Sometimes a little research and hard work pay off. In this case, I received a WWI 26th Division portrait in the mail from a friend in Pennsylvania. I knew it was a good image given the subject matter and the fact that the soldier was likely from the Lewiston area given the photographers embossed stamp. Not an easy task. I counted a dozen or so guys in a thirty mile radius of Lewiston that were possible contenders. Lots of Maine men were members of the 26th during the war, and it’s not always easy to associate a location given a photographers stamp.
Mellen F. Tuttle
With a little forensic work I was able to figure out the identity of our mysterious hero. Since I’ve handled thousands of vintage photos and negatives, I know that photographers often penciled info on the back of the print, or etched names/numbers on the bottom of the original negative. The numbers would cross reference to a name and address to ship the photo. In this case I was lucky to find a name etched on the original negative. Obviously it was in reverse on the positive image, so I flipped it 180 degrees with photoshop and tweaked the contrast and brightness. Bingo, a name appeared. Tuttle. A quick search found a Mellen F. Tuttle from New Gloucester, ME who served as a private in Company B of the 103rd Infantry Regiment.
Further research shows that his actual name was Francis Mellen Tuttle, but he went by Mellen F. Tuttle during the war. After an hour of searching in vain for the death records of Mellen F. Tuttle, I decided to search for birth records for the Tuttle family in Maine. I came across a Francis M. Tuttle Jr. and clicked on the birth record. His father was Francis Mellen Tuttle! Everything fell into place after that. Please see the end of the article for a photo of his grave showing his name as Francis M. Tuttle. Somehow he made it all the way to Los Angeles and passed away in 1961!
His feat of bravery occured on July 20th, 1918 on Hill 190 near Rochet Woods, Chateau Thierry. Mellen was with an automatic rifle team of Co. B of the 103rd when all of his fellow soldiers wounded. He single-handedly advanced on an enemy MG nest and forced them to retreat. His detachment was able to advance due to his bravery.
Reversed photographer etching
Lewiston, ME Photographers Stamp
Maine soldier registry entry
Name: Mellen F. Tuttle
Serial Number: 67163
Birth Place: Freeport, Maine
Age: 22 6/12 yrs.
Residence: New Gloucester
Comment: Enl: NG Augusta, May 30/17. Pvt 1st cl Jan. 2/18; Cpl July 18/19. Org: Co B 2 Inf Me NG (Co B 103 Inf) to Mar. 6/19; 291 Co MPC to disch. Eng: St Mihiel; Defensive Sector. Awarded French Croix de Guerre; awarded DSC. Overseas: Sept. 26/17 to Aug. 3/19. Hon disch on demob: Aug. 8, 1919.
Note the Chateau Thierry reference on the grave marker!
I’ve been lucky enough to acquire another 1944 color slide to add to my growing collection of slides from Walter Huff, a WWII Marine pilot. This one is especially interesting as it shows his name on his yellow inflatable life vest. Slick hair too!
I love collecting WWI albums and named photo groupings. They are much harder to come by compared with the relatively plentiful single photo purchases. In this case, I was able to come across a wonderful grouping of photos from the grandson of a WWI 31st Engineer veteran. I promised to post the photos on the site to help raise interest in this obscure unit and help bring this man’s photos to the digital world. Digital preservation allows thousands of viewers to enjoy images that would otherwise be relegated to the corner of a dusty upstairs closet. I will do my best to describe what I can about the unit and share a few biographical vignettes.
Pvt. Herbert Conner posed in France
“My grandfather was born in 1892 in Fordsville, Kentucky later the family moved to Amity Oregon and later to St Helens, Oregon. As a young man he was a prizefighter(that what they called them in those days). He was a logger for awhile later he went to work in Portland, Oregon for the railroad before the war and after the war he continued with the railroad for over forty years as a fireman and an engineer. He never owned a car and the station was about two blocks from his house and Kelly’s Bar and the grocery store were across the street from work so I guess he felt he didn’t need one. He passed away in 1968.
Grandpa was very proud to have served in World War 1. I do not believe he was in combat. The 31st engineers provided supplies and transported troops. The only story I can remember when he was on guard duty in France and a soldier had gone awol for the night, apparently celebrating and didn’t know the password or had forgotten it and Grandpa felt sorry for him and let him back in the camp. It has been such a long time ago there were probably other things that happened that I can’t remember right now. He must have spent some time at the French Riviera and Monte Carlo because there was a lot of postcards from that area and one postcard to his brother had him on the Italian Riviera for awhile.”
