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U.S. Army Brassards & Armbands 1898 to 1918 Part 2


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First Draft Registration Brassard

The Selective Service Act, enacted on May 18, 1917, effectively allowed the Federal Government to raise a National Army to fight in WW I. During WW I there were three draft registrations:

  • June 5, 1917, this registered all native born, naturalized and alien males in the U.S. between the ages of 21 of 31.

  • June 5, 1918, this registered all males in the U.S. who had turned 21 since June 5, 1917.

 

  • September 12, 1918, the age limit for the third draft registration was both lowered and increased. It registered all males in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 45.

 

During the registration process each of the registrant’s circumstances was accessed, after which he was placed in one of five classification categories, which were:

 

  • Class I, eligible for military service: consisted of unmarried registrants with no dependents, married registrants with an independent spouse and, or one or more children over the age of 16 with a sufficient family income should the registrant be drafted.

  • Class II, temporarily deferred but available for military service: consisted of married registrants with a dependent spouse or children under the age of 16 with a sufficient family income should the registrant be drafted.

 

  • Class III, exempted but available for military service: consisted of local officials, such as mailmen, policemen and firemen, as well as registrants who provided the sole family income to parents or siblings under the age of 16. Class II also included registrants employed in agricultural labor or industrial enterprises that were deemed essential to the war effort.

 

  • Class IV, exempted due to extreme hardship: consisted of married registrants with a dependent spouse or dependent children who would be left with an insufficient family income should the registrant be drafted, registrants with a deceased spouse who provided the sole family income for children under the age of 16 and registrants with deceased parents who provided the sole family income for dependent siblings under the age of 16.

 

  • Class V, ineligible for military service: consisted of state and federal officials, members of the clergy, registrants who were deemed either medically, morally or mentally disabled for military service and all enemy aliens of a belligerent country.

 

Every registrant was considered to be Class I unless his local draft board granted him the right to be deferred to one of the other four classes. However, this did not mean that he would not be drafted. If all of the men registered in Class I were drafted, then the War Department would begin to draft the men in Class II, and then the men in Class III, and so on. Class V was the only class not subject to induction.

 

Photo No. 123: Brassards and armbands such as the two shown were probably worn by the members who presided over the local draft board or possibly given out to registrants as proof that they had completed the draft registration. Beside the brassards, three registrants proudly display their recently acquired draft registration cards.

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Unit ID/Reunion Brassards

The purpose for these unit specific brassards is not known. In all probability, they are not QTMC issue. It’s more likely that they were fabricated by the individual units for identification purposes and worn by NCOs or officers at such places as train stations, staging camps and ports of embarkation. They also could have been made for, and worn by patriotic spectators at homecoming parades or by the veterans at post-war reunions.

 

Photo No. 124: Clockwise from top left: Massachusetts State Guard, 2nd Division, 120th Ammunition Train, 33rd Division, and the 40th Infantry Division.

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Means of Attachment

The majority of U.S. made brassards from WWI were wrapped around the arm and pinned to the sleeve by means of a safety pin. However, a wide variety of alternate attachment methods, mostly on foreign made brassards, have been seen.

 

Photo No. 125: Clockwise from top right: With no means of attachment, any plain brassard would have been held onto the sleeve of the service coat by a safety pin. (Reverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 21)

 

This French made MP Brassard still has a small safety pin attached. (Reverse of the center brassard shown in photo no. 55)

 

This U.S. made MP Brassard featured two blue buttons along with a pair of corresponding stitched button holes. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 50)

 

This British made RAMC Brassard utilized three white buttons with one row of stitched button holes. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 38)

 

The maker (or wearer) of this French or German made MDS Brassard has affixed a small hook and eye to either end as its means of attachment. (Reverse of the brassard shown in photo no.89)

 

This white on Blue MP Brassard incorporated a tape at both ends allowing it to be tied onto the arm. (This brassard was not featured in the post)

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Photo No. 126: Clockwise from top left: Two double prong buckles were used to secure this unusually wide MP Brassard that was worn by a Marine. This style of buckle is a very good indicator that the brassard was French made. (Reverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 56)

 

A single double prong buckle was used to attach this French Made General Staff Brassard. (Reverse of the brassard shown at the bottom of photo no.70)

 

This triple prong buckle was used to fasten this British or French made Runners Armlet to the forearm. (Reverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 105)

 

This large bronze frame buckle held an Australian made Stretcher Bearer Armlet closed. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 35)

 

A triple row of press studs on this British made RAMC Brassard allowed its size to be adjusted. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 41)

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Photo No. 127: Left to right: This British General Staff Brassard featured two rows of small press studs as its means of attachment. (This brassard was not featured in the post)

 

A friction buckle was used to fasten the early war French Infirmier Brassard. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 24)

 

The late war French Infirmier Brassard used the more common two prong buckle. (Obverse of the bottom brassard shown in photo no. 28)

 

A view of both the buckle and tongue that secured this French made APM Brassard. (Obverse of the brassard shown in photo no. 60)

 

Congratulations, you made it to the end of post! Thanks for looking … World War I nerd

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Wow, amazing thread, I didn't know hardly any of this stuff before!

