WWII 3rd Armored Division Snapshot – Tanker John F. Housman of Braceville, IL in France


WWII Snapshots are easy to come across.  They appear in bundles at flea markets and yard sales.  It’s very uncommon to be able to positively identify a US soldier in a snapshot – let alone one that has relatives actively seeking information on ancestry.com.  Please see below for a step-by-step breakdown of my research on this photo.

Step 1: Purchase of Photo

A $12 eBay Purchase

A $12 eBay Purchase

 

With the purchase made, I had to wait a week for the photo to arrive without any research potential on the photo.  All I knew was that the shot was of a tanker with sand/dust goggles standing in front of a Sherman tank in France.  An interesting shot, albeit sleightly out of focus…..

 

John Housman Jr.

John Housman Jr.

 

Step 2: Research Photo

 

Researching photos can be a daunting task without a proper research database at hand.  Luckily, I subscribe to ancestry.com as well as a number of other databases. In this case, I was able to make the proper ID with the US census record combined with the WWII draft record. What do we know from the photo?  It turns out that the photo arrived with an ID on the reverse:  Johnny Housman-Tanker  of Braceville, Illinois.  It’s a great starting place and provided the key to the unlocking of the positive ID of the photo.

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

 

With the info at hand I was able to make an easy identification using the tools at hand.   A quick search yielded the following info:

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949  Born 10/11/1918 Died 9/17/1992

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949
Born 10/11/1918
Died 9/17/1992

 

And his enlistment which appears to be off be off by a year:

 

WWI Draft Registry

WWI Draft Registry

 

I’m sure the family of John Housman Jr. will find this site and I hope they will share some info on their father/relative.  I’m more than happy to send the original to an identified member of the family.  I know you’re out there !

WWI Photo Identification – Base Hospital #10 Doctor and 103rd Field Artillery Officer Fritz Draper Hurd


Fritz Draper Hurd in 1918

Fritz Draper Hurd in 1918

After owning this photo for over a year, I decided to reexamine the image in hopes of properly identifying the sitter.  The front is inscribed ” Oh for Some Ice Cream!” with a partial ID of F Draper Hu….. with the surname clipped away.  The reverse proved juicy for wartime information, giving some additional information placing the Lt. as being present during the Yankee Division’s experiences at Chateau Thierry,  St. Mihiel and Verdun.  His name was partially obscured by remnant scrapbook paper.  After steaming the affected section with heated and distilled water, the glue separated the paper from the photo and revealed his full name.

F Draper Hurd

FritzHurd287a

FritzHurd288resize

Fritz Draper Hurd was born in Williamsport, Maryland in 1894 and attended Pennsylvania College as a member of the class of 1916 but sadly was expelled the night before graduation after a graduation party involving drinking and furniture breaking.  A dejected Hurd left home and went to Philadelphia seeking work, eventually landing a job with the Eddystone Remington Arms Company turning out components for the lend-lease British Enfield rifle. After hearing of the US declaration of war on Germany, Hurd signed up with a Philly based Red Cross ambulance unit and went overseas in May of 1917 eventually landing in England.  After a quick training he was sent to France to serve as a nurse with Base Hospital #10 – a British hospital for badly wounded soldiers.  The initial wave of Pennsylvania men and women was comprised of 23 doctors and 64 nurses – the first Philadelphia body of organized soldiers to leave Philly.

FritzHurd287abresizedHe next attended Field Artillery School and commissioned a Lt. with the 103rd Field Artillery Regiment, a unit of the 26th “Yankee Division”.  The photo shown above depicts Hurd wearing a uniform with insignia related to this period of his wartime career.  During his time as an artillery liason between the 103rd and the front line infantry units, Hurd was responsible for lugging a wire spool and calling in artillery fire.  He also spent some time in an observation balloon and is credited for calling in a barrage that took out three German machine gun nests.  He also is documented as being a participant of the last artillery shot of the war- firing only minutes before the official end of the war.

He was able to attend Oxford after the war and later became a distinguished medical profession back in the US.  He lived well into his 80s and recorded a memoir which can be found in the Special Collections department of Gettysburg College along with his wartime diary, knuckle duster trench knife, musette bag, scrapbook and assorted ephemera.

FWHurd FWHurd2

Based on the article posted above, we know he had a brother named Mason who also served during the war in a similar set of campaigns as Fritz.  Mason Hurd’s record can be found here:

Name: Mason Montreville Hurd
Race: white
Address: Williamsport, Washington Co.
Birth Place: Clearspring, Md.
Birth Date: 07 Jul 1896
Comment: ORC 11/27/17 2 lt FA, (Ft Oglethorpe Ga.); Btry D 77 FA; Btry E 13 FA 5/10/18; Btry A 13 FA 7/-/18; Hq 1 Army Corps 8/13/18; Casual Officers Dep Blois 8/14/18; Hq SOS 8/-/18; 302 Stev Regt 8/29/18; Btry E 13 FA 11/8/18, Hon disch 10/27/19, Overseas 5/22/18 to 7/31/19, Aisne-Marne; Vesle Sector; Meuse-Argonne

Special thanks go out to Sarah M. Johnson for her extraordinary research on the wartime experiences of Fritz D. Hurd.  She generously provided me with much of the information included in this blog post.  Her official article citation can be found in the footer of this post.   Her poster abstract can be found here: http://bit.ly/K4tWaE

Wartime Summary

Wartime Summary

Johnson, Sarah M. Growing up in the Trenches: Fritz Draper and the Great War. Diss. Gettysburg College, 2013. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.