Veterans Days 1921 – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Ceremony Service Attendant


As of the fall of 1920, the US Quartermaster Graves Registration Service had successfully identified over 90% of the bodies of US servicemen who died overseas during WWI.  The nation was still in mourning from the losses of the war, and the government looked to other countries for a suitable ceremony to honor those whose bodies were never identified.  In the fall of 1920, the caskets of four unidentified U.S. soldiers were chosen for reburial in Washington D.C.  One pallbearer, SGT Edward Younger, chose one body to be the Unknown Soldier of WWI.

The remains were transported aboard the USS Olympia, the flagship of Vermont’s Own Admiral Dewey, and arrived home on November 9th, 1921.  The body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda for two days, where over 90,000 people quietly filtered through.  This Unknown Soldier was buried with full services on November 11th, 1921.

As I pawed through my large collection of WWI and WWII photography looking for a suitable candidate for a Veteran’s Day post, I came across one photo that stood out as a perfect blogpost.

This veteran is wearing an Indian Wars medal on his chest, and looks distinguished in his black cap and jacket.  This photo was taken only moments after he was a member of the first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ceremony on November 11th, 1921.  He inscribed a quick note to a loved one on the reverse.  I can’t find a list of the members of that first delegation anywhere, but I’m sure he is one of the visible veterans standing around the casket in this photo:

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Although his identity is a mystery to me, maybe his name will come to the surface after this post hits the web.  What a fitting photo post for Veterans Day!

Special thanks to David R. Berry for the following message:

May I submit to you that the identity of the distinguished gentleman is Mr. Isaac B. Millner. US Navy, Civil War veteran –a seaman aboard the USS HARTFORD, flagship of Adm Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay 5 Aug 1864. Millner had a life-long interest in Adm Farragut, attending several commemorations of Farraguts life and career.

He was affiliated with the Dept. of Anthropology at the National Museum; holder of several patents; a specialist in Native American and Micronisian Indian cultures; a modeler for the Smithsonian working in the medium of paper’ machete and a member of the US Geological Survey. Author of the book: The Last Cruise (1917)

You will find many notations for him in Google under his full name as well as his initials I B Millner. He is mistakenly noted in the 1920 Census as Isaac B Mi-(one L) ner. What his relationship with Mrs. Clara A Wright Of Wincasset, Maine, might be is unclear, but one might note that the description and the address texts on the back of the portrait were written in two distinctly different hands. It could be that Mrs. Wright was a friend of his wife Mrs. Mary Millner.

A 1929 photo of IB Millner appears here:

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c31287/

WWI 310th Engineer “Polar Bear” in Archangel Russia, 1918 – US Northern Russia Expedition


310th Engineer in Archangel, Russia

Don’t know too much about the US involvement in Russia during WWI?  Don’t worry, neither did I until a few years ago.  The above photo was acquired from a poorly listed eBay auction, and depicts a 310th Engineer posing for the camera in a Russian studio in the city of Archangel.  Photos of “Polar Bear” soldiers are incredibly rare, especially front-taken studio portraits.  I’ve seen a FEW example of Polar Bears posing back home, but only a couple taken overseas.  This one is particularly rare, as it shows a member of the 310th Engineers, who only sent ONE battalion of soldiers up to Russia.

Want to read more about the Polar Bears?  Visit the site below!

An excerpt taken from the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan’s website:

(http://polarbears.si.umich.edu/index.pl?node=polar%20bear%20history)

“The American military intervention at Archangel, Russia, at the end of World War I, nicknamed the “Polar Bear Expedition,” is a strange episode in American history. Ostensibly sent to Russia to prevent a German advance and to help reopen the Eastern Front, American soldiers found themselves fighting Bolshevik revolutionaries for months after the Armistice ended fighting in France.

Because many of the American troops involved in the intervention were from Michigan, the Michigan Historical Collections has long been interested in documenting this episode. This guide describes the Collections’ holdings of manuscripts and photographs as well as maps and primary printed source materials relating to the Polar Bear Expedition.

During the summer of 1918, the U. S. Army’s 85th Division, made up primarily of men from Michigan and Wisconsin, completed its training at Fort Custer, outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, and proceeded to England. While the rest of the division was preparing to enter the fighting in France, some 5,000 troops of the 339th Infantry and support units (one battalion of the 310th Engineers, the 337th Field Hospital, and the 337th Ambulance Company) were issued Russian weapons and equipment and sailed for Archangel, a Russian port on the White Sea, 600 miles north of Moscow.

When American troops reached their destination in early September, they joined an international force commanded by the British that had been sent to northern Russia for purposes never made clear. Whatever the reasons for the intervention, however, the force was fighting the Bolsheviks who had taken power in Petrograd and Moscow the previous winter.”

