WWI 1st Division DSC Recipient RPPC Photo


eBay can be a fun way to research WWI soldiers in a way that wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago. With the emerging databases of WWI soldier roster information and the ever-expanding capacity of Ancestry.com for genealogical data, WWI veterans are becoming easier and easier to research. In this case, I purchased a photo of two US officers posing in a French studio in March of 1919. The signature on the front and the inscription on the back give roughly enough information to make a positive identification. The standing officer is 2nd Lt. William H. Barry of Langley, Washington. He served with F. Co of the 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division during the American involvement in WWI. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his bravery and extraordinary heroism in the breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line. A large percentage of his company became casualties and he assumed command after the CO was wounded. He reorganized the company and completed their objective under the rain of German machine fun fire.

 

To think, this photograph was obtained on an internet auction site for less than the price of a tank of gasoline and had been sitting in a pile of postcards for years before it was posted. I’m glad to provide this information – I hope a family member can find this post and learn a little about their ancestor!

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Lt. William H. Barry (Standing)

 

WilliamBarryDSC038

Lt. Barry’s March 1919 Signature

 

BARRY, WILLIAM H.
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army
28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: October 5, 1918
Citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to William H. Barry, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Exermont, France, October 5, 1918. Assuming command of his company after his company commander and a major portion of the company became casualties, Second Lieutenant Barry reorganized his company and personally led it forward in the attack, successfully attaining his objective in the face of intense machine-gun and artillery fire. He constantly exposed himself to enemy fire in order to encourage and insure the protection of his men.
General Orders No. 103, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Langley, WA

 

WilliamBarryDSC036

WilliamBarryDSC037

WWI Photo Identification: The Mysterious Misidentification of Peter Pizzolongo


 

 

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Misidentified  Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

From time to time I update certain posts to reflect recent research discoveries or to bring an interesting post back from obscurity.  In this case, the family member of a WWI veteran discussed in my post was able to discover my site and find a “photo” (please see below) of her grandfather.  Back in 2013 I posted a well-researched photo of a pair of doughboys wearing gasmasks and helmets posed overseas in 1918.  After extensive research on the gasmask of the soldier, I was able to track down a bit of info on him.  That’s what I thought!

Gas Mask Identification

Gas Mask Identification

This is an example of one of those rare occasions of an identification made without a 100% cross referenced identification photo.  It turns out that the soldier was merely borrowing the gasmask of Peter Pizzolongo.  I assumed that the wearer was indeed Pizzolongo; but his great niece found the photo, passed it around the family email chain and determined that it didn’t actually depict Peter.  She graciously sent me a wartime shot of Peter with his gasmask bag, helmet and uniform. In fact, the photo was likely taken at the same time as the original image, but was redone in a larger format with a blurred backdrop.  The reversed collar insignia, gasmask strap and shoulder patch point towards a reverse-image process to reproduce a larger format photo.

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo

“Fake” Peter Pizzolongo

 

Luckily my original post was 100% accurate in the historical documentation of Peter and his early life.  Here’s a recap:

 

Peter was born in 1896 in Larino Campobasso, Italy and came over to the US in the early 1900s.  What’s funny is that I can’t find his immigration records online but did find that he traveled back from Italy in 1955 on board the S.S. Independence along with his wife, Ida.

 

1955 Italy Trip

1955 Italy Trip

Of interest to me is his WWI service record.  His draft card gives his exact birth date – June 29th, 1895.  His listed profession at the time was Piano Maker; his Italian hometown matches perfectly with his WWI service record, so we know it’s accurate.  As of June, 1917 he worked with a company named Ricca & Son at 89 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY.  At the time he lived at 425 East 116th Street in Manhattan and wasn’t legally registered as an American citizen.  He initially signed up with the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Division.  It makes sense given his NY area residency at the time.  He was they transferred over to the 305th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division.  He made it overseas on April 16th, 1918 and served overseas for an entire year before leaving on April 24th, 1919.  He was gassed once on August 15th, 1918 during the Battle of the Marne at Fismes.  Please see a quick excerpt from the official 305th Infantry Regiment unit history here: 305th History

 

August, 1918

August, 1918

We know from his records that he was out of commission for 8 days before returning to his unit on August 23rd.  He became sick (unknown reason, likely gas related) on September 5th, 1918. He rejoined the unit on the 16th after being in the hospital for 11 days.  What a trooper! I’ve attached a few of the web-based documents I’ve found through my search. Hopefully his family will one day find this site and learn a little more about their WWI relative!

WWI Service Record

WWI Service Record

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Combat Veteran Portrait Photo – Peter Pizzolongo, 77th Division, 305th Infantry Regiment


Peter Pizzolongo

Peter Pizzolongo

The majority of my World War One portrait collection are comprised of quality shots depicting unidentified soldiers posing for the camera in France or Germany.  Very rarely do I have a penciled name on the reverse with enough detail to make a 100% positive ID.  In this rare case, I was able to make an identification based on insignia and a faint scribble on a gas mask bag.

Gas Mask Identification

Gas Mask Identification

At first I wasn’t able to make out the exact details of the name.  The soldier was clearly with the 77th Division based on his painted helmet with the Statue of Liberty insignia, and the 305 Inf. was easy to make out on the bag.  I checked the collar discs on both men and was able to make out an I, telling me that the men were both with I Company.  From there, I tracked down (luckily) a web-based roster for the 305th Infantry. It can be found here: 305th Infantry Roster

The name on the bag clearly stated a P. P…….go.  I didn’t have much to go on but was astounded to find a perfect match on the roster website!  Peter Pizzolongo.

