Answer to Quiz #18 - July 17, 2005
Where are these soldiers?
Approximately when was the picture taken?
What was their job in the army?
Used by permission of Dale Niesen.
Click on thumbnail to see a larger image. This is a high res version.
Answer:
Argonne Forest, France
Between September 26 - November 11, 1918
Mobile Kitchen Unit
Dale Niese, the contributor of this photo, tells me that the picture shows the mobile
kitchen of the 107th Field Signal Battalion, 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, probably taken
in the Argonne Forest during WWI, with Private Charles Livernois standing eight from
the left (Only his face can be seen between the shoulders of the men in front). He was
Dale's great uncle.
*****
According to Wikipedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meuse-Argonne_Offensive:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a major battle of World War I. It was the biggest
operation and victory of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in that war. The
offensive took place in the Verdun Sector, immediately north and northwest of the
town of Verdun, between September 26 - November 11, 1918. The objective of the
offensive was the railway hub at Sedan, which provided supply support for the German
armies in the southeastern sector of the Western Front.

More than 1,200,000 Americans took part in the 47-day campaign of the
Meuse-Argonne Offensive. A total of 26,277 AEF troops were killed and 95,786 were
wounded.

There is an excellent web site that gives pictures of various locations in France as they
were then during the battle, and as they are now.  See
http://www.meuse-argonne.com/Randys%20Webpages/gallery.htm.
Burial party at the Bois de Consonvoye
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Burial_party%2C_Bois_de_Consonvoye%2C_1918.jpg.

(Notice the makeshift cemetery to the far left of the quiz picture.)
An American soldier dies during a German gas attack, May 1918.
See http://www.home.zonnet.nl/rene.brouwer/usa/usa.htm.
*****
We received several very good answers with lots of interesting observations.
Gail Garwood:

This looks to be a field mess during WWI. I would guess that the picture was made at
the Meuse Argonne offensive and probably in mid to late Oct 1918. There are several
men smiling, perhaps since the defeat of the Germans is fairly certain at this time.
Surrender was in early Nov. Also the temperature in that part of France in October is
not terribly cool so their clothing would be suitable. The two men with the canvas bags
are officers for they were the ones to carry "field bags". A couple of the caps do not
appear to be the traditional Army wool side cap and may be a cap seen on Marines at
that time. (Perhaps even a Frenchman?) The fellow with the sweater and heavy boots
and dipper does not look like U.S. Army to me.

For more history of the Quartermasters check out
http://www.qmfound.com/supply_aef.htm. You will see many similar containers. Horse
drawn wagons were commonly used when horses or mules were available. The many
burned trees supports the Argonne Forest region.
*****
Dale Niesen commented:

Although I believe there are no
officers, the sacks on the men if
I am correct are their gas
masks
. Found out about the
sweater, it is non regulation.  
My friend says that they were
made by ladies back in the
states for the Red Cross who in
turn distributed them to the
troops.
This vintage WWI gas mask was auctioned on eBay, ending 21 Jul
2005. The winning bid was $37.
*****
Mary A. Grindol:

I believe these are U.S. Army soldiers and/or U.S. Marines in France during WWI. My
information is from the website
http://www.tekawiz.com/WW1Doughboy.html. The
give away was the flak helmets that three of the men are wearing. The man in the
helmet standing in front is wearing his gas mask pack just the way the "doughboy" at
the website is wearing it.  The one seated behind him and the ?Sgt standing to the far
right have their slung over a shoulder. Several men have the high colors that are shown
also at
http://www.tekawiz.com/ww1sergeant.html  The "overseas" caps may
indicate that at least some of them are Marines. Notice the destruction of the forest
behind them.  Terrible times though they appear to be taking a much needed rest.
*****
Dick Coveney did not submit a correct answer, but he had a wry observation::

Wow, was this one easy! This road repair crew was drafted, but nevertheless kept the
strict discipline of their road repair days. The two guys carrying the tar for the pothole
they just dug are the only ones working, and the necessary ratio of two workers to
twenty watchers has been maintained!

As Andrew Yeiser (as in Andrew Yeiser & Associates) aptly pointed out, these men
were "
soldiering", which is slang for "delegating authority" or "shirking responsibility".
*****
Congratulations to our winners:

Joyce A. Smith       Kenneth Smith           Gary Rice     
Gail Garwood        Mary A. Grindol        Ardie Grimes
Robert McKenna        Mike Haran        Maureen O'Connor  

Honorable mention goes to Dick Coveney for the most creative answer.

If your name has been omitted from our list of winners, please let me know
It was unintentional.
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Forensic Genealogy book.
Quiz #18 Answer
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