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Lt. Col. Harold Finn Gormsen Medal Grouping


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#1 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 02:41 PM

On eBay, a little over a month ago, I saw a nice set of dress miniatures featuring a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, WWI Victory with 3 battle stars, Asia-Pacific Campaign with Arrowhead and 2 battle stars, a NY Conspicuous Service Cross, and WWI British War Medal. Interesting combination, so I added it to my watch list. Then I checked the rest of the seller's items and found he had a ton of NYNG, 102nd Engineers, and NRA medals and badges, some of which were named to a Harold F. Gormsen. I knew the 102nd was part of the 27th Infantry Division, so I checked the Index to the GO's of the 27th, and found that he had been awarded two Bronze Stars. I decided to bid on them, and some of the other medals, and wound up winning. I still wasn't sure if the minis were his, and thanks to a photo of then-Major Gormsen provided by fellow forumite gsmilligan, I was able to confirm they were his. He is shown in the picture wearing a WWI Victory ribbon with 3 stars and the British War Medal ribbon. Over the next few weeks the same seller listed several other medals many of which I won (including his un-named Bronze Star), but somehow I missed out on his Lt. Col. oak leaves and his 102nd Engineers DUIs :( I now possess many of Lt. Col. Gormsen's medals and marksman badges, and aside from groupings to family members of mine, this is the largest and best grouping in my collection.
Without further ado, here are the medals and badges to Lt. Col. Harold F. Gormsen, 102nd Engineer Battalion, 27th Infantry Division. Enjoy!

Lt. Col. Gormsen as a Major in 1941
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Photo courtesy of gsmilligan who provided it to me when I could not locate my copy of the 1941 27th Division yearbook.

The Bronze Star Medal
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He was awarded two Bronze Stars during the war. I believe one was for Saipan, and the other for Okinawa. They were awarded in General Orders #57, 1944 and #31, 1945.

His dress miniatures
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Ribbon Devices
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Edited by ItemCo16527, 12 February 2010 - 03:02 PM.


#2 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 02:48 PM

NYNG Long & Faithful Service Medal
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Sadly, it is missing the bar at the top which would say how many years of service it was awarded for. It is, however, numbered on the reverse.

Three 102nd Combat Engineer Regiment Long Service Medals
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All three are named on the reverse, in differing styles, to "Capt. Harold F. Gormsen".

Engraving on the reverse of the medals
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The engraving on the Silver medal is my personal favorite.

102nd Combat Engineer Regiment 100% Duty Medal with "One Year" clasp
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102nd Combat Engineer Regiment "Special Marksman" Badge w/ "1928" clasp
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#3 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 02:53 PM

1930 Governor's Cup Match badge
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NRA Rifle Expert Medal
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102nd Combat Engineer Regiment (Rifle Team?) Medal
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State Matches, Peekskill NYNG Expert Marksmanship Medal
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Can anyone tell me what the clasps indicate? I'm out of my depth with this one.

Thurston Trophy Medal
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Various styles of the Corps of Engineers BOS insignia
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#4 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 02:57 PM

Lastly, some pictures of the back sides of the Corps of Engineers insignia. Some are clutchback, some are screwback. However, the most interesting is the one with loops on the back, which I'm guessing is to sew them directly to the uniform.

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This last one also has hollowed-out windows. A very nice specimen!

#5 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:00 PM

In addition to his photo, I also found that he was mentioned several times in Edmund Love's The 27th Infantry Division in World War II.

I hope you enjoyed this little thread. I am absolutely thrilled to be the caretaker of many of the items that belonged to Lt. Col. Gormsen, not only because of his important position as an Engineer Battalion Commander, but also because he was a member of the 27th Infantry Division like my great uncle George had been.

#6 Stinger Gunner USMC

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:18 PM

State Matches, Peekskill NYNG Expert Marksmanship Medal
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Can anyone tell me what the clasps indicate? I'm out of my depth with this one.


200 Yard Rapid Fire 50-50 points
500 yard Rapid Fire 45-50 points

BTW, Nice grouping!

