Posted 12 months ago
Here is a commander’s 1918 holiday message to his troops, a silk souvenir handkerchief, and a victory medal to a veteran of the US 79th Division.
The 79th Division was activated in August 1917, and was largely men from Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, New York and Rhode Island. On 26 September 1918 they were still an inexperienced division, having just completed in-country training. On that day they were ordered to attack Montfaucon in Lorraine, France. This was a well-fortified height with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The division fought a long and bloody advance from the Meuse valley to the heights of Monfaucon. On 30 September they were transferred to the Troyon sector along the Meuse, where they held their trenches against mustard gas, aircraft, artillery and trench raids. In total, it suffered some 6,874 casualties: 1,151 killed and 5,723 wounded. For their actions, they were named “The Cross of Loraine Division” as evidenced by the depiction of their unit patch on the Commander’s letter. The Division was inactivated in June 1919 and returned to the United States.
The commanders’ Christmas message is marked “Imp. Collot. – Bar-le-Duc.” at the bottom. The silk handkerchief is very sheer, measures about 15” when unfolded, and is embroidered with the infantry insignia of crossed rifles. The victory medal has the correct battle clasps for the 79th Division; the Meuse-Argonne Campaign and the Defensive Sector. The ribbon is worn and faded. At the top, the fabric of the ribbon has pulled away from the brooch. This is a pattern of wear I’ve seen on many occasions, and I speculate that it is consistent with medals that have been worn extensively, since this is the area that would bear the weight of the medal, and the ribbon would rub against the brooch when moving.
Merry Christmas to you all