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

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I have questions about the red/yellow USMC MP brassard. Common wisdom is that these were not used until after WW2. So where did you hear they were used after WW1? (Which to me means after WW1 but before WW2)

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Here is a photo showing draftees wearing the USNA brassard. Not the clearest but does show it being worn. It is a small rollout type photo with the ID "Fergus County (Montana) boys leaving for training camp, 10/14/18". Really enjoy all of your postings WW1 Nerd. Is there a book in the works? I'd sure buy one. Thanks very much for your great reference postings.





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jguy1986 ... thanks for posting your photo of the Native American MP for me to hijack and use! Posts like this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for all the forum members who share their photographs and collections. Thanks to every member for doing that.


ATB ... Postal Express Service certainly is a good suggestion for the acronym "PES". However, the 'P' doesn't necessarily have to be postal. It could be physical, personnel, pioneer, provost, police, etc.


jgawne ... My apologies if I misled anyone. When I was writing the post, I knew that the red and yellow MP Brassard was used after WW I. However, I couldn't remember exactly when. So because I'm inherently lazy, I took the easy way out, rather than do any research, and wrote post WW I, knowing that that would cover all the bases.


Trenchbuff ... thanks for solving the mystery of the USNA Brassard for everyone.


I wonder if every conscript received one or if they were just given out locally? I also wonder if the brassard was intended to identify the fledgling Doughboys in order to identify the fledgling Doughboys from civilian passengers on the train or if they continued to wear them after they reached the training camp until they were issued uniforms.

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Photo No. 134: On the left is a YMCA welfare workers service coat with a red on blue brassard. Because the only visible initial is the letter ‘T’, I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that the ‘T’ is followed by the letter ‘B’, which stands for Transportation Bureau. The transportation bureau of the YMCA was devoted to greeting the soldiers at train stations both in America and in Europe. Also of interest is the horizon blue French overseas cap with YMCA insignia. The other photo shows a gray Red Cross Motor Service uniform. The Red Cross Motor Service Brassard is green with a white wheel and lettering.


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Photo No. 135: The right and left hand photos show two different styles of American Red Cross (ARC) Brassards, as worn by Red Cross nurses. The center column from top to bottom is comprised of a red on gray YMCA welfare workers brassard, a blue on white YMCA canteen workers brassard, a white on dark blue ARC Supply Service brassard, and a ARC canteen workers brassard.


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Thanks for starting an excellent thread!


I thought I would add a couple of examples of the WWI style narrow MP brassards that you mentioned at the start of this article. I hope this is helpful to you.



MP Brassards WWI .JPG

MP Brassards WWI back.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson



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Photo No. 136: Forum member jagjetta kindly emailed me these images od Doughboys wearing the red on white Postal Service Brassard. For more information on this brassard, please refer to the text in post number 37/ photo number 84.


Photos compliments of the John Adam-Graf Collection


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Photo No. 137: jagjetta also emailed me a link to a WW I private purchase service coat bearing a red on postal gray cloth Postal Agent Chevron, which was recently sold by Advance Guard Militaria. The only other insignia on the service coat was a pair of U.S. officer's collar devices, and two gold war service chevrons indicating twelve to seventeen months of service in the theater of operations overseas. At lower left is an AEF Postal Service SSI comprised of a silver bullion greyhound on a blue field. Note: this SSI was on another, not on this service coat.


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Incredible thread WW1 Nerd! Thought I would add my first pattern MP Brassard. It came in group of Colorado National Guard Mexician Border Service medals. Didn't know its exact significance until this thread.




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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When I was putting together all the photos for this post, I desperately wanted to show an example of the British style red on black MP brassard being worn by a British or Commonwealth soldier. While researching something else, of course, I stumbled upon a photo that I needed for something that I'd already posted. Anyway, here it is.


Photo No. 138: This Australian MP is wearing the red on black British MP Brassard per British regulations on the right sleeve. Inset is another red on black MP Brassard.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I just received this photo taken in France,1919 from forum member jagjetta.


Photo No. 139: Sergeant 1st Class E.R. Tarbold of a Signal Corps Photo Unit is wearing the white on green Photographer's Brassard, which was discussed on post number 45/photo number 92 that appears on page 3 of this post. The sergeant is wearing a multi-piece leather jerkin over his woolen service coat that displays one war service chevron for serving 6 to 11 months in the theater of operations.


Photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection






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I recently came across AEF Bulletin No. 18, dated June 23, 1918 issued by Headquarters, Service of Supply. Item number one of the bulletin read as follows:


In compliance with instructions from G.H.Q. A.E.F., contained in indorsement [sic] dated June 21, 1918, the Director Military Postal Express Service has assumed control of the Motor Dispatch Service and the Courier Service heretofore operated by these headquarters.


This leads me to believe that the previously unknown "P.E.S." brassard posted by jagjetta on post number 92 on page 5 of this post is actually a Postal Express Service Brassard, as suggested by atb.




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  • 1 month later...

This photograph taken in France, of a Field Clerk of an Engineer Regiment shows the maroon, edged in white Engineer, Field Clerk's Brassard. For more information on this brassard please refer to page 2, post number 36, photo number 89 of this post.


