WWI Portrait Photo – Lt. Carl Wehner, 141st Infantry Regiment, KIA at St. Etienne, France


A recent eBay purchase has lead me down a warren of research avenues that are helping shed light on the American involvement at the bloody fray at St. Etienne during the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in October of 1918. The photo depicts Lt. Carl Wehner with the following inscription on the verso:

“141st Inf., 36th Div. Lt. Carl Wehner killed Oct. 8, 1918 by a German sniper.”

It was this writing that pushed me to purchase the photo at a reasonable $25.00 in hopes of researching and fleshing out the life of the young Lieutenant and Wisconsin native who was killed in action only days after his 26th birthday.

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Lt. Carl Wehner in France, 1918

This photo was most likely taken a month or so before his death in October, as he is sporting a 6 month overseas service chevron on his left cuff. August or September would roughly be six months after his arrival from stateside officers training. He was selected to be a Lieutenant with Company K of the 141st Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division – a unit comprised mostly of southern boys from Texas and surrounding states. Having been born in Lincoln, Kansas and spending most of his life in Madison, Wisconsin, he originally enlisted with the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division but elected to train to become an officer. At the time of his enlistment, he lived at 925 West Dayton Street in Madison.

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Carl’s WWI Draft Registration Card

And I was able to find a fascinating account of his death while commanding Company K following the death of his Captain (Source – Entry by RavenHawk)

…It was near St. Etienne, as his captain layed dead, Wehner led his unit forward, until he himself was struck in the head, by enemy gunfire, and killed. One account of the battle (perhaps a little exagerated), said: “Lieutenat Wehner died with three machine gun bullets in his forehead and a smile on his lips as he led Company K of the 141st Infantry over the top after his captain was killed by the fire of the enemy.”….In a letter signed by the Marshall Of France, Commander in Chief of the French Armies of the East, Petain, it was written: “Lt. Wehner displayed audacity and disregard of danger during the operations near St. Etienne. At the head of his men, encouraging them with his skill, he largely contributed to the success of the operations which made it possible to capture all objectives. He was killed at his post of combat.” For his bravery, Wehner was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm for bravery….As for Wehner’s family, they didn’t find out until after Christmas, that Wehner had been killed, in battle…Wehner’s body was returned to Madison in 1921, and reburied at Forest Hill on 10/21/1921.

WWI Portrait Photo – 102nd Ambulance Company, 26th Division


This photograph is a true mystery for me. I can’t identify the sitter of this photograph even though there is so much information to work with:

  1. He’s identified on the print as Pvt. John Illiano of the 102nd Ambulance Company
  2. He’s sporting a 26th Division uniform with at least 1 1/2 years overseas service
  3. He was one of the first 100,000 US soldiers to enlist (conjecture based on star)
  4. He’s most likely from New England at the time of enlistment
  5. Probably Italian-American

I found a digital scan of this photo on War Relics Forum, a site dedicated to WWII artifact research. The OP of this photo, MD Helmets, doesn’t have any additional information but did claim he/she purchased it from Bay State Militaria back in 2013.

What do you guys think? Any leads?

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102nd Ambulance Company “Mystery Sitter”

WWII Canine Commando – Sgt. Hangover Delivers Well Deserved Kisses to Pvt. Carl Harris – WWII Mascot Dog in Action!


PortraitsofWar followers will know that this site focuses on photographs and vignettes of WWI and WWI soldiers whose stories have never been told. In tonight’s post, we will focus on the story of a young puppy and an equally young soldier who had their photo taken by a U.S. Signal Corps photographer in 1943 somewhere near Fort Eustis, VA. Often times the photos taken by Signal Corps photographers only circulate within very specific regional circles if at all. For example: a photograph of a Burlington, VT soldier is snapped in France while posing with a German tank; if the photo was otherwise unspectacular, prints of the photo may only be sent along to HQ and possibly to a local Vermont newspaper. Also, the photographer, after printing, had the option of requesting a copy of the photo for personal uses. A large percentage of WWII photographs were never printed due to lack of local interest, quality and context.

