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Service Coat Cuff Braid 1907 to 1919


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Service Coat Cuff Braid

1907 to 1919

While researching another topic, I became sidetracked by some rather interesting information regarding the cuff braid that until now, I had believed encircled only the lower sleeves of the commissioned officer’s service coat.

 

What I discovered was that two additional colors of cuff braid (one authorized, and the other to be determine) were worn on the lower cuff of enlisted men who met the criteria set forth by the appropriate authorities.

 

Photo No. 01: Between 1907 and 1919, three different colors of cuff braid were authorized by the War Department: Brown, Black and Forest Green, to be worn by commissioned officers, and by enlisted men who qualified. At the time of posting, it is not known if the fourth color – silver, was officially sanctioned or not.

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Black & Brown Cuff Braid

War Department General Orders No. 169, dated August 14, 1907 decreed that commissioned officers were to wear a band of brown or black braid on the lower cuff of the olive drab woolen and khaki cotton service coats. The content of that General Order read as follows:

 

All officers except the General Staff Corps will wear a band of brown braid ½ inch wide on the sleeves of the service coat, the lower edge of the braid, three inches from the end of the sleeves. For officers of the General Staff Corps the braid will be black.

 

Photo No. 02: Four examples of the commissioned officer’s cuff braid as worn on, from left to right: 1907 pattern officer’s woolen service coat, 1911 pattern officer’s cotton service coat, 1911 pattern tailor made officer’s woolen service coat, and a 1920’s pattern officer’s tailor made woolen service coat.

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Photo No. 03: As mentioned above in the 1907 dated General Order, brown braid was authorized to be worn by the officer’s of all branches of the service except for those permanently detailed to the General Staff Corps. According to the following reminder in Special Regulations No. 41, Change No. 1, dated December 11, 1917, the officers assigned to the General Staff Corps were to wear black braid:

 

27. INSIGNIA OF DETAILED, DETACHED AND UNASSIGNED OFFICERS. – Change subparagraph (e) and add subparagraph (g) as follows:

 

(e) All officers who are assigned orders by the War Department to perform the duties of General Staff officers with the headquarters of armies, corps and divisions in accordance of the Tables of Organization, will wear the insignia of the General Staff Corps, including the band of black braid on the sleeve. (S.R. No. 41, C. No. 1, December 29, 1917.)

 

Photo No. 03: During World War I, when the number of commissioned officers in the Regular Army, the National Guard and the National Army skyrocketed, the shades and hues of the commissioned officer’s cuff braid varied from khaki to tan, to light brown, to dark brown and even to various shades of olive drab.

 

Shown here, from left to right are examples of dark brown (or olive drab) worn by an officer of the Military Police; black as worn by an officer of the 77th Division’s General Staff; and khaki as worn by an AEF officer of the Corps of Engineers.

 

Beneath the photos are examples of dark brown, black and khaki colored commissioned officer’s cuff braid.

 

Period photos courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Forest Green Cuff Braid

According to Change No.11 of Special Regulations No. 41, dated September 2, 1919, enlisted men who had been commissioned, and served as officers during the Great War who had subsequently been reduced to their post war “other ranks” status were allowed to wear forest green cuff braid on their service coat to denote the fact that they had served as a commissioned officer during the recent World War. Change No. 11 proclaimed the following:

 

INSIGNIA ON SLEEVE. – Add subparagraph (l) as follows:

 

(l) Enlisted men who have served on active duty as commissioned officers in the Army of the United States and whose commissioned service was terminated honorably are authorized to wear a band of forest-green braid, one-half inch wide, on both sleeves of the service coat, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the end of the sleeves. (S.R. No. 41, C. No. 11, September 2, 1919.)

 

Photo No. 04: The left hand photo depicts an NCO whose service coat bears both sergeant’s chevrons and a dark color cuff braid on both sleeves. I believe that cuff braid to be forest green in color as authorized by the War Department in 1919. Any opinions?

 

At right is a tailor made service coat bearing a Tank Corps corporal chevron on the right hand sleeve and a Tank Corps shoulder patch on the left hand sleeve. In addition, both cuffs have been adorned with olive drab braid. I speculate that forest green braid was not a common color and therefore not easily found. Perhaps in the absence of forest green braid, the tailor used olive drab braid instead to indicate that the coat’s owner was once a commissioned officer in the AEF.

 

Left hand photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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Silver Cuff Braid

The following information regarding silver cuff braid was found in a post war book, published in 1920, whose pages contained a detailed explanation of the insignia worn by the American Doughboys returning from overseas service. The relevant portion of the text is as follows:

 

Silver band on cuff of service coat: wearer completed the work of an officers’ training school in the A.E. F. but was not commissioned because of the signing of the Armistice.

 

The AEF: Who They Were, What They Did, How They Did It, 1920, Skillman Rowland, page 153

At the time of posting no official documentation regarding the authorization of silver cuff braid has been found. Therefore it is not known whether or not the wearing of silver cuff braid was sanctioned by the War Department or if it was worn unofficially by the Doughboys to more accurately depict their overseas service.

 

Photo No. 05: I have yet to encounter either a period photograph or a surviving enlisted man’s service coat that has been decorated with silver cuff braid. Therefore, I have created a mock up of what the silver cuff braid may have looked like.

