Wounded WWI AEF Chaplain Poses in French Studio – Can We Identify Him?

It is never easy to identify someone from a photograph taken nearly 100 years ago, but it’s even more difficult solely based on obscure details from his/her clothing. In today’s blog post I will focus on a photograph purchased on eBay from a fantastic seller named Colleen ( eBay name: cacdivi) who recently sold me a superb French real photo postcard of an American chaplain posed in a studio during World World I (WWI). Here’s the shot:


Wounded American Chaplain in WWI

The scene is fairly typical of what was common of the time period: WWI soldiers/sailors/marine/nurses posed in photo studios in far off places in order to document their experiences to send to relatives and friends. In this case, a currently-unidentified US chaplain (see the crucifix on his shoulder and cap?) strikes a chin-up pose for a French photographer. How do we know that the photo was taken in France?


French Postcard Paper

French postcard paper during WWI almost always contains a central vertical dividing mark with CARTE POSTALE emblazoned across the top. I’ve noted a fair number of varieties likely due to differences in production, but the main bulk of French postcard paper of the period look very similar to the above scan.


Dissection of Photographic Context

What are we looking at? I’ve already mentioned that the man posed in the photo is a US chaplain in a French studio during the war. But what details have I been pondering while waiting for the photo to arrive in my mailbox? (Thanks to Colleen – you rock!)

  1. The chaplain has served at least six months in Europe


    His Left Sleeve (6th Months Overseas Service) Right Sleeve (Wound Chevron)

  2. He was wounded or gassed at least once during his service


    His Right Sleeve: Wound Chevron

  3. The photo was likely taken during wartime (before the armistice)
  4. He is oddly sporting a mustache and goatee


    Rarely Seen Facial Hair in WWI

  5. He is wearing an identification bracelet made in France


    WWI Bracelet Made in France

Why is a photograph of a wounded chaplain posed in a wartime studio worthy of devoting hours of research to? According to a website devoted to military chaplains, the number of wartime chaplains during WWI was incredibly low:

In 1918, Congress passed an act that called for one chaplain for every 1200 officers and enlisted men. Bishop Hayes, in a letter to Cardinal Farley, informs Farley of the current number of chaplains overseas. As of June 1918 there were 301 chaplains in the Army, 30 in the Navy, 7 with the Red Cross, 2 interpreters, and 95 volunteer or Knights of Columbus chaplains.

This photo most likely represents an Army chaplain included in the above June 1918 census: any US chaplain who served at least six months service would’ve been present in France in June of 1918. And to have been wounded or gassed, our unidentified chaplain was likely present during the earlier battles of the US involvement of the war.

Our Chaplain?

Okay, so we know our chaplain was wounded, was photographed at some point in the  spring or summer of 1918 and likely served in an Army division that arrived early (for the Americans). His identity, based on date, is narrowed down to 1 in 301 – a pretty good number when it comes to identifying a photo taken 100 years ago. Also, based on rules, he has to be less than 45 years of age.

But what was required to be a US chaplain in WWI? Before researching this photo I had no idea of the low number of volunteers or the actual requirements for acceptance. My personal photo collection contains a half dozen photos of chaplains, which is a surprisingly high number based on the scarcity of the subject matter. I was lucky to track down a copy of the rules and regs of chaplainhood here: http://archnyarchives.org/2015/11/10/military-chaplains-in-world-war-i/

Official Chaplain Requirements

Requirements for Commissioned Army Chaplaincies

  1. The law provides that no person shall be appointed chaplain in the Army who on the date of appointment is more than forty-five years of age.
  2. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States either by birth or naturalization. Must produce at examination proof of naturalization and must not have been born in enemy alien territory.
  3. Health and eyesight must be in excellent condition; if glasses are worn sight must be at least 12:20 in each eye without glass.
  4. Weight must be proportionate.
  5. Must produce an examination certificate of graduation from an approved College or Seminary which includes collegiate course. If not a graduate candidate must be prepared to stand mental test in general subjects: history, geography, arithmetic. etc.
  6. It is most desirable that each applicant write a letter addressed to the Secretary of War setting forth fully his qualifications such as experience with societies, clubs, dramatic circles, and knowledge of foreign languages. This letter must be be enclosed with application and sent to the Chaplain Bishop.
  7. Formal application must be made on regular blanks made by the War Department. These Blanks should be applied for to the Ordinariate, 142 East 29th Street, New York City.
  8. Must enclose to the Chaplain Bishop a formal letter of permission from his Ordinary.
  9. Must send a small photographic print of himself.

