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An American Volunteer with the Royal Flying Corp


Croix de Guerre
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IMPERIAL QUEST
Are you all getting tired of this or should I continue? dunno.gif

 

 

What....are you kidding me!!!!!????

 

Tom,

 

Every time I think that you have posted the pinnacle of your collection, you have to go and out do yourself. Looking at these groupings leave me speechless (it takes a lot as I am a VERY opinionated person). Postings like this ensure that the Great War will not slip further into ambiguity as the years go by. I sincerely hope that around 2018 there will be a resurgence of interest in this period, even if it is brief. It seems that the WWII pilots get all of the glamour and attention (and they do indeed deserve their fair share salute.gif ), but we seem to forget that the Air Service and L.E. boys are the ones who started it all.

 

WWI was the last war in which the spirit and chivalry of the medieval knight reigned, and the first war in which death was catapulted into the air by way of the aeroplane.

 

I find myself somewhat intimidated at times by fabulous groupings only because I do not have the knowledge (yet) to engage in a discussion where I can actually teach instead of being the student. However, after talking with you and Dennis, a lot of that has gone away. I am always proud to add my TCW (or less) to your threads. They are a continued source of enjoyment for me and I know for others as well.

 

Now...keep posting! ;)

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What a fabulous pair of groupings and the great story that they and you tell of these two brave young men. It's amazing that all of these things have survived to this day. Thank you to both of you gentlemen for continuing to preserve them and for all the research that has been done to tell this amazing story.

 

Thank you.

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This next picture is of Tommy and "some friends of the Royal Engineers"; They are identified as H.F. Sharp, Robert H. Reay and F.J. Slattery of Ennis Ireland

 

I find a few things amazing in this photo:

 

1. These guys in in their "walking out" uniforms in a POW camp. Obviously what they fought in when they were captured...but can you imagine fighting in this uniform???

 

2. The POW camp not only allowed them to keep their uniforms, but obviously laundered them for the POWs as well.

 

Twenty years later, POWs would be issued poor jump suits (better to have been called pajamas?) and be treated much, much, much differently...

 

Just wild!

 

Dave

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1st AAA Group

Your photos are great! They show the Offiziers Kriegsgefngenenlager Karlsruhe which was located at the Zoological Gardens. Went there many, many times. The camp of course no longer exists, but it is a very nice park area not far from the Grand Duke of Badens Palace (not to be confused with the older palace mentioned earlier at Rastatt).

 

Here is a picture showing the front of the palace at Karlsruhe. Nice place! The Zoological Gardens were part of the palace grounds. The palace was very badly damaged by air raids during WWII, but fully restored after the war.

 

Jerry

 

post-1241-1226327882.jpg

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IMPERIAL QUEST

During my eye-fondling of these magnificent uniforms, I noticed something that makes me curious. The aviation roundel on the 1st. Army shoulder patch seems to have many variations. I have seen red, blue and white; red and white; red only. Is the significance of this known? Could it denote different levels within the organization, i.e. battalion, brigade, regiment....staff ??

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Croix de Guerre
What....are you kidding me!!!!!????

 

Tom,

 

Every time I think that you have posted the pinnacle of your collection, you have to go and out do yourself. Looking at these groupings leave me speechless (it takes a lot as I am a VERY opinionated person). Postings like this ensure that the Great War will not slip further into ambiguity as the years go by. I sincerely hope that around 2018 there will be a resurgence of interest in this period, even if it is brief. It seems that the WWII pilots get all of the glamour and attention (and they do indeed deserve their fair share salute.gif ), but we seem to forget that the Air Service and L.E. boys are the ones who started it all.

 

WWI was the last war in which the spirit and chivalry of the medieval knight reigned, and the first war in which death was catapulted into the air by way of the aeroplane.

