Hey guys. I have in my possession my great-grandfather's army jacket with patches that after hours of research still remain a mystery to me. Hopefully you awesome people can help me out.
Jacket Front -We can see his US/signal corps pins and colonel wings on his shoulders.
Jacket Back -Six bars on left arm. Someone once told me that each one symbolized four years of service, totaling at least 24 years. I don't know how accurate this was and would appreciate some clarification.
Airborne Patch -I know this means he was in the XVIII Airborne Corps, but it is the specifics I am curious about.
Mystery Patch -I have done so much research and I can not find any images of patches that look like the one above.
As stated above, I need help with this jacket. This is one of the only remnants of my grandfather's life in the army, and I have many family members also interested. I just want to make it clear that I have no intention of wearing this to an airsoft game, as that would be entirely stupid and needs no addressing. Feel free to let me know/be rude to me if there is something wrong with the pictures, as I want to be spot on regarding my first major post on this forum. Thanks for any help!
Thanks for the help. I have done some research on the XVIII Airborne Corps, and it seems like they had tons of subordinate units, including the 101st and 82nd Airborne. It seems like he would have been administration, but I am not sure.
The patch you are curious about is for the 44th Division. His sleave has marks indeed are for years of service. The branch insignia on his lapel is for Signal Corp. All officers when commissioned are assigned a branch of service. Combat arms branches in WW2 were: Infantry, Armor, Artillery and Tank Destroyer Branch (which was eliminated following WW2). Closely related to combat Branches were : Engineers, Signal Corp, Medical Corp, Military Police, Coastal Artillery (also disbanded after WW2) Transportation Corp, Ordnance. More removed branches would be Chemical Corp, Adjutant Generals Corp, etc.
The 44th Infantry Division is one I know little about but I am sure as with all Infantry Units there is a unit history and probably a web site. The 44th like a lot of WW2 Infantry Divisions was formed from National Guard Units which tended to be regional. The 44th was East Coast, New Jersey, Deleware, RI, I believe . Following the utbreak of war it was rolled into the regular army and members would be filled in from all over the US. The 44th served in the ETO with notable campaigns late in the war.. The patch worn on the right shoulder 18th Airborne denotes a unit he served with in combat or time of war where the shoulder patch on the left sleave denotes the currently assigned unit. Sometimes the patches are the same often two different units. His colonel rank on a WW2/ Korean era tunic and hash marks indicate to me that he was in the army well before the outbreak of WW2. I find it curious that his tunic does not sport jump wings. Perhaps he removed them? Look for indications of pin marks above the left pocket. As a signal Corp high ranking officer he may not have been jump qualified but served in the 18th Airborne as a department head or staff officer for the Corp communications section. At the 44th Division with the rank of Colonel he would have lead that communications department and been at the upper eschelon of the command staff. Outranking most if not all of the Regimental Commanders who were typically Lt. Colonels.
I only see a suspicious hole above the right pocket (which is visible on the right edge of the third picture), and I doubt he would have misplaced his insignia at such a high level. I found a paragraph on some obscure, Ancestry.com-related site about a week ago detailing the activation of the 54th Signal Battalion, in which his name is mentioned. Can't be too many Robert A. Blakeneys at that rank in the signal corps, can there? Keep in mind this was in '41. Page URL: freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gregkrenzelok/veterinary%20corp%20in%20ww1/7thdivheadquartersftordww2.html The paragraph is about dead center of the page. (Ctrl F+ "Blakeney" will help)
From the page: "f. 54th Signal Battalion, the communication system of the Third Army Corps is beginning to shape up in the form of the 54th Signal Battalion. On January 24, 1941, a cadre of 52 enlisted men from the 60th Signal Battalion, Fort Lewis, Washington headed by 1st Lt. Lawrence O. Anderson and 1st Lt. Louis R. Cole arrived at the East Garrison. The cadre will be activated as the 54th Signal Battalion February 10 and come to full strength of approximately 550 men on or shortly after February 18. It is expected that the Battalion will be moved to barracks in the Corps Troop area of the Main Garrison in the near future. There is expected to be some slight confusion at first, for as 1st Sgt. Hopkins of “B” Company says, “I’ve been living in a tent for the past two years and I’ll have to get orientated again to living in a building. Recruit training for the five hundred new men will probably occupy the first six weeks. At the end of that period, signal equipment, including radio, telephone, telegraph and transportation should be available for section training. Lt. Colonel Ira Troenl will command the Battalion. Other officers assigned include Major Andrews, Captains Robert A. Blakeney, John D. Malnight, Herbert B. Kellery, Mills and Martin; 1st Lts. Louis R. Cole, Lawrence O. Anderson, Marnet Maersch, Paul G. Gray, Clement E. Fritz, Harold C. Reynolds, William E. Jennings, Herbert C. Weavill, Ralph M. Ebert, Raymond L. Porter, Charles M. Beach and Luis J. Boem and 2nd Lts. Paul Triplett, Charles F. Ziegler, Charles F. Franklin, George W. Dunn and Phillip A. Bauman. The original cadre of non-commissioned officers was headed by Tech. Sgts. Clifford H. Fellows and Fred C. Swabbs, and Staff Sgts. Charles M. Hopkins and Einer H. Thuesen. - FORT ORD PANORAMA, 2-7-1941. (DLIFLC & POM Archives)"
I should also mention that I have his footlocker with captured Nazi memorabilia (flown flag complete with battle damage and SA armband), with his rank listed as lieutenant colonel. He must have done something post-war. Thanks for the massive amount of help, 2nd Bat. He seldom spoke of his time in the war, not even to his own son, which is why my grand and regular fathers are so interested. My dad once spoke to him as a child for a school project, and he said he fought in Italy, that he was at one point under Patton, and, most interestingly, that he directed traffic at a fork in the road for a convoy of tanks during the Bulge so they could go where they needed to be. He said it amounted to him standing on this fork and pointing to the right. Thanks again for the help, and I hope you can corroborate with the details.
