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A.E.F First Army Shoulder Sleeve Insignia 1918 to 1919


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Photo No. 102: At left is the Dutch “Milk Maid” insignia of the 50th Aero Squadron (observation) as it appeared on the fuselage of an airplane. The piece of fabric decorated with a bat in front of the moon was cut from an aircraft that flew with the 185th Aero Squadron, the AEF’s only night pursuit squadron.

 

 

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Photo No. 103: First Army SSI embellished, from left to right, with the emblems of the 50th Aero Squadron’s “Milk Maid” - an “Owl” which has been attributed to the 139th Aero Squadron. The ID was made based on a name found inside the service coat on which that patch was sewn - and the silhouette of the 185th Aero Squadron’s “Moonlit Bat” logo.

 

Left & center photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Right Photo courtesy of Griffin Militaria.com

 

 

 

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Photo No. 104: The bird in flight sewn underneath and between the legs of this duo of First Army shoulder patches is presumed to be the insignia of an AEF Aero Squadron whose logo almost, but does not quite match the examples depicted below.

 

Left photo courtesy of the JBPC

Right photo courtesy of Bill & Kurt Keller

 

 

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Photo No. 106: The unapproved insignia for most AEF Observation Balloon organizations was a “Sausage Balloon” and its dangling basket in profile. Evidence of AEF Balloon Companies merging their insignia with that of the First Army are presented here: the 4th Balloon Company (left) followed by a pair of unidentified First Army shoulder patches bearing Balloon Company “sausages” and Air Service roundels.

 

Right photo courtesy of the Ateam69 collection

 

 

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First Army Medical Units

August 30 & September 16, 1918:

 

Base Hospitals No. 45 & 51 (technically assigned to SOS)

Evacuation Hospitals No. 3 & No. 14

Army Red Cross Hospital No. 114

Evacuation Hospitals 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 13

Mobile Hospitals 1, 2, 3, 4 & 39

Evacuation Ambulance Companies 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 & 12

Ambulance Sections 520, 521, 530, 542, 560, 569, 570, 571, 590, 599, 601, 602, 603, 604 & 647

Ambulance Companies 41, 108, 132, 310, 318 & 319

 

September 26 & November 11, 1918:

 

Base Hospitals No. 45 & 51 (assigned to SOS)

Evacuation Hospitals No. 3 & No. 14

Army Red Cross Hospitals No. 14, 110 & 114

Gas Hospital (operated by Base Hospital No. 45)

Neurological Unit No. 2 (operated by Base Hospital No. 117)

Contagious Disease Hospital

Base Hospitals No. 45, 51 & 83

Evacuation Hospitals No. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 59 & 114

Mobile Hospitals 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 39

Field Hospitals No. 14, 39, 41, 42, 44, 116, 117, 162, 163 & 332

Evacuation Ambulance Companies 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 & 1st Provisional

Army Ambulance Sections 506, 511, 514, 520, 521, 530, 542, 560, 568, 569, 570, 571, 576, 590, 599, 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 621, 626, 633, 634, 636, 639 & 647

Ambulance Companies 31, 41, 42, 44, 108, 106 & 317

 

Photo No. 107: Both the inset and background images display the red and white cross symbol for medical organizations within the First Army as prescribed by Memorandum No. 45.

 

Inset & background courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 108: Another view of the official SSI for First Army medical personnel and a graphic patterned after a First Army insignia that was sewn onto a YMCA made patch blanket. It is not known if the red-cross centered on a white circle surrounded by a red ring is the specific emblem of one of the First Army’s many base, evacuation, field or mobile hospitals, or if it was adopted by an AEF ambulance section, or another AEF medical organization, or if it was worn by members of the Red Cross who were attached to the First Army.

Left photo courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 109: Circular shaped medical insignia bearing a red-cross were never officially adopted or authorized by the AEF or by the First Army. Red-cross themed spherical design in various formats, like the one visible in the background photo, while not common, were indeed used by AEF medical personnel. The upper inset is alleged to have been the insignia worn by AEF “medical casuals” – the center example was worn by enlisted men in the British Royal Army Medical Corps and by American Doughboys – the lower shoulder patch was used by NCO’s serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and on occasion, also by AEF medical personnel.

 

Background courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

Upper inset courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 110: Two First Army Medical SSI each embroidered with a caduceus, but on different colored backing cloths, i.e. red & white. The red insert has been potentially identified as being the insignia of one of the three Red Cross Hospitals (No.’s 14, 110 & 114) that served in the First Army. The white insert worn by the Army nurse remains unidentified. Due to its similarity, it too may have been a Red Cross Hospital shoulder patch design.

