WWI Vermont Veteran Photo – John J. Corcoran, 101st Machine Gun Battalion Wounded in Action


My continued obsession with WWI Vermont material has landed me a new WWI photo taken in France in June of 1918.  I literally stumbled across this listing; the seller didn’t mention the fact that the soldier was a Vermonter.  Luckily I checked out the back of the photo before moving on to the next auction listing.

The photo was addressed to a Mrs. George Bolduc of Fitzdale, Vermont dated June 25th, 1918.  The writer added the following info:

“June 25th, 1918

Dear Sister,

Am well and happy and hope you and children are well.  Will write you a letter later, am pretty busy just now so am sending this in place of a letter.  This is not very good but will have to pass some love to you all.  From bro-

John Corcoran

101st MG BN, AEF”

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John J. Corcoran(R)

John poses in the above photo with an unnamed friend of his from the 101st MG Bn. sporting a beautiful example of a woolen M1911 sweater.  I’ve attached below a period advertisement showing two versions of the service sweater.  These were either hand-knit from patterns or could be privately purchased through various supply and retail companies.

I am fortunate enough to own a copy of the hard-to-find 101st Machine Gun Battalion unit history.  Wagoner John J. Corcoran is listed with a frontal snapshot beside his biography.  He was born on May 29th, 1890 in Maine and eventually made his way over to Vermont where he lived in Lunenburg, VT working as a paper maker with the Gilman Paper Company.  He enlisted at Fort Ethan Allen on June 29th, 1917 with the 1st Vermont Infantry, where he was later transferred into the 103rd MG of the 26th Division.  His WWI and WWII draft cards were both listed on ancestry.com and I’ve included them below along with a copy of his death record.  He passed away in 1947 and is buried in Lunenburg.  I hope to travel there soon to take a photo of his grave!

101st MG Bn. Unit History Roster Entry

101st MG Bn. Unit History Roster Entry

CorcoranWWIRecordVT

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

John was badly wounded on July 22nd, 1918 during an attack on the French town of Epieds.  I’ve included a period map of the battle as well as an image of the location today.  Not much has changed!  This attack was coordinated only a few days after the Battle of Chateau Thierry.  Luckily, John’s encounter with the Germans was noted in the 101st MG unit history diary section.  I’ve transcribed the section:

“At daybreak both companies were sent into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau’s battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was wait to protect Rau’s left against possible counterattack.  We were shelled and M.G. bullets flew pretty thick.  Bristol of C Co. was wounded.  After awhile(sic) the attack crumbled in spite of Rau’s gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions.  A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau.  There they found him with only a few of his men left.  The guns were set up on the edge of the woods in a defensive position.  B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102nd Infantry Regiment on the town of Epieds over on the left flank.  The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line.  The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so that no moving thing was visible in the field.  M.G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead.  We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense.  We soon found ourselves in the midst of it – direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105’s and Austrian 88’s which come with the shriek of a thousand devils.  The fumes choked us and the concussion half stunned us.  it was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed.  Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded…………………………….”

Unit History  Casualty Report

Unit History
Casualty Report

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CorcoranWounded

Death Registration

Death Registration

Maine in the First World War: The Maine National Guard and the 54th Artillery Regiment Coastal Artillery Corps in WWI


Everyone knows that I love Vermont WWI material, but I also enjoy collecting photos from other New England states as well.  I have a handful from every state but only one from Maine.  Now I have another!

This fantastic interior studio RPPC has a ton of great qualities that drove me to make the purchase.  The crossed flags at center, the helmet and pistol props, the uniform details, and the identification on the reverse all make it a great shot to add to the collection.  This particular group is comprised of men from Portland and Bath.

Battery D of the 54th Artillery Regiment, C.A.C.

Battery D of the 54th Artillery Regiment, C.A.C.

Identified to a Corporal Carl L. Pearson who I believe is positioned directly right of the flag, this shot shows a group of 19 soldiers posed in a French studio.  This may be a record for my collection!   I have a few with 6-8, but none with more than 10.