WWI Doughboy Photo and Grandson Reunited: The Story of PFC Charles R. Nablo


Not every WWI photo in my collection has a name inscribed on the reverse, but this one comes with both a name and a modern day connection.  After buying the image on eBay with only minor excitement, I was pleased to find a name and address inscribed on the back giving me a glimmer of hope in identifying the soldier.  After doing a quick search on findagrave.com (a great site for cemetery information), I was able to find the name of the cemetery where Mr.Nablo is buried.  Without much hope, I submitted a grave photograph request and was astonished when, within a few days, my request was fulfilled with a snapshot of his grave marker.  I added his photo to the findagrave.com site and wiped my hands of the issue.  One week later, the grandson of Charles Nablo emailed me!  I sent him the photo in the mail, and helped reunite a lost photo to it’s rightful owner.

WWI The University of Vermont at War – Williams Hall Army Training Detachment – August 1918


Authors Collection


My recent trip to the local Burlington antique shop yielded some WWI gold; yet another WWI UVM panoramic photo to add to my extensive collection of war photography.  This one was taken in August of 1918 in front of Williams Hall at the University of Vermont.  I spent countless hours studying anthropology and archaeology in the hallowed halls of Williams, and I know the front facade well.  From the looks of it, not much has changed!   This photo shows Company C of the US Army Training Detachment which was housed at UVM in the months preceding the end of the war.

Looking at some of the details of the photo actually helped elucidate a bit of Louis McAllister’s business.  Check out the writing on each of the benches – it appears that McAllister wrote his name on each bench in his typical flowery style.  Very interesting!

WWI University of Vermont Alumni 1917 – Missing in Action – USS Cyclops, Carroll Goddard Page


Page in Washington, D.C – Courtesy of The University of Vermont Special Collections

 

One of the biggest naval mysteries of WWI is the inexplicable loss of the USS Cyclops while transporting 300+ passengers and a load of manganese from Brazil to Baltimore.  Carroll Goddard Page, UVM Class of 1917, was aboard as paymaster when the ship disappeared without a trace on March 4th, 1918.  Although a structural failure in the engine is likely the cause, we may never know the true reasons behind the disappearance.
Carroll was a member of the Class of 1917, originally from Hyde Park, he studied business and banking at UVM.  His nickname was “flunko”, and his ambitions at UVM included “raising a mustache that resembles a cross between the Kaiser’s and a hair-lip.”

1917 Yearbook Entry

Carroll’s Alumni Database Entry

Special thanks to the University of Vermont Special Collections!

The University of Vermont at War – Draftees in 1918 – Williams Hall at UVM


UVM SATC (Photo Courtesy of UVM Special Collections)


Drafted UVM Students (Photo Courtesy of UVM Special Collections)

My search for WWI Vermont photography continued this week at the University of Vermont’s Special Collections Annex.  Utilizing the Louis McAllister Collection database, I was able to track down two panoramic photographs taken at UVM in 1918.  This particular shot was taken in front of Williams Science Hall located on the UVM green.  I spent much of my time as an undergraduate studying in this building, so this photograph is particularly close to my heart.

This first photo was taken by McAllister on October 31st, 1918.  The new class of the S.A.T.C. was just inducted on October 23rd, just a week before this photo was taken.  Although the quality of the image is lacking, the content speaks volumes.

The second photo was taken a few months earlier, in July of 1918, and shows the first round of students from UVM to be drafted.  McAllister enjoyed using the Williams Hall entrance as a backdrop for his photographs; this is a panoramic style we see until the early 1960s.

While searching for reference material, I came across this advertisement from the 1918 Ariel yearbook of UVM.  It looks like Louis McAllister was a supporter of UVM!

Courtesy of UVM Special Collections

Special thanks to the UVM Special Collections crew for helping me with my search.  All photos in this post are courtesy of UVM Special Collections.

WWI 26th Yankee Division, 102nd Field Artillery Doughboy – Walter Laskowski


Originally a member of the 8th Co. Coastal Artillery based out of Narragansett Bay (RI) until April 1918, Walter eventually joined the 102nd Field Artillery of the 26th Yankee Division.  I was lucky enough to acquire two inscribed photographs depicting Walter in both roles.  His seated portrait was taken before his June 1918 departure for overseas service.

An interestingly decorated backmark shows that the seated portrait was taken in at 162 Thames Street in Newport, RI.  The Electric Studio’s logo includes a fanned array of lightning bolts emanating from the written portion of the backmark.

For further information on the Rhode Island National Guard unit Walter belonged to, click the link below:

http://www.or.ng.mil/sites/RI/army/56tc/a219sf/default.aspx