Posted 3 years ago
Folks here have posted veteran’s organization caps and insignia from time to time. Here’s one I think is pretty obscure. Occasionally these caps and medals turn up on e-Bay as “French” or “WWI era”, but they are actually American and usually much more recent. Because of the occasional misidentification, I thought it would be helpful to post this.
This is a cap and medal for the Forty and Eight, or officially "La Société des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux," which is French for "The Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses.” The name comes from the French railroad cars that transported troops in WWI. Marked "40/8" on the side, the cars were supposed to hold either forty men or eight horses.
The cap is made in material very similar to the blue material of WWI French uniforms, and cut similar to French side caps of the period. This particular example has no liner. The original owner wore this cap in the 1960s and 70s. The medal has the French title of the organization, and a bar “Voyageur Militaire” (A “voyageur” being the name for a member of the 40/8). The frequent use of French titles within the 40/8 may add to the confusion for collectors.
The American Legion was founded by WWI veterans in 1919, and the 40/8 was founded by a few of the first Legionnaires in 1920 as an honor society within the American Legion. My understanding is that it is no longer a requirement to be in the American Legion in order to be in the 40/8. Any American honorably discharged or active duty veteran meets eligibility requirements for the 40/8, but membership is by invitation only.