Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Salute: Unknown Sailor and Soldier

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

We don't know the names of this sailor and soldier, but the two men were members of either the Hosey, Geiger or Poore families of Jasper and Jones counties, Mississippi.

The uniforms are from the World War I period and so the photo was probably taken between 1917-1919.

The men's uniforms offer a few clues. Sailors called the style of hat worn here the “flat hat.” Civilians called it a “Donald Duck hat” or “pancake hat.” The top of the hat was 12 inches across.

Before 1941, the hat band, called a “talley” displayed the name of the sailor’s ship. In
Example of a flat hat
with the ship name
visible on the talley.
1941, with war under way in Europe, the Navy became concerned with the security of ship movements. So the services replaced the ship name with “U.S. Navy” or “U.S. Coast Guard.”

In this case, unfortunately, a shadow from the bright sunlight hides the name of the sailor’s ship on the talley.

Before the United States entered World War I, the Navy had switched to a smaller, floppier, more practical hat design. When the country entered the war in 1917, the Navy issued the many older flat hats it had in storage until the supply was exhausted.

The white piping on the right shoulder of the sailor indicates that he is in the seaman branch of the Navy. The three white stripes on the sleeve cuff indicate that he is a seaman first class.

The soldier’s uniform has no rank or unit markings. But his leggings tell us a little about him.

French civilians greet advancing American infantrymen
in this 1918 photo. The British-style puttee legging can
clearly be seen.
He appears to be wearing a light-colored canvas legging. This is a sign that he has not yet served in the war in Europe.

Canvas leggings proved impractical in the muddy trenches of Europe. So American troops quickly adopted British-style wool wrap leggings, known as puttees.

Puttees were about 8-12 feet long with 3-5 feet long tie ribbons. A soldier wrapped these around his leg starting from the ankle going all the way up to the knee. The puttees also were closer in color to the olive drab uniform.

So it seems likely that this photo was taken in 1917.

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