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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WWI Photo captures Doughboys in France

                                               ( Click on photos for an enlarged view.)
The names:  1. Zwinge, 2. Shedd, 3. Day, 4. Burnham, 5. Kimball, 6. Seale, 7. Priebe
                      8. Apollonio

In an album of vintage photos I have collected through the years one of my favorites is the photograph I found at a yard sale featuring eight WWI soldiers. Two of the men are holding what appears to be grapes in their hats.  Two others are holding small boxes.  I've tried very hard to read what is written on the boxes, but the writing is too blurry. A previous owner of the photo taped a list of the men's names to the back.  He numbered each man and by the corresponding number wrote his name. The top of the list is dated, "France, Oct. 1917." 

I've always assumed the men are Americans.  They look American, their names seem to be American, and the uniforms based on other photos seem to be American.  America first went into France to aid in the war in June 1917.  This is four months before the date of the photo.  These men don't look as if they've seen much battle. They are possibly newly arrived at the front.  They are clean.  Their uniforms are not torn and they seem so cheerful, so unaware of the fate that awaits them.  I think it is the grapes that move me the most.  I can imagine the men, relatively untraveled, marveling at being in France, seeing the grape vines and then like children picking some.  

There's no way to know their ultimate fate short of studying war records based on the last names here.  Possibly it was not good.  WWI has been called one of the deadliest conflicts in history.  Ten million people, civilian and military, were killed as a result of the war.  Most died in combat, but disease, mainly influenza killed many.  The USA alone lost 116,708 soldiers.  Russia lost over one million.  

Now these men are frozen in time in a moment of relaxation and even happiness.  I don't think I want to know what came next.  

(See more  WWI photos)


  1. These 8 men all served in the US Army, Massachusetts Army National Guard, they were in Battery "A" of the 101st field artillery . This picture was taken at Camp Coetquidan, in the town of Guer, France.
    The only one to die was Zwinge, Joseph, W. he was from Arlington Mass. He died of wounds on 16 April 1918, most likely from the the Pont Oger raid, on German defenses on 17 March 1918. Seale, William, A. was wounded, so was Priebe, Henry, G., Shedd, James, A,, Apollonio, Nicholas, but all survived there wounds. Day, David, Burnham, Clifford, G., injured there figers from handlng the Artillary in combat. Kimball, Parker, S seems only one physically unscathed. These 8 young men, where all from Mass. the Unit was stationed in Boston. they left for France in Sept 1917, and returned in April 1919. off the 330 men in the unit, 13 were killed, 39 wounded. they attacked the Enemy from 39 different battles. They used french 75 mm guns, they had 7 of them, they were pulled by teams of horses. They spent the night in 89different locations in France, and spent 123 days on the move in there 270 days in France. I have spent years researching soldiers of the past, and these 8 were the easiest to find. they were the crew of 8 of one of the 7 guns.. Let me know if want anymore info, I got there home addresses, and were they were each night in France.

  2. I bet there are some relatives living today from these 8 men who would love to see a picture of there father,grand father, great grandfather , uncle, etc.