12 Replies Latest reply on Apr 28, 2021 5:25 PM by Alex Daverede

    Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.

    Gregory Morris Newbie

      I am researching a historic house and one of the owners, Thomas Frank Riggs, was in the Navy during WW1. He was a blacksmith on a ship. I have a picture of his in a uniform with 3 stripes on the collar. I found a navy uniform fragment under the house. I was hopeful that it was his but the fragment only has 2 stripes. It is hand sown. Would this be a WW1 uniform? What is the significance of the stripes. I also have a button embossed with the image of a ship with one gun turret. I there any information that is attached to these types of buttons? Thanks for any information.

        • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
          Lisa Sharik Scout

          Here some charts showing Naval ranks in WWI: It is possible for Mr. Riggs to have a uniform with one rank and a picture with a different rank. Also during WWI uniforms would have had overseas service stripes, one for each 6 months overseas, wound stripes if someone was wounded, For those stripes the  peak of the stripe points up, for rank is points down as shown in the charts below.

           

          Lisa Sharik

          Deputy Director

          Texas Military Forces Museum

           

           

           

           

           

          Naval RanksNaval Ranks

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
            Rachael Salyer Ranger

            Dear Mr. Morris,

             

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

             

            We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Official Military Personnel Files, 1885-1998 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that contains one file for Riggs, Thomas F. that may be of interest to you. We cannot confirm whether or not this is the same individual you are researching, but it is possible. Thomas Frank Riggs’ Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) may contain information about his rank and promotions that could be helpful for your research. These records have not been digitized. For access to and information about this file, please contact the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL) at stl.archives@nara.gov.

             

            In general, Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) and individual medical reports for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were separated from the service before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where Army and Army Air Corps personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Navy and Marine Corps OMPFs were not affected by the fire. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.

             

            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL. Also, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, and homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels. Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

             

            We hope this information is helpful, and best of luck with your research!

             

            1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
              Elliot Schneider Ranger

              Mr. Morris,

               

              The man you seek is Thomas Franklin Riggs, and here is some additional information and  where he is buried. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65211243/thomas-franklin-riggs

               

               

              2 people found this helpful
              • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
                Alex Daverede Adventurer

                Gregory,

                 

                The sleeve insignia for a seaman apprentice, the second level of enlisted rank (today known as E-2), wore (and still wears) two short diagonal stripes such as these:

                 


                During the World War I era, the stripes would have been located at the bottom of the sleeve.  Similarly, the uniform sleeve cuff would have had two white cords, similar in size to the three cords located on the collar flap of the uniform. 

                Service stripes ( sometimes called “hashmarks” would have been much longer than the rank stripes and located at the bottom of the left sleeve.  I’m guessing on color, but for blue uniforms they would be red, and for white uniforms they would be blue.  Each stripe represents four years’ service.

                 

                The button would not have been standard Navy issue, which consists of an eagle grasping a horizontal anchor in its talons.

                 

                I hope you find this information helpful.

                 

                A. J.

                1 person found this helpful
                  • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
                    Gregory Morris Newbie

                    Thanks Alex,

                     

                    I am not sure my reply posted so this may be a duplicate. Here is a picture of Frank and the possible uniform fragment I have. There is a picture of the button too.

                     

                    Greg

                     

                    Thomas Franklin Riggs

                    Possible Uniform fragment

                    Button

                      • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
                        Lisa Sharik Scout

                        The button is  a US Tank Corps button.ta

                         

                        Lisa Sharik

                        • Re: Question on WW1 Navy uniform and button.
                          Alex Daverede Adventurer

                          Gregory,

                           

                          Thank you for the images, although I’m not sure how much more help I can give.  I believe the nature of the button has been resolved.

                           

                          I can’t clearly identify the marks on the uniform fragments.  On the larger piece the decoration looks purely ornamental, while the pocket clearly shows two distinct chevrons.  The uniform color is nontraditional in that Navy uniforms normally have a much darker blue hue, so this may be a fatigue or work uniform worn on the job.

                           

                          As for the other uniform image, the crow insignia is indistinct except for the wings.  I can’t identify how many chevrons are on the insignia.  However, you mentioned Mr. Riggs was a blacksmith in the Navy, and the closest match among early U.S. Navy aviation ratings is the Aviation Metalsmith rating:

                           


                          Per the United States Naval Aviation 1910-2010 guide, the Aviation Metalsmith rating was established 1 July 1921.  I would surmise that the uniform fragments came from a work uniform from the World War I/early postwar period. Mr. Riggs was a Aviation Metalsmith second class to judge from the two chevrons on the fatigue uniform pocket combined with the crow from the second image.

                           

                          I hope you find this information useful.

                           

                          A. J.