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Finding Clues in Old Photographs

People often do not realize how much information you can find in an old photograph. As you research your relative’s service keep this in mind.

The image above is of seated soldiers from WWII. On the front it nicely gives us a date of 9-1-43. When you look closer at the picture you see all the soldiers have patches for the Texas Defense Guard (TDG) this was a home guard ( which later became the Texas State Guard), and was comprised of men who were too old, too young for service, or for some other reason could not serve in the regular Armed Forces.
 

Looking closing at their collars and hats we see they are all wearing Marine Corps insignia (USMC). In addition behind the soldiers are 2 Marine Corps recruiting posters, which research reveals were produced in 1942/43. So this is a TDG “Marine” unit. During WWII the Defense Guard Marine unit was based in Houston, Texas.

 

Looking more closely at the individual soldiers we see that the 1st, 4th and 5th soldier from the left all have WWI victory ribbons on their uniform. The 1st soldier has a WWI victory medal with 2 bronze campaign stars and a number “2” during WWI there would have been campaign “bars” so this soldier has added WWII campaign stars to his WWI ribbon.

 
The second soldier from the left has on a cartridge belt with magazine pouch, all the other soldiers have standard belts.
 
The soldier in the center of the back row has a Medic/Red Cross patch on his lower left sleeve.
 
Many of the soldiers have visible rank patches ( mostly some grade of Sergeants)The soldier in the center front has a Lieutenant bar.
 
An finally not as useful but interesting on the side of the photograph are two motor oil cans “Conoco Motor Oil” and “Keystone”.
 

Someone did type information on the back of the photograph showing it was the 48th Bn, Marine unit from Houston with names. It must have been typed in late 1943 or after as they used the term “Texas State Guard” instead of “Texas Defense Guard”

 

So the next time you look at those old photographs get out the magnifying glass and take a real look- those small clues just might help you out in your search.

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