Some Guys from A Company
SS Manchuria in Port (Not the return ship for the 31st)
Check back for updates…………….
UVM SATC (Photo Courtesy of UVM Special Collections)
Drafted UVM Students (Photo Courtesy of UVM Special Collections)
My search for WWI Vermont photography continued this week at the University of Vermont’s Special Collections Annex. Utilizing the Louis McAllister Collection database, I was able to track down two panoramic photographs taken at UVM in 1918. This particular shot was taken in front of Williams Science Hall located on the UVM green. I spent much of my time as an undergraduate studying in this building, so this photograph is particularly close to my heart.
This first photo was taken by McAllister on October 31st, 1918. The new class of the S.A.T.C. was just inducted on October 23rd, just a week before this photo was taken. Although the quality of the image is lacking, the content speaks volumes.
The second photo was taken a few months earlier, in July of 1918, and shows the first round of students from UVM to be drafted. McAllister enjoyed using the Williams Hall entrance as a backdrop for his photographs; this is a panoramic style we see until the early 1960s.
While searching for reference material, I came across this advertisement from the 1918 Ariel yearbook of UVM. It looks like Louis McAllister was a supporter of UVM!
Courtesy of UVM Special Collections
Special thanks to the UVM Special Collections crew for helping me with my search. All photos in this post are courtesy of UVM Special Collections.
2nd Army Engineer
The crisp details of this photo make it the best 2nd Army portrait in my collection. Although we can’t know which Engineering unit he served with (there were many in the 2nd Army), we can deduce a few things from the elements present in the photo. The crisp focus on his collar discs allow us to see that he was in Company E of an engineering unit of the 2nd Army. Note that the disc on his cap lacks the E designation. His 2nd Army SSI patch is well stitched and placed perfectly below the shoulder line. His WWI victory ribbon has one campaign star. A super example of a 2nd Army photo!
2nd Army Patch
Picked up a nice 15 slide Korean War grouping on ebay this past week. After doing some research on the USS Okanogan (APA-220) I found that it took part in the evacuation at Chinnampo in December of 1950. Looking at the photos, it is obvious that they were taken around Christmas time – and there are some shots of civilian and POW evacuees as well as a nice image of some 3rd Division soldiers.
I picked up this little gem in a Palmer Massachusetts antique store a few months back and never took the time to look at the photo closely until this past week. The frame was intricately created; something not often seen in run of the mill WWI photos. The gold stars on the corners and bottom of the image should have been a dead giveaway. Once I decided to look at the photo a little closer, I took the frame apart from the back and began to uncover the identity of the soldier depicted in the image. I knew he was a member of the 7th Infantry Regiment; this was evidenced in the collar disc. The 7th New York eventually became the 107th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Division. Harold was in Company H.
The reverse of the photo was beautifully inscribed with everything I needed to know to track this fellow down.
Harold Edward Manners
Killed in France in the
Great War, Sept. 29th 1918
aged 23 years
After extensive research I’ve learned that Harold was killed during the operations before the Hindeburg Line east of Ronssoy, September 29th, 2918. His citation for the day reads:
“This soldier, with great gallantry and determination, advanced against unusually difficult enemy positions composed of strongly fortified machine gun nests until killed.”
I found an auction result online that showed his medals which were sold in 2008 at an auction in NY. A beautifully inscribed NY veterans medal for a KIA was included. I wish I had that grouping!
Harold E. Manners – KIA Meuse-Argonne 1918
Today’s post comes from my growing collection of 78th Division portrait photos. Although we don’t know his specific unit designation, we do have his name and company. Taken in a French studio, Alex Lindell was posed in a manner which allows the viewer to see his maimed hand. The fact that he was wounded is evidenced by a visible wound chevron on his right hand sleeve. The stitching is barely visible.
Alex Lindell of the 78th Division
Straight from the bowels of my studio portrait collection comes this well-composed studio image of a Yankee Division medic. Judging by his discharge stripe on the left sleeve of his tunic, I would say that this photo was taken upon his return to the States in 1919. Other visible insignia include an OS chevron and a Yankee Division pin on his cap. Another great 26th Division shot!
A fresh grouping straight from the hallowed halls of eBay! A wonderful selection of armor and scenery shots taken in 1951 by a member of the 987th Armored Field Artillery. The unit was supplied with M7 Priest tanks and served as an artillery support unit. The colors and scenes of the Korean War pop into life!