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Peter was born in 1896 in Larino Campobasso, Italy and came over to the US in the early 1900s.  What’s funny is that I can’t find his immigration records online but did find that he traveled back from Italy in 1955 on board the S.S. Independence along with his wife, Ida.

1955 Italy Trip

1955 Italy Trip

Of interest to me is his WWI service record.  His draft card gives his exact birthdate – June 29th, 1895.  His listed profession at the time was Piano Maker; his Italian hometown matches perfectly with his WWI service record, so we know it’s accurate.  As of June, 1917 he worked with a company named Ricca & Son at 89 Southern Boulvard, Bronx, NY.  At the time he lived at 425 East 116th Street in Manhattan and wasn’t legally registered as an American citizen.  He initially signed up with the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Division.  It makes sense given his NY area residency at the time.  He was they transferred over to the 305th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division.  He made it overseas on April 16th, 1918 and served overseas for an entire year before leaving on April 24th, 1919.  He was gassed once on August 15th, 1918 during the Battle of the Marne at Fismes.  Please see a quick excerpt from the official 305th Infantry Regiment unit history here: 305th History

August, 1918

August, 1918

We know from his records that he was out of commission for 8 days before returning to his unit on August 23rd.  He became sick (unknown reason, likely gas related) on September 5th, 1918. He rejoined the unit on the 16th after being in the hospital for 11 days.  What a trooper! I’ve attached a few of the web-based documents I’ve found through my search. Hopefully his family will one day find this site and learn a little more about their WWI relative!

WWI Service Record

WWI Service Record

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Vermont RPPC Photo – Herbert L. French of Stratton/Lononderry, VT 1918 France 78th Div.


WWI Photos of Vermonters are hard to find and I continually search for superlative examples at flea markets and yard sales.  This past May I was lucky enough to encounter a Vermonter dealer at a Massachusetts flea market.  Low and behold, the seller had a fantastic image of a WWI Vermonter for sale!   Herbert L. French is identified as being from Stratton, VT and as being a member of the 307th Field Artillery of the 78th Division.

Herbert L. French

Herbert L. French

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WWI Vermont Roster Entry

WWI Vermont Roster Entry

Misidentified WWI Veteran Grave Card

Misidentified WWI Veteran Grave Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

WWI Photo Identification: Mortimer G. Thompson of Knoxville, TN 117th Infantry, 30th Division


 

Another incredible set of portrait photos arrived on my doorstep today by way of a close friend and fellow collector.  Two portrait photos with incredible detail showing a clear 30th Division patch as well as a very uncommon 30th Division helmet.  Shots of WWI soldiers wearing their service helmets in a portrait studio are especially prized amongst collectors.  A big thanks to Chuck for parting with this set!  As always, I will delve into the genealogy of this soldier and hopefully find some interesting material using web-based resources.

Mortimer G. Thompson

Mortimer G. Thompson

Mortimer Grinnell Thompson was born on December 29th, 1897 (other sources say 1887) to C. Mortimer and Hattie C. Thompson in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He entered Federal service on May 21st, 1917 and eventually ended up as Sgt. with the 117th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division. At this time, I can’t find much about his military service other than the basic facts.  With some more in-depth searching I may be able to elucidate some aspects of his service that have been all but forgotten over the past (nearly) 100 years.  He married after the war to a Celeste P. Condon and had at least two children named Mortimer G. Thompson Jr. and Harriet A. Thompson in the late 1920s.  Mort is listed as a painting contractor.

Incredibly I was able to find Mort Jr. on facebook!  A friend request is pending.  He appears to be quite active on facebook and I hope he responds.

MortJr.

“Mort” passed away at a young age in 1935 and is buried in Knoxville National Cemetery in Knoxville, TN.  His plot number is B,0,3993.

 

Mortimer Thompson's Headstone Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1252279

Mortimer Thompson’s Headstone
Source

Mortimer was the son of Charles Mortimer Thompson, better known as C. Mortimer Thompson, progenitor of  Thompson Photo Products of Knoxville, TN.  The Thompson family have been THE go-to family for photography needs in Knoxville for over 100 years. It’s no wonder the portrait shots of Mort are so detailed and well colored.  Charles was an architect, draftsman and photographer who had an eye for detail and a solid business plan.  His son Jim eventually became one of the best known Tennessee photographers of the early 1900s, capturing the rich visual heritage of the state in the first half of the century.  His works are held in collections across the country and are regarded as some of the best examples of Tennessee industrial photography.  A website of his work can be found here: http://cmdc.knoxlib.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p265301coll7

 

Mortimer318

WWI Cover Art Post #1: 79th Division, 316th Infantry Regiment Doughboys in Trenches – By: Thomas M. Rivel (DSC Winner)


 

Following up on a series of posts on the World War One Historical Association blog (http://ww1ha.wordpress.com/) regarding dust jacket art from the WWI era, I’ve decided to begin posting some of my favorite examples of war-era cover art.  This example is from a copy of the unit history for Company F of the 316th Infantry Regiment.  The cover and internal art was designed by a regimental veteran named Thomas M. Rivel who received the Distinguished Service Cross for his action outside Montfaucon, France in 1918.  His cover piece combines a few elements that are commonly seen in wartime cover art, including posies, trench details, aircraft and a stone-faced doughboy.  A great piece!

 

 

WWI 79th Division Veteran w/ Purple Heart and Uniform in the 1940s


A wonderful set of negatives from a family in Pennsylvania shows the lighthearted side of aging WWI veterans.  An elderly member of the 316th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division pals around with friends and family while showing off his war medals.  A Purple Heart medal was awarded to our subject for wounds received in battle, and was likely delivered to him in the early 1930s when the current medal was officially created.  Enjoy the images!

Legs Wraps and All!