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AEF POW in German Captivity: Photographs


world war I nerd
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One thing that jumps out at me in the first photo is how big and tall the Americans are compared to the Germans.. Do you think this was done on purpose as a propaganda move. Something to the effect of they are giants and we brought them in.

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world war I nerd

Astute observation 4th Miss … One that escaped me. The vanquished Americans are indeed much taller than their German captors. In view of the height difference, I doubt that this series of images was the result of a propaganda stunt carried out by the Allied or U.S. governments.

 

One thing I've noticed while studying the history of the AEF, is that when the first contingents of Americans soldiers arrived in England and France during the summer and autumn of 1917, is that the civilians and military personnel from both France and the U.K. all remarked or made comments about the large physical size of the Doughboys, compared to the noticeably smaller size of the troops who served in their depleted divisions in 1917. Months later, when the Doughboys entered the trenches, German Army intelligence reports came to a similar conclusion in respect to the overall physique of the American troops.

 

It would also be great to find out what organization the Americans in those photos actually served with. So far, I've seen the men in those photos labeled as being the first American prisoners captured by the German Army, and that they were from either the 1st Division or from the 26th Division.

 

One final point, the first American prisoners taken by Germany were actually from one of the AEF's independent Engineer regiments. The captured men hailed from a railroad engineer regiment (I don't have specific information in front of me right now). They were swept up in a surprise attack made by the Germans while doing work for the British in November of 1917.

 

I personally believe that the overcoat clad men in the photos posted to this topic are engineers, not combat troops from the 1st or 26th Divisions. The reason for this is because the men are all wearing ankle length 1912 or 1913 pattern overcoats. All of the American enlisted men that arrived in France between May and December of 1917 would have been in possession of the long 1913 (or an older pattern) overcoat. Around mid-1917, GHQ, AEF came to the conclusion that the long ankle length overcoats were too long for trench warfare because their long skirts became water logged or caked with mud and easily snagged on the ever-present barbed wire. Thus an order was issued throughout the entire AEF mandating that approximately 10 inches be trimmed from the bottom of each long overcoat. By doing so, the long overcoats were transformed into the so called "Trench Overcoat". In addition, the 1917 Overcoat, a shortened version of the 1913 pattern overcoat was adopted by the Army in August of 1917.

 

The 1st Division first entered the trenches in October 1917. Being Pershing's favorite division, they most certainly would have conformed to prevailing AEF uniform regulations. As such, they would have been wearing or in possession of the trimmed down overcoats long before they moved into the line. The 1st Division, along with the 26th Division, would both have definitely been wearing shortened overcoats at the time those two divisions saw action at Seicheprey and Cantigny in the spring of 1918. Therefore, if the men in the photos were from either the 1st or 26th Divisions, I'm pretty sure that all, or at least some of them, would be wearing either the shortened Trench Overcoat or the recently adopted, knee length 1917 Overcoat.

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  • 1 month later...
world war I nerd

Press photo, who's caption reads:

 

"Doughboys back after months of privation and suffering in German prison camp.

 

Battle-scarred and weary, but happy these dauntless Yanks are back after months of hardships and suffering at the hands of the Hun. The German caps they wear are reminders of their months of privation while in the prison camps of Germany. the boys are L to R, Private Chester Burt, Sergt, Fish, Private C. Kimmin and Private Oscar Robinson. The photo was made at the American Hospital, Dartford, England 2/3/19."

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world war I nerd

AEF 'Yankee Division' POW's captured by the Germans after the 26th Division's attack on Seicheprey on April 20, 1918.

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world war I nerd

Men from Company C, 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division taken by the Germans during the April 20, 1918 attack on Seicheprey.

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world war I nerd

I turned up another photo showing AEF prisoners captured by the Germans. I've never seen this particular image before and know nothing about it other than what's shown in the image.

 

Anybody know what outfit the Yanks belonged to or when or where they were captured?

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world war I nerd

A closer look at the first couple rows of AEF prisoners of war.

 

The officer (?) appears to be wearing a trenchcoat and a burlap cover on his steel helmet. The soldier to his left is wearing an overseas cap and a leather jerkin. The Doughboy to his left is wearing a steel helmet and woolen service coat with what might be a Red Cross brassard on the left sleeve.

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