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WWI Lost Battalion Purple Heart – sort of

Started by Adam R , Mar 27 2010 04:19 PM

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#1 Adam R

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:19 PM

I'm posting this for anyone how might be interested. This is an early WWII era Purple Heart, numbered on the edge and officially hand engraved. At first sight it would appear to be a WWII KIA heart but the name doesn’t show up in any fatal casualty lists. When this happens, the next place to check is the WWI Army award card file in St. Louis, as it might be a late WWI award. (I’ve even had a similar heart turn out to be a Philippine Insurrection award.) Sure enough, a card turned up for Pvt. Myles McDermott, Co. A, 308th Infantry (77th Division), WIA 4 October 1918, medal issued 5 March 1942.

Most references list Co. A of the 308th as part of the Lost Battalion, and 4 October was right in the middle of the action. However McDermott is not listed in any of the rosters of the “Lost Battalion”. Further research reveals that only a handful of men from Company A were in the battalion that was “cut off”. The majority of the company remained with that portion of the 77th Division that was not cut off. Since the date he was wounded is right in the middle of the action (Oct 2 to 8) it’s almost certain that McDermott sustained his wound in one of the attempts to rescue the Lost Battalion. Based on this, I’m labeling this medal as a “Lost Battalion Purple Heart – sort of”. I’ll be curious to hear your responses.

(Note that the number on medal is much higher than the number on award card. These numbers never match up exactly but are usually close. When PH issues started in 1932 the numbers were only slightly off but over time, 10 years in this case, the gap widened. I suspect that this was due to replacement issues and medals that were not issued and discarded due to engraving errors and such.)

One final note, the slot brooch is a replacement that I put on, as the original was missing.

Attached Images

  • ph_mcdermott_1_a.jpg

Edited by Adam R, 27 March 2010 - 04:31 PM.


#2 Adam R

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:21 PM

The award card.

And McDermott's New York state summary of service card.

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  • ph_mcdermott_2.jpg
  • ph_mcdermott_5.jpg


#3 Adam R

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:24 PM

I was able to borrow through an inter-library loan this small book on Company A of the 308th. Unfortunately it doesn't mention McDermott by name but it does contain some nice photos.

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  • ph_mcdermott_4.jpg


#4 Adam R

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:27 PM

There are photos all the platoons but I don't know which one McDermott was in. Do anyone know how I might find out?
I selected this one of the 2nd platoon as a sample to illustrate what they look like.

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  • ph_mcdermott_6.jpg

Edited by Adam R, 27 March 2010 - 04:30 PM.


#5 John Cooper

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:27 PM

Adam - I love the engraving on this PH! My gut tells me I will learn alot form your posts!

Thanks for posting this!

Cheers
John

#6 Adam R

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:28 PM

And last, here are the survivors of Company A who were actually in the Lost Battalion.

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  • ph_mcdermott_7.jpg


#7 BigJohn#3RD

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:32 PM

Adam - I love the engraving on this PH! My gut tells me I will learn alot form your posts!

Thanks for posting this!

Cheers
John

Adam,
Thanks for sharing; I have a few Lost battalion Items I have gotten over the years and am always fascinated by other items out there.
Regards
John

#8 ww1collector

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 04:54 PM

mcmahon.jpg Adam-good find. I wish I had your tenacity in digging out info. I too have a WW1 Lost Battalion PH. This one surfaced on Ebay in 2002 and is named to Martin McMahon. Pd $250 at that time. It came with a NY state medal, so just for fun, I checked Lost Bn records and found him. He was Corporal in Compant B, 308th Infantry. The PH is numbered 61834.

#9 scottplen

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 05:01 PM

nice late issue ww I award!!! :thumbsup:

#10 memphismeister

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 06:57 PM

I'm posting this for anyone how might be interested. This is an early WWII era Purple Heart, numbered on the edge and officially hand engraved. At first sight it would appear to be a WWII KIA heart but the name doesn’t show up in any fatal casualty lists. When this happens, the next place to check is the WWI Army award card file in St. Louis, as it might be a late WWI award. (I’ve even had a similar heart turn out to be a Philippine Insurrection award.) Sure enough, a card turned up for Pvt. Myles McDermott, Co. A, 308th Infantry (77th Division), WIA 4 October 1918, medal issued 5 March 1942.

Most references list Co. A of the 308th as part of the Lost Battalion, and 4 October was right in the middle of the action. However McDermott is not listed in any of the rosters of the “Lost Battalion”. Further research reveals that only a handful of men from Company A were in the battalion that was “cut off”. The majority of the company remained with that portion of the 77th Division that was not cut off. Since the date he was wounded is right in the middle of the action (Oct 2 to 8) it’s almost certain that McDermott sustained his wound in one of the attempts to rescue the Lost Battalion. Based on this, I’m labeling this medal as a “Lost Battalion Purple Heart – sort of”. I’ll be curious to hear your responses.

(Note that the number on medal is much higher than the number on award card. These numbers never match up exactly but are usually close. When PH issues started in 1932 the numbers were only slightly off but over time, 10 years in this case, the gap widened. I suspect that this was due to replacement issues and medals that were not issued and discarded due to engraving errors and such.)

One final note, the slot brooch is a replacement that I put on, as the original was missing.


The replacement broach you have is incorrect if that is a 5 digit engraving/

#11 Tom Lane

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 09:51 PM

The replacement broach you have is incorrect if that is a 5 digit engraving/


Yea, I'm trying to do this from memory, but I believe the 77xxx range would be from the 1939 Medal Arts contract, and as such have a bent slot brooch.

#12 bulldog06

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 06:30 AM

Reading the number as a 77xxx, I think this is an early Robbins Dec 1941 piece.

The second Metal Arts contract with the bent slot brooch was in the range [according to my notes] 675xx to 77xxx. However, the Metal Arts numbers were on the lower left edge when viewed obverse up.

Adam's medal appears to have the numbers on the lower right which is consistent with Robbins pieces I have seen. If it is a Robbins Dec 1941, it should have a shiny slot brooch.

In either event, a beautiful medal to a WWI vet.

Mike

Edited by bulldog06, 29 March 2010 - 06:31 AM.



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