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Is this General Ira Wyche's West Point commissioning uniform?


riflegreen297

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riflegreen297

I recently acquired a 1902 Pattern uniform. In the jacket pocket is a label that has the last name Wyche with the date 3-8-11 and the numbers 7847. The jacket is in great shape minus missing the shoulder boards. It is accompanied by a pair of wool trousers that have bullion stripe down each leg and the bullion matchs the bullion on the jacket. I came by it at the same Pinehurst, N.C. location where I previously acquired two of General Ira Wyche's officer caps. To my understanding General Wyche (a North Carolina Native) lived in Pinehurst, N.C. after his retirement in 1948. I know alot more research is needed, but I believe it may be General Ira Wyche's uniform he wore during his West Point commissioning ceremony. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

 

A little background on Wyche:

Ira Thomas Wyche was born at Ocracoke, North Carolina, in 1887. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1911, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. Wyche served with the Texas Border Patrol (1916-1918) and the American Expeditionary Force in France (1918). After holding several field artillery commands during the post-World War I years, Wyche assumed command of the 74th Field Artillery Brigade in May of 1941. In April, 1942, he was given command of the 79th Infantry Division with the temporary rank of major general. The 79th saw combat at Cherbourg after landing on Utah Beach, Normandy, on June 12, 1944. The division spearheaded the assault on Fort De Roule and helped to clear the Cherbourg area of Germans by June 28.

 

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I would say all signs point to yes :)

On the lookout for Pre-WWI Navy Uniforms


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ludwigh1980

Yes, that's his 1902 Coat worn as a second Lt. Appears that he spent quite a bit of time at Fort William H Seward Alaska as an officer in the 30th Infantry Regiment through the 19teens.

 

Thanks for posting,

 

Terry

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Seeking Model 1895 and 1902 Named Officer coats as well as Spanish American War Tropical Uniforms.
Also pre WW2 marine uniforms. Always pre-1945 Colorado National Guard Items wanted! Also seeking Rhodesian

Uniforms and Gear used by Americans in the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Bush War (Africa).

 

Fortune cookie say: "An expert is someone that knows so much about so little."

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riflegreen297

Pete,

Would the shoulder boards for this uniform be the knotted version with the 2nd LT bars being worn on the collar? I have searched the web looking for example 1902 uniforms. On my searches it seems only privates and general officer 1902 uniforms come up. Thanks

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firefighter

I would say you have the Generals uniform from West Point.According to my Register of Cadets book, there was only one WYCHE that ever graduated from the USMA.That was Ira Thomas Wyche from NC.He graduated with the Class of 1911.According to the register he was awarded the DM, Silver Star, LM, BS(3) and the Commendation Ribbon.He retired disabled in 1948 as a MG.Very nice jacket.

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riflegreen297

Firefighter, thanks for the info. Does the West Point Cadet register say where he graduated in his class? Thanks- Ron

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firefighter

Look's like he graduated 69th in the class, 15th from the bottom.Forgot to mention his DOB: 16OCT87.Look's like the average retirement rank for that class was Colonel.So retiring a 2 star general is pretty good.

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riflegreen297

Look's like he graduated 69th in the class, 15th from the bottom.Forgot to mention his DOB: 16OCT87.Look's like the average retirement rank for that class was Colonel.So retiring a 2 star general is pretty good.

 

Thanks for the info. Just out of wondering who was the Goat for that class?

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firefighter

It was, Edwin Noel Hardy.Durn WW2 he was CO of Ft. Huachhua(42-45).Retired '46 disabled as a Col.

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2nd Lt's. did not gain gold bars until WW1. As the lowest ranking officer grade, they did not need insignia other than the other officer distinctions that would be present on uniforms. WW1 brought on the need to better ID 2nd Lt's to foreign troops. From the US Army Institute of Heraldy site-

 

"In 1836, two bars for captains were established and one bar for the first lieutenants. The specific color of the bars were either gold or silver depending on the color of the border of the shoulder straps which were also adopted in 1836. The border of the shoulder straps was of gold or silver, according to the branch of service. In 1851, the silver border used by infantry was abolished and all borders became gold. The insignia for captains and lieutenants remained gold, except there was no insignia for second lieutenants and none was worn on the shoulder strap. In 1872 epaulettes were abolished and shoulder knots substituted. In the same year, bars of captains and lieutenants changed from gold to silver to correspond with insignia of seniors. Second lieutenants continued to have no insignia until a gold bar was adopted in December 1917."

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riflegreen297

atb, thanks for the info. So maybe the "Private" uniforms I am seeing are actually 2nd Lts. Maybe that is what the Allies thought also which drove the change you described. Interesting info.