 

I find myself somewhat intimidated at times by fabulous groupings only because I do not have the knowledge (yet) to engage in a discussion where I can actually teach instead of being the student. However, after talking with you and Dennis, a lot of that has gone away. I am always proud to add my TCW (or less) to your threads. They are a continued source of enjoyment for me and I know for others as well.

 

Now...keep posting! ;)

 

 

IP,,,Thank you so much for your encouragment and your kind words! Your comments and your opinions are always needed, welcomed and appreciated. I make no claims and have no illusions of any expertise in this area of collecting. I have been fortunate to have had the oppurtunity to accquire some truly wonderful artifacts and it is my priveledge to be able to preserve them and to share them with you all. Thank you again!

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Croix de Guerre
I find a few things amazing in this photo:

 

1. These guys in in their "walking out" uniforms in a POW camp. Obviously what they fought in when they were captured...but can you imagine fighting in this uniform???

 

2. The POW camp not only allowed them to keep their uniforms, but obviously laundered them for the POWs as well.

 

Twenty years later, POWs would be issued poor jump suits (better to have been called pajamas?) and be treated much, much, much differently...

 

Just wild!

 

Dave

 

Thanks for the comments Dave,,

 

1. I have read somewhere that these aviators were compelled to wear their uniforms under their flight clothes because if they were shot down and captured in any thing less than a military uniform,,,they were running the risk of violating military protocol and could be accused of being a spy. Also, you are dealing with 19th century social mores and standards. These were "Officers and Gentlemen" and they were expected to act and dress like gentlemen. In some camps these officers were provided "batmen" or servants from captured enlistedmen to cook and to clean for them. Tommy speaks of one soldier assigned to him who had been in the Tank Corp and then in another camp he complained about the Italian POWs assigned to them as being worthless and in league with the German gaurds. Wait till I post about the conditions of the French officers now imprisoned with Tommy,,you won't believe it!

 

2. I have not read of the Germans actually cleaning the uniforms for the POWs in their charge, but the batmen and later the officers themselves were allowed to wash their clothing. Tommy speaks a green shirt he recieved in a care package that he boiled and dyed every one else's clothing green free of charge!

 

One of the things I found interesting is that British officers were allowed to run a tab at a German operated Post Exchanges or canteens (operated at the Camps much like canteens at modern day prisons) and the German goverment would bill British banks for payment! Tommy mentions Cox and Company (his bank and the bank of most British officers handling these transactions) I also believe the British goverment was billed so much per day, per officer for their room and board! In some rare cases the POW officers were eating better than their own gaurds! Now this only applied to officers,,captured enlistedmen faced a much, much different imprisonment and faced real starvation and hardships.

 

Yes, it was a much different day and age. But keep in mind, for all the pomp and circumstances, the First World War produced carnage on a scale that is difficult for us to fathom.

 

 

The photo illustrates Tommy's Cox and Co. RAF checkbook!

post-3356-1226332580.jpg

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Croix de Guerre

The French officers that Tommy now himself imprisoned with had well established routes of supply by mail from France and Switzerland and the deluged their new camp mates with supplies of every kind.

 

Tommy writes that “I had a good uniform, a heavy pair of shoes and a good pair of gloves but the one thing I was missing was a hat as I only had my flight helmet when I was brought down and the night air was becoming chilly. I had become particularly good chums with a French officer named Dangoise who had been captured at the defense of Verdun who gave me an overcoat to wear. Another French officer, Count de Montalembert presented me with a wonderful hat bearing the gold braid and insignia of a Captain. So, I appeared on the surface as a Frenchman, and underneath as a Britisher, while my heart (and my B.V.D.’s) were genuine American!”

 

 

Here are some photos some of the French officers Tommy befreinded. The officer with the medals is Louis Dangoise 67th Infantry who gave Tommy an overcoat.

post-3356-1226334121.jpg

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Croix de Guerre

The French prisoners had kept themselves occupied and in condition. They had organized a daily newspaper, put on elaborate plays and musicals complete with costumes and scenery. Gardens were cultivated and food was plentiful.