 

Photo No. 90: The Accredited and Visiting Correspondent Brassards were identical to the armbands issued for the same purpose in the British Army. Both of these “armbands” offered for sale on eBay United Kingdom were listed as being WW I era. However, I believe them to be of either WW II vintage or possibly reproductions. Nevertheless they aptly show both the color, as well as the overall appearance of the brassards.

 

Just an FYI, neither pattern of those was used in WW2 that I've ever found, by any nation (at least, not any official pattern). I think they're repros if they're not original.

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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36-Tex and Willysmb44 thanks for the comments.

 

I'm not sure if the correspondents brassards were widely used during WW II, but they were in fact used.

 

Here's a photo of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of Tarzan, and the oldest war correspondent in the Pacific Theater, in New Caledonia wearing the Correspondent Brassard. Next to Edgar is a reinactor,also wearing a similar brassard.

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Unknown Brassard

 

Photo No. 128: This is another unknown brassard. The only thing that I can make out is the letter 'T'. Plus, it almost looks as if the letter 'S' is in front of the 'T', but it's difficult to tell. It's possible that this could be either the RTO Brassard or TD Brassard mentioned, but not shown in photo numbers 92 and 93.

 

Does anybody have any ideas?

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USNA Brassard

 

Photo No. 129: This khaki brassard bearing the initials 'USNA' has been around for a long time. However, as far as I know, it's never been positively identified. I've been told that "USNA" is an acronym for the United States National Army as well as for the United States Naval academy. I suspect that it has something to do with one of the three draft registrations that raised what would become the U.S. National Army (USNA), like the brassards shown in photo number 123.

 

Can any forum member shed some light on what this brassard may have been used for?

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USNA Brassard

 

Photo No. 129: This khaki brassard bearing the initials 'USNA' has been around for a long time. However, as far as I know, it's never been positively identified. I've been told that "USNA" is an acronym for the United States National Army as well as for the United States Naval academy. I suspect that it has something to do with one of the three draft registrations that raised what would become the U.S. National Army (USNA), like the brassards shown in photo number 123.

 

Can any forum member shed some light on what this brassard may have been used for?

 

I have this very same armband. From what I have been told is that it stands for US National Army and was worn by draftees on their way to training camps. I have not seen any documentation on this, so I will offer it just as speculation. I would be interested if someone could come up with some sort of documentation stating the exact use of it.

 

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Thanks,

Mike

I am always looking for named items to Central Illinois WWI veterans.

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5. Couriers for this special service will also wear the M.D.S. brassard.

AEF General order, number and date unknown

 

 

Brian:

This is from GENERAL ORDERS No. 24, GENERAL HEADQUARTERS. A.E.F. February 5. 1919, by command of General Pershing, and signed by JAMES W. McANDREW, Chief of Staff.

FWIW,
John

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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36-Tex and Willysmb44 thanks for the comments.

 

I'm not sure if the correspondents brassards were widely used during WW II, but they were in fact used.

 

Here's a photo of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of Tarzan, and the oldest war correspondent in the Pacific Theater, in New Caledonia wearing the Correspondent Brassard. Next to Edgar is a reinactor,also wearing a similar brassard.

 

I meant the ones you posted photos of earlier, neither of those are WW2. The green backed one was the only official amrband for WW2 correspondents. You VERY rarely ever see them being worn in period photos in the field, though.

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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Photo No. 78: The triangular shaped insignia of the Tank Corps bore the branch colors of the artillery (red), cavalry (yellow) and infantry (blue), because the Tank Corps role in combat represented elements of each of those three branches of service. Four of the SSI shown are of the common felt on wool variety. One is of the woven Liberty Loan style and another has been chain stitched. The insignia trimmed in gold was sewn onto an officer’s service coat. Note that the upper right SSI has been incorrectly sewn onto the service coat with the blue segment facing up instead of the yellow.

 

Sgt. Arthur Snyder, Co. C, 344th Tank Bn., wrote about an interesting brassard (quoted in War Stories of the Tankers, edited by Michael Green, 2008, pp 31-5):

 

"I was in the process of trying to get an infantryman, when I saw a runner wearing the tank corps armband (a triangular patch divided into yellow, blue, and red segments, similar to today's armor patch). I found that he was from the 345th Battalion and had become lost from his organization."