In this case, we have an incredible endearing photo of Private Carl Harris, a Battery Cook from New York City receiving a well deserved kiss from the unit mascot, Sergeant Hangover, a puppy that was adopted by his unit. Photos like these are what PortraitsofWar is all about!

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Private Harris and Sergeant Hangover in 1943

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1943 period information on the reverse

100 Years Later: Vermont’s Entry into the First World War


It has been called THE GREAT WAR and THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.

According to Tweets from WWI, the American intervention in the war can be summarized as:

There is only room for one: ‘s idealism vs. German ‘s imperialism (US caricature).

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Today, we know it as World War One (WWI). It began in 1914 and ended with an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The global toll had already reached nearly 40 million casualties, including American losses of 117,465 dead and 204,002 wounded.

100 Years Ago Today

After War was officially declared (House and Senate) on April 6th, 1917 the U.S. began preparations to enter the quagmire of European trench warfare.

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Vermonter John Corcoran (r) in WWI

In June of 1917, U.S. transport ships carrying nearly 15,000 U.S. troops (many from New England) in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) approached the shores of France, these soldiers would join the Allied fight against the Central Powers.  They disembarked at the port of Saint Nazaire; the landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were said to be untrained and ill-equipped, untested for the rigors of fighting along the Western Front.

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PortraitsofWar’s WWI Smithsonian Cover

As U.S. troops landed in France, Americans were mindful of a 125+ year old debt owed that nation. France had been the colonists’ most important ally during the Revolutionary War, having supplied money, material and military brains. The Marquis de Lafayette had fought beside Patriot soldiers, equipping some of them at his own expense. He won the affection of George Washington and became a hero to the young nation. Urged on by Lafayette, France had sent ships, troops, and arms that played a key role in the Patriots’ victory. In early July 1917, the newly arrived American Expeditionary Force troops marched under the Arc de Triomphe, cheered by the people of Paris. In a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb, where the Frenchman lies buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, an American officer lay down a wreath of pink and white roses. Another officer stepped forward, snapped a salute, and declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”

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Earl F. Lavallee of Winooski, VT in Germany, 1918.

As followers of PortraitsofWar will know, we take a great pride in providing interesting and never-before-seen imagery and narration of wartime photography ranging from the American Civil War to the Korean War. In most cases, I take an authentic photograph from my personal collection and work towards uncovering various details that hopefully elucidate some aspect of the photo.

101st Ammunition Train

In this case, I worked the other way around. My familiarity with the First World War history of the State of Vermont is well known to followers of this blog as well as within my home state. One of my favorite Vermont units to serve in the war was the 101st Ammunition Train of the 26th “Yankee Division”.

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Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) and David Schütz (Vermont State Curator) inspecting WWI flags

Only a week ago I was lucky enough to be invited into the bowels of the Vermont Historical Society storage area to inspect a series of American Civil War flags with a few colleagues of mine from work. While in the holding area I mentioned that a series of WWI groups had donated regimental flags and/or guidons to the State of Vermont in the years following the war.

Although I can be a bit fuzzy in my recollections, I apparently had my facts straight and we moved a series of shelves to uncover the aforementioned flags. As I fingered through the labels I instantly recognized the attribution: 101st flags. Please see below for a bit of insight into my recollection…

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101st Ammunition Train Guidon Donation Alert, Burlington Free Press, February, 1919

Ok – So my first attempt at searching on the Library of Congress Newspaper website turned up only one reference to the flags, I kept searching (tried COLORS) and came up with this…

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Flags presented

The above snippit from a 1919 Burlington Free Press article reads:

Colors Presented

War Flags and Shields Presented to State

Montpelier, Oct. 23 – The presentation of the colors and shields of the organizations from Vermont participating in the the world war occurred this evening in the State House with some 200 veterans attending and over 400 spectators in the seats of the representative hall and balcony.

