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U.S. Army Divisions that served in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

Inside the chapel of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, there are stained-glass windows showing the emblems used by the U.S. Army Divisions that served in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War One. And as a key to the emblems in the stained-glass windows, there are four placards, of which one is shown below.

Seventeen of the Divisions including the 77th and 79th

The emblems on the placard are listed here top left to right:

Stained-glass window inside the chapel of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, displaying the emblems of some of the U.S. Divisions that served in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, World War One, France, 46 KB

  • 35th
  • 36th
  • 37th
  • 38th
  • 40th
  • 41st
  • 42nd
  • 76th
  • 77th
  • 78th
  • 79th
  • 80th
  • 81st
  • 82nd
  • 83rd
  • 84th
  • 85th

Some of the U.S. Divisions that served in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, World War One, France, 45 KB

The photographs from inside the cemetery's chapel were taken on Wednesday, 5 September 2012, between 5 and 6 PM (Central European Time - Summer). My wife and I were late in getting to the cemetery: it was a long drive from Rheims [Reims on map of Western Europe] where we were staying and then through the countryside to get to the cemetery. The cemetery office and chapel officially closed at 5 PM, and we arrived (they were expecting us that day) just at 4:45 PM. The staff was very gracious and took us to my great-uncle Richard's gravesite and left the chapel open late just for us. Very kind and respectful of them to do that and stay after hours.

Source: photograph and description by Paul Stellwagen.

The Lorraine Cross

Being a Brief Account of the Official Emblem of the Seventy-Ninth Division

During the fall of 1918, General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces spent much time in studying the question of the identification of troops in battle and of assembling them during the heat of action with its attendant confusion and dispersal of units.

Finally, as a solution of the question, the idea of selecting distinctive insignia for each division was adopted, the insignia to be worn by each member of the division on the upper left arm near the shoulder. This idea was immediately acted upon, and the commanding generals of all combat divisions were instructed to select insignia for their divisions and to submit them for approval to General Headquarters. One by one the combat divisions adopted their insignia, following official approval, and the plan, once in operation, proved to be so successful and of such an aid in stimulating the morale of the troops that it was later extended to include all organizations in the American Expeditionary Forces.

The official insignia for the Seventy-Ninth division was selected and approved shortly after the signing of the armistice, while the 315th Infantry still held its position in the shell-torn villages of Etraye and Damvillers northeast of Verdun. The insignia adopted by Major General Joseph E. Kuhn and his staff as best symbolizing the history and spirit of the Seventy-Ninth Division proved to be none other than the Lorraine Cross, that ancient emblem of victory which was adopted in the 15th century by the House of Anjou as a symbol of triumph following the defeat of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in the Battle of Nancy. For over five hundred years the double traverse Cross of Lorraine had served as an emblem of victory and freedom for the brave, liberty-loving people of Lorraine and certainly no other emblem could have better represented the history and traditions of the Seventy-Ninth Division.

The historical background for the adoption of the Lorraine Cross as the official emblem of the Seventy-Ninth Division is to be found in, first, the fact that during its period of training in America the Seventy-Ninth Division was popularly known as the "Liberty Division"; second, the fact that during all the period of its operations in the World War the Division faced the enemy in Lorraine, the province which the United States was pledged to win back in its entirety for France; and third, the fact that victory finally crowned the efforts of the Seventy-Ninth Division in face of the most desperate opposition.

The insignia of the Seventy-Ninth Division, as officially adopted, consists of a gray Lorraine Cross on a blue shield with a gray border. In the passing of time, a slight modification has been made in the insignia as worn by officers, with whom it has become customary to wear as the official insignia a silver Lorraine Cross on a blue shield with a silver border.

In its hues of silver and gray and blue, the insignia of the Seventy-Ninth Division has become dear to the hearts of thousands of the best of America's manhood, and it is with a sense of high honor and pride that the members of the 315th Infantry, as part of that larger organization, the Division, recognize as their military emblem the Lorraine Cross, an outward symbol wherein is centered a fervent and undying love for liberty, justice and freedom.

Source: The Official History of the 315th Infantry U.S.A., being a true record of its organization and training, and of its operations in the World War, and of its activities following the signing of the Armistice, 1917-1919, Compiled and published by Historical Board of the 315th Infantry: Philadelphia, 1920, p. 368.

Related page: Rows of Graves in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, showing the grave of Richard Mettler (d. 1 October 1918 in the Argonne forest).

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/angelo/divisions.html
Last revised: 25 June 2013 : 2013-06-25 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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