 

Can anybody ID these First Army shoulder patches?

 

Insert courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Background courtesy of the John Adams-Graf collection

 

 

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Photo No. 111: Although unproven, it has been suggested that the two (left & right) insignia with red (or maroon) inserts may represent First Army, Red Cross Hospital No. 114. The right hand shoulder patch, from an unknown First Army medical organization, features the caduceus symbol surrounded by a circle embroidered in red.

 

Left & center photos courtesy of Advance guard Militaria.com

Right photo courtesy of Bill & Kurt Keller

 

 

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Photo No. 112: A trio of First Army Medical SSI each bearing a slightly different caduceus, the branch of service symbol of the Medical Department. From left to right the caduceus has been fabricated using hand embroidered gold bullion thread, machine embroidered mercerized maroon (the branch color for the Medical Department) cotton thread and hand embroidered cotton thread.

 

Left & right photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Center photo courtesy of the JBPC

 

 

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First Army Remount & Veterinary Units

August 30 & September 16, 1918:

 

Army Mobile Veterinary Hospital No. 1 (Medical Department)

Field Remount Squadron 304 (Ordnance Department)

 

September 26 & November 11, 1918:

 

Army Mobile Veterinary Hospital No. 1 (Medical Department)

Mobile Veterinary Sections No. 103, 106 & 117 (Medical Department)

Army Animal Evacuation Hospital (Medical Department)

Remount Squadrons No. 301, 304 & 314 (Ordnance Department)

 

Animals, particularly horses and mules, played a major role in regard to the efficiency of any AEF organization. For example one AEF Infantry Division required some 6,638 riding or draft horses and mules, all of which required a considerable amount of care.

 

The height of the first Army’s strength in manpower peaked at twenty-six Infantry Divisions. If the First Army was operating with a full roster, it needed a staggering total of 172,588 animals. Needless to say, special units devoted to the replacement of, and to maintaining the health of those animals were essential to ensure success on the field of battle.

 

No official insignia was ever adopted by the First Army, or by the AEF, for the organizations that shipped, housed and looked after the animals.

 

Photo No. 114: Three First Army shoulder patches that signified animal care are the 305th Field Remount Squadron (left) and a pair of Veterinary Corps insignia, composed of white and green crosses. It should also be noted that a green cross was also the unofficial symbol for a division’s sanitary train. Therefore, it’s possible that the SSI bearing a green cross might represent either a veterinary unit, or a sanitary train, or a veterinary unit attached to a sanitary train.

 

Left photo courtesy of the JBPC

Center photo courtesy of the Doyler collection

 

 

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First Army Signal Corps Units

August 30 & September 16, 1918:

 

319th Field Signal Battalion

401st & 411th Telephone Battalion

Army Radio Section Signal Corps No. 1

Radio Intelligence Section

Meteorological Division and Section

Photo Detachment

Pigeon Companies and Lofts

Detachment Telephone Operators (female)

 

September 26 & November 11, 1918:

 

317th, 319th & 322nd Field Signal Battalions

52nd, 55th, 401st & 411th Telephone Battalion

Army Radio Section No. 1

Photo Section at Neufchateau

Meteorological Section

Mobile Pigeon Lofts No. 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 & 24

Detachment Telephone Operators (female)

 

For obvious reasons, maintaining communication, by various means, in the field was imperative for any large military organization. And the First Army was no exception to this rule. Whether a message was sent via a telegram, telephone, wireless radio, buzzer box, written message, carrier pigeon, signal flags, ground panel, signal lamps, flare pistol, colored rockets or by word of mouth, it took an army of technicians and men from code talkers to wire stringers to ensure that important messages were sent and received in a timely fashion.

 

Given the wide variety of communicating disciplines employed by the Signal Corps organizations within the First Army, it’s surprising that the known variety of First Army shoulder patch designs are limited to just two.

 

Photo No. 115: The officially sanctioned SSI design for all Signal Corps organizations within the First Army was comprised of an orange diamond or “lozenge” shape placed between the legs of the letter “A”. Two examples of the prescribed First Army, Signal Corps insignia appear here.

 

Photos courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 117: Another trio of regulation First Army SSI bearing the orange diamond representing the Signal Corps; all of which are made from applied felt.

