WWII Pilot ID Portrait Photos – Boring? or Riveting?


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.

Pilot103.jpg

General scan of type of photos in the collection: Scan 1

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…

Pilot083

Scan 2

Pilot113

Scan 3

Pilot093

Scan 4

Pilot123

Scan 5

 

 

output_RESBap

GIF of 40 US Army Air Corps Pilot Photos Identification Photos

WWI RPPC Photo – Amputee Soldier Poses w/ Friends in Paris Hospital


Clark B. Potter (at center) was born on October 3rd, 1891 in Kimball, Brule County, South Dakota; eventually landing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clark went on to serve as an officer with Company E, 126th Infantry Regiment of the 32nd Division during WWI. He was wounded by friendly fire in August of 1918 during the Battle of Fismes (Second Battle of the Marne) where he was sent to a hospital for the remainder of the war. This incredible photo of Clark posing in a Paris photo studio on Christmas Day, 1918 includes two other wounded soldiers of different regiments.  Of interest is the leg-amputee who seems to be keeping his jolly composure during the photo; an additional veteran attempts to pick Clark’s pocket during the photo, adding a bit of joviality to what should be a somber photo.

WoundedMarine201

Clark and Friends in December of 1918

004673199_01796(1)

Clark Potter’s WWII Draft Registration

CollegePage

University of Michigan Class of 1919 Entry

Ecompany

Clark’s WWI Company posed after the war (he was still in the hospital)

potterroster

Clark’s 126th Infantry Regiment Roster Entry

clarkasakid

Clark as a Child (from ancestry.com)

 

 

WWI Photo Identification: The Mysterious Misidentification of Peter Pizzolongo


 

 

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Misidentified  Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

From time to time I update certain posts to reflect recent research discoveries or to bring an interesting post back from obscurity.  In this case, the family member of a WWI veteran discussed in my post was able to discover my site and find a “photo” (please see below) of her grandfather.  Back in 2013 I posted a well-researched photo of a pair of doughboys wearing gasmasks and helmets posed overseas in 1918.  After extensive research on the gasmask of the soldier, I was able to track down a bit of info on him.  That’s what I thought!

Gas Mask Identification

Gas Mask Identification

This is an example of one of those rare occasions of an identification made without a 100% cross referenced identification photo.  It turns out that the soldier was merely borrowing the gasmask of Peter Pizzolongo.  I assumed that the wearer was indeed Pizzolongo; but his great niece found the photo, passed it around the family email chain and determined that it didn’t actually depict Peter.  She graciously sent me a wartime shot of Peter in his gasmask, helmet and uniforn; the photo is was likely taken at the same time as the original image, but was redone in a larger format with a blurred backdrop.  The reversed collar insignia, gasmask strap and shoulder patch point towards a reverse-image process to reproduce a larger format photo.

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo

“Fake” Peter Pizzolongo

 

Luckily my original post was 100% accurate in the historical documentation of Peter and his early life.  Here’s a recap:

 

Peter was born in 1896 in Larino Campobasso, Italy and came over to the US in the early 1900s.  What’s funny is that I can’t find his immigration records online but did find that he traveled back from Italy in 1955 on board the S.S. Independence along with his wife, Ida.

 

1955 Italy Trip

1955 Italy Trip

Of interest to me is his WWI service record.  His draft card gives his exact birthdate – June 29th, 1895.  His listed profession at the time was Piano Maker; his Italian hometown matches perfectly with his WWI service record, so we know it’s accurate.  As of June, 1917 he worked with a company named Ricca & Son at 89 Southern Boulvard, Bronx, NY.  At the time he lived at 425 East 116th Street in Manhattan and wasn’t legally registered as an American citizen.  He initially signed up with the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Division.  It makes sense given his NY area residency at the time.  He was they transferred over to the 305th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division.  He made it overseas on April 16th, 1918 and served overseas for an entire year before leaving on April 24th, 1919.  He was gassed once on August 15th, 1918 during the Battle of the Marne at Fismes.  Please see a quick excerpt from the official 305th Infantry Regiment unit history here: 305th History

 

August, 1918

August, 1918

We know from his records that he was out of commission for 8 days before returning to his unit on August 23rd.  He became sick (unknown reason, likely gas related) on September 5th, 1918. He rejoined the unit on the 16th after being in the hospital for 11 days.  What a trooper! I’ve attached a few of the web-based documents I’ve found through my search. Hopefully his family will one day find this site and learn a little more about their WWI relative!