Pearson was from West Falmouth, Maine and was born in January of 1893.  He enlisted with the National Guard in Portland in March of 1917 and reported for Federal service in June of that year.  He was overseas from March of 1918 to March of 1919.  This photo was taken in either late March, or April or May of 1918.  He was promoted in early June of 1918.  Since this photo shows him as a Corporal at the time of the photo, we know it was taken before his promotion.  Also, his lack of OS chevron and the abundance of spats likely points towards an early photo taken in France.

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A little info on the 54th CAC

Source: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cacunithistories/54thcac.htm

WORLD WAR I — 1917 – 1919The Coast Artillery Corps a Maine National Guard were mobilized on 25 July, 1917, and all companies, band, field officers, and non-commissioner staff officers reported on 27 July. 14 staff officers reported at Portland Coast Defenses and were assigned to duty in the Coast Defenses. The several companies were re-designated at once. This designation was changed again on 23 August 1917, and on 25 December 1917, nine of the thirteen C.A.C. Maine National Guard companies were made a part of the 54th Artillery, C.A.C., the supply company and Batteries B, D, E, and F, of the new 54th Artillery, C.A.C. 6 inch guns (Motor drawn), were entirely constituted from the nine companies Maine National Guard.

The 54th Artillery, C.A.C., was organized with a Headquarters Company, a supply company, and three battalions of two batteries each. Of the 6 batteries, four were taken from the Maine National Guard and from 25 December 1917, the further World War history of the C.A.C. Maine National Guard is properly that of the 54th Artillery since over 62 percent of its units were entirely Maine National Guard. In addition, only 30 percent of the units of the Maine National Guard were not included in the organization of the 54th Artillery C.A.C.

The 54th Artillery, CAC, (6-Inch Guns, Motor)

This regiment was organized in Portland Harbor Forts on 25 December 1917, five of its units being formed from National Guard units and three from Regular Army units.

The batteries of the 54th Artillery were organized as follows:

Headquarters Company, and Batteries A and C from the Regular Army.

Supply Company, from 20th Company, Lewiston.

Battery B, from 4th Company, Portland, and 7th Company, Biddeford.

Battery D, from 2nd Company, Portland, and 4th Company, Bath.

Battery E, from 3rd Company, Auburn, and 3rd Company, Kennebunk.

Battery F, from 9th Company, Lewiston and 11th Company, Portland.

Headquarters Company, Batteries C, D, E, and F, sailed from Portland, Maine, on the CANADA, 22 March 1918 and arrived Glasgow, Scotland 2 April, Winchester, England 3 April, and LeHarve, France, 6 April 1918.

The Supply Company, Batteries A and B, left Portland 14 March, sailed from Hoboken 16 March, 1918 on BALTIC arrived LeHarve, France, 6 April 1918.

The 54th Artillery C.A.C. was sent to rest camp at Mailly-le-camp (Aube) and on 2 May 1918, transferred to Haussimont (Marne), as replacement regimen to Railway Artillery Reserve and Tractor Artillery Regiments. On 20 September 1918, the 54th Artillery was reorganized into three battalion stations as follows:

1st Battalion, Training Battalion (A and B Battery) Angers (Marne-et-Loire).

2nd Battalion, Tractor replacement(E and F Battery), Haussimont (Marne) Angers (Marne-et-Loire.)

3rd Battalion, Unknown.

After the Armistice the 54th Artillery was assigned to Brest, and part of the Regiment sailed 23 February 1919 on the Vedic arriving in Boston 7 March 1919. It was completely demobilized at Camp Devons by 13 March 1919.

The four companies (1st, 6th, 10th and 12th) that were not formed into the 54th Artillery, C.A.C. were demobilized in January 1919 at Harbor Defenses of Portland however, but few of the original members of the companies remained in them late in 1918. Two large transfers of enlisted men from these batteries were made. The first was made on 23 August 1917, to the 26th Division Artillery and Engineers. One hundred-sixty-nine men were taken from these four companies in the transfer. On May 31 1918, the other large transfer was made to the 72d Artillery, C.A.C. From the 1st Company, 147 men were taken, and from the other three companies large numbers. However, the transfers were made as individuals no units being reformed or discontinued.

