5 Replies Latest reply on Feb 25, 2019 8:58 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Mystery WW1 Image

    Eric Cooper Newbie

      My name is Eric Cooper, and I am an intern working at the Livingston County War Museum in Pontiac, IL. I am currently creating an online database for the museum that will house pictures, videos, and audio files of all the items in the museum's collection.


      Attached is a photo of a WW1 veteran who served in the U.S. Army with the Headquarters Company, 34th Infantry, 7th Infantry Division. He arrived in France on August, 17th, 1918 and also served with occupation forces. Three of the ribbons I have been able to identify with one exception, the ribbon on the bottom right.


      As you can see, it has a very unique and unusual pattern that does not repeat. I have checked for ribbons awarded for individual battles and campaigns and ribbons awarded from foreign militaries to no avail. I was hoping that someone here may be able to help me identify it or point me in the right direction. Thanks!

        • Re: Mystery WW1 Image
          Elliot Schneider Scout



          This maybe a state issued ww1 service ribbon. I know several states did this back then. Not sure if they have a state medal identification book.



          Elliot Schneider

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          • Re: Mystery WW1 Image
            Dennis Whitehead Newbie

            The World War I Museum in Kansas City might have service ribbon information. Another long shot would be the Institute of Heraldry in DoD.

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            • Re: Mystery WW1 Image
              Rebecca Collier Ranger

              Dear Mr. Cooper,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              We searched the citations for the 7th Infantry Division as well as several listings of medals and ribbons, but were unable to locate any information on the ribbon in question.


              Assuming the ribbon was awarded to the unit, information concerning lineage and honors for units can be obtained from the U.S. Army Center of Military History, ATTN: DAMH-FPO, 103 Third Avenue, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC 20319-5058.  Their web site is https://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lh.html.


              The National World War I Museum may have a listing of ribbons. The web site is https://www.theworldwar.org/s/110/new/index_community.aspx.


              We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


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              • Re: Mystery WW1 Image
                Paul Havemann Newbie

                If you're on Facebook, I suggest you ask the fellow who runs the "Historia Obscurum" page. He seems to have a lot of knowledge about military ribbons and the like - even has a collection of uniforms and ribbons.


                • Re: Mystery WW1 Image
                  Jason Atkinson Scout

                  Dear Mr. Cooper,

                  We conducted some research online and found additional information that may provide an explanation for the ribbon. 

                  According to a blog post by the Australian War Memorial, there were a number of unofficial ribbons created in the immediate aftermath of World War 1. Quoting portions of the blog: “In January 1919 some of the Allied nations suggested that there should be a single medal created for all allied and associated countries, so that there would be no need for the exchange of commemorative medals between the victorious nations…  Before the official ribbon was approved a number of commercial companies created their own versions of what they thought the Victory Medal ribbon could look like. These unofficial ribbons often combined the flags, or colours from the flags of many of the victorious nations.”

                  While your example is not an exact match of the samples of the samples of unofficial ribbons shown on their website, it follows similar patterns.  For example, the ribbon you shared an image of includes the black, yellow and red of the Belgian flag; blue, white and red of the French flag; the red, white and green of the Italian flag, etc. Because these ribbons were produced independently by commercial companies, there would have been no single standard that they all followed, and little or no government documentation of their existence. 

                  Furthermore, while the Australian War Memorial focuses on the Australian perspective, a search of the US. Militaria Forum uncovered two threads (here and here) discussing similar medals and ribbons being worn by American and British veterans.  The threads provides several pictures of ribbons very similar to the one you posted, as well as photographs of US and UK personnel wearing the ribbons alongside their other, more official medals.

                  An additional possibility is that this ribbon was awarded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or a similar veterans association.  The website of the Orders & Medals Society of America shows that a number of veteran and civic organizations have ribbons and medals similar to those of the military. Their picture database includes images of medals from the VFW’s Military Order of the Cootie, which have a very similar color pattern to the ribbon you are researching.

                  We hope this information is helpful.

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