WWI Service Record

WWI Service Record

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Photo Identification – Wartime Librarian Mary Josephine Booth, ALA in Germany


Sometimes all it takes to properly identify a photo is a little bit of luck and a lot of patience!  In this case, a collector-friend of mine recognized one of my studio postcard photos on a library history blog.  Apparently, the photo was saved from a past eBay auction by an intrepid library historian and subsequently identified.  I knew the photo depicted a WWI American Library Association worker posing in a German studio in 1919.  What I didn’t know was her identity……..

Mary Josephine Booth in 1919

Mary Josephine Booth in 1919

 

Mary Josephine Booth was born in Beloit, WI on May 24th, 1876 to John Robertson Booth of Fonde, NY.  She earned degrees from Beloit College and the University of Illinois Library School.

Her wartime record is incredibly well documented on her 1919 passport application.  She was issued US passport #71443 by the US Department of State on November 5th, 1917 and left for France 11 days later on the 16th.   She arrived in Paris shortly thereafter and lived at 12 Rue d’Aguesseau in the heart of the city.  Click here for a map showing her apartment location.
After the war she became a member of the Women’s Overseas Service League, the American Association of University Women and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Women's Overseas Service League Logo

Women’s Overseas Service League Logo

A library researcher pulled the image from the eBay auction and put together a nice piece on Miss Booth here: http://libraryhistorybuff.blogspot.com/2012/12/female-librarians-and-alas-library-war.html

boothcapture

I was able to find some additional images of Mary Josephine Booth using ancestry.com and the wonderful archive of public documents recently made searchable.  See below for shots from her U.S. Passport applications.

1917 Passport Photo

1917 Passport Photo

1919 Passport Photo

1919 Passport Photo

1931 Eastern Illinois University Yearbook Photo

1931 Eastern Illinois University Yearbook Photo

1941 Yearbook Photo

1941 Yearbook Photo

WWI Combat Veteran Portrait Photo – Peter Pizzolongo, 77th Division, 305th Infantry Regiment


Peter Pizzolongo

Peter Pizzolongo

The majority of my World War One portrait collection are comprised of quality shots depicting unidentified soldiers posing for the camera in France or Germany.  Very rarely do I have a penciled name on the reverse with enough detail to make a 100% positive ID.  In this rare case, I was able to make an identification based on insignia and a faint scribble on a gas mask bag.

Gas Mask Identification

Gas Mask Identification

At first I wasn’t able to make out the exact details of the name.  The soldier was clearly with the 77th Division based on his painted helmet with the Statue of Liberty insignia, and the 305 Inf. was easy to make out on the bag.  I checked the collar discs on both men and was able to make out an I, telling me that the men were both with I Company.  From there, I tracked down (luckily) a web-based roster for the 305th Infantry. It can be found here: 305th Infantry Roster

The name on the bag clearly stated a P. P…….go.  I didn’t have much to go on but was astounded to find a perfect match on the roster website!  Peter Pizzolongo.

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Peter was born in 1896 in Larino Campobasso, Italy and came over to the US in the early 1900s.  What’s funny is that I can’t find his immigration records online but did find that he traveled back from Italy in 1955 on board the S.S. Independence along with his wife, Ida.

1955 Italy Trip

1955 Italy Trip

Of interest to me is his WWI service record.  His draft card gives his exact birthdate – June 29th, 1895.  His listed profession at the time was Piano Maker; his Italian hometown matches perfectly with his WWI service record, so we know it’s accurate.  As of June, 1917 he worked with a company named Ricca & Son at 89 Southern Boulvard, Bronx, NY.  At the time he lived at 425 East 116th Street in Manhattan and wasn’t legally registered as an American citizen.  He initially signed up with the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Division.  It makes sense given his NY area residency at the time.  He was they transferred over to the 305th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division.  He made it overseas on April 16th, 1918 and served overseas for an entire year before leaving on April 24th, 1919.  He was gassed once on August 15th, 1918 during the Battle of the Marne at Fismes.  Please see a quick excerpt from the official 305th Infantry Regiment unit history here: 305th History

August, 1918

August, 1918

We know from his records that he was out of commission for 8 days before returning to his unit on August 23rd.  He became sick (unknown reason, likely gas related) on September 5th, 1918. He rejoined the unit on the 16th after being in the hospital for 11 days.  What a trooper! I’ve attached a few of the web-based documents I’ve found through my search. Hopefully his family will one day find this site and learn a little more about their WWI relative!

