Original U.S. WWI 77th Infantry “Liberty” Division Machine Gun Battalion Sergeant Major Patched Tunic and Wool Greatcoat - 2 Items
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a wonder set from the Liberty Division tunic and M1917 helmet. We have no proof that this set is part of a member from The Lost Battalion, but that Battalion was part of the 77th and would have worn this same tunic and helmet. The Lost Battalion is the name given to nine companies of the United States 77th Division, roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before 194 remaining men were rescued. They were led by Major Charles White Whittlesey. On 2 October, the division quickly advanced into the Argonne, under the belief that French forces were supporting the left flank and two American units including the 92nd Division were supporting the right flank. Unknown to Whittlesey's unit, the French advance had been stalled. Without this knowledge, the Americans had moved beyond the rest of the Allied line and found themselves completely cut off and surrounded by German forces. For the next six days, suffering heavy losses, the men of the division were forced to fight off several attacks by the Germans, who saw the small American units as a threat to their whole line.
The battalion suffered many hardships. Food was short, and water was available only by crawling under fire to a nearby stream. Ammunition ran low. Communications were also a problem, and at times they would be bombarded by shells from their own artillery. As every runner dispatched by Whittlesey either became lost or ran into German patrols, carrier pigeons became the only method of communicating with headquarters. In a famous incident on 4 October, inaccurate coordinates were delivered by one of the pigeons and the unit was subjected to "friendly fire". The unit was saved by another pigeon, Cher Ami, delivering the following message:
WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALLEL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT.
Despite this, they held their ground and caused enough of a distraction for other Allied units to break through the German lines, which forced the Germans to retreat.
The tunic is a fine example and features a heavy wool construction with cotton lining, 77th division lady liberty patch on left shoulder, battalion sergeant major chevron on right shoulder, 2 inverted red service chevrons, honorable discharge chevron on the left shoulder with 2 overseas stripes on the lower left sleeve. The collar discs are the US National Army monogram and an “MG” crossed rifles disc. There are 3 ribbons on the left breast for Mexican Service, WWI Victory Medal (3 Bronze and 1 Silver Star) and a Croix de Guerre with bronze star device. Beneath the ribbons on the pocket flap is a sharpshooter badge.
All buttons are present and there are minor moth nips and a few repairs.
The greatcoat is in excellent condition with minor moth nips and no significant damage with all buttons present. There is a name written on the back inside lining which appears to be T.F. Pankau.
Both items come more than ready for further research and display!
Collar to shoulder: 10”
Shoulder to sleeve: 24”
Shoulder to shoulder: 16.6”
Chest width: 18.5”
Waist width: 17”
Hip width: 18.5”
Front length: 29"
Collar to shoulder: 10.5”
Shoulder to sleeve: 25.5”
Shoulder to shoulder: 18”
Chest width: 20”
Waist width: 25”
Hip width: 30”
Front length: 46.5"
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