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Military History/WWI dog tag information


WWI US ID tag  
Hi. My grandfather served in the US Army in WWI. He most probably volunteered as he was a Norwegian. He arrived Ellis Island 5th Feb 1917 with the SS Frederik VIII. Occupation was seaman/electrician. I have not found where he signed up/was drafted, or where he stayed till he was sent to France. I know that he fought in Verdun and was wounded by bomb splints and mustard gas. I also know that he was transported back to the US from the port of St.Nazaire, late December 1918 or later. I do  remember seeing his 'Columbia Accolade' hanging in the living room. He died in 1970. He would never talk about the war. But - my father gave me his 'dog tag'. My problem is to decode the information on this. Is it 'Company O' in the '38th Infantry'? Was this part of the 3rd Division and the 6th Infantry Brigade? I am confused, and very interested in finding out any more information. Can you help? Regards from Norway; His grandson Eivind.


I doubt he was drafted, since that was community based and he would not have been on any of the draft rolls.  More likely he volunteered as a way to stay in the US and become a citizen.

The 38th Regiment was formed on May 15th 1917, so it stands to reason he may have seen an advertisement for their recruiting and signed up.  

Yes, at the time, the Companies were Alphabetic and it looks like an O.  It would have been in the 38th Regiment, 6th Brigade.

The structure of the army divisions in WWI were as follows.

They were called Square divisions because they contained four infantry regiments, hence the term "square"  In WWII they reduced the number to three creating the "triangular" division.
Two regiments formed a brigade, and each regiment had four battalions and each battalion had four companies.

Here is a short history of the Division's actions:

The 3rd Infantry Division was activated in November 1917 during World War I at Camp Greene, North Carolina. Eight months later, it saw combat for the first time in France. At midnight on 14 July 1918, the division earned lasting distinction. Engaged in the Aisne-Marne Offensive as a member of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe, the division was protecting Paris with a position on the banks of the Marne River. The 7th Machine Gun Battalion of the 3rd Division rushed to Château-Thierry amid retreating French troops and held the Germans back at the Marne River. While surrounding units retreated, the 3rd Infantry Division, including the 30th and 38th Infantry Regiments, remained rock solid and earned its reputation in the Second Battle of the Marne as the "Rock of the Marne".[4] The rest of the division was absorbed under French command until brought back together under the command of General Joseph T. Dickman and by 15 July 1918 they took the brunt of what was to be the last German offensive of the war. General "Black Jack" Pershing said the Division's performance one of the most brilliant of the United States' military history.[4] During the war two members of the division were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Casualties during the war were 3,177 killed in action with 12,940 wounded.

Major Actions:
St. Mihiel
Champagne 1918

Something you might notice is that Verdun is not on there. The battle of Verdun was fought in 1916 and was a French - German thing.  The Meuse River runs through Verdun, and the US Army was assigned that sector along with the French in Sept 1918 and engaged in a joint offensive called the St. Mihiel offensive to nip off a salient (bulge) in the front lines see here:  The Amerian forces 2 Corps (4-6 divisions) were on the south, closest to Verdun.  He was probably wounded during this period of fighting if he was evacuated in December.

So he fought in the Verdun sector, but NOT in the Battle of Verdun, but the equally famous St. Mihiel offensive which was a success and the first employment of US troops.

Here are some details of those engagements on a blog of a great nephew of on soldier killed at Meuse Argonne.

Photos of the 3rd Division troopers in Europe It has a list of the Division organization.

 The Columbia Allocade was a certificate recognizing his sacrifice and him being wounded.

He would also be eligible to wear the Purple Heart medal, as well as several campaign ribbons commemorating his participation in the war.  You could make up a display box to display these.  You might have to have a seamstress make up the uniform bit, that is a mock up of a uniform jacket, with the pockets and buttons on which the unit insignia and awards are pinned.  See example in the picture of a modern uniform.  A WWI era uniform could be made pretty easily out of OD Wool and era buttons obtained on the web.  Ensignia are also available through WWI reenactor uniform and equipment suppliers.

I hope all this is of use to you.  Feel free to ask any other questions if needed.  

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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