 

Church services were a special occasion at Fort Prinz Karl. They were conducted in an old powder magazine by Huguenot pastor who had fought the good fight in the trenches and was now carrying on his offensive against the devil within the confines of the prison walls.

The French officers would appear at roll call with all their decorations and in their best uniforms which had been sent from home. All rules possible were broken on Sunday and Tommy claimed that the German commander was so intimidated that he would not walk through the compound unless he was accompanied by a squad of soldiers with bayonets fixed.

 

But all good things must come to an end and sadly orders were received for the British officers to again become vagabonds and continue their tour of the German countryside.

The French officers were sad to see them go and loaded the British officers with so many gifts that it required a wagon to haul it all away.

 

Next – Fort X

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1st AAA Group
The French prisoners had kept themselves occupied and in condition. They had organized a daily newspaper, put on elaborate plays and musicals complete with costumes and scenery. Gardens were cultivated and food was plentiful.

 

Church services were a special occasion at Fort Prinz Karl. They were conducted in an old powder magazine by Huguenot pastor who had fought the good fight in the trenches and was now carrying on his offensive against the devil within the confines of the prison walls.

The French officers would appear at roll call with all their decorations and in their best uniforms which had been sent from home. All rules possible were broken on Sunday and Tommy claimed that the German commander was so intimidated that he would not walk through the compound unless he was accompanied by a squad of soldiers with bayonets fixed.

 

But all good things must come to an end and sadly orders were received for the British officers to again become vagabonds and continue their tour of the German countryside.

The French officers were sad to see them go and loaded the British officers with so many gifts that it required a wagon to haul it all away.

 

Next – Fort X

 

This has continued to be a great thread. It would appear Tommy left Karlsruhe at some point and was sent to Fort Prinz Karl located in Ingolstadt. A pretty grim place as judged from those who were kept there. Seems thought from Tommy's letter that the French prisoners (who made up the majority of POW's at Prinz Karl) tried to make the best of it. Good thing he left that place. Interestingly Tommy may also have crossed paths with POW Charles DeGaule as he remained at Prinz Karl until the end of the war.

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Croix de Guerre

Fort X was another of Ingolstadt’s ancient defenses. Tommy and company arrived there in the late afternoon and were surprised to be greeted by thirty or so R.F.C. men who were already there. The commandant was named Stang and was a man of about seventy who had lived for some thirty years in Liverpool as a representative for a German firm. Not only did speak perfect English but he had also acquired a touch of English humor. He held an intense dislike for the colonel who was in command of the forts and told the new arrivals so. He told them that when the colonel was present his orders were to be obeyed but when they were alone they could do as they pleased.

 

Tommy received an American Y.M.C.A. food parcel that contained biscuits, beans and cigarette tobacco. He was kept busy for days rolling cigarettes for his mates, who said they wished they could produce a bunking bronco for Tommy to ride with one hand so that he could roll cigarettes with the other. No matter how he tried to convince them that not all Americans were cowboys, he friend associated that skill with all members of the “American race

 

 

The photo is of a German issue POW postcard from Fort X

post-3356-1226420141.jpg

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Croix de Guerre

I now want to share some examples of some of the mundane paperwork that thankfully was saved with this group.

 

I wrote earlier about Thomson arranging to have John Player cigarettes sent to him, well here is a Cox and Company shipping recipt for 200 Medium Cut cigarettes. These are some of the cigarettes that Tommy unwittingly supplied to the German Army!

post-3356-1226421958.jpg

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Croix de Guerre

A Cox and Company check to Tommy's fiancé Ruth, that I believe was sent by Tommy to reimburse her for the cost of some articles he had requested

post-3356-1226422056.jpg

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Croix de Guerre

A letter from the Red Cross pertaining to missing officer requests. Keep in mind that Tommy's family did not know that he was alive for several weeks.

post-3356-1226422156.jpg

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