1918 Chaplain Application Form


For now I have a good bit of information to extend my research with. Until then, stay tuned!


WWI RPPC Photo – South Dakota Quartermaster Veteran Identified

Balancing work life, house chores, being social, and collecting WWI photos can be a daunting task; too much investment in one area can lead to neglect in another.  As is the case of my life as of June, 2016.  Luckily, I’m making a solstice dedication (is that a thing?) to posting more of my identified material in hopes of reuniting family members with deceased relatives.

In tonight’s post, I’ve purchased and researched a photo in the course of one calendar week with some positive results.  As you may know, veterans with interesting surnames are typically easier to identify, and this post is an example of one of these researching ventures.


Elmer Liebig (at left)

Elmer Reinhardt Liebig was born on November 1st, 1894 in Spink, South Dakota, the son of two German immigrants.  Having served in a Quartermaster unit during WWI, he went on to own and run a pool hall in his hometown for a number of years until operating as a salesman until the 1940s, where he eventually ended up with the South Dakota Department of Fish and Game, acting as a warden for Brookings an Moody Counties.


WWII Draft Registration


Full Photo Scan

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



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.

WWI Photo: Flea Market Find Yields Research Gold – Lt. Robert Slocum of Burlington, VT

Robert H. Slocum in 1919

Robert H. Slocum in 1919

Although Lt. Robert H. Slocum was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, he resided in Burlington(VT) for the majority of his life.  A recent photo discovery by a friend of mine at a local flea market has provided a wealth of research potential.  The photo clearly depicts a young Lieutenant sporting a Coastal Artillery Corps insignia on his collar.  The name Robert H. Slocum was inked on the reverse of the image.  I wasn’t able to find a wartime record of Lt. Slocum in the Vermont files, but was able to find his draft card from Syracuse.  He was a student at the time at Syracuse University and was originally from the area.

Draft Card

Draft Card

Slocum was likely a Lieutenant with the 59th Coastal Artillery, a Syracuse/Upstate New York based unit.  This is only speculation, but the likelyhood is strong.


Lt. Slocum's grave in Syracuse

Lt. Slocum’s grave in Syracuse

Mr. Slocum lived for nearly six decades at his home on 21 Alfred Street in the South End of Burlington.  I was able to purchase his photo albums from the 1930s which include many interesting images of the Burlington lakefront and Southend area.  His son recently passed and his estate was broken up, ending up at a local flea market.  Luckily I was able to keep most of the early albums together.

Post-WWI Residence of Lt. Slocum – 21 Alfred Street, Burlington, VT

Lt. Slocum posed with his son, Robert H. Slocum III

Lt. Slocum posed with daughter in May of 1935

Little Bobby playing in a local Burlington playground

Little Bobby playing in a local Burlington playground (note the chicken coop)

Cruising the mean streets of Burlington in 1936

Cruising the mean streets of Burlington in 1936

Little Bobby on a tricycle (note the decorative porch treatment in the background)

Little Bobby on a tricycle (note the decorative porch treatment in the background)

Background house in 2012

Background house in 2012

Lt. Slocum and family at the beach.  Possibly North Beach

Lt. Slocum and family at the beach. Possibly North Beach

It would seem that Lt. Slocum lived a long and happy life.  I found a 2012 obituary for his son which makes reference to Robert Slocum Jr, who passed away in 1993.

A 2012 obituary for Robert Slocum III

ROBERT H. SLOCUM III – BURLINGTON – On Nov. 15, 2012, Robert H. Slocum III died peacefully in his cherished home, following a brief illness. Born on May 31, 1931, he was the son of Robert H. Slocum II and Frances Slocum. Bob graduated from Burlington High School in the Class of 1949 and the Middlebury College, Class of 1954. For many years he was an elementary school teacher in Deep River, Conn. Music was an important part of his life and he hoped to instill a love of music in his students. For many years he would write and produce a musical for his students to perform. Upon his retirement, he returned to Burlington to live with his father. Both men enjoyed the company of their cat named Scooter who seemed to know his job was to make them happy. When Scooter died, Bob adopted a stray cat and most recently one from the humane society. Bob looked forward to his high school class reunions each summer and, of course, the Red Sox games. He is survived by his sister, Cynthia Slocum of Pittsford; and his cousins, Joan and Phil Hoff and their children, Susan Haynes, Dagny Hoff, Andrea MacNaughton and Gretchen Hoff. The family is most grateful to Philomena Gicheru for her friendship and caring assistance provided to Bob these past thirteen years. There will be a gathering of remembrance on Nov. 26, 2012, at 10:30 am at 35 Hillcrest Rd., Burlington.