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?


102nd Ambulance Company “Mystery Sitter”

3 thoughts on “WWI Portrait Photo – 102nd Ambulance Company, 26th Division

  1. Have been working on story of James B. Norris of Crab Orchard, TN. Cannot figure out how he ended up in the 26th Infantry Company F, WWI. He died of combat wounds July 18, 1918. There is a military grave marker for him at a local cemetery with this unit the and words, SS—PH; which I take to be Silver Star (former citation star) Posthumous. If this marker is correct, then not all the “Yankee Division”: were from the North East. Just a clue. .

    • Hello Barbara,

      SS stands for Silver Star and PH stands for Purple Heart. I think you may be a bit confused in regards to the Yankee Division designation. I just pulled some records and James was a member of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division. The 26th Division, the Yankee Division, was an entirely different unit. It’s easy to confuse the two. If I can be of any help please let me know. I’m familiar with the 1st Division and may be able to pinpoint the exact location he was killed with a little sleuthing.


  2. Hello,
    I’m working on the 102nd Ambulance Company so can confirm that Illiano, also spelled Elliano, was a resident of Bridgeport, CT, who joined the CT national guard ambulance company that became the 102nd Ambulance Company in the 26th, Yankee Division. He volunteered for the trench fever experiments that occurred in February-April 1918. The details on his subsequent service are sketchy, but this photo would date after the YD shoulder insignia was mandated in October 1918.

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