WWI Service Record

WWI Service Record

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Portrait Photo – Italian Born US Soldier 1st Mobile Veterinary Hospital Farrier


John Belli in WWI

John Belli in WWI

John Belli was born in Italy in 1895 and traveled to the United States during a big wave of Italian immigration in the early 1900s.  I was lucky enough to purchase a superlative WWI German-shot studio portrait of a helmeted US soldier wearing his gas mask with patches attached to his jacket.  To sweeten the deal, the photo came identified to a John Belli.  A few John Belli’s appeared on ancestry.com, but only one was associated with a veterinarian unit as evidenced by the veterinarian corps collar disc visible in the photo.  A great shot with an interesting back story!

John Belli Service Card

John Belli Service Card

John Belli Draft Card

John Belli Draft Card

WWI Photo – 13th Marine Regiment MP Studio Photo Identified – Evald A. Johnson


Evald A. Johnson in France 1918

Evald A. Johnson in France 1918

Followers of this blog know that I love to identify WWI photographs using obscure bits of information to track down census and military records.  In this case, I purchased a series of three postcards on eBay with no solid identification in hand.  When the postcards arrived, I realized that I had a slight chance to identifying the Marine.  His hat is sporting a Marine Corps EGA insignia as well as some unit designation.  13 M identifies him as being in Company M of the 13th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Division.  Included with the photo was a postcard note sent to a loved one when he returned from overseas service.

MarineMP232watermark

The unknown Marine scribbled his first name and middle and last initials.  Evald A J.  He also sent the postcard to a Mrs. C F Poulson of Idaho Falls, Idaho.  A quick census search for a C Poulson of Idaho Falls brought up a record for a Mr. Christian Poulson and a Esther A. Poulson.  My gut instinct told me that he was likely sending the card to his sister to announce his arrival back home in the states, so I did a series of census searches to find some clues………

 

Sister-in-Law

Sister-in-Law

The 1910 US Census record for Esther and Christian Poulson show a mystery resident.  Ms. Ebba Johnson is listed as being a sister-in-law who happened to be living with the couple in 1910.  Bingo!  Now I have a last name to research for Esther.  I quickly found the 1900 census record for Esther and Ebba………..

evaldebbaesther

Bingo!  Evald Johnson is listed as a brother to both Esther and Ebba.  The mystery is solved!  Now to confirm his service with the 13th Marine Regiment.

I easily tracked down his WWI draft card and matched up the signature with the postcard.  A perfect match.

 

WWI Draft Card  Evald A. Johnson

WWI Draft Card
Evald A. Johnson

From here I had a hunch to track down the Marine Corps muster role for Company M of the 13th Marine Regiment.  Another solid hit.

Marine Register

Marine Register

And to top it all off, I did a newspaper search for the Idaho area in 1919.  With some luck I found a brief article mentioning his return and his service with the Marines.

 

“They have come back bigger and better men than when they went away and have taken up their work with the Register and filling their places with credit. The three men are Evald A. John­son, who has been with the Register for some fifteen years, and who re­signed the position of foreman to en­ter the service, enlisting in the ma­rines, going to France, where he put in abmout one years of service.”

Vol 40, No 29 Idaho Register 1919

Vol 40, No 29 Idaho Register 1919

 

WWI Photo – Wounded 32nd Division Captain Poses in Paris Studio on Christmas 1918


Wounded soldier photos are some of the hardest photos to find in the collecting field.  Often times a collector will come across a photo of a veteran wearing a wound chevron, or occasionally a shot of a soldier with a cane.  In this case, I was able to pick up a grouping of photos taken at a Paris photo studio showing an assortment of wounded vets who recently were treated at a local Paris hospital.  They hobbled over to a studio on Christmas day of 1918 to have their photos taken.  These shots were some of the most expensive I’ve ever purchased, but they were well worth the investment.  This is the more subdued of the four photos, but took me a long time to research and I wanted to post it for the internet community.

