Today’s post comes after a bit of head scratching and internet searching that eventually lead to an interesting discovery (for me) of a WWI story that has somehow remained unknown to me until this blog post. It involves the Czech Legions of WWI…
The above photo, and the postcard below, were sent to a Mike Stendronsky of Cleveland, Ohio in the waning months of 1918 from his brother who had just arrived in France to fight as part of the Czech Legion. Check out the video at the bottom of this post to learn a little about the Czech Legion in WWI…
It is never easy to identify someone from a photograph taken nearly 100 years ago, but it’s even more difficult solely based on obscure details from his/her clothing. In today’s blog post I will focus on a photograph purchased on eBay from a fantastic seller named Colleen ( eBay name: cacdivi) who recently sold me a superb French real photo postcard of an American chaplain posed in a studio during World World I (WWI). Here’s the shot:
The scene is fairly typical of what was common of the time period: WWI soldiers/sailors/marine/nurses posed in photo studios in far off places in order to document their experiences to send to relatives and friends. In this case, a currently-unidentified US chaplain (see the crucifix on his shoulder and cap?) strikes a chin-up pose for a French photographer. How do we know that the photo was taken in France?
French postcard paper during WWI almost always contains a central vertical dividing mark with CARTE POSTALE emblazoned across the top. I’ve noted a fair number of varieties likely due to differences in production, but the main bulk of French postcard paper of the period look very similar to the above scan.
Dissection of Photographic Context
What are we looking at? I’ve already mentioned that the man posed in the photo is a US chaplain in a French studio during the war. But what details have I been pondering while waiting for the photo to arrive in my mailbox? (Thanks to Colleen – you rock!)
- The chaplain has served at least six months in Europe
- He was wounded or gassed at least once during his service
- The photo was likely taken during wartime (before the armistice)
- He is oddly sporting a mustache and goatee
- He is wearing an identification bracelet made in France
Why is a photograph of a wounded chaplain posed in a wartime studio worthy of devoting hours of research to? According to a website devoted to military chaplains, the number of wartime chaplains during WWI was incredibly low:
In 1918, Congress passed an act that called for one chaplain for every 1200 officers and enlisted men. Bishop Hayes, in a letter to Cardinal Farley, informs Farley of the current number of chaplains overseas. As of June 1918 there were 301 chaplains in the Army, 30 in the Navy, 7 with the Red Cross, 2 interpreters, and 95 volunteer or Knights of Columbus chaplains.
This photo most likely represents an Army chaplain included in the above June 1918 census: any US chaplain who served at least six months service would’ve been present in France in June of 1918. And to have been wounded or gassed, our unidentified chaplain was likely present during the earlier battles of the US involvement of the war.
Okay, so we know our chaplain was wounded, was photographed at some point in the spring or summer of 1918 and likely served in an Army division that arrived early (for the Americans). His identity, based on date, is narrowed down to 1 in 301 – a pretty good number when it comes to identifying a photo taken 100 years ago. Also, based on rules, he has to be less than 45 years of age.
But what was required to be a US chaplain in WWI? Before researching this photo I had no idea of the low number of volunteers or the actual requirements for acceptance. My personal photo collection contains a half dozen photos of chaplains, which is a surprisingly high number based on the scarcity of the subject matter. I was lucky to track down a copy of the rules and regs of chaplainhood here: http://archnyarchives.org/2015/11/10/military-chaplains-in-world-war-i/
Official Chaplain Requirements
Requirements for Commissioned Army Chaplaincies
- The law provides that no person shall be appointed chaplain in the Army who on the date of appointment is more than forty-five years of age.
- Applicants must be a citizen of the United States either by birth or naturalization. Must produce at examination proof of naturalization and must not have been born in enemy alien territory.
- Health and eyesight must be in excellent condition; if glasses are worn sight must be at least 12:20 in each eye without glass.
- Weight must be proportionate.
- Must produce an examination certificate of graduation from an approved College or Seminary which includes collegiate course. If not a graduate candidate must be prepared to stand mental test in general subjects: history, geography, arithmetic. etc.