 

Right hand photo courtesy of the John Adam-Graf collection

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All viewers are more than welcome to comment on this post’s content or to add additional information and photographs.

 

Thanks for looking World War I Nerd …

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Great information. Everyday is a learning experience for me and today I just learned something new. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work.

 

Terry

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Excellent research, Nerd! Cuff braid has remained a bit of an enigma for me, as well. Here's another on clue to add in to the pot of data:

 

From Liaison: The Courier of the Big Gun Corps (Coastal Artillery), V1, no. 13, March 15, 1919, page 103:

 

 

"The Third Lieutenants--Have you Seen Them?

A new "animal" landed last saturday from foreign shores. The U.S.S. Antigone brought "it" from France with its last load of returning soldiers. "It" was born and bred in the AEF, but, strange as it may seem, "it" is not accounted fo in Army Regulations or orders...

 

I saw some of theses "animals" walking about the Hotel last Saturday. At the first glance, they looked like soldiers. They wore regulation OD's but the trimmings were unfamiliar. Across each sleeve they wore a diagonal black braid and on their 'rain-in-the-face' cap were black bars [bold face added by me]. I then decided they were officers of some branch of service with which I was not familiar....I asked the meaning of the unusual decoration.

 

The explanation ran somewhat as follows: 'We were attending the Artillery School at Samur, France, when the armistice was singed. An order was received from Washington to the effect that no more commissions would be granted. But we had to finish the course of training. We were sure S.O.L. Later, that order was modified to the effect that we would be commissioned in the U.S.R. upon discharge in the States.

 

'But between graduation in France and discharge in the States, we have no standing. We are supposed to fit in some place between a buck private and a "shavetail," so some bright bird christened us "Dovetails" or "3rd Lieutenants" and the name has stuck, and as such we are known around our outfits.'"

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I had at one time one of these "3rd LT" coats. It had a narrow black braid placed diagonally across both lower sleeves, SGT chevrons on both arms, one overseas chevron and "US" and Signal Corps collar discs. There is an AEF memo, bulletin or order authorizing these diagonal lower sleeve chevrons for graduates who were not commissioned out of all the AEF officer producing schools.

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Excellent additions - John & ATB!

 

The diagonal black stripes were authorized for AEF officer candidates attending the Saumur Artillery School.

 

ATB, do you have any photos of the service coat with the candidate stripes?

 

I don't have the General Orders /circular number handy, but here is the relevant text:

 

4. Candidates will wear a diagonal black stripe on the sleeves of the service coat and overcoat. These stripes will be worn as prescribed for service stripes in Uniform Regulations. The War Service Chevron and the Wound Chevron will be superimposed on the candidate's stripe.

 

Black bars on the overseas cap? That's the first I've ever heard about that ... interesting.

 

The "service stripes" are the diagonal enlistment stripes worn on the sleeves of the enlisted men's dress uniform coat. Attached is the only decent image of the service stripe I could find on short notice.

 

One of the photos in Jonathon Gawne's book titled "Over There" shows a Doughboy with the black candidate's stripe on his sleeve.

 

Perhaps if somebody has that book handy, maybe they can scan the photo and post it.

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I don't have the General Orders /circular number handy, but here is the relevant text:

 

4. Candidates will wear a diagonal black stripe on the sleeves of the service coat and overcoat. These stripes will be worn as prescribed for service stripes in Uniform Regulations. The War Service Chevron and the Wound Chevron will be superimposed on the candidate's stripe.

 

Black bars on the overseas cap? That's the first I've ever heard about that ... interesting.

 

 

 

That jogged my memory: General Orders No 121, July 25, 1918:

 

Then, General Orders No 29, Feb 12, 1919, notes "the wearing of these stripes will be discontinued when the wearer ceases to be a member of the American Expeditionary Forces."

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Jagjetta sent me these excellent photos of a 1st Corps General Staff officer's uniform that was part of a past Advance Guard Militaria catalog. Note the black cuff braid and General Staff Corps collar devices.

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If I recall correctly, the green braid was authorized for those EM's who had held officer commissions during WW1, but reverted to EM status after. You may need to look in later regs to find this.

 

In all my years of collecting, I have only ever seen one example.

 

G

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Interesting thread.

Here is a photo of my grandfather's cotton coat that he wore in 1918 during his service at Camp Cody, New Mexico. He was a second lieutenant.

Kim

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John and Gil, thanks as always, for the additional information.

 

Kim, thank you for reading the post and for adding your family heirloom to the thread.

 

Like you, I had never heard of the forest green cuff braid, until just last week!

 

Maybe someday, someone can turn up a photo of an enlisted man's service coat with forest green cuff braid.

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  • 5 years later...
Vneal487

I wanted y’all to see this before I ship it. This is a tunic that my grandfather had in his collection. 
it’s a 2nd Lieutenant from the 12th Cavalry Regt, 1st Cavalry Division circa 1935.

The cuff braids are silver. 
I have read many times on this forum that collectors have never encountered an example.

 This service man obviously was a 2nd Lieutenant by 1935 but kept the silver braids. I’m guessing that it was to show that he was active during WWI. I really don’t know & unfortunately the tunic doesn’t have a name.

 

 

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