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The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

Article about: A close up of Fred in his AFS unifrom. This photo is interesting to me as it illustrates the American Field Service uniform in transition. Fred is wearing a US made M1917 uniform with French

  1. #11

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    A close up of Fred in his AFS unifrom. This photo is interesting to me as it illustrates the American Field Service uniform in transition. Fred is wearing a US made M1917 uniform with French Automobile Service collar insignia added in accordance with AFS practice. The United States had already declared war with Germany when many of these men arrived and they were encouraged to buy uniforms in the States rather than wait to have them tailor made in France. In many photos of these late AFS/TMU volunteers, they essentially look like regular doughboys.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #12

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    I have found one of the better explanantions about excactly what the Reserve Mallet was and I thought I'd share that here.

    THE T.M.U. UNITS
    OF THE
    AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE

    The French Automobile Service (Motor Transport Corps) was a transportation supply formation of the French Army. This organization was divided into ten Reserves. (The Reserve Mallet being Number Three.) This system was designed to allow for allotting a certain amount of transports to be available for the normal needs of the army but all other transportation was grouped into organizations known as Reserves, which could be used whenever and wherever there was heavy fighting which consequently required a need for increased transportation. Thus the Reserves were a sort of auxiliary combat unit, moved from front to front as the occasion required.

    A Reserve was organized as follows; a central headquarters whose function was purely administrative. Below the Headquarters there were three Groupements, each of which were in turn were divided into three groupes and each groupe was divided into four sections.

    The Reserve was known by the name of its commander as were the groupements and groupes. The total personnel of a Reserve were about 2500 men, with 700 trucks and support vehicles.


    When the American Field Service volunteers began to serve as camion (truck) drivers, they took over Number Nine or Groupement Perisse. This consisted of three Groupes; Groupe Genin, Groupe Erhardt and Groupe Meyer.

    Groupe Genin
    T.M.U. 526

    Section “A” was formed of men from Cornell University.

    Section “B” was mostly Andover College men.

    Section “C” was mostly composed of volunteers from Dartmouth College.

    Section “D” was made of a miscellaneous men from various schools.

    Groupe Erhardt
    T.M.U. 133

    Section “E” was formed mainly from volunteers from California

    Section “F” was mostly Princeton men


    Groupe Meyer
    T.M.U. 184

    Section “G” was mostly men from Dartmouth.

    Section “H” was Tufts College

    Section “I” was from Marietta College

    Section “M” was made up from a unit from Buffalo, NY

  3. #13

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    what i found strange is what looks to be a double pocket mauser ammunition pouch didn't they usually come in a triple pocket style set up?

  4. #14

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    fantastic group!

  5. #15

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    Quote by waffenrock42 View Post
    what i found strange is what looks to be a double pocket mauser ammunition pouch didn't they usually come in a triple pocket style set up?
    They sure did, but the one in his trunk had one "pocket" cut off for some reason.

  6. #16

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    For those of you who may be curious I thought I might take the time to expand and briefly explain about the American Field Service in the Great War.

    The World War One American Field Service was an all volunteer organization dedicated to aiding France in her struggle against Imperial Germany. Starting as a small, local ambulance service attached to the American Hospital in Paris in 1914; under the leadership of its director A. Piatt Andrew, grew to be the largest American volunteer ambulance organization in France until its being absorbed by the US Army once America entered the war in 1917.

    These “Gentlemen Volunteers” were in most cases sons of the privileged elite; most were young, either attending college or recently graduated who set their lives aside for adventure, a romantic notion of “nobless obidge” or for a desire to take part in the greatest event of their generation, even though the United States was still officially neutral. Schools like Harvard University, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Williams, and Bowdoin College to name a few, were the breeding ground that spawned these noble young men.

    These men were required to pay for their own passage to France; buy their own uniforms and swear allegiance to France for a six-month tour of duty. In exchange the French government would provide their rations, a steel helmet and a gas mask, plus pay them the standard rate of an ordinary poilu, six sous per day.

    Driving Model T Fords converted into ambulances that were paid for by private donations; these young men served in “SSU” sections or “Sectione Sanitaire Unis” of 20 or so men and were attached to various French divisions. The “conductors” would operate mainly at night, driving their ambulances right up to the front line “postes de secours” to pick up the wounded “blesses” for transport back to forward hospitals. Driving alone at night, across shell cratered roads, swept with artillery fire and choked with poison gas, all while hearing the moans and shrieks of their wounded “cargo”, tested the nerves of the most hard-boiled of volunteers.

    By 1917 the United States finally declared war with Germany and across the land millions were called to the colors. Advance agents of the US military met with the directors of the pre-existing ambulance organizations (the American Field Service and the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps) to make arrangements to absorb them into the US Army. Even as this was happening, the number of volunteers into the AFS actually increased as many felt that this was the fastest way to the “front”. In the spring of 1917, the numbers of volunteers were outstripping the number of available ambulances and some newly arrived men were forced to wait idly by until ambulances could be found. The French military approached the directors of the AFS with the idea of using newly arrived volunteers as supply truck drivers in the “camion” service. With the United States now being an active belligerent, any concern with breaking the laws of neutrality were no longer an issue. An appeal went out to the newly arriving volunteers and after some debate their support was given whole heartedly and the “Transport Matιriel Unis” arm of the American Field Service was born.
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    Last edited by Croix de Guerre; 02-21-2010 at 12:56 AM.

  7. #17

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    Here are some photos of Fred Kurth's French issue M2 gas mask. It was originally soaked with gas resistant chemicals and now almost 100 years later it had dried into a hardened wad of cotton gauze and petrified goo. It took some time of careful pulling and picking to free the straps and urge into a semlance of its original shape.
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  8. #18

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    Here is a photo of Fred wearing that very same mask. The photo was captioned " Effective, but not very comfortable". This photo was taken in 1918 while Fred was serving in the Reserve Mallet.
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  9. #19

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    Tom,

    I never tire of seeing this great group. Your research has added tremendously in educating all who view this post. Really a wonderful group.

    DJ

  10. #20

    Default Re: The trunk grouping of Sgt. Fred Kurth of the Reserve Mallet

    Quote by Belleauwood View Post
    Tom,

    I never tire of seeing this great group. Your research has added tremendously in educating all who view this post. Really a wonderful group.

    DJ
    Thanks for the kind words Dennis, I appreciate it very much.


    Here is another example of some of the interesting small items found in Kurth's footlocker. A trench lighter made out of a walnut!!
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