The services were fitting and were attended by many of the men who have been prominent in the connection with the war. Col. F.B. Thomas presided over the exercise and the program carried out consisted of the “History of the 57th Pioneer Infantry” Capt. Ernest W. Gibson – Brattleboro

Presentation of colors – First Vermont and 57th Pioneer Infantry, Col. F. B. Thomas… History and presentation of colors of 302nd Field Artillery , Color Sergeant Albert J. Seguin of Newport.

History and presentation of 101st Ammunition Train Col. William J. Keville of Boston Mass.

Presentation of guidon, Company E. 101st Ammunition Train, Capt. Harold M. Howe of Northfield, VT.

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Ca. 1919 Co. E101st Ammunition Train guidon photo (from Brennan C. Gauthier Collection)

Presentation of guidon, Company F 101st Ammunition Train, Captain McMath

Presentation of guidon, Company G, 101st Ammunition Train, Chester Mooney of Newport.

As I stated earlier, I remembered the fact that the 101st and the 302nd had presented the State of Vermont with standards and guidons from prominent units representing Vermont involvement in the war. The following photos show the results of my inquiries:

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Left to Right: Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) an David Schütz (Vermont State Curator)

In the above photo we have just unrolled the 101st Ammunition Train guidons from their muslin cocoons. Present are representative samples of Co. C, G, F and E of the 101st. Each of these matches with the above 1919 article. How amazing is it to read a 98 year old article about a presentation and see the EXACT pieces in living color?

I’m particular excited about the Co. E guidon. I own a ratty panoramic photo taken of the unit when they returned in 1919. Click here to see ever single facial feature of the men in that group.

Ok – so here’s a photo of the guidon taken right before donation in 1919:

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And here’s the guidon today (my big head is at the left edge of the frame):

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WWI guidons of the 101st Ammunition Train

Also, I requested that the regimental flag of the 302nd Field Artillery be brought out for photographing. Special thanks to Jonathan Croft for being the photographer!

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302nd Field Artillery

Has it really been 100 years?

A Vermont Relic of Pickett’s Charge: Lt. John T. Sinnott’s Gettysburg Hardee Hat


 

“Boys, lie down or you’ll surely be hit!”

– John T. Sinnott, July 3rd, 1863

“John Sinnott, a schoolteacher from Rutland — raised up to caution the men to stay low and was himself mortally wounded, struck in the head by a shell fragment.”

Lt. John Sinnott’s Hardee Hat

Today’s post is centered around the highlight of an upcoming (March 25th, 2017) militaria and sporting goods auction from the collection of Vermont Civil War collector Marius Peladeau. I was able to check out some of the fantastic items that will be highlighted at the auction and was especially blown away by one item in particular. It’s a rare occasion to be able to tie a 150+ year old item to a particular soldier – it’s an even rarer occasion to tie that item and soldier to an exact moment during a historically significant battle that changed the course of American history. In this case, that soldier was Lt. John Sinnott, and the event was the repulse of Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd, 1863.

Lt. Sinnott took a piece of Rebel shrapnel in the forehead shortly after telling his troops in his Irish brogue:

Boys, lie down or you’ll surely be hit!

This last utterance was noted by Heman W. Allen in the Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment of Vermont Volunteers, 1861-1865. This quote was spoken in the heated moments of the Confederate artillery bombardment preceding Pickett’s Charge. Close friend and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain John Lonergan said of the death of his close friend:

I lay by his side when wounded that terrible day…I tied his head with my kerchief and dropt a tear on his aching brow. He could not speak – he was senseless! His eyes were closed by the enemies’ guns. My eyes burned with tears for his relatives and friends… his father, mother, sisters, brothers, three thousand miles away the exile dies in a foreign land in defense of Ireland’s hope, the starry flag. For nearly a year we marched together, we fought together.

Sinnott apparently anticipated his fate and died shortly thereafter (July 6th) in a field hospital with a note in his pocket that bid farewell to his bethrothed as well as where to send his property in case he should die in battle. His shrapnel-ridden hat was sent back to Vermont along with his body. He was buried in Bridget’s Cemetery in West Rutland. His hat was kept and passed down in his family where it was later purchased by Vermont Civil War collector Marius Peladeau. Mr. Peladeau has consigned the hat along with hundreds of other items in his collection to the Duane Merrill and Company auction house in Williston, Vermont. 

