Dog tags and identified material are easily collected by militaria enthusiasts due to the personal connections with names, families and units/divisions. Collecting dog tags is an easy way to feel a connection with the past; many dog tags were actually worn during combat and followed a soldier across the European continent. In this case I was able to pick up a cheap (less than $5) dog tag on eBay. A quick search for Charles L. Fox Brought up a smattering of possible leads that crisscrossed the country. Census records and marriages were of no help. I spent over an hour searching through military records for a man named Charles Fox born between 1885 and 1899 (a generally good search range for WWI veterans) and landed a solid hit. It’s not often that I identify a veteran through his/her serial number, but I was able to ID Charles L. Fox as having been born on December 14th, 1889 in Whitehouse, Ohio. He served with an ordnance supply unit in France during the war and was honorably discharged on July 26th, 1919. I was lucky to find both the veteran headstone marker card as well as the state veteran roll. A fun find, and another reason to invest in an ancestry.com account!
Nothing brings out the personalities of war like a mascot dog! I have at least a dozen decent WWI photos of mascot dogs posing with their adopted owners; these photos never cease to warm my chilly heart! The doughboy on the far left is sporting the Distinguished Service Cross, a medal given out for distinguished service on the battlefield. This award is only second to the Congressional Medal of Honor!
Following up on one of my favorite common threads seen throughout WWI photography – I present yet another example of the unit mascot. Normally seen at the compnay level or below, the idea of having a small pet (normally a dog) as a mascot is very common throughout various nations during WWI. I’ve literally seen examples from the US, England, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and even Australia. I probably have 15-20 examples in my own collection, ranging from small children as mascots, to dogs, pigeons and even goats. My favorite are the small dogs. Here’s an example from the 89th Division. The collection of 8 photos came from a member of the 356th Infantry. Unnamed, but we know he was wounded at least once during the war due to the wound chevron on his right cuff.
One of my favorite WWI photo tropes is the mascot dog pose. This photo caught my eye due to the presence of the medics with visible red cross armbands but was further enhanced by a little Jack Russell Terrier mascot. Taken in France in early 1918, this image is a wonderful representation of the lighthearted antics that kept front line medics sane during the horrors of WWI trench warfare.