Photo courtesy of the Stephen McGeorge collection


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Another photo of an early white on blue MP Brassard. For some inexplicable reason, the MP is wearing the brassard incorrectly on the right sleeve. Regulations called for it to be worn on the left sleeve. Also of interest is the 1912 Russet Leather Garrison Belt and the 1904 Pistol Cartridge Box.


Photo courtesy of the John Adam Graf Collection


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  • 3 weeks later...

Some Clarification on the Various U.S. Army & AEF Postal Service Brassards


The prescribed duties of the Postal Service was to receive, sort, and distribute all of the AEFs mail after it had been received from the civil postal authorities in France. Each AEF Division, Corps and Army was authorized to establish a Postal Express section consisting of one lieutenant, two sergeants, four corporals and twenty privates to distribute AEF mail to the smaller units within each organization.


Red on White Postal Service Brassard (PS) authorized on July 7, 1917

In General Orders No. 9, GHQ, AEF, dated July 7 1917, the postal employees serving in the AEF were directed to wear U.S. Army olive drab service dress while operating in the theater of operations. The orders further directed that the employees wear a white wool brassard 2 ½ inches wide comprised of the initials “P.S.” for Postal Service in red on the left upper arm. The only other insignia that the Postal Service employees were authorized to wear was a standard issue U.S. collar disc, in bronze, on the left side of the overseas cap’s curtain.


Red on White Postal Express Service Brassard (PES) authorized on May 9, 1918

In General Orders No. 72, GHQ, AEF, dated May 9 1918, the name of the Postal Service was changed to that of the “Postal Express Service”. No mention was made of a new brassard reflecting the name change. Presumably, a white wool brassard with the initials “P.E.S.” was adopted either at this time or shortly thereafter.


Postal Service Collar Devices and Collar Discs authorized on September 13, 1918

In General Orders No.155, GHQ, AEF, dated September 13, 1918; the name of the Postal Express Service was again changed to that of the “Postal Express Service, United States Army”. Under the same orders, the request previously submitted by the Chief of the Postal Express Service for an insignia of its own was approved. The authorized design consisted of a bronze pinback collar device in the shape of a greyhound dog facing forward for officers and a bronze collar disc of a greyhound dog superimposed over a pair of lightning bolts for enlisted men. It is said that all of the Postal Express Service collar insignia were fabricated in France.


Red on Grey Postal Agent Brassard (PA) authorized on November 8, 1918

In General Orders No. 199, GHQ, AEF, dated November 8, 1918, the Postal Express Service, U.S. Army was directed to wear a brassard of grey wool cloth, 2 ½ inches wide with a ¼ inch border at the top and bottom in red, bearing the initials “P.A.”, also in red, on the left upper arm.


Red on Grey Postal Agent Chevron (PA) authorized sometime in 1918

According to a General Order, number and date unknown, issued by GHQ, AEF sometime in 1918, a 2 ¼ inch diameter chevron made from grey postal cloth with a ¼ inch red border, bearing the initials “P.A.” in red was to be worn midway between the elbow and the top of the left sleeve. The orders did not indicate which members or if all personnel of the Postal Service were to wear this chevron.


Red on Grey Posts U.S.A. Brassard authorized for U.S. Army Postal Service employees serving in the United States sometime in sometime in 1917 or 1918

In the 1918 edition of the Uniform Regulations of the United States Army stated that postal agents attached to units in the field were to wear a brassard of grey cloth with the words “Posts U.S.A.” in two lines. The color of the letters was not specified. Presumably they were made from red cloth.


The AEF, Postal Express Service was deactivated in 1920.


Here are examples of the Postal Service Brassard, Postal Express Service Brassard, Postal Agent Chevron, and an enlisted man’s Postal Express Service Collar Disc.


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A Harley Davidson motorcycle and side car enters Germany on November 12, 1918. Of interest is the fact that the sidecar bears the initials “M.D.S.” indicating that the vehicle belongs to the Motor Dispatch Service. Close inspection reveals that the rider is wearing a dark colored brassard on his left arm, which also probably bears the initials “M.D.S.” indicating that he is a messenger bearing dispatches


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A close up of the messenger in which the brassard is more visible. The inset shows a white on red MDS Brassard which was part of a small 7th Division, Army of Occupation group. In this particular photograph and in the photo shown on page number 03, post number 48 on this thread, both brassards appear to be made from a much darker color like dark blue or black, which likely featured red lettering.


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Forum member jagjetta sent me these photos of another Motor Dispatch Service Brassard that are or were the property of Advance Guard Militaria. as you can see the initials are black on an odd amber colored cloth brassard that I suspect may have been red at one time. However, there is no way to be certain what the original color of the backing cloth actually was.


Photo compliments of Advance Guard Militaria.com


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I've yet to discover any information on the prescribed color of the MDS Brassards. In the period photo, taken in April 1918, both MDS Brassards appear to be black on red.


The white on red MDS Brassard was part of a small 7th Division/3rd Army group that was recently sold by Bay State Militaria.


As mentioned, the black and amber/red(?) MDS Brassard is from AGM Militaria.


Does anybody have any opinions or thoughts regarding the colors of the WW I MDS Brassards?


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