The hat is estimated to sell for $8,000-$12,000 on March 25th, 2017. I will update this post with a final selling price at that time.

Want to bid on this item? Click the hat below!

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Want to know more about Vermont’s involvement at Gettysburg?

The following article was written by Liam McKone and appeared in the Burlington Free Press on July 4th, 2014

In early July of 1863, as tens of thousands of men in blue and gray clashed in battle, a Burlington resident distinguished himself with conspicuous gallantry in his only fight during the Civil War.

Midway through the war, two key victories for the federal army struggling to preserve the Union marked a turning point in the conflict. The audacious invasion of the north by Gen. Robert E. Lee that posed a threat to the nation’s capital was repulsed at Gettysburg on July 3. The next day Maj.r Gen. Ulysses S. Grant forced the surrender of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, which gave the Union control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two.

Lee’s defeat prevented a situation that might have ended the conflict with victory for the southern states. Public reaction to the capture of Washington by the rebels or yet another stunning defeat of Union forces — this time on their home territory — could have forced President Lincoln to come to terms with the Confederacy, allowing them to secede from the Union as they desired.

The crucial task of opposing Lee at Gettysburg fell to a new commander as Lincoln replaced “Fighting Joe” Hooker with Maj. Gen. George G. Meade on June 28. Hooker had constantly demanded that more soldiers be assigned to his Army of the Potomac. Before Lincoln ran out of patience with Hooker, the president had agreed to transfer major units from the defenses of Washington to augment the field troops pursuing Lee north.

One such unit was the Second Vermont Brigade composed of five regiments from the state, the 12th through the 16th, nearly 5,000 soldiers who had enlisted for nine months service the previous fall. Their enlistments had almost expired when the brigade was assigned to the First Corps, the lead element of Meade’s forces already well to the north. Guarding a quiet sector of Virginia along the Occoquan River with only an occasional skirmish against rebel cavalry, these Vermont units had never been tested in battle.

Despite worn-out shoes and the summer heat, the brigade marched 120 miles from Virginia to Pennsylvania in six days, each day rotating the less dusty place at the head of the column among the five regiments. Arriving at the First Corps camp on July 1, the 12th and 15th Vermont were assigned guard duty and the three remaining regiments rushed to join the Battle of Gettysburg lready underway.

Capt. John Lonergan’s Company A, 13th Vermont, was leading the column early that afternoon when they reached the crest of a hill and saw the battlefield awaiting them.

Lonergan had recruited Vermont’s only ethnic unit, mostly Irishmen from Burlington and Rutland, plus a dozen Yankees from Westford. His ultimate purpose was to provide trained soldiers for the Fenian Brotherhood dedicated to liberating Ireland from British rule. In 1861, Lonergan had supplied a company for the 2nd Vermont from his Emmet Guards militia unit in Burlington, but it was disbanded by Gov. Fairbanks for failing to assemble on time. for the regimental muster (perhaps some drink had been taken on the eve of departure for war.) The teetotaler Republican governor disliked Lonergan for being an immigrant, an Irishman, a Catholic, a Democrat and a drinker.

Lonergan received authorization in 1862 from Fairbanks’ successor to raise another company. Always brash, Lonergan claimed seniority in the 13th Vermont based on his earlier captaincy and was granted the designator “A” for his new company, even though official state records do not show him being commissioned for either post.

As senior company, his soldiers held the right flank of the battle line at Gettysburg, the traditional position of honor.

Brig. Gen. George J. Stanndard’s Second Vermont Brigade, three regiments near the authorized strength of a thousand men each, were welcome reinforcements to the Union troops on Cemetery Ridge south of Gettysburg. Although “green” troops not yet tested in battle, the Vermont units were used to plug gaps in the line. On the evening of July 2, five companies of the 13th Vermont held in reserve were ordered by Second Corp commander Maj. Gen. Winfried S. Hancock to retake four Union cannon captured at nearby Emmitsburg Road.

