Original U.S. WWI Named 26th Infantry Division Ambulance Grouping - Private Joseph Albert Rich

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is an incredible very scarce authentic WWI collection from Private Joseph Albert Rich was from Bridgeport, Connecticut and served in 26th Infantry Division, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Company K (Ambulance). He took part in famous battles including the Aisne-Marne campaign, Saint-Mihiel and the last major offensive of the war, at Meuse-Argonne.Not only did he take part but he wrote about them in his personal diary which is included in this remarkable grouping.

Included in this exceptional collection are the following:

• Tunic approximately size 38 with correct 26th Infantry Division Yankee Division shoulder patch and medical collar insignia.
• Matching knicker style wool trousers.
• Garrison overseas cap with US insignia.
• WW1 Victory Medal with 4 brass campaign bars- AISNE - MARNE, St. MIHIEL, MEUSE-ARGONN, DEFENSIVE SECTOR.
• State of Connecticut World War I Service Medal
• M1917 dough boy helmet with a very rare hand painted Oak tree for the 102nd Infantry Regiment.
• Original dog tag that reads: Joseph A. Rich, PVT MD, 102 INF, N.G.
• Gas Mask in Gas Mask Bag that reads: Joseph A Rich / MD 102 Infantry.
• 3 x Medic arms bands, each uniquely numbered.
• Personal diary from 1918 with almost daily entries from his time in France.
• Canvas Pistol Belt.
• Canvas Leg Gaiters.
• 4 x Wool Putties (leg wraps)
• 4 x 26th Infantry Division YD insignia patches and 2 x Sergeant Chevrons.
• Sewing kit with loads of uniform buttons, scissors, etc.
• Medic's "bread" bag with red cross on front.
• 4 x U.S. Army, Red Cross and German wound bandages.
• 100+ postcards.
• Multiple period photographs of himself, friends etc.
• Large portrait in oval frame of him in uniform.
• Pack of U.S. Army "diagnosis tags".
• Multiple books, pamphlets, news clippings, awards etc.

The 26th Infantry Division was first constituted on 18 July 1917, three months after the American entry into World War I, as the 26th Division. It was formally activated on 22 August of that year in Boston, Massachusetts, and it was celebrated by Boston writers and by composers in pieces such as "The Yankee Division March" and "Battery A March." The division commanded two brigades comprising national guard units from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The 51st Infantry Brigade contained the 101st and 102nd Infantry Regiments, while the 52nd Infantry Brigade contained the 103rd and 104th Infantry Regiments, together with supporting units. Shortly thereafter, the division commander, Major General C. R. Edwards, called a press conference to determine a nickname for the newly formed division. Edwards decided to settle on the suggestion of "Yankee Division" since all of the subordinate units of the division were from New England. Shortly thereafter, the division approved a shoulder sleeve insignia with a "YD" monogram to reflect this.

On 21 September 1917, the division arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France. It was the second division of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to arrive on the Western Front at the time, and the first division wholly organized in the United States, joining the 1st Division. Two additional divisions completed the first wave of American troop deployment, with the 2nd Division formed in France and the 42nd Division arriving at St. Nazaire on 29 October. The division immediately moved to Neufchâteau for training, as most of the division's soldiers were raw recruits, new to military service. Because of this, much of the division's force was trained by the experienced French forces. It trained extensively with the other three US divisions, organized as the U.S. I Corps in January 1918, before being moved into a quiet sector of the trenches in February.

The 26th Infantry Division remained in a relatively quiet region of the lines along the Chemin des Dames for several months before it relieved the 1st Division near St. Mihiel on 3 April. The line here taken over extended from the vicinity of Apremont, on the west, in front of Xivray-Marvoisin, Seicheprey, and Bois de Remieres, as far as the Bois de Jury, on the right, where the French line joined the American line. Division Headquarters were at Boucq.

The stay of the division in this sector was marked by several serious encounters with the enemy, where considerable forces were engaged. There were furthermore almost nightly encounters between patrols or ambush parties, and the harassing fire of the artillery on both sides was very active.

On 10, 12 and 13 April, the lines held by the 104th Infantry in Bois Brule (near Apremont), and by the French to the left, were heavily attacked by the Germans. At first the enemy secured a foothold in some advanced trenches which were not strongly held, but sturdy counterattacks succeeded in driving the enemy out with serious losses, and the line was entirely re-established.

In late April, German infantry conducted a raid on positions of the 26th Division, one of the first attacks on Americans during the war. At 0400 on 20 April, German field artillery bombarded the 102nd Infantry's positions near Seicheprey before German stoßtruppen moved against the village. The artillery box barrage, continuing 36 hours, isolated American units. The Germans overwhelmed a machine gun company and two infantry companies of the 102nd and temporarily breached the trenches before elements of the division rallied and recaptured the village. The Germans withdrew before the division could counterattack but inflicted 634 casualties, including 80 killed, 424 wounded, and 130 captured, while losing over 600 men, including 150 killed of their own.

Similar raids struck the 101st infantry at Flirey on 27 May, and the 103rd Infantry at Xivray-et-Marvoisin on 16 June, but were repulsed. The 26th Division was relieved by the 82nd Division on 28 June, moved by train to Meaux, and entered the line again northwest of Chateau Thierry, relieving the 2nd Division on 5 July.

As the size of the AEF grew, the division was placed under command of I Corps in July. When the Aisne-Marne campaign began shortly thereafter, the division, under I Corps was placed under command of the French Sixth Army protecting its east flank. When the offensive began, the division advanced up the spine of the Marne salient for several weeks, pushing through Belleau Wood, moving 10 miles from 18 to 25 July. On 12 August it was pulled from the lines near Toul to prepare for the next offensive. The division was then a part of the offensive at St. Mihiel, during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The division then moved in position for the last major offensive of the war, at Meuse-Argonne. This campaign was the last of the war, as an armistice was signed shortly thereafter. During World War I the 26th Division spent 210 days in combat, and suffered 1,587 killed in action and 12,077 wounded in action. The division returned to the United States and was demobilized on 3 May 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

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