In July 1922, the regiment was reorganized and designated as the First Coast Defense Command, C.A.C., Maine National Guard. The regiment was formed into Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, Band, Medical Detachment and 1st Fort Command.

1st Fort Command

301st Company, Portland, org. 1803 – later Btry A

306th Company, Sanford, org. 1903 – later Btry B

307th Company, Brunswick, org. 1884 – later Btry C

311th Company, Portland, org. 1807 – later Btry D

2nd Fort Command

303d Company, Camden, org. 1920 – later Btry E

304th Company, Thomaston, org. 1921 – later Btry F

305th Company, Rockland, org. 1921 – later Btry G

302d Company, Vinalhaven, org. 1921 – later Btry H

On 17 September 1923, the 1st C.D.C. was re-designated as the 240th Artillery, C.A.C., and individual batteries as shown above. The designation was again changed to 240th Coast Artillery, Harbor Defense, on 16 April 1924.

WWI 1st Division Chaplain 26th Infantry Regiment – Chaplain Roberts Williams, Silver Star Recipient


Chaplain Roberts Williams in Germany

Chaplain Roberts Williams in Germany

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Obverse Side

Another incredible WWI portrait photo has come across my desk via my dedicated searching regime on eBay.  I bought this shot with the knowledge that the sitter was a chaplain.  Chaplain shots are far and few between, and to have an ink identified example is very uncommon. In this case I was able to ply the internet and dig up some wonderful information on our sitter. Chaplain(Protestant) Roberts Williams originally enlisted as a private in the 17th Engineers but was eventually hooked up with the 26th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division.   He was awarded the Silver Star and was recommended for the Distinguished Service Crossed by his commander, Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  He was gassed and the wound chevron can be seen on his right sleeve in the above image.

Here’s a quick transcription of his war service courtesy of a post-war Princeton Alumni newsletter.  Interestingly, he graduated the same year as his commander, Teddy Roosevelt Jr.

“Chaplain Robert Williams, chaplain of the 26th Infantry of the First Division, has returned home, 55 Park Ave., Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to enjoy a brief leave of absence after twenty-one months’ service in France.  Mr. Williams enlisted as a private in the 17th Engineers and served ten months at St. Nazaire.  This regiment was among those composed of railroad men, to be reviewed by King George in London.  During May, 1918, Private Williams was commissioned a chaplain.  Immediately thereafter he was sent to the trenches where with the First Division he spent fifty-four days in the fighting of the Picardy front, culminating in the capture of Cantigny, the first planned American offensive.  Withdrawn for a rest, his unit was unexpectedly sent into the fray again at the pivot of Marchal Foch’s counter attack northeast towards Soissons to cut the Soissons Chateau-Thierry railroad, which supplied the Germans in the Marne Salient.  During this battle Chaplain Williams was gassed and here it was that his commander cited him for bravery and recommended that the DSC be conferred upon him. Chaplain Williams also spent three months in Germany, his unit being engaged in outpost duty twenty miles from the Rhine within Hunland.  He says the Germans are very hard up for raw materials and that soap is worth more than money.”

RobertWilliams

RobertWilliams2

I was also able to find a transcription of a letter Chaplain Williams penned to the family of a soldier killed in action:

“His battalion had gone over the top that morning, across a great
National Highway, the Paris-Soissons Road. The German machine-gun fire
was extremely severe, and we suffered heavily.

“A detail of four soldiers was given me by Major Legge to bury Captain
Richards and Lieutenant Boone. We buried your husband where he fell
and marked the grave with a cross upon which his identification tag was
placed. His personal effects, as I found them, were removed, and later
placed in his bedding-roll. We endeavored to remove his ring, but found it
impossible to do so, so we buried it with him. Records of the location of
the grave were sent to the Adjunct General, American Expeditionary Forces,
and to the Graves Registration Service; so his grave can be readily found after the war is over.