Longergan led his “Irish Company” as they shouted the ancient Gaelic battle cry “Faugh a ballagh!” warning the enemy to “Clear the way!” and reached the cannon first. Once the heavy weapons were safely on the way back to the Union lines, the captain turned his attention to a nearby farmhouse from which rebels were firing on the Vermonters.

Clearly Lonergan “had his Irish up.” He stationed his 50 men near the house, kicked in the door, and demanded that the rebels come out and surrender. More than 80 rebel soldiers and officers meekly complied, only to discover that they outnumbered their captors. On the triumphant return to Union lines in the gathering dusk, a veteran soldier on Cemetery Ridge who had watched the nearly suicidal tactics of Lonergan asked the returning “Irish Company” who they were. “We’re the Green Mountain Boys,” an Irishman proudly answered, whereupon the veteran commented drily, “Well, I knew you were green or you would never have charged down there.”

For this gallant action, Lonergan was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Fitfully dozing among the dead rebels killed in the assault earlier that day, the 13th and 14th Vermont spent that night in the main Union line while the 16th Vermont deployed as skirmishers along Emmetsburg Road. Lonergan’s unit, the senior company in the senior regiment on the field of battle, crouched on the right flank of the Vermont brigade behind a low stone wall. A prolonged artillery duel began at 1 p.m. on July 3; even the greenest soldier knew this was preparation for another infantry attack. Capt. James Rorty’s New York battery next to Lonergan’s company took heavy losses and needed volunteers to help keep the cannon firing. Rorty, secretary of the Fenian Brotherhood for the Army of the Potomac, called on his fellow Fenians nearby and they left their shelter to join the cannon crew. (Rorty, stripped to the waist like an Irish warrior of old, was killed at his guns before the battle ended.)

To escape the fierce pounding of the Confederate artillery, the 13th and 14th Vermont moved forward a hundred yards into the slight protection afforded by the swale of Plum Run, now down to a trickle of water in the July heat. Behind hasty fortifications of fence rails, the men hugged the ground and waited for the rebel assault that was sure to come. As the artillery firing slackened, Lonergan’s second in command — John Sinnott, a schoolteacher from Rutland — raised up to caution the men to stay low and was himself mortally wounded, struck in the head by a shell fragment. When the bombardment ceased, the soldiers could see a Confederate battle line almost a mile wide forming across the valley on Seminary Ridge. The Vermonters were facing some 15,000 well-armed and hardened fighters, now reinforced by Pickett’s fresh division. Stannard brought the 16th Vermont back from its vulnerable position as skirmishers, reuniting the three regiments of his brigade in an isolated pocket in front of the Union line.

When the rebel troops came within range, Stannard’s men opened fire with great effect and seemed to drive the attacking soldiers aside, rather than charging right over the Vermonters. In reality, Pickett’s units were marching deliberately to their left in order to achieve the shock effect of a column and punch a hole in the Union line at the copse of trees used as a landmark for the maneuver. As they passed by on the right of the Vermont line, the rebels were masked from the Vermonters’ muskets, except for a few in Lonergan’s company.

To rectify this situation, the order was given — both Hancock and Stannard later claimed credit—for the 13th and 16th Vermont to move forward by the right flank. This placed Lonergan in the lead of the two regiments as they displaced in a column to march within “half pistol shot” distance from the flank of the rebel mass now charging up Cemetery Ridge.

Lonergan placed his orderly sergeant James Scully, also from Burlington, to mark the pivot point and ordered his men to “change front forward” to form a double row of muskets leveled at Pickett’s soldiers. In turn, each company of the 13th and then the 16th Vermont performed the same action to connect up with the “Irish Company,” first moving in a column of fours and then forming a battle line extending almost to Emmitsburg Road. A ripple of volleys smashed into the mass of rebels; then each Vermonter loaded and fired as rapidly as he could, hardly necessary to take aim at such a large and essentially defenseless target.