#7 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:20 PM

Thanks, Stinger! I could not, for the life of me, figure out what the "R.F." stood for.

#8 JBFloyd

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:24 PM

Nice little group. The bars on the State Matches medal are his scores at various distances: (200 Yards, rapid Fire, score 50 of 50 possible; 500 Yards, rapid Fire, score 45 of 50 possible).

As I recall, the Thurston Trophy went to top individual rifle marksmen in the State Match and the winners generally represented New York in the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio,

#9 Dave

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:01 PM

No comments on his British War Medal?????

Do you know anything about his WW1 history? Was his full size BWM with the group?

Fascinating!!!

Dave

#10 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:03 PM

I was watching this lot on Ebay and am glad you were able to keep a lot of it together. I thought it was a crime it wasnt being split up!

Kurt

#11 ctink1863

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:17 PM

Nice NYS group. I am very partial to NY State items so should you decide to sell, you have a ready buyer...ME. As to the NYS Long Service medal, I am inclined to believe that is for 10 years unfortunately there is a gap in the records that this number falls. Now for some torment, I have his 20 year NYS Long Service medal.
Clyde

#12 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:18 PM

No comments on his British War Medal?????

Do you know anything about his WW1 history? Was his full size BWM with the group?

Fascinating!!!

Dave

Hi Dave, I don't know anything about his time during WWI. According to the 1925 National Guard Registry, he was a 1st Lieutenant with Company "B", 102nd Engineers. Given how slow promotions were following WWI, I'd assume he'd been an officer during the war, too, but I can't confirm that yet. I checked Ancestry for a Medal Index Card for his BWM, but none came up. I couldn't find one on the British National Archives site either, so I don't think one was ever created - either that, or it was lost over the years. Unfortunately, his full-size BWM was not in the lot :crying:

I was watching this lot on Ebay and am glad you were able to keep a lot of it together. I thought it was a crime it wasnt being split up!

Kurt

Hi Kurt,
I did the best I could trying to keep as much of it together as possible. Unfortunately, my money has been very tight the last couple of months, so I could only bid on a limited number of items. I'm glad I was able to keep as much of it together as I have :)

#13 USMCR79

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 04:42 PM

No comments on his British War Medal?????

Do you know anything about his WW1 history? Was his full size BWM with the group?

Fascinating!!!

Dave


The BWM can be found in some 30th and 27th Division medal groups (usually represented by the ribbon or mini). As I understand it, after these 2 divisions served alongside the British along the Hindenburg Line and the battle at the St. Quentin Tunnel (bloodbath) on 9/29/18, the British planned to award the BWM to the American Forces, after the war that thought was rescinded and the medal was never truly awarded. Usually the 27th and 30th soldiers purchased already named BWM's and had the name polished off, or bought cast copies.

I would not be concerned that this may be missing, more like "never was"

Bill

#14 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:13 PM

Thanks for the information, Bill. I've always wondered why many of the WWI veteran officers pictured in the 27th's yearbook had the BWM ribbon on their ribbon bars. I'm glad to have that little mystery solved! :)

#15 ItemCo16527

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:14 PM

Nice NYS group. I am very partial to NY State items so should you decide to sell, you have a ready buyer...ME. As to the NYS Long Service medal, I am inclined to believe that is for 10 years unfortunately there is a gap in the records that this number falls. Now for some torment, I have his 20 year NYS Long Service medal.
Clyde

Argh! You fiend! *shakes fist* :lol:

#16 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:53 AM

Superb Grouping - congrat's to you for keeping these items together and best of luck with the others. BTW great example of a very early clutchback device!

#17 Tom Nier

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 12:49 PM

There were two other Gormsens serving in the 102 Engineers, NYNG, as pictured in the 1940-41 yearbook of the 27th Division. 1st Lieut. Norman E. Gormsen was attached to the HQ & Service Co. And Captain Alfred N. Gormsen commanded Company A, 102nd Engs. Their photos strongly suggest they were brothers with Harold F. Gormsen.