- It is most desirable that each applicant write a letter addressed to the Secretary of War setting forth fully his qualifications such as experience with societies, clubs, dramatic circles, and knowledge of foreign languages. This letter must be be enclosed with application and sent to the Chaplain Bishop.
- Formal application must be made on regular blanks made by the War Department. These Blanks should be applied for to the Ordinariate, 142 East 29th Street, New York City.
- Must enclose to the Chaplain Bishop a formal letter of permission from his Ordinary.
- Must send a small photographic print of himself.
For now I have a good bit of information to extend my research with. Until then, stay tuned!
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.
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!
My daily jogging routine takes me past St. Joseph Cemetery in Burlington, VT; this cemetery is fairly discrete with no over-the-top entryway and is located in a section of Burlington typically used as a pass-between for the Old North End and the UVM campus. St. Joseph is the oldest Catholic cemetery in Burlington, and primarily consists of Irish-Catholic and French-Catholic burials. The cemetery property was donated by Col. Archibald Waterman Hyde (1786-1847) in 1830, a War of 1812 veteran who served as Barracks Master in Burlington during the war. According to his FindaGrave.com entry, Hyde:
“In his later years he affected antique costumes and habits, dressed in small-clothes, wore knee- and shoe-buckles, or long boots, with a long cue hanging down his back; eulogized the forefathers, and lamented the degeneracy of their descendants. He was a man of his word, a faithful friend, open-handed to the poor. He never married.”
An interesting side-piece to this post! (So many questions about Hyde….) Now let’s focus on William F. Duggan…
I always take pause to check out the various headstones as I do my pre and post run stretches, and I take particular notice of interesting military-related graves. In this case, I found a semi-obscured headstone with three small American flags clearly marking a veteran grave. I snapped a picture in hopes of researching and posting the info to PortraitsofWar. This post is dedicated to William F. Duggan – just an ordinary Vermont WWI veteran who deserves a place in the digital world! I hope a few of his relatives chime in…
William Francis Duggan was born on September 25th, 1895 in Burlington, Chittenden County, VT. The son of William Amos and Katherine M. Duggan, he married Georgianna Esther Hall of 19 Cherry Street, Burlington on June 6th, 1916.
William was sent away to war a few years later and served in a number of disparate units during the three months he spent in France and Germany during the war; he served stateside with the 52nd Aero Squadron from March until June 17th, 1918, and then transferred to Battery B of the 110th Field Artillery (29th Division) until July 10th, he then transferred again to Company L of the 340th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division, and later to Battery F of the 137th Field Artillery, 41st Division. He served overseas with the 137th from October 6th, 1918 until December 24th, 1918. He left Europe and returned to the US on January 17th, 1919, where he was summarily discharged. His home at the time (and for years prior) was 57 Rose Street, Burlington, Chittenden County, VT:
William F. Duggan’s Wartime Record
With William’s WWI service record researched, I began to look into his pre and postwar life in Burlington. He lived in the my community, and such, I’m interested in his comings and goings on the streets that I frequent. It turns out that Will likely knew the streets of Burlington better than most 2016 residents! During his lifetime, William F. Duggan worked as a streetcar operator, fireman,used furniture salesman, taxi driver (many years), and as a Burlington Electric employee. Quite the credentials!
Although I can’t find the marriage record for his second marriage, I do know that he remarried later in life and had six children with his second wife. William and Mary Louis Rielling had six children together – Patricia, Dorothy (Quintin), Mary (Kidder), Elizabeth (Rousseau), Kathleen (Dutra), and Robert Duggan. As of the writing of this post, only Patricia has passed.
William sounds like an incredible guy, and I hope to learn more about him and his exploits through this post. A wartime photo of him would be the icing on the cake!