Albert E. Haan poses on Christmas Day 1918

Albert E. Haan poses on Christmas Day 1918

I was tipped off by a Dutch friend of mine (thanks Rogier!) that his photo may be of a Dutch-American given his last name of Haan.  Starting with the basic ancestry.com search of a name and hometown I was able to find a few bits of info.  His name was Albert Haan and was born in 1893.  I had to search a bit to find the census records for him, as they were listed under a misinterpreted/transcribed name of Hoan.  Anyway it appears that Albert became an Army informant for the Veterans Association after the war.  He is listed in a 1922 court case where he (and another veteran from my photo grouping) is listed as an informant.  Anway, he is listed as being employed by the US Army in the 1920 Census and is shown as having a wife named Frances L and a daughter named Frances L.  His daughter was only 2 months old at the time of the census.  His wife appear to have been born around the turn of the century.  He is listed as having been born in Holland in his earlier census entry, but mysteriously switched his place of birth to Michigan in the 1910 and 1920 census.  He must’ve been able to hide his accent!

His Veterans Affairs death file lists the following:

Name: Albert Haan
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 12 Mar 1893
Death Date: 30 Nov 1986
SSN: 234014340
Enlistment Date 1: 13 May 1910
Release Date 1: 12 Mar 1914
Enlistment Date 2: 15 Jul 1917
Release Date 2: 24 May 1920

Sounds like he served early in 1910 and was released in 1914.  He likely served with the Michigan National Guard at this point.  He re-enlisted in 1917 and served until may of 1920 with the Army.

He had one daughter named Frances who was born in Washington D.C. in 1920.  Albert was shipped back to the States in 1919 and was busy rehabilitating at Walter Reed Hospital between 1919 and 1920.  Sounds like he had at least one “special visit”.  He also had a son named Carl in 1922 while living in Washington D.C.

At some point the family moved from Washington D.C. to West Virgina where they apparently spent the rest of their lives.  The daughter, Frances Louise Haan appears in the 1939 and  1940 University of West Virginia yearbooks and can be seen below. Quite the stunner for 1940!

1940 UWV Morgantown

1940 UWV Morgantown

Frances Haan 1939

Frances Haan 1939

Frances Haan

Frances Haan 1940

 

I wonder if Frances is still alive?  I can’t find any info on her past 1941.  Ancestry.com has no information regarding her marriage or future life. She may still be alive and may be able to shed some light onto her father’s war service.  I hope a family member finds this post!

Carl J Haan is harder to track down.  I do know he enlisted for the US Army in July of 1942.  He was surprisingly listed as an actor as a profession!  This is the first time I’ve seen this!

Name: Carl J Haan
Birth Year: 1922
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Dist of Columbia
State of Residence: West Virginia
County or City: Kanawha
Enlistment Date: 1 Jul 1942
Enlistment State: Kentucky
Enlistment City: Fort Thomas Newport
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Army of the United States – includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source: Civil Life
Education: 2 years of college
Civil Occupation: Actors and actresses
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 70
Weight: 168

 

Amazingly he served in the US Army Air Force in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam!  Quite the lineage!  This family continues to surprise me.  Sadly he passed away on March 22nd, 2000 and is buried in Cameron Memory Gardens in Cameron, MO.  His wife Eleanor passed away in 2002.

Name: Carl J. Haan
SSN: 232-24-6283
Last Residence: 64469  Maysville, Dekalb, Missouri, United States of America
Born: 4 Apr 1922
Died: 22 Mar 2000
State (Year) SSN issued: North Carolina or West Virginia (Before 1951)

 

WWII 388th Bomb Group Post – Radio Mechanic Cpl. Roland Downs Fixing a B-17 in Knettishall, England


 

My obsession with the 388th Bomb Group stems from a chance encounter with a collection of negatives and photographs taken by an artist attached to the 388th in Knettishall, England.  Followers of PortraitsofWar already know the story, so I won’t go into great detail, but anyone interested should search for Alva Alegre in the search bar.
Anyway, I recently purchased a small group of photos that providentially yielded a handful of identified photos of members of the 388th BG.  In my typical fashion, I’ve fleshed out historical details and hopefully will give Mr. Downs a proper place on the internet.

I found the following info penciled on the back of the photo: “Roland Downs, Cpl. Alabama”

ALABAMA Inked on Cap

Judging by the inked info on his upturned mechanics hat, I felt that this was a likely identification of Mr.Downs.  With this info in hand I visited the 388th Bomb Group website: http://www.388bg.info/

 

Darn!  They already had his photo, but at least I was able to learn that he was a radio mechanic, something obvious after inspecting what he’s doing in the photo.  My next stop brought me to ancestry.com, where I do most of my genealogical research on mystery photos.  From a little bit of searching I was able to discover that he was indeed born and raised in Alabama and born on July 8th, 1923 and passed away on April 19th, 1980.  He served in the Airforce (USAAF) from 1942 until 1971.

 

1940 Census Record