About 10 years ago, the gold Distinguished Marksman Badge of Alfred Gormsen passed through the collectors' market. Its reverse was beautifully engraved "Alfred N. / Gormsen / St. Sgt. / Co. B 102nd Engrs / 1927". Used to have pictures of this DMB, but can't find them now.

#18 decwriter

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 03:21 PM

The engraving on the badges is on par with the type of engraving on World War II Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals. Simply put, it can't be beat!
You got a nice grouping there.

#19 ItemCo16527

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 04:47 PM

There were two other Gormsens serving in the 102 Engineers, NYNG, as pictured in the 1940-41 yearbook of the 27th Division. 1st Lieut. Norman E. Gormsen was attached to the HQ & Service Co. And Captain Alfred N. Gormsen commanded Company A, 102nd Engs. Their photos strongly suggest they were brothers with Harold F. Gormsen.

About 10 years ago, the gold Distinguished Marksman Badge of Alfred Gormsen passed through the collectors' market. Its reverse was beautifully engraved "Alfred N. / Gormsen / St. Sgt. / Co. B 102nd Engrs / 1927". Used to have pictures of this DMB, but can't find them now.

Hi Tom,
Thanks for the info. If you can, would you be able to send me scans of their pictures? My copy of the yearbook is still among the missing in several disorganized boxes of books, and I still can't locate it.

#20 Tom Nier

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 07:45 PM

The British War Medal ribbon was worn by many WW1 veterans of the 27th Division who later served in the New York National Guard. The 1940-41 yearbook of the 27th Division has numerous photos of older officers wearing this ribbon. Illustrated here is a 1920s ribbon bar set attributed to a NYNG veteran. It shows the BWM ribbon following the US WW1 Victory ribbon. The four place ribbon bar has the NY Mexican Border ribbon, NY Aqueduct ribbon, NY WW1 ribbon, and NY Long Service ribbon with "X" device for ten years.

Emile F. Hertzog started out as Corp (1913) to 1st Sgt. (Feb. 1918) in Co.A 71st NY Inf and was assigned to the 102 Supply Train, 27th Div, AEF. He made 2nd Lieut. in Oct. 1918, transferred to the 313 Supply Train, 88 Div. In 1925 he was a Captain, 71st Inf, NYNG. The 102 Supply Train earned only the France clasp, while the 313 Supply Train earned just the Def. Sector clasp. This explains the single battle star on his Victory ribbon. His full size medals are in another collection.

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#21 3mxd

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:33 PM

The BWM can be found in some 30th and 27th Division medal groups (usually represented by the ribbon or mini). As I understand it, after these 2 divisions served alongside the British along the Hindenburg Line and the battle at the St. Quentin Tunnel (bloodbath) on 9/29/18, the British planned to award the BWM to the American Forces, after the war that thought was rescinded and the medal was never truly awarded. Usually the 27th and 30th soldiers purchased already named BWM's and had the name polished off, or bought cast copies.

I would not be concerned that this may be missing, more like "never was"

Bill


Additionally, the 33rd and 80th Divisions (i.e. the infantry and engineer regiments, machine gun battalions, field signal battalion and sanitary train) trained in the British Zone and some of the infantry units actually participated in limited offensive operations with the Brits and Australians. All of them were entitled to the Somme Offensive clasp on the Victory Medal. Although the vast majority of the BWM ribbons and miniature medal appear in groups to the 27th, there must certainly be examples to members of these other two divisions as well as other II Corps units. I have seen at least once instance of a BWM appearing on a 33rd Division soldier's ribbon bar. This one belonged to Pvt William Lehr, Jr., 132nd Infantry. Note also the Verdun and French Commemorative medal on the lower row. I'd be interested to learn if anyone has an example from the 80th or other units than the 27th and 30th.

