Skip to comments.Calling WWII history buffs.
Posted on 03/25/2012 6:40:17 PM PDT by gop4lyf
I went to a family reunion today and came away with some pictures and an artifact of my granddad's WWII service. If at all possible, I would like some help identifying the following two things...
Secon is a picture of an artifact that he brought back. It appears to be a letter opener welded to some shrapnel of some sort. On the part that looks like a letter opener is what looks to me like an Iron Cross and the letter "W". Any ideas on what it is and what the "W" signifies?
Any help is greatly appreciated!
The Iron Cross 1914-18 has the central letter “ W “ for Wilhelm II?
I am pretty sure the flag is the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Reconnaissance_Battalion
The guidon looks like a cavalry split - half white, half red.
the 1 at the top would designate the unit.
My guess is that this would be 1st Reconnaisance Squadron or Troop.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to have a recon unit attached to any number of manuever formations during that time period.
Armored divisions or infantry divisions, more than likely.
Very interesting. The cross design is different from the German Iron Cross (sharper angles). The UK Military Cross had right angles. I really have no idea but hope someone else knows.
guidon of 1st cav division 1st recon battalion?
Wehrmacht would be a good guess. I’ve seen WWI iron crosses with a W in that position, but not in that style of lettering, In a more traditional serif rather than this seemingly later, stylized and sort of art deco font, and also not on a letter opener.
The debris welded to it would be significant to the American or other unit that made the capture, took the installation or what have you. Significant of an event associated with the Wehrmacht officer, in which he played a role.
Just speculating, but reasonable speculation.
Considering how roughly made this appears (versus the quality of WWI Iron Crosses), I wonder if this was taken from a statue or gravestone. It was only meant to represent an iron cross. It may explain the damage (melted or chiseled off)?
I’m pretty sure he was U.S. Army, and I know that he was at the Normandy invasion and was in Europe until V-E day.
Paging Homer_J_Simpson, the official WWII Historian of Free Republic!
(seems ping-worthy to me...)
forgot to add this:
It does lokk sort of like a stylized finial rather than being made for the purpose of a letter opener, now that you mention it. It’d be more finely crafted for a desk accessory.
The small Iron Cross dagger looks like WWI German trench art made from a piece of shrapnel. Nice.
BINGO, I think we have a winner.
If true, it would be interesting to know how your Grandfather came upon this during WWII.
Could the symbol on the cross be a Sigma instead of an M? Maybe it’s Greek.
OK, so the W would be “Weltkrieg” meaning world war, and the debris was not welded on, the letter opener or dagger was actually made in the trenches by a German soldier, from a shell splinter, just something to pass the time when not under bombardment, then?
I am not so sure about that...I think it is the 1st Cav division recon troop under the recon brigade.....see here....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cavalry_Division_1_November_1940.jpg
Don’t know why but I assumed it was a “W”. To another question above, I think it is strange that if it is WWI trench art then how did my grandad come across it in WWII?
I have a son who studies Greek, so my first thought was Sigma. The cross is also in a common Eastern Christian shape. It’s just a thought ... but troops were moved around a lot in WW2, and your father might have picked up an artifact from the eastern Mediterranean theater in Western Europe, if a unit had been in both.
As to the possibility of its being a WWI piece, perhaps he found it in a shop in France, or crossed paths with a French veteran of the Great War, or another American who was a collector. I was surprised, in some recent reading about the Normandy invasion, at how much contact individual American troops had with French civilians.
.I think it is the 1st Cav division recon troop under the recon brigade.....see here....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cavalry_Division_1_November_1940.jpg
1st cav div was in the pacific
“Waffen”? [but I believe the Waffen was the SS, not related (other than national origina) to the Iron Cross
Tell you what, if you got hit with that piece of shrapnel it would rip your insides out with extreme prejudice.
“Waffen’’ simply means ‘’weapon’’ in German. The Waffen SS were fully functioning fighting divisions in WW2 formed always as panzer(tank) units.
Or, perhaps, he got it from a German veteran of WWI who later fought in WWII, either alive,or not. No way of really knowing...
Possibly. There were some on both sides who fought in both wars. The historian Michael Burleigh considers the two World Wars to be a single unit, "The Second 40-Years War."