 

I don't know how much this account is to be trusted. I suspect the reminiscence is from the speech Snyder gave on the receipt of the "Five of Hearts" Renault FT at Fort Mead in September 1939. But, whatever the runner was wearing, Snyder recognized him as a TANK CORPS member.

 

FWIW,

 

John

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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Not a very good photo, but the original telephone operators who were sent to France (commonly referred to as "Hello Girls") were part of the Signal Corps and wore white armbands with embroidered telephone "mouth pieces" that indicated rank.

 

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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Here are some armbands I have been able to identify. They appear to be "PES"

 

post-949-0-11990300-1402084184.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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Closeup of the PES Armbands:

 

post-949-0-61856000-1402084240.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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Provost Guard Brassard

During the course of WWI the AEF had accumulated nearly 50,000 prisoners of war (POW). According to AEF, General Orders No. 37, the Provost Marshal General was responsible for their “charge and custody”. The POWs were under the control of the line soldiers that captured them until such time that they could be turned over to division MP. The division MP were tasked with looking after the POWs until they were passed over to the control of an Escort Guard Company. It was the Escort Guard Company’s duty to transport them from the division barbed wire cages behind the lines to the central POW enclosure located at St. Pierre de Corps. The enlisted personnel for the Escort Guard Companies were provided by the various division commanders. The men selected were usually made up of soldiers who were unfit for combat duty. The officers however, were detailed from the Depot Divisions which were under the control of the Service of Supply (SOS), for temporary duty in the Escort Guard Companies and the POW compounds. Because the word “provost’ is defined as: a person appointed to superintend or preside, and because the guard companies were under the direct supervision of the Provost Marshal General, the men of the escort companies were provided with a red or maroon brassard bearing the initials ‘PG’ in white for Provost Guard. The Provost Guard Brassard remained in the possession of the men in the Escort Company for as long as they were detailed to that particular duty.

 

 

 

Example of a PG "provost guard" armband being worn.

post-949-0-82983400-1402084520.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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John,

 

Thanks for adding your photos of AEF brassards.

 

It doesn't surprise me at all to hear about the Tank Corps Brassard you mentioned in post number 90. When you think about it, it would have been pretty easy to sew a divisional or in this case a Tank Corps insignia onto a 3 inch wide strip of cloth that could be wrapped around the upper arm ... instant brassard.

 

Then again, it's also possible that all Sgt. Snyder saw was a Tank Corps shoulder patch sewn onto a service coat. Interesting information nonetheless.

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I was saving these photographs for a separate post on misc. women's services insignia, but they're probably more appropriate in this post on AEF brassards.

 

Photo No. 130: On the right is a photo of the Hello Girls Brassard. The center photo shows a badly faded Hello Girls service coat. The uniforms worn by the Signal Corps Hello Girls were dark blue. On the left sleeve is a Paris Peace Commission SSI, and a Hello Girls rank insignia bearing a telephone mouthpiece over a single chevron, as well as a single war service chevron for six months in the theater of operations.

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Opps! Right should read left in the above caption. In my haste, I also forgot to say that the right hand photo, also of a Hello Girl, shows a different rank insignia composed of the early telephone mouthpiece over a single bar.

 

Photo No. 131: These Hello Girls photographed in France appear to be wearing a different type of brassard> The enlargements aren't very good, but the insignia looks to be crossed signal flags. Perhaps these women were clerks or typists, not switchboard operators.

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I was wondering if the "PES" Brassards shown in post numbers 92 and 93 might be some kind of variation of the red on white "PS" or Postal Service Brassard. Obviously the 'P' and 'S' should be "Postal Service", but what could the letter 'E' stand for? Did anybody notice that the Doughboy at rear, left has been awarded three wound chevrons?

 

Photo No. 132: Any of the women's services attached to the AEF were authorized to wear the SSI of the organization to which they were attached. The first three photos are all of hello girls wearing the SSI of GHQ, 3rd Army and Advance Sector, Service of Supply (SOS). Note that each woman is wearing a different rank insignia. The last photo is of a Red Cross Nurse wearing a District of Paris SSI.

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What an exquisite series of posts, World War I nerd --I've learned so much. Also, I'm very glad my photo of the Native American MP in photo #51 can be of some educational use to the rest of the forum. Keep up the great work, I always look forward to learning more from your posts.

-- Jon

In memory of Dr. Leo P. Krall, USPHS
USS Uniontown (PF-65)

Interested in uniforms / groupings from Massachusetts and New England veterans

(particularly 26th "Yankee" Division), and original propaganda leaflets from WWI and WWII.

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