The officers serving in the Army prior to the outbreak of the war had endured slow or non existent promotions for many many years and very limited budgets and a public that treated soldiers and sailors as leopars. With the outbreak of war captains quickly skipped up the ranks although few reached the rank of Colonel without great competency. Units bounched around and divisions were frequently switched from Corps and Armies and served under a variety of Generals. its funny how people always seem to mention that they served under Patton while not mentioning other commanders. He was a highly polarizing commander. Love him or hate him a consistent comment I frequently hear from vets is their comment that when under Patton they always had good chow and plenty of ammo. not bad for a guy who had a reputation at the command level of not being a good logistician. his response to that critisism was. "You're right! Thats why I make to sure to have men working for me who are!"
Ft lewis like a lot of military posts in the early 40s went through a frantic building process preparing for war. Temporary wooden barracks and support structures were thrown together hastily and in fact North Fort Lewis still has most of those structures (albeit mostly empty) in place. I did my ROTC advance camp there and was housed in the Old original WW2 barracks. later in active duty I was stationed there again although was over by Greys Field with the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Infantry Regiment.
Your great gandpa probably always reflected back on his time in the Signal Corp as the most significant phase of his life.
Stalin should have known communism wouldn't work. There were red flags everywhere!"
Apparently the 54th Signal Battalion had their last official reunion last year, as the members are just getting to old to make the trip. Those guys probably knew him, and I wish I could have made it. From what I hear, he was a stern but fair man. Made a darn good CO.
Post by december44museum on Dec 16, 2015 13:01:55 GMT -5
On the right shoulder is the sleeve insignia-former wartime service. Your great-grandfather served during WWII with 54th Signal Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps (Gen. Matthew Ridgway). He was at the Battle of the Bulge. During early stage of the battle, XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters was located in the Chateau de Harzé. The 54th Signal Battalion was quartered at the Pironboeuf Farm, in the same village of Harzé, Belgium. Would you have any WWII pictures of him?
Thanks for the info, December! Funny story, I actually sent away for his Army records at the archives in St. Louis, and received them in a large envelope about a year ago. Since then, I've learned pretty much what December said, plus the fact that he was in the CCC and received the Bronze Star in Europe. He was not only in the 54th Signal, but he was also one of the original trainers of the battalion when he was a captain in June of 1941, when it was activated.
The jacket itself is actually a Korea-pattern Ike jacket, as he was sent to Fort Ord (I think) to train the 44th Infantry in 1952, which was made from the Illinois National Guard. I don't have any wartime pictures of him unfortunately.
Thanks again for the effort, I didn't update the thread simply because I thought it was old news that nobody thought much of. There are a few neat papers in the pile of over 500 I got from the archives, including his confidential clearance papers, a few copied documents featuring his handwriting, and National Guard registration papers that have a box for the registrant's race. The only options listed are "White," "Colored," and "Oriental." Between you and I, I don't think that would fly in 2015!
Dracul: It looks like it lost a lot of steam and I now feel bad for randomly dropping off.
Jun 15, 2018 14:58:17 GMT -5
stuka: I mean it's not your fault. It is interesting though that things are falling off as we are finally getting our ww2 guns with the type 38/96 and the enfield as well as it recieving a new loading system, it's kind of unfortunate
Jun 16, 2018 3:30:04 GMT -5
Dracul: I don't know, maybe its because all the guns are becoming available, there is a decreasing need for the forums.
Jun 16, 2018 16:29:26 GMT -5
Dracul: Most of the talk was about making guns, as all the uniform info was already out there, but now the weapons are out there and are usually decent quality.
Jun 16, 2018 16:33:32 GMT -5
stuka: well the forum is and should still be useful for updates on guns, creating groups/events and building kits
Jun 18, 2018 1:33:29 GMT -5
Cpl. Hicks: I haven't been here in years, but I'm glad to see this forum is still kicking! So much great info on here.
Jun 22, 2018 14:00:12 GMT -5
savoy6: anyone know if anyone still carries the enfield?
Jul 15, 2018 18:47:08 GMT -5
Dracul: I think Redwolf has a Enfield. If not or not longer, then not until G&G releases theirs. The old gas Iron Airsoft brand SMLE isn't carried by anyone anymore and was such piece of crap. Not worth trying to track one down.
Jul 19, 2018 5:55:35 GMT -5