“It was remarkable what a peaceful and spiritual expression was upon
the face of Captain Richards. It did not seem as if he had suffered greatly,
and we could fancy that he seemed well pleased to pay the supreme sacrifice
upon the field of battle.

“I have heard among the enlisted men and officers who knew your
husband many, many remarks as to Captain Richard’s ouiet thoughtfulness.
his constant care for those under his command, his unfailing cheer, and his
courage, and efficiency as a soldier and leader of men. His memory lives
with us, and inspires us to emulate his devoted service to his Country.

“We ask that you will accept our sincere sympathy for the burden of
grief you bear; but we trust that your pride and joy in your husband’s
noble life and glorious death will enable you to bear his loss with courage.

“May God strengthen and help you, and may the promise of our
Savior comfort you with the thought of meeting your husband in a better
world.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Williams,
Chaplain (Protestant), 26th Infantry.”

Williams' Silver Star Citation

Williams’ Silver Star Citation

WWI Photo Research – Dedication Provides 26th Division, 103rd Regiment DSC Recipient’s Identity – Maine Veteran


Sometimes a little research and hard work pay off.  In this case, I received a WWI 26th Division portrait in the mail from a friend in Pennsylvania.  I knew it was a good image given the subject matter and the fact that the soldier was likely from the Lewiston area given the photographers embossed stamp.  Not an easy task.  I counted a dozen or so guys in a thirty mile radius of Lewiston that were possible contenders.  Lots of Maine men were members of the 26th during the war, and it’s not always easy to associate a location given a photographers stamp.

Mellen F. Tuttle

Mellen F. Tuttle

With a little forensic work I was able to figure out the identity of our mysterious hero.  Since I’ve handled thousands of vintage photos and negatives, I know that photographers often penciled info on the back of the print, or etched names/numbers on the bottom of the original negative.  The numbers would cross reference to a name and address to ship the photo.  In this case I was lucky to find a name etched on the original negative.  Obviously it was in reverse on the positive image, so I flipped it 180 degrees with photoshop and tweaked the contrast and brightness.  Bingo, a name appeared.  Tuttle.  A quick search found a Mellen F. Tuttle from New Gloucester, ME who served as a private in Company B of the 103rd Infantry Regiment.

Further research shows that his actual name was Francis Mellen Tuttle, but he went by Mellen F. Tuttle during the war.  After an hour of searching in vain for the death records of Mellen F. Tuttle, I decided to search for birth records for the Tuttle family in Maine.  I came across a Francis M. Tuttle Jr. and clicked on the birth record.  His father was Francis Mellen Tuttle!  Everything fell into place after that. Please see the end of the article for a photo of his grave showing his name as Francis M. Tuttle.  Somehow he made it all the way to Los Angeles and passed away in 1961!

His feat of bravery occured on July 20th, 1918 on Hill 190 near Rochet Woods, Chateau Thierry.  Mellen was with an automatic rifle team of Co. B of the 103rd when all of his fellow soldiers wounded.  He single-handedly advanced on an enemy MG nest and forced them to retreat.  His detachment was able to advance due to his bravery.

Reversed photographer etching

Reversed photographer etching

Lewiston, ME Photographers Stamp

Hammond Brothers
Lewiston, ME Photographers Stamp

 

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Maine soldier registry entry

Maine soldier registry entry

Name: Mellen F. Tuttle
Serial Number: 67163
Birth Place: Freeport, Maine
Age: 22 6/12 yrs.
Residence: New Gloucester
Comment: Enl: NG Augusta, May 30/17. Pvt 1st cl Jan. 2/18; Cpl July 18/19. Org: Co B 2 Inf Me NG (Co B 103 Inf) to Mar. 6/19; 291 Co MPC to disch. Eng: St Mihiel; Defensive Sector. Awarded French Croix de Guerre; awarded DSC. Overseas: Sept. 26/17 to Aug. 3/19. Hon disch on demob: Aug. 8, 1919.

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Note the Chateau Thierry reference on the grave marker!