Sort of my thought except the use is the tip of a flag staff, guideon
The letter is a "W" representing Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia.
The Royal Cypher of the King of Prussia was used on the 1815, 1870 and 1914 versions of the Iron Cross:
1813 version with the Royal Cypher of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia:
1870 Version with the Royal Cypher of King Wilhelm I of Prussia (Later also the German Emperor):
1914 Version with the Imperial and Royal Cypher of Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia:
I saw some of those when trying to figure out what the “W” meant, but the “font” if you will is totally different. I think that it is an incredibly interesting piece.
Just wondering if anyone had come up with any further info.
I stopped when I saw the trench art (Google search shows a lot of similar items)...
It was a fun and educational search though.. These are some of the more enjoyable FR threads.
Do you have a copy or the original service record of your grandfathers? That would show what unit he served with and where he saw combat/and/or service. If you don’t do you have any info on what unit he served with? That would go a long way to helping get the info you want.
good point....1st ID was in the European theater no?
No, but I have found a number that is identified as his serial number. Serial to what, I don’t know. It’s 38137940, but I have no idea how military ID numbers work.
I now think it is the 1st Infantry Divisions cav recon troop guidon.
I heard recently that DD214’s are now available online?
Go to the link provided to me by ‘’Superfries’’. Your grandfathers serial number is the key to finding out who and what unit he served with— it’s the ‘’key to the kingdom’’ as it were.
“good point....1st ID was in the European theater no?”
correct they were in north africa, sicily, italy and western europe. one rgt went in w/29ID on d-day.
I finally heard back after filing from the link that you mentioned. Unfortunately, my granddad’s records were part of the ones that were burned in a large fire in 1973. The letter that we got back stated that all of his records have been lost.
DD214s and the 1973 NPRC Fire, a "Record" Loss
On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files.
The affected record collections included:
U.S. Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960. Estimated loss 80%; U.S. Air Force personnel discharged September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964, with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E. Estimated loss 75%; Some U.S. Army Reserve personnel who received final discharge as late as 1964; A very small number of U.S. Navy, United States Coast Guard, and U.S. Marine Corps records which were out of file and were caught in the section of the building which experienced the most damage in the fire.
No duplicate copies of the records that were destroyed in the fire were maintained, nor was a microfilm copy ever produced. There were no indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available.
Nevertheless, there are many alternate sources that a qualified researcher can access in an effort to reconstruct basic service information. They, then, can have the Records Center issue a replacement known as a Certificate of Service. A Certificate of Service usually takes a couple of weeks to be processed by the NPRC when there is no DD214 in your file, and when supporting documents can be found. Many NPRC reconstructions can take longer, possibly months.
Reconstructing Lost DD214s
When proof of military service is needed and the original record has been lost, the NPRC (MPR) attempts to reconstruct certain basic service data from alternate sources. The NPRC (MPR) has identified many of these sources, but each contains only limited military service information. They are utilized to piece together (reconstruct) basic military service data.
It is essential that requesters collect as much information from old personal papers before submitting a request pertaining to records from the fire-related collections. Good information on a request helps NPRC (MPR) identify which sources to research for reconstructing basic service data. If insufficient information is received the requester will be asked to provide additional information.
Among your personal papers, these will aid in your record reconstruction:
TDY or PCS orders Promotion orders Awards and decoration orders Travel orders Special duty orders Training Certificates Performance Reports/Evaluations
If you haven't maintained these records, hopefully you'll know of or be able to contact other veterans with whom you served. As you know, when military orders are issued they contain the names of other members of your unit affected by the same Standard or General Order affecting your promotion, transfer, etc.
One source of data for researchers is enlistment records. The NPRC maintains 9.2 million records for enlistments in the Army, Enlisted Reserve Corps, and Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.
Another primary source of alternate data utilized by professional researchers is a collection of 19 million final pay vouchers. These records provide name, service number, dates of service, and character of service. These are the most critical service data elements needed for the reconstruction process. With these and other organizational records (enlistment ledgers, service number indexes, etc.), both professional researchers as well as NPRC (MPR) personnel can usually verify military service and provide a Certification of Military Service. This Certification can be used for any purpose for which the original discharge document was used, including the application for veterans benefits.