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:
- He’s identified on the print as Pvt. John Illiano of the 102nd Ambulance Company
- He’s sporting a 26th Division uniform with at least 1 1/2 years overseas service
- He was one of the first 100,000 US soldiers to enlist (conjecture based on star)
- He’s most likely from New England at the time of enlistment
- 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”
A letter was delivered to Mr. Elmer Clark of 76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT. in February of 1918. I’ve included a snapshot of 76 Maple in the photo below:
76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT
The letter provides the Vermont World War One historian with a wonderful snapshot of life in France in the early days of American involvement. Sgt. Edward Clark was a truck driver who delivered supplies to front line troops but had the security of rear echelon protection to write his letters. Please enjoy this transcription and try to put yourself in Ed’s shoes:
Edward Clark Letter Cover
Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and feeling fine. We are stationed about 100 miles from the front and have to go up there every other day with supplies. To get back to when we first landed in France we received out trucks at a certain place and then drove them over land to General Headquarters. On reaching that place we were attached to that troop and have been with them ever since. The trip overland was about 400 miles so we had a good chance to see that part of the country. [Sgt. Clark appears to have refreshed his ink supply] From what I heard about France before I came over I thought that I would see greater things than we have in the States. But now if you should ask me I would say that France was 600 years behind the U.S.A. All there is to see is stone (Page Two)buildings two and tree stories high and the streets of Barre would make these streets look like a dump. When they talk about sunny France they will have to talk about it to someone else besides me.
I have received six or seven letters from Gin but none from you. What is the trouble, have you forgot that I am living? What is Elmer doing? From what I hear it must be a hard winter on him. We are in luck for one thing and that is we can go around part of the day in our shirt sleeves but in the morning and night we need our coats on. Not that it is so cold but it is damp and it goes right through you.
(Page Three) Is Royal staying with you yet? Gee it must seem good to him to get off the farm. How is Steve and all the rest of the folks? Well sis from the way things look over here we will be here for some time to come. Gee if I could only get back in the gold old U.S.A. They would never get me to come over here again. Well it is time for lights out so I will have to bring this to a close. Love to all. Write soon and often.
Sgt. Edward Clark
Motor Truck Co. 304
Want to read the letter in the original script?
Page 3 of Letter
Page 2 of Letter
Page 1 of Letter