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#22 ItemCo16527

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 03:13 PM

Very cool ribbon groups, guys. Thanks for posting them. I'd also be interested in seeing other groups featuring the BWM ribbon. I recall seeing a WWI-vet 1st Division officer's uniform (c. 1920s) on eBay a few years ago which featured not only the BWM, but also the 1914-15 Star as well. From memory, the uniform seemed legit, but I've never seen another ribbon grouping like it since.

#23 3mxd

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 11:57 AM

Very cool ribbon groups, guys. Thanks for posting them. I'd also be interested in seeing other groups featuring the BWM ribbon. I recall seeing a WWI-vet 1st Division officer's uniform (c. 1920s) on eBay a few years ago which featured not only the BWM, but also the 1914-15 Star as well. From memory, the uniform seemed legit, but I've never seen another ribbon grouping like it since.


Here is an example of a ribbon bar where the American recipient was actually entitled to wear it.

BWM_MacVeagh.jpg

Like your man he came from NY and served in both world wars but was never a member of the NG. He fraudlently enlisted in the British army in 1915, to OTS and commissioned a 2/Lieut., RFA Special Reserve in May 1916, served in the 119th Battery/5th Division (18-pounders/75mm), severely wounded on the Somme in October 1916 (MID and Croix de Guerre w/palm), in hospital and convalescing in England until June 1917. At this point he petitioned the War Office to relinquish his commission so he could join the AEF which was granted. He was assigned to the 1st Division artillery, the only officer in his regiment who had any time at the front. He assumed command of his battery in April 1918 and gave it up when he resigned his commission in June 1919. He had the unfortunate honor of being the first man in his regiment to be wounded in February 1917 and again on 4 October 1918, the first day of the second phase of the Meuse-Argonne, by a shell which killed his XO and severely wounded his 1SG. Although he was entitled to the BWM, he evidently never applied for it, there's no MIC for him and his name does not appear on any issue rolls for the medal.

When this thread began discussing the BWM I asked Tom Nier if he had ever seen a full-sized one actually being worn by a WW I vet. I had heard stories of it but had been skeptical since I'd never seen any proof. He answered that he had indeed and had copies of two photos used in between-the-wars editions of the Legion of Valor's journal. Here's the first.

BWM_Williams.jpg

Williams' DSC was a late award (1923) for gallantry near Ronssoy during the assault on Hindenburg Line, 29 September 1918. He was a sergeant in Co C, 301st Tank Battalion which supported II Corps with British Mark V tanks. Note that the self-awarded BWM on the far right is court-mounted! Another New Yorker.

Another interesting example of non-27th/30th BWM wear is George Upton Harvey, another late award (1929) for gallantry on the Vesle River, 23 August 1918, as a company commander, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. He too hailed from New York.

BWM_Harvey.jpg

The 77th(less artillery) had trained with the British April-June 1918. I don't have any research on his military career, but he's wearing a number of medals that neither Tom nor I can figure out. The top row consists of his DSC/unknown/unknown/NY Conspicuous Service Cross. Botton row: US Victory w/three bars, BWM, French Victory, NY State War Service, unknown, VFW membership medal. Any assistance in identifying these unknowns would be much appreciated and many thanks to Tom for sharing these.

#24 ItemCo16527

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 12:56 PM

Wow, great photos. Thank you for posting them! :)

With your permission, I'd like to post them over at the British Medals Forum. There are several members there who'd be interested in seeing them.

Edit:
The medal between the NY WWI Service and VFW Medals looks like it could be either the Distinguished Conduct Medal or Military Medal judging by the suspension bar just above the planchet. Very hard to tell though :think:

Edited by ItemCo16527, 16 February 2010 - 01:03 PM.


#25 3mxd

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 02:46 PM

No objection at all to posting them there. We both considered the DCM/MM possibility because of the shape of the suspender bar, but it's impossible to see any detail in the pendant or the ribbon to be sure, plus either is an OR's award. If he is wearing a British gallantry medal, it too is self-awarded since Harvey does not appear on any roll for British gallantry awards that we know of. Also, one piece of errata to correct in my previous post, the wearer of the three ribbon bars above was wounded the second time in February 1918, not 1917. Sorry!


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