Met with concentrated small arms fire to their front — some smoothbore muskets left by rebels on July 2 were now turned on them with deadly double loads of buckshot — and canister from cannon now acting as giant shotguns, the rebel charge stalled and hung in the balance. Then Pickett’s men on the right flank also began suffering devastating casualties as Vermonters poured .58 caliber rifle slugs into them at short range.

Some Vermonters fired a dozen and more times, particularly the first men to arrive on the new battle line. Those few Confederates on the edge of the attacking column who could bring their weapons to bear began to return fire and soldiers in the Vermont units also fell dead or wounded. Lonergan lost four men killed and six wounded as they were exposed the longest to this exchange of lead from musket and pistol, yet he was himself unharmed. Finally the rebels broke, streaming back down the hill and leaving hundreds of dead, wounded, and prisoners behind.

The Second Vermont Brigade joined in the pursuit of Lee on his retreat to Virginia. As their enlistments expired, the regiments were pulled out to return for discharge. The 13th Vermont left on July 10 and was mustered out at Brattleboro on July 20. Lonergan’s company took a train back to Burlington, dropping off the contingent from Rutland en route. The next day the remaining members were greeted as heroes in ceremonies at City Hall Park in Burlington and the “Irish Company” faded away into the mists of history.

WWI 26th Division Chaplain Photo – Bloomfield, VT Native Arthur LeVeer in France, 1918


It’s always fun to sift through assorted boxes from my collection in search of new material to post here to PortraitofWar. In tonight’s case, I stumbled across a portrait shot of a WWI Catholic chaplain from my adopted home of Vermont!  With only 16,000 soldiers, marines and sailors during WWI, Vermont is a hard state to collect.

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102nd Infantry Regiment Chaplain Arthur J. LeVeer in 1918

Chaplain Arthur Joseph LaVeer was born along the Connecticut River in the Northeast Kingdom (a regional name) town of Bloomfield, Vermont on February 3rd, 1886. Commissioned as a 1st Lt. on August 22nd, 1918, LeVeer was quickly sent overseas to serve as a chaplain with the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th “Yankee Division.”

Identified chaplain photos are incredibly hard to find on the open market, and to find an example taken overseas showing a unit patch and chaplain insignia makes this an exciting acquisition. Father LeVeer served at St. Norbert’s Church in Hardwick for the remainder of his life; this is a spot that I’ve passed hundreds of times during my life without giving a second thought to the WWI history of the area.

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Arthur’s WWI Record

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Arthur’s WWII Draft Card

Rev. Arthur LeVeer is buried in the Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Saint Albans, Franklin County, Vermont.

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LeVeer in the 1960s

WWI Panoramic Photo – Bumpkin Island Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Navy Training Center 1917 (LARGE PHOTO – BEWARE)


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Bumpkin Island 1917

 

I love digitizing WWI panoramic photos and the photo found above is a great example of an interesting panoramic with some good New England history behind it.  The image was shot in front of Burrage Hospital on Bumpkin Island, one of the Boston Harbor islands.  The camp was used by the U.S. Navy as a training camp.

The Burrage Hospital originally comprised a main hospital building measuring 175’ x 160’, two large covered open-air play houses, a bathing pavilion and a dock. The hospital is near the center of the island, about 80’ above the low water mark and faces south. Its general plan is that of a widened letter “H,” with an extension from the middle of the building back and contained three stories and a basement.

According to David J. Russo:

On the north side of the building, the basement was above ground because of the grading of the island. The south side contained two solariums on both the first and second floors (one set each for boys and girls) and the administrative offices. The two wings of the building contained the hospital wards and measured 25’ x 105.’

Along the front of the building and partly around the sides, ran a porch ten feet wide.

On the interior was a series of ramps between floors to make it easier for those who could not climb stairs, either due to disability or because confinement to wheelchair. This is likely one of the first uses of such ramps in a hospital setting.

The first floor contained an entry vestibule, reception room, matron’s room, matron’s bedroom, nurses room, pharmacy, doctors’ office, doctors’ bedrooms, four large wards, two small wards, two lavatories, four ward bathrooms, clothes storage room, two sewing rooms, linen closet, dining room, administration room, scullery and storage room.