WWI Photo Identification – Charles H. Maasberg of Milwaukee, WI Poses in France 1918


Charles H. Maasberg was born on July 2nd, 1894 in Wisconsin and enlisted for the draft on June 5th, 1917.  Although I can’t be sure when he was sent overseas, I can deduce that he was assigned to an ordnance handling unit.  He rose to the rank of Sergeant by 1919, and returned home to the US soon thereafter.  This wonderful outdoor posed shot was taken in France in 1918, and shows Charles posing in a hand-knit sweater complete with tie.  I can only imagine that it was taken in the backyard of a rural French home given the broken flower pots and creeping vines on the wall.  The lack of foliage may help us date the photo to the fall or winter months.  This would date the photo to the September-November of 1918 period.

1917 Draft Card

WWI Messenger Homing Pigeon Unit Poses in Germany – Captured German Helmet + Uniform Detail


One of the most interesting forms of communication used during WWI has to be the homing pigeon.  Front line troops couldn’t rely on wire messages getting through to rear echelon support units.  Often times homing pigeons were used to relay messages back to HQ.  Here’s a nice shot of a pigeon unit posing for the camera sometime after the armistice.

And some nice details!  Including a captured German helmet for good measure.

 

 

Rare WWI Broadside Poster – 42nd Division Athletic Meet – Sgt. Duffy!


Photographs and letters from WWII are not considered “rare” by many collectors in today’s market.  I have roughly 1,000 WWI real photo postcards in my current collection, with and additional four albums of 200 or so photos each.  Small-run broadsides and posters are much more ephemeral and should be considered scarce.  Broadsides were meant to be posted for a few days, taken down and discarded.  In this instance, a doughboy in 42nd Rainbow Division took the time to save one of the broadside posters from a wall somewhere in France.  The event apparently was some sort of sports exhibition; not an uncommon event in the post-armistice Europe.

Of special attention to WWI buffs out there – check out the presiding chaplain!  None other than Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th!  A famous WWI movie centers around Duffy and his heroics during WWI.  Check it out here.

James Cagney in The Fighting 69th

42nd Division Broadside

WWI Photo – New Jersey Hero Receives Croix de Guerre – Crashes Plane in the Marne River


 

I purchased a large WWI photo album last month that was compiled by a young girl following her brother’s exploits in France.  Apparently Franklin M. Martin (Jack) of East Orange, NJ was fluent in French and was assigned as an interpreter on Pershing’s staff.  He became interested in flying and joined the 803rd Aero Squadron where he was in charge of map making from the air.  He was awarded the Croix de Guerre after he was shot down and landed in the Marne River.  After swimming across he was able to deliver his maps!  A great series of interior studio shots capture Franklin wearing his newly awarded CDG.  His friend is wearing a Distinguished Service Cross and is sporting a wound chevron.  Note the leather arm brace and private purchase lace up boots.

 

WWI Real Photo Postcard – Portrait Photo and Autograph of J. Warner Reed – 59th Pioneer Infantry Commander


A new addition to my collection comes in the form of an autographed French RPPC of the 59th Pioneer Infantry Regiment commander.  J. Warner Reed was a colonel with the Delaware National Guard during the Mexican Border War and later went on to form the 59th Pioneer Infantry of the 2nd Army.  Units from this regiment were engaged in road building, bridge building, and front line construction and improvement projects.

 

For more info on the 59th Pioneers – check out this website from the Delaware National Guard: http://delawarenationalguard.com/aboutus/history/firstworldwar/

 

 

WWI 42nd Division Doughboy Sends Home a Real Photo Postcard


Ever wonder how doughboys sent their photo postcards home?  I actually don’t own a single example of a postmarked photo postcard from the war, but recently came across a grouping that contained an envelope and postcard sent home by a 42nd Division soldier.  A member of the 151st Field Artillery, Frank Svec sent home a studio portrait shot of himself.  Not incredibly rare, but a good example of how WWI photos were sent during the war.  The 42nd Division is one of my favorite divisions, so this is an addition “kicker”.