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This might be a dumb question, but are there any photos of the commissioning ceremonies being held in this uniform? I've seen older and newer photos, and the ceremonies took place wearing the cadet uniform... It was only after the ceremony that the newly-minted officer wore their actual Army officer uniform. Or am I confused?

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I suspect Wyche never promoted his coat as he was promoted. If he would have worn it as a 1LT, he would have had a single gold lace loop on the sleeves, 2 for CPT, etc.

 

Given the gold lace on his sky blue trousers, he upgraded them later, Since the original stripe, assuming the trou were made at the same time as the coat, would have been white for Infantry.

 

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riflegreen297

This might be a dumb question, but are there any photos of the commissioning ceremonies being held in this uniform? I've seen older and newer photos, and the ceremonies took place wearing the cadet uniform... It was only after the ceremony that the newly-minted officer wore their actual Army officer uniform. Or am I confused?

 

I used the wrong terminology. I really should have described it as the dress uniform he wore after being commissioned. Thanks

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riflegreen297

I suspect Wyche never promoted his coat as he was promoted. If he would have worn it as a 1LT, he would have had a single gold lace loop on the sleeves, 2 for CPT, etc.

 

Given the gold lace on his sky blue trousers, he upgraded them later, Since the original stripe, assuming the trou were made at the same time as the coat, would have been white for Infantry.

 

G

 

Thanks for the info on the trousers. After reading his bio, I wonder if in his early career he was too busy in desolate frontier locations to wear this tunic much?

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That would not surprise me -- I have encountered this before.

 

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riflegreen297

I want to thank everyone for helping educate me on not only this uniform, but early uniforms of this period in general. As this period is not my focus, I really did not know how to "read" the layout of these early dress uniforms. In researching this uniform I had been to some sites with early uniforms and really did not kow what I was looking at. But with this info (especially the P.M. from Terry) now my eyes have been "opened" as to the structure of insignia in regards to these early uniforms. Before, I equated the knotted shoulder boards only to Major's rank and above as with more modern dress uniforms. So therefore I thought the examples I was looking at were all field grade as opposed to a company grade officer. I also assumed the braid around the lower sleeve was somehow related to branch as with more modern dress blues as oppossed to representing the rank structure.

I also assumed that all the trousers would have the "gold" trim to match the trim on the jacket as opposed to the color of the officer's branch. Now that I see all of that it makes it very interesting to see how the dress uniform has "morphed" since 1902. Again thanks to all for the assistance on helping me in area in which I do not focus in much. Again, I apologize for any confusion caused by the thread title. I never intended to represent this uniform as something that it was/is not.

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  • 7 years later...

Wear of the full-dress uniform was discontinued as the US entered WWI in 1917, and was not reauthorized (as an optional uniform) until 1929.  It was worn again from 1929 to 1936, when the high-collar, double-breasted full dress coat and the high-collar undress sack coat was discontinued. At that time, the dress & full-dress uniforms were slight variations on the roll-collar, single-breasted coat very similar to what is still worn today by Army officers.

 

The reason that this officer never upgraded his full-dress coat is that a company-grade officer (2LT, 1LT, CPT) wore two rows of 7 buttons each. A field-grade officer (MAJ, LTC, COL) wore two rows of 9 buttons each.


During WWI, Wyche was promoted to major and lieutenant colonel in the 60th Field Artillery Regiment (e.g., he switched branches from Infantry to Field Artillery). By the time the full-dress coat was reauthorized in 1929, Wyche would have needed an entirely different coat (different numbers of buttons / button holes and different colors on the collar and stripe around the cuff). Instead of a single band of gold lace around the cuff, officers wore two thin bands of gold lace on either side of a band of silk in the color of their branch (e.g., scarlet for Field Artillery).  As a LTC, Wyche would also have worn four trefoils of thin gold lace above the band around the cuff, with crossed cannons pinned / sewn on between the top of the band of cuff lace and the bottom of the trefoils.


WRT the trousers, those date from well after WWII, when the Army switched from branch color stripes to gold stripes for all officers (below the grade of general officer).  It is odd to see them here, because Wyche had retired as a major general by the time the gold stripes on sky blue trousers were authorized in 1956.  General officers, in any event, would have worn dark blue-black trousers with two narrow gold stripes on the outside seams. Only company- and field-grade officers would have worn the 1 1/2" wide gold lace stripe on their trousers.  Is there a name on the label in the trousers, like there is on the label for the jacket?

 

The trousers that he would have worn in 1911-1917 would have been sky blue with white stripes (1 1/2" wide) on the outside seams.  The only insignia of rank on a 2LT's uniform would be the single band of gold lace around the cuff.

 

USMA cadets were (and continue to be) commissioned while wearing their cadet gray uniforms. They then switch to wearing the appropriate Army uniform after having been commissioned.

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