 

Left photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Center photo courtesy of the Ron McMahon collection

Right photo courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 118: The second, and unapproved, First Army, Signal Corps design is made up of the letter “A” with the Signal Corps branch of service motif, a flaming torch over a pair of crossed signal flags, set between its legs. Two examples have been machine embroidered (left & right) and the third is hand embroidered (center). For reasons unknown, the flaming torch has been omitted from the right-hand insignia.

 

Left photo courtesy of the JBPC

Center photo courtesy of the George Morgan collection

Right photo courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 119: Two additional First Army, Signal Corps shoulder patches with torch and flags embroidered using olive drab (left) and gold bullion thread (right). The center image, comprised of with a superimposed orange Signal Corps lozenge over a First Army, Unassigned Officer insignia was worn by a female telephone operator assigned to the First Army.

 

Left & right photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Center photo courtesy of the JBPC

 

 

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First Army Quartermaster Corps Units

August 30 & September 16, 1918:

 

Graves Registration Unit 301

 

September 26 & November 11, 1918:

 

First Army Graves Registration Service

Graves Registration Units A, B, 301, 302, 305, 306, 310 & 311

Company C 324th Labor Battalion

Salvage Squads No. 6, 20, 305, 309, 313, 314 & 317

Sales Commissary Unit No. 20

Supply Company 335

Quartermaster Park A

Service Park Units No. 378, 410, 411 & 412

 

In a word, the AEF’s Quartermaster Corps organization was huge. It was so big, that at various times between May of 1917 and November of 1918, its manpower accounted for anywhere between twenty and forty percent of the entire AEF. In all likelihood, the aforementioned personnel percentages were similar, if not the same in AEF, Armies and Corps. The emblem adopted by First Army, Memorandum No. 45 for all of its Quartermaster Corps units was made up of a circle equally divided horizontally through its center. The bisected circle was situated between the legs of the letter “A”. The upper sector being red and the lower was white.

 

Photo No. 120: The prescribed First Army, Quartermaster Corps SSI (center) is flanked by two non-regulation First Army Quartermaster Corps designs each bearing the branch of service emblem for the Quartermaster Corps. Both emblems appear to have been cut from NCO rank chevrons bearing a matching device and trimmed to fit within the lower half of the letter “A”.

 

Left & center photos courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Right photo courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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Photo No. 121: These First Army Quartermaster shoulder patches have been manufactured with the Quartermaster logo deliberately machine embroidered onto the backing cloth on which the felt “A’s” have been applied.

 

Photos courtesy of the JBPC

 

 

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Photo No. 122: The zones in which the AEF operated was divided into three sectors: the “Base Section”, i.e. the area nearest to the French port cities – the “Intermediate Sector”, which was the geographic area that separated the zone of combat from that of the Base Section – and the “Advance Sector”, which of course was the forward area occupied primarily by AEF combat troops. In short, it was the area in which any organization could expect to be shelled by enemy artillery. Quartermaster personnel whose activities kept them in the forward operating zone for a certain period of time were authorized to wear the “Advance Sector, Service of Supply (SOS)” shoulder patch.

 

Although this practice was unauthorized, Quartermaster Corps personnel posted to the First Army often combined their Advance Sector, SOS insignia with that of the First Army’s SSI. Three such pairings are shown here. Two (left & center) are comprised of the approved Advance Sector, SOS shoulder patch, while the third specimen (right) is unique in that has been placed on a blue shield shaped background. It is not known if the blue shield did (or did not) signify a specific AEF, Service of Supply organization.

 

Left photo courtesy of the McCooper collection

Right photo courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com

 

 

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First Army Motor Transport Units

August 30 & September 16, 1918:

 

Army Motor Transport Park

Provisional Water Trains

 

September 26 & November 11, 1918:

 

First Army Motor Transport Park

Army Repair Parks No. 101 & 105

Mobile Ordnance Repair Shops No. 116, 308 & 312

417th Motor Supply Train

Machine Shop Truck Units No. 405 & 406

 

Photo No. 123: This Doughboy, who probably served in one of the numerous motor truck companies seconded to the Quartermaster, Corps wears a First Army shoulder patch with the vertically bisected, half-white and half-red emblem of the Motor Transport Corps. This style of SSI was made official for all Motor Transport units within the First Army by Memorandum No. 45.

 

Inset courtesy of Advance Guard Militaria.com

Background courtesy of Bay State Militaria.com.

 

 

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