Posted 10 years ago
The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) began arriving in France in June 1917. By March 1918 there were 250,000 U.S. soldiers in France; this number increased to one million by July and to two million by November. Two-thirds of the 29 divisions saw action.
2.5 million US Victory medals were issued. The US was the only nation to add campaign clasps to the Victory Medal. There are five service clasps denoting countries; thirteen Army campaign clasps, plus a clasp for defensive sectors; and nineteen Navy clasps denoting varying types of service. There is also a Maltese cross device for Marines and Navy corpsmen attached to the AEF. I mean no disrespect to the Marines and Navy by not having their examples here, I just happen to be an Army guy and I collect mostly Army stuff.
Clasps were awarded based on an individual’s participation in a campaign, but knowing what campaigns which units fought in allows for some guesswork as to where the soldier was assigned. Obviously there were transfers, replacements, ect., but from left to right, here’s the divisions these men may have served in:
3rd “Marne” Division, Regular Army. The only division with six campaign clasps. (Aisne, Champagne-Marne, Aise-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
28th “Keystone” Division, Pennsylvania National Guard. (Champagne-Marne, Aise-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
91st “Evergreen” Division. These were men from eight western states and the Alaska Territory. (Ypres-Lys, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
32nd “Red Arrow” Division, Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard (Aise-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
77th “Liberty” Division. Men from New York City and Southern New York State. (Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
Either the 5th, 30th, 35th, 78th, 80th, 82nd, 89th or the 90th Division (St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector) with a matching service ribbon with 3 campaign stars.
Either the 6th, 7th, 29th, 36th, 79, 81, 88th or the 92nd Division (Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)
Defensive Sector: Units in defensive sectors frequently suffered heavy casualties in spite of not having participated in any campaign.
France: Personnel who served in France and were ineligible for campaign or defensive sector clasps.
England: Personnel who served in England and nowhere else overseas.
Russia: Personnel who served in Russia (reproduction clasp)
Lastly, this veteran decided to wear his Honorably Discharged Lapel Button on his Victory Medal. Not an authorized practice but who’s going to argue? Above it is the service ribbon.
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Obviously it would be a simple thing to remove or add clasps to make a more interesting medal. Medals were pre-assembled before issue, so here are some clues that indicate a medal was tampered with by somebody after it was issued. The suspension ring should be aligned on itself and have no gap or tool marks. Most original issue Victories have the wrap around brooch shown in the 4th photo. The ribbon is sewn at each side beneath the brooch with purple thread. Any other color indicates tampering by somebody at some time.