Marine Corps. They will always be worn when engaged in field service, and at all other times they will either be worn or kept in the possession of the owner.”
In the order the manner in which the two round tags were marked was stated and they were to contain the following information:
a. Officers: With the initials “U.S.M.C.”, full name, present rank and the date that rank was appointed.
b. Enlisted men: With the initials “U.S.M.C.”, full name, and the date of his first enlistment.
The new round aluminum tag now worn by the “Leathernecks” was identical to its army counterpart except that the initials “U.S.M.C.” were machined onto the front of each disc during the manufacturing process and the information on the tag was no longer chemically etched it was now stamped onto the tag one letter at a time using the 1910 ID Tag Making Kit and the fingerprint was no longer included on the aluminum tag.
Photo no. 43: The 1916 ID Tags worn by the “soldier’s of the sea” bore the Marine’s name, the date of his first enlistment, as well as the initials “U.S.M.C”. Note that the initials have been machined onto the aluminum disc during the manufacturing process and not individually stamped; this indicated that the ID Tag was issued by the Quartermaster of the Marine Corps. (Courtesy forum member teufelhund)
Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:12 PM
The 1917 square USMC Identity Tags
After the declaration of war by President Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. Congress in April 1917 the Marine Corps suffered from the same shortage of clothing and equipment as the Army did. A result of this was a shortage of the round aluminum ID Tags issued by the Marine Corps and the Marines serving in France were subject to the same A.E.F. general Order dated August 3, 1917 that allowed all A.E.F. personnel, including the Leathernecks to wear the makeshift, square ID Tag until sufficient supplies of regulation round dog tags became available.
Photo no. 44: A temporary square ID Tag began to be issued to Marine Corps personnel in August of 1917.to supplement existing supplies of regulation dog tags. This mock up represents a tag stamped correctly per the October 1916 regulations and bears the Marine’s name, date of first enlistment and the initials “U.S.M.C.”
Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:13 PM
The February 1918 changes
An amendment was made to A.E.F. General Order No. 21 on February 15, 1918 which went out to all U.S.M.C. personnel serving in the A.E.F. The amendment stated that,
“Both tags would be stamped with the name, rank, Company, Regiment or Corps to which the wearer belongs.”
In addition the same order also provided that an Army style serial number was assigned to every Marine serving in France. General Order No. 10 of the 6th Marine Regiment specifically stated that,
“The numbers assigned to all men present will be stamped on identification tags.”
In most cases the new serial number was added onto the reverse side of both tags that were worn and all Marine’s attached to the A.E.F. were now to have their dog tags marked as follows:
a. Officers: With the initials “U.S.M.C.”, full name, present rank his Company, Regiment or Corps, the date he was appointed an officer and a serial number.
b. Enlisted men: With the initials “U.S.M.C.”, full name, present rank, his Company, Regiment or Corps, the date of his first enlistment and a serial number
Photo no. 45: This USMC dog tag has been updated to correctly follow the February 1917 regulations. The tag has been stamped with the Marine’s rank on the front and on the reverse with his serial number and unit designation. (Courtesy forum member teufelhund)
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