The second floor was divided into four principal large wards, seven small wards, library, suite of three rooms, students’ room, three lavatories, four bathrooms, six bedrooms for hospital staff, operating room, sterilizing room, surgeons’ room, bandage room, etherizing room, and recovery room.

The attic held five dormitories, six closets and bathrooms. In the basement were two mens’ rooms, four lavatories, two furnace rooms, store rooms, play rooms, coal room, laundry room, drying room, cold storage room and ice room.

The exterior was composed of yellow brick, terra cotta, Indiana limestone trim and a green slate roof. Overall, the building took on the form of a seaside cottage, complete with symmetrical gables and ample porches.

During WWI, the island was taken over for use as a U.S. Naval Training camp, with the hospital serving as the Administration Building. The camp was dismantled after the war. The hospital reopened briefly in about 1940 for polio patients but closed during WWII, and burned in 1946.

 

 

 

 

WWII Aerial Recon Photo: Burning German Convoy During Battle of the Bulge


alvaalegre059In a follow up to the popularity of my last post (see here), I’ve decided to begin scanning my collection of large format 12×12 inch aerial photos taken during the Battle of the Bulge.  In this first post, we see a German motorized transport convoy in ruins following a strafing attack by P-47’s of the XAX Tactical Air Command (TAC) on January 23rd, 1945.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

I’ve taken the time to crop the shot for close up views below.  With some luck, followers of this page may be able to track down the exact location of this image!  Good luck guys!

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January 23rd, 1945

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Rare Aerial Photo of Gliders Taken After Operation Varsity, March 1945


Taken on March 25th, 1945, this image was snapped by a low-flying P-38 or P-51 of the 363rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

This large format photo, taken a day after the strategic landing of two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine River near the village of Hamminkeln and the Town of Wesel, Germany.  Know as Operation Varsity, the landing is regarded by many historians as the most successful airborne landing carried out during WWII.  Although I tend to argue such facts, the point is that the landing led to the quickening of the end of the war.

This series of photos provides an incredibly detailed view of the aftermath of the glider landings and a general layout of trenches, hedgerows and landscape features that may be obfuscated today.  These images can be found in many books and through government archives but may be of lesser quality due to multiple reproductions.  Enjoy!

 

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Large Format Aerial Photo Showing Airborne Gliders, March 25th, 1945

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Thanksgiving in the First World War: U.S.Base Hospital #6 Holiday Menu Card


I’ve been lucky in the past few years to pick up some fun WWI shots of US female nurses and auxiliary service members photographed while serving overseas in 1918 and 1919.  US women in France were vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts, and to be able to positively identify a nurse is a fun way to learn about female service roles during the war.  In this case, I was able to purchase a small group of photos and a Thanksgiving menu from a woman in Base Hospital #6 stationed in Bordeaux, France during the war.  The standing studio portrait was identified on the reverse as H.K. Judd of Base Hospital 6.  On a whim I searched for Helen K. Judd (thinking that Helen was a likely candidate for H) and came up with a positive hit on a woman named Helen K. Judd from Southhampton, Mass.  I cross referenced with the digitized passport records from 1917 and 1918 and had a positive match.  Luckily the passport applications come with little snapshots of the applicants.   The amount of material available to identify WWI photos is incredible.

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Base Hospital #6 Thanksgiving Menu

So what was served up on Thanksgiving, 1918? 

Given the recent cessation of hostilities on November 11th, the nurses and ailing soldiers of the AEF had a lot to be thankful for in 1918.  How did they celebrate?

US Dietitian Ellen W. Wells was someone who likely put together the well-rounded meal seen in the above menu.  With appetizers of celery and olives, the nurses, doctors and assorted hospital staff and wounded next moved to a main course of roast stuffed turkey, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, green peas and creamed onions.  For desert they gorged on mince pie and an oddity in Europe, pumpkin pie.  After dinner snacks included fruit, nuts, raisins, bon-bons and coffee.  And to top it all off, the men and women were provided with cigars.  What a meal!

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Helen K. Judd in France, 1918