I plan to trim a bit of the grass around his headstone to allow for easier view, and he will certainly be a part of my daily run routine for years to come 🙂
Remember having your second grade yearbook photo? Yeah, I don’t either….. The same is true for WWII veterans who had their snapshots taken in front of numbered placards and blinding flashbulbs. Generally, these type of shots were taken of Army Air Corps and Marine Corps officers, but I’ve seen a few Navy portraits pop up on eBay on occasion. In the case of tonight’s post, I’m specifically presenting US Air Corps officer ID photo which were compiled by an enterprising veteran(sadly unnamed) who collected shots of his friends and colleagues who trained with him as pilots in the early years of WWII.
Each photo is unique and captures the airman with his guard down; a true snapshot portrait, these men and women had no idea that these photographs would be preserved for posterity. Each one of these photographs has a story behind it…and each is worthy of an individual blog post. Sadly, I don’t have the time or capacity to identify them all, and I look to the general public to track down shots of their ancestors. I will do my best to post the surnames of the officers in this post, but I need help…
Balancing work life, house chores, being social, and collecting WWI photos can be a daunting task; too much investment in one area can lead to neglect in another. As is the case of my life as of June, 2016. Luckily, I’m making a solstice dedication (is that a thing?) to posting more of my identified material in hopes of reuniting family members with deceased relatives.
In tonight’s post, I’ve purchased and researched a photo in the course of one calendar week with some positive results. As you may know, veterans with interesting surnames are typically easier to identify, and this post is an example of one of these researching ventures.
Elmer Reinhardt Liebig was born on November 1st, 1894 in Spink, South Dakota, the son of two German immigrants. Having served in a Quartermaster unit during WWI, he went on to own and run a pool hall in his hometown for a number of years until operating as a salesman until the 1940s, where he eventually ended up with the South Dakota Department of Fish and Game, acting as a warden for Brookings an Moody Counties.
I paid a pretty penny for a dozen photos from the 20th Balloon Company (WWI, American) specifically for this photograph. I’m attracted to obscure and strange photography, and this photo is an anomaly for WWI image collectors. What the heck is going on?
The vehicle/tractor/truck in the image was something I’ve never encountered. I knew it was related to a balloon company, and the large drum on the back alerted me to the fact that it likely was meant to hold and retract cable wire. But how could I figure out the make and model of the vehicle? Balloon Company information is difficult to identify through google searches, but I was able to make some leads by searching in French!
My first hit came with a French search for “winch truck” and provided the above image. I now knew that the Latil Company made heavy 4×4 vehicles for the French army during WWI and provided the American Expeditionary Forces with balloon winches!
I couldn’t quite make out the grill badge in the image I purchased……
But I was able to figure it out after my French language search…
The Latil trucks/tractors were originally made to tow 155mm guns, but they were retrofitted to accept heavy-duty winches to support the observation balloons used by the 20th Balloon Company. The Latil company would later be absorbed into Renault….
And according to a ca. 1919 publication, only 50 of these trucks were made specifically for the AEF during WWI. They were outfitted with Cachot power winches (seen in the rear of the head image) to retract the balloons after observation was achieved.
Special thanks to the Transport Journal blog!
Check out this specific post to learn more about the Latil:
And another blog picked up the Latil story: http://justacarguy.blogspot.com.br/2015/11/ww1-observation-blimp-and-tow-truck-i.html
WWI has the dubious distinction of being the first modern war to be fought with the mass of industrial mechanization and production in close support. To a lesser extent, this distinction is also often shared with the American Civil War. The mental distress of the soldiers involved in this global war are well known to most schoolchildren enrolled in Social Studies or History classes. The psychiatric distresses imparted upon these men during the massive artillery bombardments of 1914-1918 are best exemplified in the following video made available by the British War Archives.
Select section 3 in the left hand drop down menu. Or watch the whole series!
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here to PortraitsofWar, so I’m taking a quick moment to add a recently acquired real photo postcard of a St. Bernard mascot from the 67th Coastal Artillery Company. He’s even sporting his own uniform! Check out the 1st Army variant patch with the 67 denoting the unit number and a double overseas chevron for a year of service. Good work Barney!
Mascot photos are one of my favorite avenues of WWI photo collecting. They are relatively hard to come by and are tough to research. All the better for a unique challenge when trolling through the pages of eBay.