France: Circa 1918-1920. Album. This 7” x 9” journal contains about 300 captioned photos of varying sizes plus about 25 handwritten pages documenting the 413th Telegraph Battalion’s wartime service. About 15 images are of family at home. A post-war letter and calling card are laid-in. There are three sketches: two of railroad signs (one advertising a tobacco stand and one announcing a “coiffe,” probably a cap or plate joining two pieces of rail) and a soldier using a pissoir behind a screen advertising an aperitif. Contents are in nice shape; cover is worn, and the spine has perished. Some pages are beginning to detach. Very good. Item #009072 A nice visual history of a critical and early arriving, but often overlooked and undocumented, component of the AEF during World War One.
The 413th was one of the earliest U.S. telegraph units to form and claimed to have been the first to arrive in France. Its mission was to help establish the backbone of communications within the AEF. It was mostly composed of telegraph professionals (linemen, electricians, telegraphers, train dispatchers, signal operators, etc.) from the Pennsylvania Railroad. The photos show life at the unit’s various camp sites (tents, shots of soldiers, etc.), erecting poles, linemen on poles stringing wire, a mule train, trucks and locomotives, operating equipment, views of towns and villages (some with war damage), etc.. An interesting group of images shows supplies being transported over the River Charente at Rochefort via the transbordeur (aerial bridge). The handwritten text consists primarily of popular soldier song lyrics. Most interesting are 13 unit-specific verses to Hinky-Dinky Parlez Vous that humorously chronicles the 413th’s ongoing wartime service. Ten pages are used to record the names and addresses of 60 soldiers assigned to or working in conjunction with the unit.
A nice visual history of a critical and early arriving, but often overlooked and undocumented, component of the AEF during World War One.