My father passed away a little over a month ago and so we’ve started the long process of organizing his belongings. Dad was a bit of a pack rat but what he did have, I’m finding, was some very odd and interesting items. While home this past weekend I was looking through a box of vintage postcards he’d had and found an odd collection of what look like picture postcards from a military unit stationed in the South Pacific. From the uniforms I’m going to guess they were taken during World War One. Wondering who these men might have been I googled US Military in the South Pacific during WWI and discovered that we were indeed fighting there during WWI. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d ever heard that in school.
According to Wikipedia:
The Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I consisted of various naval battles and the Allied conquest of German colonial possessions in the Pacific Ocean and China. The most significant military action was the careful and well-executed Siege of Tsingtao in what is now China, but smaller actions were also fought at Bita Paka and Toma in German New Guinea. All other German and Austrian possessions in Asia and the Pacific fell without bloodshed. Naval warfare was common; all of the colonial powers had naval squadrons stationed in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. These fleets operated by supporting the invasions of German-held territories and by destroying the East Asia Squadron. One of the first land offensives in the Pacific theatre was the Occupation of German Samoa in August 29 and 30 1914 by New Zealand forces. The campaign to take Samoa ended without bloodshed after over 1,000 New Zealanders landed on the German colony, supported by an Australian and French naval squadron.
I’m not sure how much involvement American troops had in these actions but I have to assume we were there in some capacity. I mean, we’re Americans … we generally don’t sit on the sidelines well.
Where did these postcards come from? I’m not sure. Dad could have just picked them up someplace because they looked cool but that seems unlikely. A few of the other cards in the box were addressed to my great uncle Theodore VanSickles (Husband of Dorothy Pauline Wells – Daughter of Williams Rogers Wells) so maybe one of the men in this unit was a friend of his.
So what clues do I have as to who these men might be? Well, there is writing on the back of two cards. The first one is:
On the back of the card above with the men in the field is written: “I am all so on this picture were the x is. Please write soon. From your loving son John.”
It says: “This is a picture of three XX Co. when doing a guard. No. 1 is James A Moore. 2. Mr. Lawrence and 3 Corporal McNally. From John. P.S. The next letter you write, why xxx me know how many cards that I have sent you while I was in the Army.”
From this I know these cards are of an Army unit. Unfortunately the last name of Lawrence and McNally aren’t much help and neither is James Moore as it’s a very common name. So here I am posting them on the internet in the hopes that maybe a family member of a man in these photos might find me so I can find a good home for these cards. Plus I’d really love to know more about what these men were doing during their service to our country.
Here are the rest of the cards:
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